“It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.”
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Business sustainability continues to grow in profile and activity. However, do you know if you are focussing on what’s important? More importantly, how do you know if your sustainability approach is having any impact in the real world? What are the big sustainability issues in 2017?
This article provides a brief taster of the sustainability issues which we believe will be significant in 2017. It is a introduction to a more detailed look at these issues and their implications in terms of trends for corporate and business sustainability in 2017.
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We believe the key sustainability issues in 2017 will include (in no particular order):
- Climate change
- Food production
- Water scarcity
- Changing demographics
- Geopolitical instability
- The global development agenda
- Inequality and global equity
Of course, such issues are large and complex (to simplify greatly). They involve global citizens, governments, civil society, institutions and NGOs and drive public and policy agendas. They also involve business – but how can your company get its head around the challenges these issues raise?
Impacts and priorities will be different in different companies and business sectors, depending upon the resources they depend upon, how they compete, their customer base and market positioning.
However, in general, these big sustainability issues will affect your company as follows:
- How your business activities depend upon and impact the issues, and the implications that changing availability, prices and risk may have for your business model – the dependencies that you have and your vulnerability to change in these dependencies
- The nature of evolving policy, regulation, investor focus and emerging sustainability standards
- Public attitudes and behaviour
- Changing customer requirements
- The changing competitive environment
These factors can either be viewed as threats to business as usual or as opportunities to innovate your business model, products and services.
Whatever the appetite for innovation and leadership in your company, these evolving issues will continue to drive the integration of sustainability considerations and priorities into the way your business undertakes the following:
- Strategic analysis and strategy development
- Risk analysis, assessment and planning
- New product development and business innovation
- Performance management
- Non-financial communication and reporting
There’s no single magic bullet to simplify what this means for any one business. However, there are practical and straightforward tools and processes which we use with our clients to identify the issues that matter for them, develop ambition, vision and strategy and plan real-world responses to maximise opportunities and build business value.
By confronting the issues that matter for you in your company and planning business-relevant action it’s possible to develop leadership, win market share and build businesses fit for the future.
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What are likely to be the big issues and trends for corporate and business sustainability in 2017?
Understanding and responding to the big sustainability trends is often referred to as context based sustainability, read our concise and informative article on business and global sustainability context. Or you can read our short and very affordable eBook Sustainability context: why the elephant is the room, now available on Amazon Kindle.
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Want to read more? What will be the sustainable business trends in 2019?
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