To Our Dear Stakeholders,
As I write this message for our very first Integrated Report, the whole world is in varying stages of lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic. With the prospect of a vaccine not yet in sight, we’re all still in a dangerous “dance” with the virus — simultaneously avoiding it, yet trying to regain some of the normalcy of our past lives that now feel like a world away. Prescient voices warned of this possibility. We all assumed that dystopian events like this only happen in movies and sci-fi novels and most of us dismissed the probability of it even occurring in our lifetimes. We convinced ourselves that modern technology and medicine will always come to the rescue. So we went on with our lives.
What is overwhelming us today in this pandemic is but a sneak preview of the geologic-scale changes that will result from an unabated climate crisis. These changes are already evident in record-breaking temperatures and natural catastrophes hitting the planet every year now. Early this year, a record-high temperature of 20.75 degrees Celsius was set in the Antarctic. At the time of this writing, the Arctic also broke historic records with a high temperature of 38 degrees Celsius. The incessant rise in the world’s carbon emissions has put us on a trajectory of a global temperature rise of between 3.7 to 4.8 degrees Celsius by 2100. That’s an unlivable planet!
Today, we have a narrowing window left to keep warming within the desired 1.5 degrees Celsius agreed to in Paris under COP 21, or watch it run away from us irreversibly. The upcoming decade of the 2020s will critically determine whether we succeed or not. To succeed, humanity needs to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 6 percent every year until we achieve net zero emissions in 2050. For perspective, the lockdowns and passenger transport restrictions resulting from the pandemic are expected to bring emissions down this year by about 8 percent; which means we need a COVID-scale catastrophe every year until 2050 just to achieve the 1.5 degree Celsius target! How did we get into this existential crisis?
Central to all this is the all-too-common mindset that man is apart from, and not a part of, nature — that nature exists to serve our wants and needs, regardless of the toll we inflict upon it. Today, our global population of 7.8 billion humans consumes an estimated 1.75 Earths per year. That’s 75 percent more resources than our planet’s ability to replenish. According to the Global Footprint Network, US lifestyles consume an average of 5 Earths, which many others on the planet aspire to attain. Yet the pattern of growth is broken: instead of lifting all boats, it has left too many behind. The top 10 percent of the world now owns 82 percent of the wealth, a trend that’s set to worsen over time. The populism that’s sweeping the world is a symptom of this growing disenchantment with business, politics, and life as usual. Clearly, our planet’s natural environment and its social fabric are already ripping at the seams.
The natural, social, and political forces being unleashed in the coming decade will likely make it the most challenging and most disruptive business has ever seen. The COVID-19 pandemic is but a mere “fire-drill” for what’s coming and demonstrates the scale at which things need to change. We are living in a time of great paradigm shifts, and businesses that seek to thrive in this era must be able to reimagine and redesign themselves for this new world.
In this kind of a world, corporate sustainability that seeks to simply “tick the box” or do less harm is no longer good enough. Sustaining our trajectory today will result in disasters that are not only greater in scale, but also are more unjust towards those who do not have the capacity to cope with the devastating changes that are already here and continue to escalate.
Businesses need to align themselves, their resources, and their capabilities towards a mission that seeks to elevate everything they touch – their customers, employees, suppliers, contractors, the environment, communities, and, of course, their investors. There is an urgency for all of us to go beyond incremental sustainability and transform into regenerative forces that align our profit engines with the need for a better world and a safer planet. I am certain that humanity, collectively, has the creativity and innovative energy needed to solve the world’s greatest problems. Unlocking these will be the foundation to some of the greatest business opportunities in the coming century.
This year we crystallized our Mission at FPH and our group of companies and that is: “To forge collaborative pathways for a decarbonized and regenerative future.” It’s a deliberately high bar and we’re nothing short of humbled by it. But we expect this short phrase to be the beacon that guides us through this turbulent decade and beyond. We’ve also put into words our Purpose and Chosen Path, etching out the role we see for ourselves in the coming years with greater clarity. The ideas and principles behind our words are not new. We’ve been living and breathing most of those principles the last decade. At times we felt we may have been getting ahead of ourselves and where our investors wanted us to be. But even back then, just like today, we’ve always been playing for the long term, reading the tea leaves, and conscientiously transforming ourselves into what the world needs us to be.
I hope you enjoy reading our recrafted Mission and Purpose as much as we did rewriting them. More importantly, I hope you’re encouraged to come along with us on what will be a rewarding and purposeful journey.