Net Positive: The Next Wave of Corporate Sustainability Has Arrived

Net Positive Business

As the sun rises on Day 2 of the venerable Sustainable Brands conference, I am thrilled to share our part in supporting the groundbreaking new Net Positive Project. Officially launching the vision and roadmap today, this important initiative is a game-changer for the corporate sustainability movement, which has long focused on minimizing negative impacts without offering a clear path for how to reverse today’s most pressing ecological issues.

Today, we’re putting a stake in the ground to define that path, and offering a way forward for businesses to truly transform societies and ecosystems. It won’t be easy, but the rewards will be manifold.

Moving Beyond Sustainability to Leave the World a Better Place

The Net Positive Project is a movement that seeks to offer practical solutions for a new way of doing business that puts back more into society, the environment and the global economy than it takes out. A cross-sector collaboration led by Business for Social Responsibility and Forum for the Future, together with Gregory A. Norris of Harvard’s Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise (SHINE), the Net Positive Project is comprised of organizations making pacesetting commitments to become Net Positive – while also committing to inspire other business to join the movement.

The Net Positive Project seeks to make formal what have previously been informal definitions and frameworks for this critical and paradigm-shifting movement. It is not a formal endorsement or a badge of accreditation, but rather a solution for organizations to plan for long-term success and viability, responsibly.

At the heart of the movement is this truth: that those committing to become Net Positive – synonymous with achieving a positive corporate footprint, a radical but not unachievable goal – must go beyond risk avoidance and incremental improvements to their businesses, truly innovating to eliminate negative impacts. What’s more, creating a positive impact in one area is not an excuse for ignoring a negative impact in another. Net, you must pursue best practice across the spectrum of social, environmental and economic impact areas.

A New Kind of Race to the Top

On the heels of the legally binding agreement achieved at the Paris Climate Talks, now is the right time to rally around such a game-changing corporate sustainability concept. I truly believe that organizations adopting a Net Positive approach will be well positioned to grow their brands, have strong financial performance and attract the brightest talent.

At Fetzer Vineyards, our commitment to minimizing our impacts runs deep, dating to the earliest days of our enterprise. The first U.S. winery to operate entirely on renewable energy, in 1999, and a certified ZeroWaste business since 2014, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions more than 50% since we began reporting to the Climate Registry, in 2005. These sorts of achievements underscore a drive towards going beyond sustainability to enhance and regenerate communities and our natural world.

Ambitious, Long-Term & Attuned to Today

In 2015, we took this approach a step further to become a certified B Corp, meeting some of the most rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. We believe the only way forward from here is to become Net Positive, so we have committed to being so by the year 2030. The Net Positive Project provides the practical framework, the collegiality, and the inspiration that will help us get there.

Ultimately, transforming our future requires not just small, incremental steps toward sustainability, but rather a big, unifying vision and framework to guide businesses in becoming positive contributors to environmental and community regeneration on a global scale. We hope Fetzer Vineyards can help advance Net Positive as a core business strategy that inspires companies everywhere to take action.

Cheers to a truly exciting day and development for the Net Positive Project.