Sustainable Business Strategies: Investors

Investors are one of the biggest, “below the radar”, drivers of sustainable business for the future, and are making slow and steady progress in sustainable and responsible investments.

The lessons for corporate sustainability champions are:

  1. While it may not seem that investors care about sustainability, their interest is steadily growing and will become very visible in a few years.
  2. The cost savings for companies from sustainability and rising expectations of limited partners are driving the interest in these investments.
  3. This trend will accelerate when the metrics for monitoring investments improve, which seems to be taking place now.  Nearly half of all shareholder resolutions typically have to do with sustainability.

Sustainable Business Strategies: Risk Management

2012 was the year in which risk management strategies to cope with sustainability mega forces became more sophisticated.

risk management

The lessons for corporate sustainability champions are:

  • Risk management for climate change and other environmental threats must become part of enterprise risk management.  If it isn’t, then you’re really in the minority.
    You need to make it a priority within your company.
  • Focus on business resilience, not just to extreme weather events that disrupt supply chains and operations, but also to the threat of resource constraints.

Sustainable Business Strategies: Natural Capital

Natural Capital2012 was the year in which natural capital (also called biodiversity and ecosystems services) began to get on business’ radar. This is a theme that has real staying power.  

Advice for the Corporate Sustainability Champion:

  •  Stay up-to-date with this important, rapidly developing area of sustainability. It appeals to business executives because it is easier to grasp conceptually.
  • Show why natural capital matters to your company. The way to do so is through a pilot evaluation of its materiality to business.
  • Join the coalitions that are beginning to form in this area, such as the TEEB for Business Coalition and the EP&L Consortium.

Top Sustainable Business Strategies from 2012

In case you missed it, this blog on Sustainable Business Strategies for 2012 was published on Triple Pundit on January 4th.

Sustainable Future
As you go about developing or revising your sustainable business strategies, it is worth reviewing last year’s key developments in important areas of business strategy.

They will only grow in importance this year.

Rather than focus on particular stories ably summarized elsewhere, here are key strategic themes and the underlying research that you can use as practical guidance.

Sustainable Business Strategies: Food and Water

Food and water, along with energy, comprise a resource nexus that will impact sustainable business strategies for all firms, given their central role in the economy.

Feeding the future world when water is constrained will be a daunting challenge . Food production will need to increase by 70% by 2050 in order to feed the projected global population of 9 billion.  Extreme weather will exacerbate the production of food and increase food prices disproportionately affecting developing countries where 70% of the household budget goes to food (the US figure is 13%).  Rising food prices have pushed 44 million people into poverty globally just in the past two years.  One tragedy is that smallholder farmers comprise 50% of the undernourished, even as they grow food themselves. Unfortunately, the prices of staple foods could double by 2030.