Globally every year on June 6th we recall the day as world environment day. However, it is crucial to remember that being an inhabitant of this planet are we doing the right things to keep our surroundings better for a sustainable lively hood ? We consider ourselves as most sensible creature evolved over many centuries having enough intelligence to protect the ecosystem. Perhaps due to our unending quest for more materialistic comfort had inflicted a huge dent on the planet’s balance. Our evolutionary history goes as homosapiens we have traversed a great length, however, once we grew in numbers massive cultivation for consumption became our primary focus by turning large swathe forest land for agricultural purposes, Later we got in to an era of industrial revolution where mass manufacturing was the order of the day, Despite our achievements we had conveniently neglected the consequences that would create havoc on environment.
Polluting the air today is considered as the modern day curse due to increase in urbanization &Industrialization.Air pollution is consistently ranked among the top risk factors for death& disability worldwide. Also, it is considered as the 5th highest mortality risk factor globally, it has resulted in 4.9 million deaths and loss of 147 million years of a healthy lifestyle. Today more than 90% of the people live in areas exceeding the guidelines laid out by WHO and more than half of global population lives in areas that do not even meet the least standards by world health organisation. Globally the biggest victim of air pollution is the least developed and developing countries. Apart from the pollution by industries and automobiles as per the 2017 report, nearly 3.6 billion people worldwide are exposed to household air pollution.
Forest covers 30% of the world’s land area, it is very disheartening to see that forest cover is fast depleting at an alarming rate. The period alone between 1990 and 2016, the world lost 502,000 square miles of forest. Due to human intervention alone, 46% of the trees have been felled. Around 17% of the Amazonian rain forest has been destroyed over the past years which is always on the rise. The main reasons for deforestation are farming, grazing of livestock, mining & drilling aggregates to 50% of the loss to forest cover.
The addiction to a single use or disposable plastic leads to severe environmental consequences. Around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute and single plastic bags usage accounts to 5 trillion worldwide. Today we produce 300 million tonnes of plastic waste every year that is nearly equal to the total human population in the globe. It is estimated that out of the 8.3 billion tonnes of the total plastic produced, around 60% of plastic ended up in either landfill or the natural environment. In spite of several curbs announced by authorities the usage of plastic has not come down drastically.
Moment of realization
The biggest problem which I feel is the mentality of the human population that we need to correct ourselves by starting afresh by thinking that as human beings we are also part of the whole ecosystem, our actions and deeds should always be complementary rather than confounding with nature. Because our actions have only created more imbalances rather than striking the right balance for every creature’s coexistence. Among the rest, we have been considered as a superior creature but our imagination about the future is blurred due to our belief system. Time has come that we should start believing in permanent truth that we thrive in this nature, not because of our only effort but there are many unseen factors and attributes that nature provides us in abundance for us to strive. The universal truth is that the moment human races start to think that we are just part of nature not the other way around, Then I feel the whole issues can be addressed proactively.
Every known civilization in this world has been built based on stories. For time immemorial human beings have been using the different type of stories to create civilizations. Humankind has forayed into agriculture by building a narrative well supported by different kind of myths. The ability of stories to usher new changes are immense, that is evident since evolution throughout our history. But it also matters how effectively can we use stories to change the existing situation, lead the society for a better tomorrow. Fast- forward to present we are facing several issues in the form of climate change, poverty & inequality. To overcome the present predicament that we are in, powerful stories can bring big changes in the collective consciousness of society. The positive stories can not only be inspirational but also can create systematic changes in society. Real-time examples of successful social entrepreneurship models can really act as a direct route to emotions, hence it helps in decision making. Stories can set new patterns that create a positive impact on the way we think and behave. Powerful stories play a foundational role in changing the values, mindsets & goals.
Stories illuminate Stores can act as light, glue or web, yet it has a powerful sense to change the way we behave, act and indulge. The point to drive home here is that in today’s chaotic world building positive narratives through powerful stories is very crucial. For instance, supporting and promoting niches in innovation for social welfare can create a wider impact in the system, it builds narratives with a purpose to change the world for a better tomorrow. The stories of people who have been making slow changes in the society need to be highlighted with good supporting narratives. Such impactful peoples’ life needs to be amplified to a larger crowd through powerful stories by leveraging the available platforms.
Changing the future We can use stories to create riveting visions that can bring desired changes with a purpose. The stories can help to humanize issues. For instance, impactful social business models need to be communicated properly, the desired impact aimed from the business needs to be highlighted regularly with personal examples & narratives. The compelling reasons to become outlier by thinking differently for a better cause. Stories should be built in such a way to highlight the success stories more often than usual Stories can act as a tool to build a strong community through empathy & unity. Though It helps people to connect across communities and as a glue that holds everyone together.
Way forward The only way forward to tackle the existing problems is through collective responsibility. Any individual or organisation taking up such causes needs to be given due importance and their activities, efforts need to pass on to larger society through effective stories. Because the world needs more such stories more than the past, Those who are making steady progress in such areas needs to be accepted with respect. However, it is equally important to let others be motivated by hearing such captivating stories that can as a catalyst for a change. So lets all welcome and follow such success stories from business, art, environment and other social issues.
Nobel laureate Mohammed Yunus from Bangladesh defines social business as a self-sustainable business created, designed to address the social problems. The social business is a not a new model per se, but it is a new approach of looking at the business with a different perspective to create maximum social impact in the society. The social business model requires new thinking with the aspect of creating maximum value in the society taking the community and the people together for a common good. When the business entity starts focussing the new path it bounds to create altruist impact in the society. However, it should be based on acceptance, embrace the problems faced by the society through collective action with an objective to bring perceptible changes in the quality of life of people. This new approach could create a lasting impact on the society by accepting, collectively to create opportunities for everyone in the community. Besides, that approach has the potential to create an environment of right balance and hence can act as a catalyst for change. Also, the new role if adopted can alter the existing business’ equation significantly in the society by becoming more inclusive in approach & behaviour.
Social business a moment of truth
Time has come for business houses to realise the moment of truth by thinking the way it conducts its business. The moment of truth means business houses need to think and behave as if they are part of the environment and society in which it operates. The moment they see themselves as a separate entity from the society, it leads to the creation of more friction with its external stakeholders and also cannot strike a right chord with the society.
Importance of shared value creation
The current business practices have created enough mess on the environment and society, So the situation certainly calls for a shared value creation means business houses need to extend their hands towards society in which they operate. The decision makers and the employers should internalise themselves the consequence of their action on the society. Henceforth a constant effort and need of the hour is to bring business and society together. Also social business to a great extent can create social harmony and sustainable growth.
Nestle the Global multinational giant has redesigned its coffee procurement process working extensively with small farmers who were trapped in low productivity and poor quality due to environmental degradation. The role of Nestle as a company in giving advice on new farming practices, providing the farmers with plant stocks, distributing fertilizer and pesticides and last but not least company paid the farmers in premium for cultivating quality coffee beans. The social impact created by this move has helped the small farmers in distress and improved their economic benefits and also helped to improve their quality of life.
Impact investment via social business.
Resourceful action seriously can create an impact in the society and could solve the problems faced by society at large, provided stakeholders of the company to act creatively with a mind to usher maximum positive impact in the society. The existing capitalistic business models has been creating unequal scenarios and sapping resources with no remorse has already weakened the nature and society . So going forward if they continue to do same means it would create detrimental effects on the community, natural resources and economy. So social business is the new model of capitalism where owners decide not to take the dividends but keep reinvesting the financial resources for new social business ideas in order to a create much larger impact in the society. Besides, that concentration of wealth in the hands of few can be reduced and effective deployment of resources to the population at the bottom of the pyramid.
Governments’ role as a facilitator
Elected government through its administration alone cannot suffice the role in bringing radical changes in the society and it has proven beyond doubt that collective effort from business houses and industry leaders could bring a very positive and impact full change in the status quo. So Government as a dispensation should become more of a facilitator in framing new laws and policies for a smooth operation of social business models across different areas. Since the magnitude of the problems faced by the majority of the population is huge, it is also equally important that all stakeholders in the society should think and act with empathy to get rid of the issues faced by the society. Hindsight issues at hand certainly ask for fundamental changes the investment made on business and how the profits made out of the business get redeployed to create maximum social impact. The government should come forward with policies to create an environment for such a smooth transition. When proper policies are in place might pursue business houses and its owners to proactively take up the most pressing issues in the society and unitedly find solutions by giving the opportunity for everyone’s sustenance.
The river Ganges holds such an important place in the collective consciousness of our nation perhaps its significance stems from its tradition & mythology. River Ganga is India’s largest and most vital fresh-water resources. But the irony is that it is among the most polluted river in the world. Although we revere the river Ganga as a mother goddess, however, on the other hand, therivergets polluted by our irresponsiblebehaviour by allowing the sewage water & solid waste fromhousehold and industries. The pilgrims add more than 8 million flowers each year into the river as a part offering prayers to god. The resultant action pollutes the water more with harmful chemicals used on the flower which can lead to waterborne diseases like cholera, dysentery, hepatitis & diarrhoea.
In 2015, the childhood friends Ankitagarwal and KaranRastogi cofounded a social enterprise called HelpUsGreen. The aim of this enterprise is to devote their time and resource in reducing the pollution in river Ganga. The Team collects the discarded flower before it gets into river and processes them to create 100 percent Vermi-compostfertilizers and also manufactures incense sticks . The enterprise targets European and Indian markets to sell their organic products . HelpUsGreen employs women folks from the lower strata of the society and helps them to get empowered financially as well as delivering on the objective of reducing the pollution of this giant fresh water river. The team of women employed with Help Us Green collects 1.5tons of flowers daily from temples and mosques and convert it into organic fertilisers and incense sticks.
Helpusgreen also has plans to expand its product ranges to bath soaps, chemical free products, natural body cleaners. So this is one such social enterprise initiative which can deliver benefits in terms of reducing pollution, create avenues of people to get employed , alsoprotecting the environment from waste accumulation . This kind of initiatives which uses the potential of resources and keeps their utility to the maximum by following innovative business practices, also creates value along with its process.
It is rare among the rarity of someone leaving one’s comfort of being the son of former governor and moreover to have had led the life of a former fighter pilot in Indian Airforce. Yes, the life of Steve has been one such sort of journey in a remote location on the hills of Uttaranchal. The couple Steve and Parvati have been a living a subsistence lifestyle for the last 30 years at their home which is6500 feet above the sea level. Whenthey first arrived at this place they have nothing at all to start with, but they have set out to lead a lifestyle under the auspices & bounties of nature with full of oak trees, birds chirping & clattering monkeys. Over the years the couple has built a home on the site which was once a cow shed and live on a monthly income of 2000Rs .They raise money by renting a pair of small cottages for passing hikers as well through farming. Although now Steve’s house has electricity, there no running water, or internet or any facility to warm when the temperature dips below zero degrees.According to Steve, he can’t imagine living in any other place other than his 34-acre estate.He keeps regular patrol around his estate to ward of wood pinching locals at bay. Steve a Harvard educated the young chap met Parvati after he had been kicked out of the service for not following the orders. The couple has been living in this place for the last 33 years with no regrets. Their lifestyle has been a perfect example of leadinga life which is near to nature devoid of any pollution or disturbances. Both He & wife took care of there surroundings well without disturbing its ecosystem, Both their two kids were born and bought up in the estate, later they got educated from Delhi. Steve owns a couple of Royal Enfield bullets, which he likes repairing and riding them often. Steve had dug a grave himself a long time back, he is well prepared to leave this world when he kicks his bucket. Continue reading →