09/27/2013

Climate resilience and “good growth”: Making the connection

It’s now nearly one year on from Hurricane Sandy. Climate Week NYC is back, and a new framework launches that gives businesses the capability to evaluate their total impact — and optimise “good growth.” Resilience truly is top-of-mind this week.

I’ve been thinking about the many families, businesses and local governments that are still working to get back on their feet a year after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the Eastern United States. What can we all do differently to better prepare for natural disasters and perhaps influence their frequency or intensity?

That’s one of the topics that the leaders at Climate Week, fittingly taking place in New York, will be discussing.

How can we build more climate-resilient communities? I’m reminded of the worthy initiative between the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and PwC. Its aim is to shape a sustainable, private-public disaster risk management platform, with the ultimate goal of creating risk-resilient societies. We’ve written about it here at Resilience before as well as the need for the public and private sectors to partner up to get it right.

We’ve also written before that ultimately, an organisation’s resilience depends upon decisions­—calls made by people facing adversity, uncertainty, and/or change. More often than not, these decisions require making difficult choices between equally valid options. And usually that means that one objective, or group’s interest, will be sacrificed for another’s in order to serve the greater good of resilience.

So in today’s real world of climate disruptions, stakeholder scrutiny, and intense competitive pressures, how can businesses weigh the risks, measure the impacts and make the choices?

We think it comes down to measuring a business’ total impact — the social, fiscal, environmental and economic effects of their activities. And this, week at the United Nations, PwC will launch its Total Impact Measurement and Management (TIMM) approach.

TIMM enables businesses to compare strategies and make decisions using quantified data, and evaluate the total impact of each choice. They’ll be able to measure, understand and compare the trade-offs between different options — and make decisions with a more complete knowledge of the overall impact they will have, and a better understanding of which stakeholders will be affected.

Ultimately TIMM requires, and enables, a different kind of language for evaluating growth and identifying “good” growth — a language that has a broader vocabulary than inputs, outputs and financial returns. That’s a challenge for business — not least for the accounting profession — and a debate that has to be opened. We’re encouraging all organisations to join the debate at pwc.com/totalimpact.

Surely this has to be a great step in helping businesses make the right strategic decisions for the right kind of growth. Quality growth rather than quantity growth. Resilient growth, good for all stakeholders. 

I hope you get involved in the debate, and I welcome your comments.

Visit the Total Impact Measurement & Management site | Meet Malcolm Preston | Visit the PwC Resilience site


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