We connect places to products
Our system addresses three connected challenges
Economic incentives drive humans to be extractive - either as producers compelled to deliver more for less, or as consumers enticed into buying more for less.
The timescales for environmental regeneration and community integration are far beyond ordinary business and investment cycles - this is a long term systems approach that has to be designed and funded for the long term.
And notwithstanding the economics or time, at a fundamental level humans are disconnected from nature, the idea that we are "other" from nature, and superior to all other living things, pervades our belief systems.
What we do:
community integration; sustainable production;
regenerative products ; buyer connections:
all in one integrated system
We link regenerating places to products in an end to end system
Identify degrading ecosystems (e.g. Chigertei Valley in western Mongolia)
Establish a team of scientists to work out how to restore ecology and biodiversity in that place (seconded in from conservation outfits)
Our team works with the community who live in each place on a very long term (100 years +) regeneration plan
Build place brands from this story of regeneration (e.g. the Chigertei story)
Turn those place brands into community owned companies (the Chigertei co)
Develop place identified products from the materials in that ecosystem - in a mix that accelerates and reinforces natural balance
Bring those products into the worlds with impeccable regenerative credentials built on the story of origin
What we do - 1: Ecosystems - long term regeneration
We have assembled a world class collaboration of scientists - experts in wildlife, biodiversity, soil and pasture health, livestock management - and teamed them up with community integration experts to define within each place we work, exactly what needs to be done to restore the environmental health of that place.
This group is responsible for ensuring that every aspect of the Good Growth Company is regenerative from the get-go. Not just what we do in Mongolia, Patagonia, Cambodia, India, Norfolk or Scotland, but how the chain operates from end to end.
Our science partners are drawn from Altai Institute, the Wildlife Conservation Society, AVSF, the Natural Capital project from Stanford University (working with NASA on using satellites to monitor ecosystem health).
The aim is first to arrest degradation, and then to reverse it, to build resilience and the capability to address climate change and species extinction . Monitoring outcomes is a critical challenge, and we are combining satellite monitoring with on ground verification to ensure that we know in depth the state of the rangeland. The rangeland metrics are built upon the work done in South Gobi Cashmere Project, and the community integration is springing from the work done by AVSF in Arkhanghai. We are working with the CAAD to form our first collective of herders.
That collective, and those that follow, will form with us place brand companies - organisations that are the locus for the long term regenerative work, guarantors in taking 100% of the materials produced by the herders, and most importantly the keeper of the story. These place brand companies are the key building block in the system, the mechanism to align the livelihoods of the people in the place to the wellbeing of the place.
Bringing the costs of this ecosystem work - science, monitoring, community engagement, place brands - establishes a different set of relationships and reciprocal obligations. This is our investment in regeneration.
What we do - 2: product - products to restore ecosystems
We also commit to take 100% of the core materials from the herders through the place brand company and to create value from the entire stock of material.
We identify what the stock of natural core materials are and then work out what we can make from - not some of it - but all of it.
In the Mongolian ecosystems this means goat wool, yak wool, horse hair, sheep wool - fine and coarse. So we can make knitwear from the fine hair, socks and hats from thicker hair, then blankets, and from the very thick hair felted wadding for eco packaging.
In Patagonia it means sheep wool and also wild sheared Guancao wool. And in Cambodia it means rice, sesame, cashews and mung beans.
The breadth of product creates more value from the whole span of the natural materials - supporting a regenerative balance instead of driving up one product (say cashmere wool) to the exclusion of everything else and to the detriment of the environment.
This provides both income and certainty for the herders/farmers and makes regeneration valuable. By having brands engage directly with herders the relationship becomes a partnership, not transactional. Further it ensures impeccable source of origin credentials for the brands.
We are starting commercial operations with cashmere, yak, and sheep fibre from Arkhanghai, branching out to South Gobi and Chigertei; and in parallel a value chain for sheep wool and wild-sheared guanaco fibre from Patagonia, which WCS has been developing for over ten years.
We will develop the fibre into superfine products brought to market initially through two brands - Navygrey and Khunu - and will develop a new range of products from coarser fibre - sleeping bags, mattresses, bedding, curtains, horse blankets - to realise value for currently low-value fibre. We will work with partner brands on place identified product lines (e.g. "Chigertei" knitwear)
Rachel Carvell-Spedding, founder of Navygrey is CEO, overseeing all the brands and products.
Our first fiber products, a demonstration of the system, will be out at the end of 2021.
In parallel we are developing the Ibis Rice brand (including their amazing pepper rice cakes) which has a strong track record in reversing deforestation in northern Cambodia. Ibis can act as the spine of a "food" platform - the aim is to develop that platform so that it can be replicated in further ecosystems (such as Madagascar) from 2023.
What we do - 3: buyers - value from source of origin, reconnect to place
Our market bet is that by combining impeccable source of origin credentials with a groundbreaking “regeneration” story that goes way beyond mere ‘sustainability’ we will create deep and special consumer connections. This is a proposition that appeals both to people seeking reliably sustainable and ethical products (growing all the time) as well as to people who feel a sense of kudos by buying products that are “regenerative” not “extractive”.
The products will be place identified - explicitly connected to the special places they came from, and valuable for the story of regeneration.
A percentage of the final selling price of the products is returned to each place brand company as a licence fee.
What we do - 4: research and development
Across all parts of the operating system we have identified key research and development activities that are ongoing:
Develop protocols to establish regeneration indicators, metrics, targets, and production standards in multiple locations - use basic methodology from South Gobi Cashmere Project and IBIS to finalise and refine
Develop an ecosystem monitoring system (integrated into the business cycle) - integrating satellite technology with the existing ground-based system to provide dynamic and ongoing data on ecosystem health
Operationalise a herder engagement model - use IBIS as a model and add elements of SGCP
Develop small scale batch processing technology - small washing and milling units that can operate within herding and farming communities. These eco friendly small scale units work with minimal water and avoid the harmful chemicals that typify "big" supply chains.
Design community integration interventions - economic schemes as well as ways to realign sense of identity with the place
Product development, innovative materials, and manufacturing - working with different fibres to create new products and materials and value from whole herd (coarser fibres, different animals currently neglected)
Consumer interaction and engagement - politicising consumption, certifying regeneration
Financing the whole as a system - long term funding for each ecosystem to fit with the long term cycle, a co-managed fund to develop ecosystems that brings together the interests and partners from conservation, business and economic development.