Recently released, the United Nations’ global assessment of environmental health is grim: biodiversity declining at an unprecedented rate, one million species at risk of extinction, human populations in jeopardy if the trajectory is not reversed.

The report goes on to note the biggest culprits as:

  • Turning forests, grasslands and other areas into farms, cities and other developments. About 3/4 of Earth’s land, 2/3 of its oceans and 85% of crucial wetlands have been severely altered or lost, making it harder for species to survive.
  • Overfishing the world’s oceans with 1/3 of the world’s fish stocks overfished.
  • Permitting climate change from the burning of fossil fuels to make it too hot, wet or dry for some species to survive. Almost half of the world’s land mammals — not including bats — and nearly a quarter of the birds have already had their habitats hit hard by global warming.
  • Polluting land and water. Every year, 300 to 400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents and toxic sludge are dumped into the world’s waters.
  • Allowing invasive species to crowd out native plants and animals. The number of invasive alien species per country has risen 70% since 1970, with one species of bacteria threatening nearly 400 amphibian species.

What has this news got to do with SMEs?

SMEs have much greater agility to drive innovation and change than large corporates.

Actions can be small or large – eliminating use of plastics; promoting recycling and use of sustainability sourced products; promoting ethical consumption within business; encouraging teams to reconnect with nature; diversification of business through consulting activities in sustainable development; and focus on protection of local biodiversity by setting up regional reforestation associations are some examples.

It’s not too late to reverse the trend and it starts with us.