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COVID Slowdown

Plant small plants on coins stacked on the concept of saving money and growing money.

Its Time to Take the Blindfold Off: New Visions for Sustainable Growth

By COVID Slowdown, Economic Growth, Housing policy, Mainstream Impact Investment, Natural Capital

Any blind, unthinking pursuit of money can still return a profit (and sometimes does), but its very exclusivity of focus (money) also obscures those unintended outcomes that can be (and frequently are) so disastrous for our planet. And this dynamic between fiscal growth and sustainability isn’t just another variable in some global game of blind man’s bluff, with economies across the world stumbling helplessly between one unexpected outcome and the next, trading growth for hope and indifferent to the chaos left behind: it can also be matter of life and death. All of our futures, yours and mine, are dependant on the sustainability of natural resources: from the food we eat, to the buildings we live and work in, our capacity to meet disease (particularly at the moment), right down to the very air we breathe: Natural Capital is our bedrock, and it’s vital for economic growth too…

That’s why we have to start treating our stock of Natural Capital (including plant life, clean air, minerals and soil resources) in precisely the same way we do any other item on the macro economic balance sheet: in precisely the same way we account for Built Assets, including roads, railways and hospitals, because there is no acceptable trade off between the two: Natural Capital and Built Assets together make up the sum total of our wealth and they both belong on the same side of the ledger.

All of which makes it alarming that according to the UN Environment Programme, per capita Natural Capital has decreased since 1992 by 40%, while over the same period Built Capital has increased by 13%. Currently leading an economic diversity review for the UK Government, Partha Dasgupta points to these statistics and warns that “the very language of economics is failing us, making us miss the message”: by which he means we’re not seeing the connection between Natural and Built Capital properly: with Natural Capital in the debit column, the balance sheet’s out of balance … its time to take the Blindfold off. 

Perhaps now more than ever, we need economic planning that is both robust and clear sighted in its objectives but also sustainable by reference to its impact on the environment: in other words, we need to have a holistic regard for Planet and People as well as a clear recognition that in the long run (and the short run come to that) there is no Profit without Planet and People: joined up planning that is capable of making a difference to all our lives.

So why is that matter of life and death?

Well, the wholesale destruction of our natural resources (remember that 40% debit entry) has also increased the risk of life threatening diseases crossing the wildlife to human barrier, which brings us (inevitably) back to COVID 19. The clumsily but appropriately named Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warned earlier this year that “Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, intensive farming, mining and infrastructure development, have all created a ‘perfect storm’ for the animal to human spillover of diseases.” And that was before the full, horrific impact of COVID became a daily feature of all our lives: so rolling back on those key drivers identified by the IPBES has literally become a matter of life and death…

COVID has changed our world in so many ways, most of them all too visible: but the way in which we respond to those changes also has real potential to create a better world for the future. We don’t have to go back to the way things were done, we don’t have to keep playing blind man’s bluff…it’s time to take the blindfolds off.

 Invest in Red Ribbon Asset Management 

Red Ribbon is committed to identifying and building on investment opportunities that are fully in compliance with its core Planet, People, Profit policy: an investment policy that not only offers above market rate returns but also protects Natural Capital through caring meaningfully for the environment.

Executive Overview

Like most of us, I suppose, I’m concerned about the potential consequences of a headlong rush for short-term economic growth: essential though it is to secure growth in these difficult times, we can’t afford to lose sight of the importance of environmental responsibility.

They aren’t alternatives: this isn’t a zero-sum game and there is no acceptable trade-off. We need to build growth in a responsible way by putting the Planet, People and (yes) Profits at the heart of our strategic thinking.

about creating wealth

It’s the Environment Stupid…Build, Build, Build’s only half the battle

By COVID Slowdown, Eco Hotels, Environmental Policy, Fiscal Stimuli, India, Mainstream Impact Investment, News

In 1991 Bill Clinton handed out boxes of campaign buttons to his staff (not by himself obviously, he was too busy running for office), and all of them had a simple message, “It’s the Economy Stupid”. Nowadays it’s still about the economy, but other badges may be available: how about this for a start, “it’s the Environment as well Stupid”. That could be a popular (and prescient) choice in these difficult COVID times, as we witness eye-watering levels of government debt being taken on to shore up and expand economies across the world: in the United States, more than 80 Million cheques for $1,200 were sent out to 80 Million people as part of a $1.4 billion stimulus programme (although a million of them would have difficulty cashing them as they had been dead for several years: nice one Donald). And across the Atlantic, Boris Johnson is promising to “build, build, build” his way to a new Jerusalem: determined to spend, spend, spend his way out of the country’s deepest recession since the Great Frost of 1709. The UK Government borrowed £35.56 Billion in June alone, which is five times the equivalent figure from June 2019 and its all starting to make the 2018 bank bailouts look like bargain bin day at Primark.

So, for obvious reasons, economic growth is getting a lot of attention at the moment…and so it should.

But along the way, and almost uniquely (increased levels of social cohesion also spring to mind too), the COVID pandemic has had at least one good outcome: a sharp reduction in air pollution levels across the planet, particularly in urban areas, and ironically as a direct consequence of the very economic slowdown governments are so desperately trying to reverse. So here’s the question: are we now at risk of inflicting even greater harm on our precious planet in pursuit of a full-throated policy of rapid and short term economic growth? Or, put it another way, do we really have to have one at the expense of the other? As our alternative campaign button might have said, “it’s the Environment as well Stupid”.

Happily, it doesn’t seem to be a message wholly lost on the UK Government. In July George Eustace (the Environment Secretary) announced a £5 Million Pilot Programme as part of a new Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment that will (we hope) ultimately sit at the heart of an improved planning process capable of strengthening “baseline understanding of habitats and species abundance”; paving the way for more environmentally friendly decisionmaking in future real estate programmes. As George said, it will “leave the environment in a better state than we found it”. Nice one George, every little helps…but how about putting environmental awareness at the heart of the entire construction cycle?  Especially as new homes are one of the things we need most of at the moment, and how about securing economic growth and looking after the environment at the same time? How about building green…

That’s exactly where Eco Platforms have come into their own over recent years: setting a new paradigm for sustainable construction methods that are both environmentally responsible and resource-efficient: not just putting up quickly what will be torn down quickly (and for the most part discarded), but demonstrating real concern for the entire life cycle of the building at every stage from planning through to replacement and recycling of materials. It’s all about Planet, People and Profit, delivered thoughtfully across the supply chain, and it has dramatic potential to make a real difference to all our futures.

Eco Hotels are a case in point: key consumption variables are taken into account at the very start of the design process, including water-saving devices and waste reduction technologies, and from the beginning, solar tubing systems are built in to reflect light across the property day and night with the result that electricity consumption levels are roughly half those of a conventional hotel. A single, centrally located kitchen reduces the carbon footprint of the entire building, instead of the usual scattered, ill-thought-out and inefficient catering facilities in a conventional hotel. That’s precisely where “Planet and People” come in, by way of practical, environmentally friendly technologies; and as for “Profit”, well, all those savings go straight to the bottom line so the Eco Hotel Model makes good commercial sense too.

It’s about the economy and the environment…

 Invest in Red Ribbon Asset Management 

Red Ribbon is the founder of Eco Hotels, the world’s first carbon neutral hotel brand which offers “green hospitality” as part of a progressive roll out across India designed to take advantage of market opportunities while at the same time caring for the environment. The brand meets all sustainability criteria without compromising on quality or standards of hospitality and caters for commercial and recreational travellers alike.

Executive Overview

Nobody can seriously doubt the importance of government stimulus measures in addressing the profound economic impact of COVID slowdowns across the globe: after all, we all share a common economic future and the more that can be done to secure it the better.

But we also share our planet’s future as well, and it’s important not be distracted from the importance of environmental responsibility: particularly as the slowdown has given us a graphic example of what ill thought out economic growth can do.

I believe these aren’t alternatives; this isn’t a zero sum game. We can build growth in a responsible way by putting the Planet, People and (yes) Profit at the heart of our strategic thinking.

Red Ribbon

At Red Ribbon we understand that the transition towards a resilient global economy will be led by well-governed businesses in mainstream markets, striving to reduce the environmental impact of their production processes on society at large and on the environment as well.

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