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The values that have underpinned commercial activity require an update. Humanity has managed to bring the planet to the brink of destruction, with devastating implications. Colonialism and an unquenchable thirst for natural resources played key roles in the now-unfolding environmental crisis, as extraction and exploitation became the norm in many parts of the world. These activities undermined indigenous cultures, and subjugated indigenous peoples - relegating them to footnotes in a supply chain. They also triggered overconsumption in wealthy countries, elevated profits over ethics, marginalized efforts to replenish resources, and curbed necessary climate action. Configuring a more just relationship between the planet and people, and between the people who have benefitted from resource exploitation and those who have been marginalized as a result, is now urgently necessary. Related efforts call for effective prioritization - and a recognition of the fundamental role played by indigenous peoples as traditional environmental custodians. Assumptions that modern technology alone can solve problems like the climate crisis errantly overlook the value of traditional knowledge, which has been progressively depleted and dismissed during the era of exploitation that brought us to this crucial juncture. The areas of the planet that tend to most conscientiously practice sustainability are managed by indigenous custodians using traditional practices. Evicting them from their lands in the name of economic development or to form “Protected Areas” is therefore a result of deeply flawed logic. Instead, there should be more mainstreaming of their approaches, acceptance of their sovereignty, and more of an effort to seek out their advice when it comes to stemming environmental damage. Ultimately, there is a need for fundamental, systemic change in terms of demand and consumption - including the manufacturing of more durable goods, and the reduction of disposable products that contribute waste. For businesses this calls for more sustainable, less expansive supply chains. The very values underpinning commercial activity require dramatic change. A greater emphasis on environmental protection is required, and greater returns must accrue to people by way of meaningful employment and just pay levels. The effort to achieve greater equality and sustainability is a key test for humanity, and one that it cannot afford to fail.

Protecting the Planet from People, for People

KEY TRENDS

Demands for Justice