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Role Of The Private Sector

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Our Network in Action: Europe 2016. Photo credit: 1% for the Planet

What is the most effective way to catalyze and sustain change toward a more positive, healthy future for people and planet? That is the essential question that anyone who cares about our environment is thinking about on a daily basis. The tools of change at our disposal include government policy, scientific understanding, private sector investment and innovation, and citizen activism that spans political and geographical borders. In the context of recent political tumult, it is clear that activating our non-governmental tools of change is more important than ever. Why? Because as citizens and business owners, we can and we must invest, commit, create, and take both responsibility and powerful action to create and support a viable and vibrant future.

On Friday, January 20, 1% for the Planet brought this perspective to life across our network with our #OathOfAction campaign. It was a dynamic campaign that sent a thunderous and clear signal that private citizens, businesses, and nonprofits can commit to collective action and create real and needed change together.

A signature element of campaigns like this - and the ongoing work to which we must all commit - is the potent alchemy of individual action and collaborative engagement. Our individual commitments to change are critical, but our collective impact is far greater than the sum of the individual parts. And our planet needs this from us, right now. Take climate change, which in many ways is the mother of all environmental issues, affecting water, land, fire, and ice, and all species therein. James Hansen, the leading climate scientist who has been beating the drum on fossil fuel-driven climate change since the early 1980's, describes in a must-read interview in Rolling Stone (January 2017) that we are perhaps on the brink, perhaps just over the brink on climate-driven global disaster that would "knock down global economies and leave us with an ungovernable planet." But he is not without hope, and points to the importance of private sector investment, calling out that "we have to work together in a way that will actually work" to solve the climate threat.

1% for the Planet has from our founding fifteen years ago believed in the simple mandate that it's good business and good for the planet to give back. There is both economic and environmental hope and possibility when we step forward as private citizens, businesses, and nonprofits to use the tools of change at our disposal to take action. Adam Smith's 1776 Wealth of Nations gave us the concept of the invisible hand of enlightened self-interest. While not always cited as the friend of environmentalism, this concept applies here and now because when we are clear-eyed about what is best for people and planet, it is entirely in our self-interest to make choices and commitments that contribute to a future that sustains the natural systems that are the foundation for any economy, any civilization.

Whew. Heavy stuff, eh? But you know what? We are in it together, and every day we can take actions that add up to exponential positive energy and change. That's what happened on Friday when #OathOfAction took off. It can happen every day. Join us.