August 2nd 2017 is Earth Overshoot Day – the day that humanity is estimated to have used as much from nature as our planet can renew in a whole year.
For the rest of the year, we run an ecological deficit, taking more from the planet than it can renew. This reminds us that our resources are becoming more scarce, despite some major global progress in tackling climate change.
This will not only affect our planet, but also our economy. The most successful businesses in the future will be those which develop ways to prosper within planet Earth’s capacity to support them.
Entrepreneurs create tomorrow’s businesses. Therefore, entrepreneurs have an important role which is why Scotland’s Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is partnering with the Entrepreneurial Scotland network.
Entrepreneurial Scotland harnesses talent at all stages from across all sectors of society. With a fast-growing network reaching across Scotland and internationally, Entrepreneurial Scotland is acting as a catalyst to bring together a diverse, talented and ambitious group of people who have the potential to transform our economy, our society and our planet.
SEPA is changing the way we operate to broaden our reach. We need more people putting the environment centre-stage in their thinking. SEPA will work to support businesses and entrepreneurs that want to go beyond basic compliance with environmental law in ways that help them to open up new market opportunities for new products or innovative practices that can be sold across the world.
This not only brings big benefits for our environment, but also means more profitable and resilient businesses that create more jobs which last. Many businesses in Scotland are reaping the economic benefits from focusing on environmental gain and it’s those we want to see step forward and show the leadership required.
This is an ambitious strategy and delivering it will require creative and collaborative ways of working. It is a big task, but if we can pull it off, there will be great benefits for Scotland.
SEPA is supporting Entrepreneurial Scotland’s 2017/18 Saltire Fellowship Leadership Development programme because we aspire to applying an entrepreneurial mindset to some of the most persistent environmental issues – such as what to do with used tyres, a wasted resource that sometimes fall into the hands of criminals.
Part of the programme involves participants working on a series of global challenges that they take with them on an international learning journey to Silicon Valley and Babson College, Boston, where they are tasked with applying entrepreneurial approaches to develop new solutions.
Perhaps entrepreneurial thinking can solve the tyre challenge, create economic success and save the planet? We shall see.
Terry Ahearn is chief executive of SEPA.