Andrew Winston has been providing a top ten list of sustainable business stories for the last four years. He is the co-author of the best-seller Green to Gold and the author of Green Recovery. His forthcoming book, The Big Pivot, will be released in April. He advises some of the world’s biggest companies on environmental strategy. Here are eight questions for sustainable business in 2014 and beyond.
1. Will the divestment movement continue to gather steam and put significant pressure, either financial (unlikely) or moral (much more intriguing), on fossil fuel companies?
2. Will all the talk about building a circular economy gain mainstream acceptance?
3. Will we get better at valuing natural capital (and will companies and markets care)? It certainly garnered lots of attention this year, with new estimates of the damage the global economy does to natural assets (trillions), new tools to measure natural capital, and an important new book from former Goldman partner and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, Mark Tercek.
4. Can challenges to our consumption-driven model go gain currency? Patagonia continues to launch programs like its Responsible Economy initiative and a backlash to Black Friday, “Worn Wear,” which suggests that we should enjoy what we already own.
5. Will the resilience push take hold? New York City released a $20 billion plan to get the city ready for more extreme weather — will companies embrace the risk-reduction benefits of different thinking and planning?
6. Finally, why haven’t more companies followed some of the recent sustainability leaders? Paul Polman at Unilever stopped providing quarterly guidance a few years ago so the company could focus on real value creation. And Microsoft and Disney remain really the only two big companies charging their own divisions a carbon fee (yes, as CDP recently reported, and the New York Times put on the front page, 29 large companies now use some kind of internal pricing for carbon. But most of these are “shadow prices,” in use for years, not actual fees.
7. Why has the pace of change lagged the urgency of our mega challenges?
8. Will more than a small number of companies embrace a much deeper change to business as usual?
Source: Harvard Business Review
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Infographic: Global Solar Energy 2007 – 2014