New Economy

New Economy

18 March, 2016
Eco Business
Introducing the New Economy Movement

What goes around, comes back around. Issues surrounding climate change, ozone depletion, species extinction, deforestation, poverty, and dwindling of resources are brought closer to our doorsteps as we invest in short-lived luxuries that perpetuate global destruction. We have created a capitalist economy absorbed with making money from exploiting nature.
This calls for ‘The New Economy Movement,’ an innovative business model that avows the profound ecological challenges our planet is facing and the ineffectiveness of traditional politics to address economic failings. The movement seeks an economy that is increasingly green and socially responsible, and one that is based on rethinking the nature of ownership and the growth paradigm that guides conventional policies.
In the wake of this movement, Marga Hoek launched her book New Economy Business, in which she expounded the urgent need to restructure the entire economic system to meet social and environmental goals. She proposed the elision of three business models to succeed: ecological, social, and financial. Because the path of our traditional economy (backed by a single business model) is heading towards a future where seven planets will be required for our 9 billion-strong population when all we have is one.
“The world is not here for the economy, the economy is here for the world,” writes Marga Hoek. “We measure what we produce. We measure our output. We don’t measure our value creation and destruction on the assets of the economy,” she adds.
With 2,000,000 plastic bottles thrown away every 5 minutes globally; 1.5 billion people living in poverty and 800 billion people just above the poverty line; 750 billion worth of food wasted each year; and GHG emissions that grew 60% over the past 35 years, it is time to break the cycle.
The “New Economy” movement simultaneously counters capitalism and spurs economic growth. The market for sustainable business is worth trillions of dollars while creating more jobs than ever before.
One such sustainable business is shark-based ecotourism. Catering services and restaurants, particularly in Hong Kong, have been responsible for 50% of the illegal shark fin trade. It is an unsustainable practice that is driving sharks to extinction. These apex predators play a key role in maintaining biodiversity and keeping balance in marine ecosystems. Killing off sharks equates to destabilizing the oceans. Shark fin can be sold for over 5000 HKD and is a symbol of wealth in Chinese culture, but the remainder of the body – or 95 per cent of the shark - is thrown overboard because it is deemed inedible and of low commercial value.
Shark-based ecotourism is the perfect solution because it adheres to the new economy movement and promotes conservation and the monetary value of the living shark, showing the importance of preserving sharks. It is a win-win situation.
According to Ceres (an NGO for sustainability leadership whose aim is to mobilize investors, companies and public interest groups to expand and adopt sustainable business to create a sustainable economy worldwide), the economy has seen a rise in the small numbers of companies that have reached the top performances from supply chain management to reducing carbon emissions.
Its recent research also indicates that "companies with strong accountability systems - board oversight, clear policies on human rights and environmental management, active stakeholder engagement and disclosure - in many cases also have strong results on greenhouse gas emissions, use of renewable energy, strong work with suppliers, as well as driving sustainability into product and services".
Ceres refers to a list of such companies to address their achievements. Among the list is the Coca-Cola company, its water use efficiency leveled by 20%, and the company is cognizant of the need for third-party speculation on its water management efforts. Another is Nike, with the creation of its Making app in 2013 that publishes the data in its materials sustainability. The app allows designers in the industry to design more sustainable products.
Taking the new economy movement back to Hong Kong, only 12 local companies made it in the top 100 in a new list of Asia’s most sustainable business. Companies were ranked according to their level of responsibility in environmental, social and governance issues that is assessed in correlation to supply chain, philanthropy and public policies. Lenovo Group Ltd ranked fifth in the list while Swire Properties Limited ranked 16th and MMG Limited came 41st.
Given its wealth of infrastructure and resources, Hong Kong’s economy can benefit significantly from the New Economy movement. With our prolific illegal wildlife trade and shark fin trade, our landfills nearing exhaustion, and our carbon emission levels rising, we need to break out of this cycle and create a new economy in which we will be rewarded with improved sustainability and long-term success.

By: Cynthia Chung


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