NGO asks companies for 1% of annual revenues to go towards environmental organisations


By AGENCY
  • Climate
  • Thursday, 24 Nov 2022

Williams wants as many companies as possible to step into the "1% model" because they believe that it's part of a journey to becoming more sustainable and effective. Photo: AFP

Created 20 years ago by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, the NGO 1% for the Planet promotes and certifies corporate environmental philanthropy worldwide.

Its primary objective? To show companies that they can be successful while committing themselves to the well-being of the planet by encouraging them to donate 1% of their annual revenues to organisations working for the protection of the environment.

It is an approach that the two co-founders put into action with their respective companies (Patagonia and Blue Ribbon Flies).

The work done by the NGO in connecting businesses and approved environmental partners since its inception has resulted in more than US$350mil (RM1.6bil) being donated to environmental organisations.

Its headquarters are located in Burlington, Vermont, the United States, but it also has chapters and partners around the world.

In October, 1% for the Planet celebrated its 20th anniversary, an opportunity for CEO Kate Williams to look back on the successes and future projects of the NGO.

How are the companies that join your programme selected? Do you target specific sectors?

We want as many companies as possible to step into the "1% model" because we believe that it's part of a journey to becoming more sustainable and effective. So what that means is we don't expect that our business members are perfect... we really believe that no one's perfect. So everyone has the potential to evolve and change and that if we exclude companies... we're missing an opportunity to change the world. What we say to them is, are you up for the work? Is your intent to lean into change? Great. We'll meet you where you are. You've never done any giving before? No problem. We do reserve the right to not take in companies that we feel would be outright brand-damaging and kind of bring the whole effort down. But that's pretty rare.

Has it ever happened?

Yes, with a water bottle company. We do have some water bottle companies but they are either using recycled materials or have some way in which they're contributing to a limitation on single-use plastic. But we did have one member... where there wasn't a lot of commitment. And so we asked them to move out.

Over time, we've had some gun and weapon companies approach us, but there's not enough of an ability to ensure that weapons aren't used for violent reasons. And so we felt comfortable making that exclusion. We will continue to talk to any company. We don't have blanket exclusions.. We also don't have any cigarette companies, but we are starting to bring in some companies specialised in the cannabis industry.

What are your plans for the future?

We want to continue growing so we're investing in ways that we can continue to accelerate that growth, with two main ways. One is continuing to lean into growing our membership through building momentum, growing the number of members and bringing in members of all sizes across all industries and all geographies. We're present in about 65 different industries and in about 60 countries. So we have a pretty wide, diverse footprint already.

The other way is working on targeting some bigger companies that we can engage directly. And we have seen growth in the number of bigger companies who are stepping in and that's a powerful way that we can drive the 1% of a bigger revenue basis. Those brands also convey a strong story of the importance of committing to 1%.

Another way is by targeting certain key industries where we've seen some good traction but we also see a lot of potential and then identifying some kind of leading brands in those areas that we feel can be lighthouse leaders. Brands that can make the business and impact case within their industry for the value of this approach. An example is with Pukka Tea, a pretty big global tea brand that has done an amazing job of really using 1% for the planet as how they tell their impact story.

We have also created a new tool in the past year called the Planet Impact Fund. And it's set up so that philanthropic dollars come into this fund and are invested in climate positive ways with a portion granted each year. It's a philanthropic tool that is accessible to both members and non-members.

What do you think of the way young people are fighting to protect the planet?

I am so thrilled and inspired and hopeful in this regard. We have many awesome young staff who are so passionate. There's a lot being written about the eco-anxiety that a lot of that generation are feeling. And what I find really heartening is to see the number of young people who are not getting stuck there but who are figuring out or leaning into communities where they can file lawsuits concerning climate change, where they can educate older generations about actions that need to be taken, where they can "rattle the cage" in really good ways to ensure that people who may have been thinking that they've been fighting the fight or not accomplishing some of the goals that we need to accomplish, galvanising them to continue to do the important work for future generations. I have two of those young people of my own, my son and daughter who are in their early 20s, and they are among the many who are really committed to doing this work and to being a part of creating a better future. – AFP Relaxnews

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