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Terra Carta: saving earth

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2021 - 12:00am

The world has made tremendous economic and technological progress in the last 100 years but the cost of all these has been an immeasurable destruction to our planet and its environment. Last Jan. 11, 2021 His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales, presented a 17-page document called “Terra Carta – For Nature, People & Planet” which he hopes will mobilize citizens and business to defend planet Earth from environmental destruction.

In the foreword to the document, Prince Charles wrote: “We simply cannot maintain this course indefinitely. To build a productive and sustainable future, there must be a center of gravity to catalyze such a monumental effort and to mobilize the resources and incentives required.”

The document derives its name from the Magna Carta which was the written agreement 800 years ago between King John of England and a group of English  barons. It has become a meaningful symbol of liberty and democracy, including the rights of citizens to justice and protection from arbitrary justice.

The present environmental charter is a blueprint for making sustainability a part of everyday life and is expected to slow down the degradation of the natural environment. Its signatories are expected to support international agreement, like the Paris Agreement; work to protect at least half the planet by 2050; fight desertification; promote biodiversity; make environment-friendly investing decisions and strive for fewer greenhouse gas emissions. It also explores various aspects of greening the economy; incentivizing innovation; prioritizing sustainable investment and redesigning for net-zero and  nature-positive transitions.

In the foreword, Prince Charles provides the basic framework for harnessing the power of Nature:

“For nearly every problem we face, Nature, with the benefit of billions of years of evolution, has already provided us with solutions. Universal principles rooted in the harmony of Nature’s pattern, cycles and geometry, which ancient civilizations and indigenous peoples have known all too well, need to be harnessed to inform science, technology, design and engineering and can, in fact, drive a sustainable future. But time is fast running out and we are rapidly wiping out, through mass extinctions, many of Nature’s unique treasure trove of species from which we can develop innovative and sustainable products for the future. Timelines for change must be brought forward if we are to make a transformative shift by the end of the decade and before it is too late.”

Appeal to CEOs: Prince Charles makes a special appeal to business leaders and major investors: “Today must be the decisive moment that we make sustainability the growth story of our time, while positioning Nature as the engine of our economy. To help us succeed and to complement global effort across public, private and philanthropic sectors, I am calling on CEOs from around the world to engage and play their part in leading the global transition. To guarantee our future, we have no other choice but to make each day count – and it must start today.”

He then outlines the major objectives of the Terra Carta:

• Furthering and, where possible, exceeding the goals and targets outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention to Combat Desertification and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

• Broadening the definition of sustainability, beyond simple net-zero transition to be inclusive of Nature, People, Planet, Equality and Prosperity.

• Supporting the protection and restoration of a minimum of 30 percent biodiversity on land and below water by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050.

• Making global investment and financial flows consistent with pathways towards low greenhouse gas emissions, climate resilient development and Natural Capital/biodiversity restoration (on land and below water).

• Encouraging coordination, cooperation and cohesion within corporate and public-private philanthropic domains.

• Leveraging consumer and shareholder demand to drive sustainable transition and investment the private sector.

Ten articles

The document is divided into ten articles:

• Article 1. Create Sustainable Industries: create entirely new sustainable industries, products, services and supply chains while helping to transition existing systems to a more sustainable trajectory.

• Article 2. Default Sustainable: embedding genuine sustainability in our business models, analysis, decisions and actions; and further defining and developing the discipline and framework of sustainable markets and sustainable industries.

• Article 3. Power of Consumers: consumers need to be told about product life cycles, supply chains, production methods and all true costs including the cost to Nature.

• Article 4. Accelerate and Align Industry Roadmaps: businesses, industries, investors and countries alike must design and implement how they will decarbonize and transition to net zero while restoring and protecting Natural Capital.

• Article 5. Game Changers and Barriers: exploring the benefits of sustainable labelling and warranting to rapid drive consumer demand for sustainable products and services.

• Article 6. Sustainable Investing at Scale: asset owners/managers commitment to investing strategically to recognize companies that are making the transformation and developing new sources of funding for sustainable activities.

• Article 7. Nature, the True Engine of Our Economy: define the benefits derived from the natural world and account for Natural Capital on companies’ balance sheets. Establishing markets for ecosystem services and develop natural capital innovation hubs where ideas and technological solutions of tomorrow will germinate and flourish.

• Article 8. Create Market Incentives: reverse perverse subsidies and improve incentives for sustainable alternatives.

• Article 9. Adopt Common Metrics and Standards: join movement toward convergence of existing global standards and move to unified metrics, global standards and mandatory disclosures.

• Article 10. Catalyze Science, Technology and Innovation: invest in STEM, innovation and R&D at scale. Enhance access to continuous education training of young people in line with the needs of a sustainable future.

I hope Filipino companies will become signatories of Terra Carta and help save the world.

*      *      *

An invitation to young writers:

Young Writers’ Hangout via Zoom will be held on Jan 30, 2-3 p.m. Contact writethingsph@gmail.com. 0945.2273216

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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