April 2023 Message from Glenn Prickett President & CEO
April 25, 2020
Spring has arrived in Washington, DC. The cherry trees have bloomed and now the redbuds and dogwoods take their star turns. In a city that prides itself on being busy and important, our glorious spring pageant forces us to pause and reflect on nature’s beauty and power.
We also remember that nature’s power is not always benign. Extreme weather in a changing climate is wreaking havoc on community after community with freak storms, droughts, floods, and heat. After too many years debating our response to climate change, society now faces the double bind of addressing its immediate impacts while simultaneously reducing emissions to limit future damage.
For business, this creates a strategic challenge. Just as companies are coming to grips with the need to decarbonize their businesses, they face a suddenly urgent range of related, but distinct priorities: water scarcity, biodiversity loss, supply chain disruption, and environmental justice, to name a few. In the words of naturalist John Muir, “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”
The scale of this challenge came into focus in WEC’s recent Executive Roundtable on ESG Disclosure. Companies wrestled with how to comply with the U.S. SEC’s new Climate Rule and the contemporaneous EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, which focuses broadly on a wide range of environmental and social impacts.
This strategic challenge creates new business opportunities. Jacobs, the 2023 winner of WEC’s Gold Medal Award, provides an inspiring example. In 2019, Jacobs overhauled its business strategy to align with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. As a result, the company is strategically positioned to respond to the many societal disruptions accelerated by climate change, from water, to health, to social equity.
WEC’s Thought Leadership program in 2023 will help our member companies address the strategic challenge of responding to multiple priorities made urgent by climate change. At our Gold Medal Symposium on May 17, we will learn from Jacobs and former Gold Medalists how to align business strategy with the SDGs. Executive Roundtables for the remainder of the year will address Decarbonizing Value Chains in Hard to Abate Industries, Scaling Regenerative Agriculture, Investing in Nature Based Solutions, and Achieving Net Positive Water.
Read on for more information on these programs. At a moment in history when the rush of urgent priorities can seem overwhelming, WEC is committed to helping our members create and implement effective, practical, business strategies to advance sustainable development.