Businesses need to direct their CSR activities for healthier planet

Motorists drive through floods on Nakawuka Road in Nateete, Kampala on September 20, 2023. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

What you need to know:

  • It is worth noting that environmental sustainability is the more profitable course for a business in the long run.

According to the World Meteorological Organisation, Planet Earth had the hottest three-month period in history, with unprecedented sea surface temperatures and extreme weather changes. Observers say the world is experiencing significant changes in climate.

Climate change is hitting communities hard in Africa. It is estimated by UNEP that by 2100, temperatures will rise by 4 degrees Celsius, there will be 40 percent less rainfall, many areas will get drier, there will be more droughts, there will be more high winds, there will be more floods, and other extreme weather events.

Since the Industrial Revolution, humans and the United Nations Environment Program have released over 1.5 trillion tons of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere. In the year 2019, humans were still pumping out 37 billion more, and there have been growing volumes of other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. Combining all greenhouse gases, humans are emitting 51 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents each year, and emissions keep rising, but they need to get down to zero.

This highlight calls for everyone to join the global movement for change. Almost on a daily basis, here in Uganda and maybe the world over, business organizations are pictured doing corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, but what are they doing in the fight against climate change and global warming?

It is with such moves that businesses can help raise awareness in communities and among key stakeholders, who are at the same time policymakers. Businesses need to embark on high-bearing enterprises that carry out substantial economic shifts and catalyze evidence-based policies and investments for a green transition that accelerates progress and recognizes and supports nature’s contributions. There is a need to recognize that business growth is good and sustainable if it is in line with the confines of nature protection.

In his publication, Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, John Elkington talks about the three bottom line Ps of people, planet, and profit, attributes that are goals of sustainability. Among the three Ps stands Planet, which is an environmental bottom line or capital natural bottom line that draws our attention to sustainable environmental practices. To this end, organizations’ contributions to environmental health and a fair economy are more important.

If companies don’t care about their ecological footprint, they should be held accountable for not taking care of the consequences their businesses have on the environment and the importance of global issues like climate change. Businesses should participate in actions that alarm communities about global warming and climate change, adopt practices that support communities in minimizing environmental impact, and take steps further down the sustainability lane by creating a net-positive impact on the environment.

Businesses need to reduce their ecological footprint by carefully managing their consumption of energy and non-renewables, reducing manufacturing waste, and rendering waste less toxic before disposing of it in a safe and legal manner.

In author John Elkington’s TBL school of thought, a business that produces and markets a product that will create a waste problem should not be given a free ride by society. 

It would be more equitable for the business that manufactures and sells a problematic product to bear part of the cost of its ultimate disposal. Ecologically destructive practices should be avoided at all costs for sustainability. It is worth noting that environmental sustainability is the more profitable course for a business in the long run.

Zadock Amanyisa is a journalist