The Prince of Wales has urged business leaders to support his ambitious Earth Charter and “bring prosperity into harmony with nature, people and planet” over the next decade.
Charles launched his project by telling the private sector now was the time to “seize the opportunity” offered by adopting business practices that supported or replenished the natural world.
Speaking during the One Planet Summit, the prince called on the industry and finance sectors to provide “practical leadership”, as they were key to mobilising the “innovation, scale and resources” needed to move the global economy towards a sustainable future.
Called Terra Carta, or Earth Charter, the initiative has parallels with the Magna Carta – the touchstone for human rights and modern democracy – and aims to lay out a “recovery plan” towards sustainability that gives fundamental rights and value to nature.
The private sector is also being urged to invest 10 billion dollars (£7.3 billion) in “natural capital” by 2022.
The heir to the throne told delegates at the summit staged in Paris: “Today, I am making an urgent appeal to leaders, from all sectors and from around the world, to join us in this endeavour, and to give their support to this Terra Carta – to bring prosperity into harmony with nature, people and planet over the coming decade.
“I can only encourage, in particular, those in industry and finance to provide practical leadership to this common project, as only they are able to mobilise the innovation, scale and resources that are required to transform our global economy.”
Charles’ Sustainable Markets Initiative – launched last year to help accelerate the world’s transition to a sustainable future – created the charter and a Natural Capital Investment Alliance.
The alliance aims to encourage 10 billion dollars worth of commitments from founding Terra Carta supporters by 2022, which will be invested in companies and projects providing solutions to preserve and restore natural capital – renewable and non-renewable resources such as clean air and water and fertile soils.
Initiatives could include reforestation or landscape restoration, as a means to reduce emissions, restore biodiversity, and boost sustainable economic growth and job creation.
Charles told the delegates, who included summit co-host French President Emmanuel Macron: “Ladies and gentlemen, a sustainable future is, in fact, the growth story of our time – but it is up to us to seize the opportunity it presents.
“It is my profound hope that the Terra Carta might help us to do just that.
“Therefore, as we look to a brighter and more sustainable future, with our promises kept, let us join forces and waste no more time. With the clock ticking, it really is up to us to make each day count.”
The launch of Charles’ project comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the UK will spend at least £3 billion of its international funding for climate action on efforts to protect nature over the next five years.
The move is in response to the close connection between climate and nature, which has seen 68% declines in populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians since 1970 and massive deforestation.
Charles’ global project complements the Duke of Cambridge’s international Earthshot Prize, which has £50 million in prize money to award to ideas and technologies that safeguard the environment over the decade.
Terra Carta features almost 100 recommendations for the private sector that have been drawn from the business world following months of discussions, convened by the prince, with leaders from industry, governments, the investor community and philanthropy.
The aims range from urging business leaders to work towards breaking the reliance on fossil fuels to using the power of consumer and shareholder demand to drive sustainable transition and investment within the private sector.
Organisations supporting the project include Bank of America, AstraZeneca, HSBC, Heathrow Airport and BP.