San Pedro Sula, Honduras - April 13, 2012. Ms. Kerri-Ann Jones, the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, participated in the sixth meeting of the Environmental Affairs Council of the CAFTA-DR free trade agreement, held in member country Honduras. At a press conference Secretary Jones congratulated WEC for its technical assistance to small and medium enterprises to improve their environmental performance. Read the full article from the Honduran press here.
The Feb. 22-23 gathering in Lausanne, Switzerland, of 47 sustainability experts from leading global brands generated insightful discussions on social innovation and changing business models. WEC's Germany office has compiled an excellent one-pager on results of the roundtable: learn about the latest initiatives of L'Oreal, Unilever, Novartis and many others in their full WEC roundtable summary.
From the landmark Gold Medal gala to hugely successful capacity building in China, Latin America and Morocco to driving groundbreaking sustainability forums around the world, 2011 was a banner year for the World Environment Center. Learn more about WEC's exciting achievements in our 2011 Annual Review.
WEC's China office has released its February 2012 newsletter, available at http://www.wec.org/china-newsletter-updated. For this and all other news in Chinese from our Beijing team please visit http://www.wec.org/china.
On February 22 and 23 in Lausanne, Switzerland, the World Environment Center and IMD Business School will lead a Roundtable, hosted by Novartis, exploring social innovation and sustainability.
The objectives of this Roundtable include:
• Understanding sustainability as a driver for innovation and business success.
• Building additional competencies in social innovation and learning how to incorporate the concept into the company’s business model.
• Sharing learning from new practices/approaches and discussing opportunities for cooperation and activating partnerships with business, government, academia, and NGO’s in sustainable development and corporate social innovation.
The Roundtable is structured to provide a highly interactive process of discussion among approximately 40 global environmental and sustainability leaders. It is an invitation-only event and no media will attend.
The full agenda is available here.
IBM to Receive World Environment Center's 2012 Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development
Washington, DC, February 9, 2012. The World Environment Center’s (WEC) Twenty-Eighth Annual Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development will be awarded to IBM for its commitment to advancing environmental sustainability throughout the company and providing business solutions in support of more sustainable cities and the planet. IBM Chairman Samuel J. Palmisano will accept the Gold Medal Award on behalf of the company on Thursday, May 3, 2012 during the Gold Medal Presentation Ceremony in Washington, DC.
IBM was selected by the independent Gold Medal Jury, chaired by Dr. Joel Abrams, Professor Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh. The Jury found that IBM’s long-term commitment to integrating sustainable development into its business strategy and operations, and its specific efforts toward developing information technology products and services for sustainable cities as part of its “Smarter Planet” initiative, merited the award. IBM now becomes the first company in the history of this award to receive it on separate occasions, having also been the 1990 recipient.
IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative applies instrumentation and intelligent systems through interconnected services to design innovative business solutions to a host of business and societal challenges, including electricity generation and distribution, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reductions, more efficient government services, healthcare, traffic management and mobility, and water conservation.
“We are deeply honored to receive this award,” said Mr. Palmisano. “For IBM, corporate citizenship, environmental stewardship and profitable growth are all inherent to building a smarter planet. We are most excited to be working with progressive mayors, their teams and community leaders in smarter cities around the world, as they seize upon the vast quantities of data their cities generate to drive growth and sustainability in the face of unprecedented urbanization, economic and technological change and increasing social mobility.”
“On behalf of the independent Gold Medal Jury, I extend my congratulations to IBM for advancing sustainability across its business operations and for enabling the public and private sector to extend their own aspirations and achievements,” stated Dr. Abrams. “The Smarter Planet initiative and its application to making cities more sustainable, will establish long-term benefits for society and shareholders by improving the quality of life for the majority of the world’s population that now lives in cities. As with past recipients, the Gold Medal provides a positive incentive for IBM to continue to improve its noteworthy achievements through innovative investments in people, technology and systems.”
The World Environment Center’s Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development was established in 1985 to recognize significant industry initiatives in global environmental excellence and sustainable development. Recent recipients of the WEC Gold Medal Award are: Nestlé (2011), Wal-Mart Stores (2010), The Coca-Cola Company (2009), Marks & Spencer (2008), Alcan Inc (2007), ABN AMRO Bank (2006), Starbucks (2005), Johnson Controls Inc. (2004), and the Ricoh Group Ltd. (2003).
The WEC Gold Medal Jury is independent of WEC and its programs, and is composed of international leaders from academia, government, non-governmental organizations and retired industry professionals.
The World Environment Center, headquartered in Washington, DC, with offices and operations in emerging and developed markets, is unique in its direct application of sustainable development strategies and practices to the business operations of its member companies. WEC creates sustainable business solutions through individual projects in emerging markets; convenes leadership roundtables to shape strategic thinking across a range of sustainability topics; and honors industry excellence through the annual Gold Medal Award. An independent non-profit organization, WEC conducts no advocacy activities. For more information please visit www.wec.org.
Please see the full press release here.
Bloomberg BNA caught up with Wayne Balta of IBM and Terry Yosie of WEC to learn more about their new partnership to launch an Innovations in Environmental Sustainability Council. "We wanted to have deep conversations with like-minded companies about systemic innovation,” said Balta, IBM's vice president of corporate environmental affairs and product safety. “If you look at these firms, they all have well-recognized, long-standing commitments to operating well, and they are also companies that have a bias towards innovation. They purposely come from diverse industry sectors because that will give us an interesting discussion.” Read the full article and learn more about the inaugural February 2012 meeting here.
November 9, 2011 -- WEC's Ernesto Samayoa participated today in the National Congress on Cleaner Production in San Salvador, El Salvador, hosted by that country's Ministry of Economy.
WEC's Cleaner Production Partnership work, funded by the U.S. Department of State, was highlighted through the event's program.
Mr. Samayoa participated as a moderator for a panel discussion on loans and financial mechanisms available to the bank sector for the purpose of fostering Cleaner Production practices and investments.
World Environment Center and Net Impact Spotlight Business Skills for a Changing World with New Report on Teaching Sustainability in Business Schools
(Washington, D.C.) October 27, 2011 – The World Environment Center (WEC) and Net Impact today released a joint report evaluating the skills required for advancing the sustainability strategies of global companies. The report, Business Skills for a Changing World: An Assessment of What Global Companies Need from Business Schools, highlights the skills required for careers in companies with strong sustainability commitments, and discusses what business schools can do to ensure graduates have those skills.
The study evaluates data taken from interviews with 33 senior sustainability executives in global companies. They included senior leaders of companies sponsoring this assessment: The Boeing Company, The Campbell’s Soup Company, The Coca-Cola Company, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Ltd., IBM, and Johnson Controls, Inc. The data underscores the importance and business value of sustainability, and contains numerous concrete examples of what global companies are doing to implement sustainability throughout their operations, from cross-functional management advisory groups to employee driven green teams. It also looks at how Human Resources can help or hinder the acquisition of new talent with the skills necessary to enact business’ evolving priorities, particularly in sustainability.
The study resulted from a September 2010 roundtable event hosted by the World Environment Center in which representatives of global corporations and academia met to discuss the teaching of sustainability, the needs of the marketplace, and opportunities for better alignment between the two.
The report includes a review of the skill sets required of new MBA hires who plan to work in companies that are actively implementing sustainability programs. According to the executives interviewed, the balance between inward-looking technical and management skills, outward-focused communications, and customer and stakeholder management skills is a priority for nearly all companies represented in the report. While technical knowledge and traditional business acumen are key to understanding business and environmental challenges, it is equally as important that professionals addressing such challenges also have the communication skills necessary to galvanize various business units across the organization. Citing examples from the executives interviewed, the report outlines the skills necessary to navigate the unique requirements of sustainability in business.
The report also underlines executives’ thoughts on the most effective ways to teach sustainability in business schools, including practical examples of curricular changes. Executives had many suggestions on how companies could become more engaged with business schools, too, in order to make their skill needs known to the schools, such as allowing themselves to be the subject of case studies, speaking to MBA audiences, and advising schools on curricula planning.
“The integration of sustainability into the business strategies of companies is one of the most important emerging opportunities for value creation in the global economy,” stated Dr. Terry F. Yosie, President & CEO of the World Environment Center. “This study identifies the skills that will add value to a sustainability strategy, and examines the space between business and academia to determine not only what the real-time needs of the market are, but also how graduate students are being taught to address them.”
The report is being released in conjunction with the 2011 Net Impact Conference, held this year in Portland, OR. Net Impact’s annual conference brings together over 2,500 business school students and practitioners to discuss trends in socially and environmentally responsible business.
“Students are demanding to learn sustainability-relevant skills from their MBA programs, and are looking for employers who value this mindset,” said Liz Maw, Executive Director of Net Impact. “We are excited to see companies engaging more with business schools to prepare future sustainability-minded leaders.”
Dr. Yosie will lead a panel discussion at the Conference on October 29, in which the teaching of sustainability in business schools, and the skill requirements of the marketplace, will be addressed.
World Environment Center (WEC) to participate in Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Initiative Ministerial Meeting
WEC has been invited to participate in the Pathways to Prosperity Ministerial meeting to be held in Dominican Republic, on October 4th and 5th, 2011. On behalf of the World Environment Center, Mr. Ernesto Samayoa, Director of Operations for Latinamerica, will participate in the panel discussion “Sustainable Entrepreneurial Practices and International Environmental Cooperation,” where he will present WEC´s successful “Greening the Supply Chain” initiative. The "Greening the Supply Chain" initiative has been developed throughout Latin America, North Africa, and Asia, promoting economic growth and sustainable development among SMEs of developing countries.
WEC was recently awarded funding from the Department of State to execute the new initiative “Pathways to Cleaner Production” under the framework of Pathways to Prosperity, to promote the adoption of best practices in Latin America.
White House Council on Environmental Quality Appoints Gwen Davidow of World Environment Center to Senior GreenGov Position
August 17, 2011 - The World Environment Center (WEC) announced today that Gwen Davidow, Senior Director of Corporate Programs & Operations will take a short term assignment with the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), within the Executive Office of the President, to further the mission of the U.S. Government’s major sustainability initiative known as GreenGov.
In this position, Ms. Davidow will serve as the Senior Program Manager in the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive to support OFEE’s efforts in implementing the GreenGov Symposium and the GreenGov Awards programs scheduled for October 31 to November 2, 2011. She will work to develop public-private partnerships, promote technology sharing between the private sector and Federal agencies and manage interagency coordination initiatives. Ms. Davidow’ experience in working with leading private sector companies in sustainable development will further inform and expedite private sector innovations in sustainability to the Federal government.
At the World Environment Center, a non-profit, non-advocacy global sustainability organization, Ms. Davidow has focused on the design of collaborative programs with the private sector such as the Greening the Supply Chain initiative in China, and she provides central management to WEC’s U.S. government-funded sustainability initiatives and public-private partnership activities that include a variety of non-governmental organizations. Ms. Davidow holds a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Virginia and has an M.B.A. in International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. She has lived in Chile, Guatemala, Italy, Mexico, South Africa, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe and is fluent in Spanish.
Headquartered in North Carolina, Ingersoll Rand is a $14 billion globally diversified industrial products and services company. Its product mix includes: stationary refrigerator equipment, air conditioning systems and services, transport temperature control equipment, and locks and security systems.
Now Available: Summary of Roundtable on "Managing Social Responsibility Challenges to Business in Less Developed Nations"
When doing business in less developed countries global companies face additional challenges such as extreme poverty, child labor, insufficient infrastructure, weak and often corrupt governance structures, low enforcement of the law as well as a lack of cultural and regional understanding. Under these circumstances, it is difficult for global companies to implement their sustainability commitments across all areas of their operations. To address these challenges, the Roundtable was structured into five parts and covered experiences from countries in Africa, Asia and South America:
a. Understanding the additional sustainability challenges for business in less developed nations.
b. Exploring a sustainable business model including sustainable sourcing strategies across the entire business.
c. Securing ethical standards under weak legal frameworks within the boundaries of a company’s influence.
d. Minimizing the negative impact of business operations on local communities while maximizing the benefits.
e. Practical solutions for managing social responsibility on the ground – access to medicine and water.
The Roundtable was structured to provide a highly interactive process of discussion amongst 22 sustainability experts from five countries. 64% of participants came from WEC member companies, 9% from non-member companies, and 27% from academia and NGOs discussing experiences from countries in Africa, Asia and South America.
Major Discussion Points:
(1) Within global companies, sustainability conversations (especially those focused on social responsibility) are frequently too narrowly focused. This occurs at a time when human rights issues are increasingly used by stakeholders as a normative framework for the social aspects of sustainable development. Successful companies are taking into account the inter-related scientific, psychological and socio-political realities they encounter in specific countries.
(2) Sustainable sourcing is hampered by the lack of global standards or weak national standards. Companies must use existing standards and develop their own company codes and practices. These efforts must be supplemented by joint initiatives with competitors (consistent with anti-trust laws); partnerships with international organizations such as NGOs and multi-lateral institutions; and strategies whose aim is to obtain alignment across specific value chains. In trying to elevate global supply chain standards and reduce the number of suppliers in order to minimize business risks and costs, companies need to be mindful of other consequences (e.g. impacts on child labor, substitution of greenhouse gases).
(3) Social responsibility is expanding the boundaries for corporate actions and motivating companies to respond in areas where government is failing. In the case of child labor in global companies’ supply chains, the Roundtable addressed best practices such as: a zero tolerance policy for child labor; constructing and maintaining educational facilities that provide children with an alternative to work; extending micro-credit to women to eliminate poverty; and maintaining rigorous monitoring and verification of on-going programs and results.
(4) Innovative institution-building is an important part of successful sustainability strategies. Key factors to success in delivering goods and services to underserved customers in emerging markets include designing the appropriate business model; regarding people not as aid recipients but as customers; developing appropriate market pricing and time-to-market strategies; creating decentralized partnerships with communities; developing on-the-ground knowledge of local conditions; and ensuring service reliability. There are a growing number of innovative institutions that integrate global companies, international lending bodies, government agencies and venture capital firms together with the capability to deliver products and services.
(5) An effective starting point for combating corruption is to gain knowledge about communities and people, such as identifying the most corruptible points in a community, a company and an NGO, and understanding if earnings for business partners provide for a living wage.
WEC President & CEO Terry F. Yosie Delivers Keynote Address at 2011 US—China Green Development Symposium
Washington, DC - June 13, 2011 - World Environment Center President & CEO Terry F. Yosie, in a major address on key disruptive forces in the global economy, presented a four-point set of recommendations for expanding the speed and scale of progress to grow global markets for sustainable products and develop more collaborative approaches to innovation.
Stating that “we in the sustainability community continue to look at issues primarily through a single lens—water, energy, climate, transportation, or food,” Dr. Yosie called for the development of new forms of collaboration where traditional boundaries across the private sector, government and NGO communities become less relevant. Specific recommendations included:
Engineer the benefits into the products so they become self evident. Rather than expect consumers to have a conversion experience prompting them to purchase higher priced greener products, a more effective approach is for companies to design energy efficiency, recyclability, fewer natural resources, and other sustainability criteria directly into the product at the same time as they improve quality, performance and price.
Global companies must take responsibility for their value chains. Few institutions are as well positioned as the global corporation to bring more order and structure to economic relationships that can simultaneously advance global sustainability standards while providing affordable goods and services.
Develop new forms of co-creation and collaboration to achieve global scale in sustainability initiatives. Co-creators of value are business partners, non-governmental organizations, governmental agencies, universities and individual families who are sources of new ideas for new products that can expand the infrastructure for renewable energy technologies, create closed looped systems, and foster greater competition with non-sustainable products in the marketplace.
Get the leaders and the experts in the same room. The goal is not to assemble all of the technical knowledge at the same time but, rather, to recognize that all of the major players—businesses, policymakers, NGOs, and consumers—must be part of the same system-wide conversation in the same room with a bias for converting their agreements into action over time.
These recommendations were delivered with the understanding that disruptive global changes will continue to “intervene and periodically undermine our best efforts to create a more sustainable and just world,” Dr. Yosie said. He concluded: “The real risk is not that these disruptive developments will occur. It is that our responses to them will be inadequate. It’s time to co-create the future.” These recommendations were presented at the 2011 US—China Green Development Symposium hosted by The World Bank.
Click here to read Dr. Yosie's full keynote speech.
Water today is cheap, poorly managed and becoming increasingly scarce, and what is already a complex issue is only going to get more complicated as the global population continues to swell and the world's aging infrastructure gets older.
Similar to the challenges facing us with climate change, action on water scarcity is torturously slow. But unlike climate change, water shortages are a near-term life-or-death situation. The good news is that the battle isn't going unfought.
On Tuesday, Dow Chemical Co. brought together 60 of the world's leading water experts for a free, fast-moving virtual conference that explored the past, present and future of the global water challenge as part of its The Future We Create initiative. Sixty representatives from industry, academia, nonprofits and other thought leaders each offered back-to-back one-minute messages about water as it relates to people and businesses.
"The key to solving our biggest challenges lies at the intersection of science, collaboration and human ingenuity," Mary Jo Piper, Dow Chemical's public affairs manager, said in an email. "Collaboration is critical -- it requires human interactions and productive conversations based on mutual respect. That's why Dow created The Future We Create conference series -- to provide a meeting ground for leading-edge thinkers and curious minds to learn, share and act for a better future for us all."
We'd be remiss if we didn't ask the question: Is Dow the right company to talk about the future of water? The company has had its own water-related issues, including a dioxin clean-up near its headquarters and lawsuits alleging water contamination. While the company wouldn't comment on pending litigation, it did note that technology from its Water and Processing Solutions unit is being used to produce 22 million cubic meters of water daily around the world. It has also managed to reduce water consumption at its biggest production site by a billion gallons a year, which is fairly impressive by any measure.
In any case, the virtual conference included a wealth of interesting information. Below are some memorable quotes that caught my attention from the program, which is still available online:
• "Water is cheap right now, relatively speaking; it's not going to stay that way. It's not plentiful; it is not going to become more plentiful. The time for companies to act is when it's less expensive to act, versus more expensive to act. Companies that have invested in water technologies include Khosla, Kleiner, DMJ -- huge corporations out there. I think all of this activity bodes well for the future of water and our ability to handle our water challenges, though there is a long way to go." -- Lara Abrams, founder of Lara Abrams Communication
• "An average American uses more than twice as the amount of water as the average person uses in Hamburg, Germany; Rotterdam, Holland; and Barcelona, Spain. Similarly, from India to the Gulf countries, per capita water use is two to three times that of the cities which have more efficient water use." -- Asit Biswas, president, The Third World Center for Water Management
• "One of the things I've learned is that very few places know exactly how much water they've got with any accuracy. It's really difficult to make good investment decisions if you don't know how much water you've got to put into those investments. What we are seeing though is a massive change in the way people are engaging with their resources and their governments because of new technologies." -- Julia Bucknall, Water Unit manager, World Bank
• "An example of innovation could be Bolivia, where there's a village where they have these special mushrooms. They're sort of like a truffle that grows under pine trees. They found that if they add some fermented urine to them that the mushrooms will grow much faster. This is a great market, it's an existing market and this is an innovation that they developed locally. What we're trying to do is use that demand for urine as a reason to build a toilet. So we're finding some really interesting ways to build on local innovations to solve sanitation problems." -- Susan Davis, chief partnership officer, Water for People
• "I've found the biggest enemies of progress in the water sector are two things: turf and inertia. This leads to big anomalies in the water sector. For example, water is the biggest user of energy. That hasn't been widely known until recently ... What we need to do is step back and look at the opportunities created by these anomalies. -- F. Henry Habicht III, managing partner, SAIL Capital Partners
• "Let me give you a sense of what water stress means on a very human level. Half of all hospital beds around the world are filled with people with waterborne diseases." -- Lisa Nash, CEO, Blue Planet Network
• "Indoors, fix all leaks and take shorter showers. You can also use water-saving devices, include high-efficiency toilets, shower heads, aerators, washing machines and dishwashers. You can find even greater water savings outdoors. Again, fix all leaks. Use soaker hoses and drip irrigation." -- Janet Nazy, executive director, Partnership for Water Conservation
• "Most people don't know the true source of their water. The Nature Conservancy recently did a poll of 1,000 Americans and less than a quarter could name the actual lake or river where their water comes from." -- Jeff Opperman, senior scientist, Global Freshwater Team, The Nature Conservancy
• "One of the things we've learned at Coca-Cola is that water is not just a physical resource. We obviously use a lot of water, but we've really learned that water is a very special molecule. It really is not a commodity like electricity, it's a cultural issue, a deeply social and political issue in many places and countries; it has tremendous religious symbolism. As we operate around the world, we've come to understand and appreciate -- in part the hard way through some of the lessons we learned in India -- that we really need to learn to respect water, in terms of earning not just the physical license to operate, but the emotional and social license to operate." -- Jeff Seabright, vice president for Environment and Water Resources, The Coca-Cola Company
• "We believe it will always be available to nourish our bodies, grow our crops and operate our factories. Water availability and purity are increasingly scarce, not only in arid regions. The removal of inefficient subsidies, technological innovation and better water management must each do their part to solve the global water crisis. But so must each one of us. We must do nothing less than re-examine our relationship with water." -- Terry Yosie, President and CEO, World Environment Center
WEC's Greening the Supply Chain work in Costa Rica is featured in the March-April 2011 issue of Revista Industria, in an article entitled "Reinventar la rueda sin Contaminar," which describes "Implementing Practical Solutions for Greener Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)."
Peter Schnurrenberger (F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Ltd.), Bob Langert (McDonald's), Albert Cho (Cisco), Beth Stevens (Disney), and Claus Conzelmann (Nestle) at the 2011 Colloquium
Download the complete summary here.
WEC Gold Medal Colloquium, National Press Club, Washington, D.C. May 20, 2011
The acceleration of sustainable development initiatives in the marketplace has stimulated a variety of business model adaptations to serve current customers and create new ones in emerging and developed markets. The Colloquium presented a diverse range of business model experimentation as practiced by companies in multiple sectors. Major questions addressed in the Colloquium included:
- What frameworks should companies consider for updating their business models and co-creating value with customers and stakeholders?
- How are sustainability initiatives driving the evolution of business models?
- What are critical, unique scaling issues that must be resolved to integrate sustainability with core business functions?
- What are potentially disruptive factors to current business models?
AECOM: Gary Lawrence
Boeing: Mary K. Armstrong
Coca-Cola: Jeff Seabright
Cisco: Albert Cho
Disney: Beth Stevens
Ford: John J. Viera
General Electric: Ann Klee
Harvard University: Jane Nelson
IBM: Jacqueline Jasiota Gregory
IMD International: Aileen Ionescu-Somers
Innosight: Matthew J. Eyring
Marks & Spencer: Mike Barry
McDonald’s: Bob Langert
Nestlé: Claus Conzelmann
Roche: Peter Schnurrenberger
Royal Dutch Shell: Allard Castelein
Unilever: Gavin Neath
Walmart: Andrea Thomas
WEC: Terry F. Yosie
WWF US: Jason Clay
The Colloquium generated a highly interactive discussion among 135 attendees and included senior executives from global companies, non-governmental organizations, governmental agencies, universities and consultancies.
Major Points of Discussion:
Many companies currently under serve customers in both developed and emerging markets. The critical task of successful business models is to focus on unmet needs that can be fulfilled at a profit, incorporating functional, emotional and social factors. Most companies make incremental changes to their business models instead of deconstructing them from scratch and learning from quick and cheap failures. As a result, companies overspend and take too much time in adapting their business models. Similar rules for business model innovation apply in both developed and emerging markets.
Consumers are beginning to educate global companies as they evolve their products and services across a variety of markets. Reconciling the views of consumers and stakeholders is a specific challenge, as is obtaining strong signals from consumers in a variety of markets. Manufacturing mobility rather than cars, becoming more energy efficient, understanding the manufacturing footprint, reconciling the role of agriculture with sustainable biofuels production, providing healthier menu choices, and understanding the value proposition of communities are current examples of consumer perspectives that influence business planning. A basic learning is that “You have to engineer the benefits into the products so they become self-evident.” However, product-related conversations with B2B customers or government agencies are very different than those with consumers.
Limits in the ability of natural systems to provide food and other raw materials will prompt a major re-examination of business objectives and practices. Some major questions include: where will future food ingredients come from, and can sufficient food supplies be provided? How is food processed? How can companies eliminate embedded risks in supply chains without dictating responsible sourcing methods? How can robust systems be developed to trace product ingredients across the value chain? Will raw materials be available at sufficient scale? Can ecosystem services be protected and expanded? How can companies, governments, NGOs and consumers achieve system level integration across a multitude of climate, food, water and energy challenges?
Global companies are transitioning to global scale by taking responsibility for their value chains, including the consumer. This transition raises a number of issues: avoiding a parallel universe of “green” products that confuses consumers when the objective should be to embed sustainable qualities in all products; creating consistency, focus and value among multiple labelling and certification schemes; improving the valuation of natural capital; resolving the problem of many suppliers and NGOs currently lacking the global scale that companies need; and focusing more attention on the worst performing areas of impact rather than improving the best performing areas. More fundamentally, many critical economic sectors, such as agriculture, lack global scale. The challenges of achieving global scale in sustainable business operations will require the development of new innovations and skills that expand the level of collaboration across critical value chains.
The emergence of newer co-creation models provides major opportunities for business innovation. Of particular importance are such issues as: system level integration of specific value chains at the pre-competitive stage that enables companies to work with their competitors; emergence of new sources of intellectual creativity or technology development platforms such as the IBM Jam or GE’s Eco-Challenge Initiative; development of challenge funds; dematerializing business processes and products; the need for the financial sector to play a larger role in the growth of sustainable markets; and financing the adaptation to climate change.
There are major disruptive factors that will reshape business models in the future. They include: population growth and urbanization; the growing domination of global trade and emerging consumption within Southern nations such as Brazil, China, India and Indonesia; the emergence of disruptive technologies and the accelerating rate of global change; protecting the integrity of companywide network security systems and making information systems more resilient; supply chain risks; growing food security challenges and the possibility of civil unrest; the integration of social media with sustainability planning; and planetary limits to growth.