Conservation Conversations

Topic 2: With The Tech Company Sector

Q&A with Chiel Liezenberg, co-founder and Chair Governance of EarthToday

People play an essential role in protecting the environment; not only those who conserve nature on the ground but those who use the power of technology and progressive business models.

Welcome to our series where we’re taking you into the, sometimes touchy, subjects that surround environmental protection in the hopes of providing you with information and knowledge on viable solutions for a sustainable future.

In this second conversation, who better to ask about how to prioritize nature’s needs while creating a business than the co-creator of a ‘for-purpose company?’

Chiel LiezenbergMeet Chiel, a zero-to-one person, an innovator inspired by ‘missions impossible.’ He is a hands-on entrepreneur with a passion for technology, product design, and human connection. Chiel initiated various payment innovations and fintech companies, holds several patents, and is an award-winning author. Various publications of his have helped shape collaboration frameworks in multiple industries. He now dedicates 100% of his time and energy to EarthToday as Chair Governance.

Is it possible to create a business model around nature?

Yes, that’s definitely possible and we’re starting to see it. While still few and far between, more and more business models are solely being created to benefit nature. Great examples are companies like Patagonia and Ecosia, with business models that direct all profits to protecting the planet.

Combining the expertise of non-profit organizations with the reach and scale of the private sector has the potential to make a positive impact on nature and society to the next level. That’s not to say it’s trivial or easy. For example, we had to design a specific legal structure for EarthToday because no existing solution met our objectives. It has simply never been done before.

We’ve developed a business model that is 100% for-purpose and directs 83% of all revenue directly to nature protection.

To enable this, and develop and roll-out globally at the same time, we attract capital from investors. And all investors agree upfront that when returns occur, ⅔ will be directed to nature protection. This means that impact and returns go hand in hand. We call this a ‘for-purpose company’.

What do you think are the simplest actions a company can carry out to help the natural world around it? And how is EarthToday leading the charge in this sector?

The conscious consumer is on the rise. And the call on companies for change is getting louder. Over and above reducing the negative impact of their supply chains, companies – and their employees and customers – increasingly value making an actual positive impact on the environment. Companies are trying, incorporating carbon off-setting, micro-donations, tree planting, and more.

Yet these solutions are not without flaws. Carbon is impossible for consumers to fathom and tree-planting, in reality, is not as simple as it seems. Consumers are looking for a simple, tangible, and engaging solution with a direct contribution to the global goal: protecting 50% of the planet. Something they can relate to, learn from, and monitor over the long term.

And that’s what we’re working on at EarthToday. On our global media platform,, everyone can protect nature for €1.20 per m². Companies can also link m² of protected nature to their products and services to reward loyal customers. You can virtually visit your m² and learn more about who’s protecting it, why that’s important, and how it’s going. And all revenue and profit is used to accelerate nature protection. And it works; consumers love it and companies are quick to follow.

Do you think it will be the norm to have a business that includes nature in it?

A thriving planet benefits us all, businesses included. The planet is generous to a level that feels like magic. You put one seed in the ground and get apples for decades. For free. Businesses will have to transform their operations in ways that support and invest in the natural world.

Businesses that want to survive and succeed in the coming age of value-chain disruption, caused by a loss of biodiversity and pressure on natural resources, will need to rethink traditional business models. They need to find new ways to bring about positive, sustainable change for themselves, for the planet, and for the people living on it. To give back. It is inevitable that it will be the norm to include nature if businesses want to be leaders in serving the upcoming generation of conscious consumers.

Having an activity centered on nature has many positive aspects; what do you think about it?

Clearly, centering your business around nature has benefits for the planet, people, and the long-term success of your company. But most importantly, it’s your chance to create a legacy. Not only to make a meaningful impact for generations to come, but also your chance to inspire others to follow suit. Partners, competitors, employees, and customers. To bring about a much-needed paradigm shift among the private sector and the public as to the role businesses have in protecting the planet.

Do you have any counter-arguments that people often tell you?

Sure, there are always people that have a different vision than ours. And that’s fine; we listen to them and learn. We have thought long and hard about everything EarthToday, and have yet to hear a counter-argument that makes sense. We’re beyond that, and now we just want to introduce our business model where we bring people and companies together for one purpose; the planet. The singular focus on profits and financial returns for shareholders just isn’t good enough anymore.

We believe that business as a force for good will be the norm, as having a positive impact is a must for customers and talent alike.

‘For-purpose’ business models are met with a critical eye, but are a good thing. There is a space between not-for-profit charities and for-profit companies: the for-purpose company.

All businesses have the opportunity to engage their customers in their contribution to protect nature, even if they themselves are not fully sustainable yet. We need to accelerate nature protection on a global scale. That’s massive. It is key that we all work together in protecting the planet. Meter x meter. And we need to include everyone, simply because every meter counts.

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Did you enjoy this second conversation of the series? Please let us know in the comments if there is a community you would like us to address.

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