How to empower companies as sustainability trailblazers to lead the change that we need? This was the million-dollar question that everyone, including us, tried to answer at this year’s 2023 Reset Connect, with Martina Casani reporting below from one of the main stage panels: How to mobilize Key Stakeholders to Meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Be inspired! (tip: the best insights at the end ;-)!)
Beyond Politics: companies stepping up to solve the sustainability crisis
Politicians clearly failed to effectively guide and channel sustainability transformation. Governments can and should still do a lot, either with a stick - taxation or fines against anti-sustainable practices - or a carrot - incentives to foster the green transition. Or perhaps both. At this point, though, the “ball” (and the hope) is now in the commercial sector’s field, where every company is supposed to be a “sustainability company”. But how could the private sector be incentivised? Here are some of our answers.
Sustainability will drive companies to new heights: discover how
1) Take (and make) sustainability easy
Sustainability is complex as it requires a mindset shift and a significant change in the way a business operates. That is why vendors - like U-Earth - that provide solutions to sustainability challenges have the responsibility to make it easier. For example, with Pure Air Zone, we made clean air as easy as subscribing to a WiFi service. Everything is plug & play, you have a real-time super easy reporting system, and a marketing kit to promote your clean air credentials even if you’re an SME. So the first incentive that can accelerate the move to SDG is about easy user experience.
2) The 4Ps to hack sustainability
We’ve just run a survey asking more than 150 sustainability leaders to give advice on how to bridge the gap between intention and execution. Some very hands-on tips came up and…surprisingly…they all start with P ;-)
Projects The sustainability journey must definitely follow a plan. However, starting with specific projects with clear accountabilities and defined KPIs is a great way to create and build the confidence to then take the next steps and embark on more significant challenges
Platforms Platforms are great tools to bring stakeholders together. Q-Cumber is an example of a great platform that can be used to frame sustainability projects that engage all the relevant stakeholders in a territory (local institutions, companies, and citizens). Is a new factory going to be built? Framing the project with such a platform allows you to measure and minimize the environmental impact and maximize the value for all the stakeholders in the area.
People To do great things you need great people. And it looks like the leadership profile of a sustainability leader is quite well-rounded; like a perfume, that has head notes, base notes, and heart notes.
Head notes are the most important: these come from the sum of strategic thinking - clear vision - forward thinking and they are mentioned essentially by almost 50% of the respondents.
Base notes refer to knowledge and operational skills that have been listed by 25% of the respondents.
Passion and resilience take almost the rest (20%) indicating that the emotional drive and motivation are key to facing the obstacle that the sustainability journey includes.
Promotion Sustainability is about communication, inside and outside the organisation. The action starts from awareness. That’s why a key to success is sharing sustainability projects and engaging as many people as possible around those.
3) Sustainability is a business opportunity
At the end of the day, it all comes down to this: if you're not motivated to do it for the planet, do it for your own business's sake. In just a few years, the demand for sustainable brands and partners will soar, and failing to adapt means being left behind in the market. A whopping 80% of survey respondents made it clear that today's pioneers are setting new competitive standards through sustainable practices. Still not convinced? Consider this: a study by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission estimates that achieving the SDGs could unlock a mind-boggling $12 trillion in market opportunities by 2030. And that's not all! The World Economic Forum's analysis suggests that implementing nature-positive policies could generate a staggering $10 trillion in new annual business value and create 395 million jobs by 2030.
Redefining Success: Sustainability By Design
Solving climate change is the greatest challenge of this century, but also the greatest economic opportunity of our lifetimes. The trick is that sustainability should be embedded in any business model, engaging all the stakeholders, to move from impact to collective impact. That’s the way to go. And if politics lag, companies must lead.
We’d like to share, as a final thought, the insights from Mariana Mazzucato, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London. “First, business leaders need to see things differently, recognizing that their success depends on a collective effort. Second, they must learn to do things differently, allowing more stakeholders to benefit. Third, they have to collaborate differently, focusing on a shared mission. Finally, businesses should redistribute wealth differently, reaching all contributors to the value chain more equitably.“