I was very interested to learn about the MSc in Environmental Entrepreneurship that was being offered by Strathclyde University. By equipping students with the skills to be successful entrepreneurs within the environmental sector, it seems to offer a solution to what is a real and perhaps rather large problem.
Environmental issues have become increasingly prominent over the last few decades, as a cultural and political understanding of key issues - particularly climate change - has developed. The depth of understanding of the consequences of such environmental issues is still rather poorer than perhaps it ought to be, but great progress has been made and continues to be made. A key challenge for the future is to turn this growing environmental awareness into environmental change, specifically in terms of behavioural change at the level of individual, community, and society and also in terms of corporate decision making processes within organisations of all sizes.
A group from Ernst and Young helping New Caledonian Woodlands who were helping at a new social enterprise near Aberfoyle called ‘Green Routes’
To successfully meet this challenge, it is necessary to tackle it in a number of different ways and I feel that one key way should be by nurturing a culture that supports and values responsible environmental entrepreneurship. What I know from setting up New Caledonian Woodlands is that a purely environmental skill set is inadequate for the purposes of launching and running a successful environmental enterprise. Business skills and an understanding of how to be an entrepreneur are also needed and a new venture has a much higher likelihood of success if these are available right from the start.
Some of the key solutions to environmental problems need to be considered within the context of the free market economy in which we are immersed. For this reason, responsible entrepreneurship has the potential to play a key role in the environmental sector, while also helping it to become more vibrant and innovative. This cultural shift will come from training and supporting people so that they have a more holistic set of skills that include environmental and entrepreneurship aspects in equal measure. For this to take place, it will be necessary to support the development of environmental entrepreneurship as a stand-alone concept rather than as an add-on to the more established concept of social enterprise. There is great potential for beneficial cross-over between these two sectors. I feel that New Caledonian Woodlands and the wider environmental sector stand to benefit significantly from an increasingly entrepreneurially-minded environmental sector.
New Caledonian Woodlands