In 2021, Paul Polman, who was the chief executive officer (CEO) of Unilever between 2009 and 2019, and Andrew Winston, a specialist on sustainable business, wrote Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take. This highly readable book provides a new and more appropriate framework for business, eschewing decades of dogma, which was aptly summed up by Milton Friedman as ‘there is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits …’
The authors define a ‘net positive’ company as one that ‘improves well-being for everyone it impacts and at all scales – every product, every operation, every region and country, and for every stakeholder, including employees, suppliers and communities, customers, and even future generations and the planet itself’.
It is an ambitious goal that, to our knowledge, no company in the world has achieved completely. However, a most positive recent development has been that numerous companies all over the world have started on such journeys.
The concept of net positive is not only good for businesses but also can and should be used for water management.
By Asit K. Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada, 2022. Article published in International Journal of Water Resources Development, Volume 38, Number 5, pages 737–741. DOI: 10.1080/07900627.2022.2110265