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The Full Story

Why Good Growth

In 2006 Mandar and Nick worked together on a project with the aim of supporting nomadic herders in Mongolia to reach further up the animal fibre value chain. The program was a combination of brand development and supply chain design. 

Despite the project being extremely well funded, and adjudged to have been highly successful we were both unhappy. Herders didn't really benefit, the supply chains weren't integrated, and the branding element was tokenistic at best. 

After a period of soul searching we came back together with a common mission to "do it properly". We wanted to find a way to ensure that landscape restoration, supply chain design and finance were all aligned. We couldn't do that within existing structures, so we founded Good Growth.

We needed an integrated, unfragmented, systemic approach to address the interconnected problems of environmental degradation, extractive supply networks and a humanity damagingly disconnected from nature. 

So we went back to Mongolia to develop the system. We've made big progress on landscape restoration and community integration, and now are working hard with our partners on redesigning value networks to support landscape restoration. Some people call this "regenerative business design".

Nature degradation

Mongolia is in the frontline of environmental decline. A combination of severe overgrazing and climate impacts is eroding the grasslands. It's getting worse not better. Since 2015 millions of hectares have become "severely degraded", meaning there is no clear path to recovery. 

Many areas, like this part of the South Gobi, are dominated by bare patches with very little vegetation.

Accelerating decline

Despite widespread recognition that there are too many animals for the rangeland - 70 million in a landscape that can support 20 million - the volume of animals keeps growing. The result is ever more pressure on the rangeland and accelerated decline. 

Since 2015 healthy rangeland has declined from around 70% to less than 20%. One area, the Steppe, is now 42% "severely degraded" meaning there is no clear path to recovery. 

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Nature loss

As the rangelands deteriorate both plant and animal species are lost. We are especially focused on loss of grasses, and assess the health of a landscape primarily by recording plant communities. But wildlife is also suffering. Snow Leopards, Gobi bears, grey wolves, saiga antelopes, steppe eagles, saker falcons and eurasian spoonbills are all endangered. Recently we have seen signs of the return of these Khulan, a breed of wild horses. 

We extract too much

Supply chains have a direct impact on the landscape. Market driven pressures from clothing and food sectors drive prices down and numbers up. 

It is a feature of an economic system which does not recognise natural constraints. Overshoot day keeps getting earlier. Since 1970 we've been using up more planet than we can afford. 

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It is a system problem

Supply chains look at landscapes as a source of raw materials. And then only selectively. Cashmere makes up 90-95% of income from animal fibre, but is only 5 to 10% of the total fibre. 

By casting herding communities as "producers" our systems do not recognise any value they create by looking after the landscape. By focusing only on cashmere a monoculture is created - driving out biodiversity and eroding community resilience.

Too many animals

This fragmented system doesn't see or feel the impact on the landscape. All of the cost of over extractive supply is carried by fragile landscapes and the communities that depend on them. 

Since 1970 clothing companies have doubled the per head volume they make. 16KGs of clothing for every person on the planet, every year. 110 billion items. 

The pressure has got too much - which is why the landscape is degrading so fast.

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Disconnected

The heart of the problem is cultural. We humans have lost touch with nature. Deep in our belief system is the idea that we are separate from, above, nature. This belief translates into an economic system that is wreaking havoc on the environment. 

Good Growth is our attempt to change all of this, to prove that we can reconnect, and that we can create value that works for the planet. 

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