Sustainability Strategies – how to start
“Sustainability is business and business is sustainability “
Every organization or company needs a sustainability (or ESG) strategy.
And there are hundreds of models to help you choose and focus. All of them (should help you through the following starting points:
- What is your sustainability challenge or opportunity? There is no universal answer, but a good start is by checking and prioritizing the UN 17 sustainable development goals. Remember to use a geographic filter in your assessment as agendas and needs differ widely around the globe. For each subject determine if it is:
- Just a set of necessary boundary conditions
- A driver of important marketing tools
- A true differentiator
- An opportunity to create a new business (model)
2. From these high level goals you need to get closer to your own business, industry and value chain. Where are you (or can you be) relevant. Look at your complete value chain, the biggest impacts may not be in your own operations. And most solutions need cooperation of multiple parties.
3. Sustainability choices need to be sustainable. This is not an oxymoron! Solutions need to work at scale and over a number of years. Remember the move to bio-based fuels resulting in possible food shortages or move to palm oil resulting in deforestation challenges. Any solution multiplied by 6 or 7 billion consumers creates new challenges, you need to think them through.
4. Make the sustainability goals an integral part of your strategy, change plan and operations. Of course, it needs special attention – but it not a separate agenda, because
Sustainability is business and business is sustainability
What do my own experiences suggest
Listen to your employees, they know what is needed ánd how it can be done.
Watch out for short term trendy wins, they can back-fire. But also, do not look in the rearview window, look forward, read and interpret the early warning signs, get prepared for scenarios of unknown parameters.
Transparency is very important, communicate your vision and intentions, be challenging, but also remain realistic in short term goals. But also be transparent where it hurts.
Walk the talk, behavior and actions are much more powerful than words and presentations.
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