This article looks into the net positive principles. The Net Positive Project is an interesting take on corporate sustainability, with businesses committed to taking their sustainability efforts to new heights.

Net Positive

In their own words: “Net Positive is a new way of doing business which puts back more into society, the environment and the global economy than it takes out.”

This is certainly an impressive goal. They aim: “to become thriving organisations that deliver benefits that extend far beyond traditional organisational boundaries.”

When I first came across the Net Positive Project I was immediately struck by just how different an approach this is from conventional corporate sustainability. In their own words:

Becoming Net Positive requires organisations to be ambitious and plan for long-term success. They have to go beyond risk avoidance and incremental improvements and start to innovate.”

This is what I like the most about the initiative.

Launched in 2016 the project aims to establish itself as the global authority on net positive, creating a standard way for companies to quantify, assess and enhance their positive impacts.

Forum of the Future, WWF, and The Climate Group recommended the following 12 principles to form the basis of the Net Positive Project.

They are listed below.

1 The organization aims to make a positive impact in its key material areas.

2. The positive impact is clearly demonstrable if not measurable.

3. The organization also shows best practice in corporate responsibility and sustainability across the spectrum of social, environmental, and economic impact areas, in line with globally accepted standards.

4. The organization invests in innovation in products and services, enters new markets, works across the value chain, and in some cases, challenges the very business model it relies on.

5. A net positive impact often requires a big shift in approach and outcomes, and cannot be achieved by business-as-usual.

6. Reporting on progress is transparent, consistent, authentic, and independently verified where possible. Boundaries and scope are clearly defined and take account of both positive and negative impacts. Any trade-offs are explained.

7. Net positive is delivered in a robust way and no aspect of a net positive approach compensates for unacceptable or irreplaceable natural losses, or ill treatment of individuals and communities.

8. Organizations enter into wider partnerships and networks to create bigger positive impacts.

9. Every opportunity is used to deliver positive impacts across value chains, sectors, systems, and throughput to the natural world and society.

10. Organizations publicly engage in influencing policy for positive change.

11. Where key material areas are ecological, robust environmentally restorative and socially inclusive methods are applied.

12. An inclusive approach is adopted at every opportunity, ensuring affected communities are involved in the process of creating positive social and/or environmental impacts.

Any organisation that fully committed to these principles would be making a real difference to their trajectory.

They are farsighted and they aim to fully decouple anyone who is committed to the net positive principles from the unsustainable growth of the past. But more than that, it is about going beyond making amends for negative aspects and making a positive contribution to society and the environment.

What you need to know

This article looked into the net positive principles.

We looked into what the net positive project says about itself in their own words.

We then looked at the 12 net positive principles put forward by Forum of the Future, WWF, and The Climate Group.

Overall these are farsighted and ambitious principles. It would be fair to say that there are no organisations in the world who are currently excelling in all 12 principles. But they point towards a positive direction.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think about the net positive principles?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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