What does it represent for the generation living in 2040, that Impact in 2021 is the central focus of environmental and social health?
When I migrated from Australia to Europe in 2015, I had just completed both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. I was looking for ways to apply my newly acquired knowledge of medical, nutritional, ecosystem, systemic and environmental health — in a sustainable way. The obvious answer for me was the food system due to the potential within locked-in linear supply chains to become circular and improve the health of all actors working in as well as serviced by this system. 99 resumes and 4 countries later, the realisation hit me: Major food corporations and governing institutions were only interested in green solutions that bring economic benefit.
Fast forward to 2021, I am the CEO/Founder of Bios and Managing Director of Canguru Foods, while pursuing a PhD in sustainable energy systems. The language might have changed around the topic of sustainability, as people couldn’t agree if sustainability meant keeping things as they are or economic sustainability being valued higher than the earth. The hot buzzwords of the last years ranged from Green to greenwashing to green behaviours and now finally landed on Impact. However, the reality is, regardless of the primary function any one system serves in society — lets say for example Food and Energy systems in cities — the risk benefit analysis consistently continues to prioritise economic value over the value received by the earth or humans impacted by these systems.
What about Impact then in 2021? I do not claim to be an English scholar, considering I had to take adult learning night classes to learn how to write for my bachelor at the age of 30. What I do know is that there is a difference between Impact as a noun and Impact as a verb. However, the marketing of ‘Impact’ as social, environmental, and as both positive or negative appears to have created some confusion about the basics of English. So lets have an etymology check on the origins of the word ‘Impact’:
impact (v.) — this is a verb
c. 1600, “press closely into something,” from Latin impactus, past participle of impingere “to push into, drive into, strike against,” from assimilated form of in- “into, in, on, upon” (from PIE root *en “in”). Related: Impacting.
impact (n.) — this is a noun
1738, “collision, act of striking against, striking of one thing against another,” from impact (v.). Figurative sense of “forceful impression” is from 1817 (Coleridge).
My intention in starting here was to ensure we, you reading and me writing, have a common understanding of the historical use and application of the word Impact. What strikes me is, when reading academic works of the recent past or even last decade, Impact of people and business on the environment is used as a noun. This is known as environmental impact and even has a definition from Cambridge Dictionary:
- ·environmental impact — noun [ C, usually singular ]
- ·the effect that the activities of people and businesses have on the environment:
- ·possible/potential environmental impact of and on
Current approaches for reporting of environmental impact have been a big focus for corporations and institutions to begin communicating how their collective activities align with sustainable development goals, greenhouse gas and carbon accounting frameworks. Progress in this direction has led to lifting historical information and data from business operations to present information in alignment with these frameworks.
Working with historical data it is evident that business activities and human behaviour in society have contributed to a collision of collective activities with a massive Impact (Noun) on the environment. Yet industry 4.0 exists right? But if we have SMART cities and communities, where is the live data and information of the Food and Energy business Impact (verb) now in 2021?
I find myself in a tricky space now as the writer, because I was drawn to take this Impact verb/noun comparison further to include the heavy swing of 2021 marketing to now include Social Impact. A term alive in the world, Social Impact. Here I wonder if the above-mentioned environmental impact has resulted in a global calamity. Is this Social Impact? This Impact (verb) deserves attention now, as it is happening, in order to understand what is delivering direct value to community and society health. I feel Social Impact demands a follow up piece, because as I search Social Impact in the Cambridge Dictionary today 13th of May 2021, there is no definition only Search Suggestions.
Now I finally feel I am in the right place, with the support from a co-founder with a passion for healthy food systems, an ever-changing team of young adults committed to learning from experience and stakeholders across industry, academia and civil society organisations. Bios does not only support our current partners to communicate their environmental and social Impact (noun). Our product will also bring the Impact (verb) to life as it is happening across food/energy systems, leveraging existing and integrated data to engage directly with community to bring them more than just economic value. Let’s talk about Impact in terms of Human and Earth value as it is happening!