Nature must now be 'engine of our economy', urges Prince Charles

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Dozens of large private-sector firms have promised Prince Charles that they will put sustainability at the heart of their businesses.

A range of chief executives have agreed to commit their companies to looking after the planet and caring for nature in what the Prince of Wales thinks is a “pivotal moment” in his decades-long campaigning for the natural world.

His new charter has been named Terra Carta, after the Magna Carta which was signed by King John in 1215 to guarantee the rights and liberties of people.

Prince Charles says Terra Carta will similarly ensure the “fundamental rights and value of nature” should become the focus for companies as they rebuild following the pandemic.

Prince Charles is keen to champion the environment. Credit: PA

The Prince said: “As we start a new decade, it is time to focus on the future we wish to build, and indeed leave, for generations to come.”

Firms like HSBC, Heathrow Airport, Unilever, Bank of America, BP and Drax have become the first signatories.

It’s an ambition created by the Prince Charles’ Sustainable Markets Initiative, which he launched to the world biggest businesses and CEOs last year at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The Prince of Wales, who this year will mark 50 years since he started campaigning for the environment following a speech on plastic waste in 1971, believes a moment of opportunity has arrived which will now compel private sector firms to align their own future profit to the future of the planet.

The world, the Prince believes, is at an “historic tipping point” and he calls for industry and government to bring forward “timelines for change”.

The Terra Carta will be launched alongside President Macron of France, when the Heir to the Throne makes an important speech at the One Planet event being held in Paris.

The charter is promising a $10 billion (£7.3 billion) fund of ‘natural capital’ which will be committed to reforestation and landscape renewal schemes.

A royal source said that Prince Charles believes that, finally, the world’s investor community is “seeing the benefits of sustainable investment”.

But given companies like BP derive profits from oil exploration and Heathrow Airport is committed to an extra runway and expanding the number of flights, the detail of what they have committed to will be critical.

Heathrow Airport is committed to an extra runway. Credit: PA

The Princes’ aides insist this is about working with the private sector and committing them to similar goals that governments have signed up to.

The Terra Carta has as many as 85 specific recommendations to for the companies follow once they become signatories.

“I am calling on CEOs around the world”, Prince Charles wrote in the Forward of the Terra Carta, “to engage and play their part in leading the global transition”.

He wants growth to be powered through sustainability “while positioning nature as the engine of our economy”.