Driving Sustainable Development: Exploring Shared Value Platform in Global Conservation Projects

August 22, 2023By Grace Smith

Recently, Laconic announced a joint partnership with Pro Natura International (PNI) for large, global conservation projects. Part of the project includes implementing the Shared Value Platform (SVP) to drive localized, sustainable economic development while promoting United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG).

What exactly is the Shared Value Platform? Let’s find out and see how it fits in environmental conservation.

Together is Better

In 2011, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) and FSG, a social impact advisory firm, published Creating Shared Value, an article about reinventing capitalism. Did capitalism need to be fixed?

During the early 2000s – between Enron, the Global Financial Crisis, the dot.com bubble burst, the European Debt Crisis, and the Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme – society had grave doubts about capitalism and corporate behavior.

The HBR article set off a series of actions and soul-searching. The idea of advancing economic and social values (while simultaneously making a profit) went from “it’s not our problem” in the early 2000s to “we can differentiate ourselves by addressing social problems” in 2011 and beyond. One result is the Shared Value Platform (SVP), developed from ProNatura’s methodology in close collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC – World Bank Group) and Harvard/World Bank’s 2030 Water Resources Group using a methodology that is recognized by private sector, academia, organized civil society, communities and governments around the world.

At its core, the Shared Value Platform, created by policies and practices, enhances a company’s, a regions, or a government program’s competitiveness while simultaneously advancing the economical, sustainable, and social conditions in the communities in which it operates. SVP is at the intersection of business opportunity, social need, and corporate assets/expertise.

In other words, when businesses and communities work together, aligned with governments, the outcome benefits everyone. In the environmental conservation world, projects that adopt an SVP process are transparent and collaborative in serving stakeholders in the best possible way.

Creating Shared Value

Historically, large development projects with economic growth goals came with a cost: ecological damage, social unrest, and economic concentration at the local and regional levels. Shared Value re-imagined this and looks at the entire picture, always starting with a bottoms-up approach by serving the communities most in need.

While every company’s projects and strategies may vary depending on their industry, geography, and how they intersect with social issues, Shared Value policies and practices fall into four main categories:

1. Social and Data Equity

Social and data equity is focused on leveling up and promoting cultural and behavioral changes. This includes empowering and financing communities with the SVP Blended Finance mechanism; enhancing healthy outcomes; promoting labor rights; paying a dignified and appropriate wage; tackling poverty; accelerating entrepreneurship, providing job opportunities and improving overall diversity across the board. For instance, in the agroindustry, small and medium-scale farmers can optimize land management practices, which in turn contribute to the overall sustainability and carbon sequestration efforts.

2. Reconcieving Products and Markets

When a new product or service satisfies an unmet need, not only does the corporation gain increased revenue, profit, and/or market share, society benefits from the paybacks of the product or service. Benefits include improved patient care, reduced carbon footprint, better nutrition, and improved education.

3. Redefining Productivity in the Value Chain

Better management of internal operations can increase productivity and reduce risk. At the same time, society benefits may include reducing energy or water use, reducing raw materials, improving job skills, and creating/increasing worker income – all while moving toward better income distribution and inclusiveness.

4. Enabling Cluster Development

When a company’s external environment improves through community investment, strengthened local suppliers, and local institutions, costs can decrease, and the company has a more secure supply chain and access to a larger pool of workers. At the same time, the community benefits from better educational opportunities, more jobs, better health, and improved income. As the formal regional economic ecosystem grows, the government taxation increases, all while helping fund and solve several social and local issues on the government’s agenda. In turn, public policies such as tax exemptions become an enabling tool promoting new value chains and encouraging inclusiveness.

Measuring the Shared Value Platform

Key to the Shared Value principles is a continuous measurement process. Data and insights form a continuous feedback loop for future strategies. In practice, this means identifying the social issues to target, defining how the project will improve business performance and the societal benefits, tracking progress, and measuring the results. These grass root level projects are a showcase for how larger scale projects can have significant impacts on the human development index – more jobs, increased standard of living, higher GDP – it is a repeatable cycle that encourages larger investments and for-profit capital with low risk.

The Laconic and Pro Natura Partnership

Behind our partnership with Pro Natura is Laconic’s ability to provide accurate and ongoing data on environmental conditions. Pro Natura’s and Laconic’s approach is well aligned, taking a bottom’s up approach in working with vulnerable communities focused on scalable green social businesses where a blended financial structure can have an impact multiplier.

As part of the partnership, Laconic’s Environmental Intelligence platform, SADAR™ will collect and capture a baseline of a project’s environmental ecosystems to better establish in real-time an understanding of all the environmental variables at play and through derivatives provide data and social equity for the local communities involved. Additionally, Laconic will monitor carbon sequestration, soil health and carbon stock baselines to help PNI make environmentally sound business decisions based on multi-modal analytics, a key component of Laconic’s Environmental Intelligence services. The first projects are expected to aid the state of Mato Grasso, Brazil, in meeting its decarbonization pledge by 2035.

Interested in Learning More?

Additional information about Shared Value Platform with examples of projects that span technology, food, and healthcare is available. Harvard Business School, in cooperation with FSG, offers this report which includes case study summaries covering Intel, Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Novo Nordisk.

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