Sustainability Innovations Power Forward on a Planetary Scale

April 28, 2021

By Garrett Ilg—April 22, 2021, Oracle Magazine

We’re all familiar with the business adage that sometimes “less is more,” but is more ever less? It is when it comes to the critical area of sustainability, which requires companies and individuals to invest more of their vast resources and innovation capabilities to lessen their environmental footprints.

There is no single definition of sustainability. In the context of Earth Day, I’d like to focus on efforts to mitigate climate change; improve the quality of our land, seas, and air; preserve biodiversity; ensure a reliable supply of food and water; and conserve our dwindling natural resources—broadly, efforts to maintain the planet in a condition where life as a whole can flourish.

After decades—really, centuries—of neglect, we as a planetary collective are starting to make progress on a number of sustainability fronts. Working together, individuals, companies, industries, and governments can make a significant difference:

More than 800 cities and 1,500 major corporations worldwide have committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, according to a recent report from the SustainAbility Institute.

In 2008, when National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project began its mission to create marine reserves free of commercial fishing, only 1% of the world’s oceans were protected. Today, it’s over 7%, though biologists say we’ll need to protect 30% of the oceans by 2030 to prevent a mass extinction of marine species.

Largely due to technological and data-informed advances, agricultural productivity is growing globally at an average annual rate of 1.63%, according to a Virginia Tech report. But it needs to increase at an annual clip of 1.73% to sustainably produce food, feed, fiber, and bioenergy for the planet’s 10 billion people in 2050, the report maintains.

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