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Business will be the force that drives society’s transformation to a low-carbon economy.

With limited involvement from the business sector so far, our progress has been inadequate. Yet, of the world’s largest 100 economic entities, 40 are corporations, and they generated over $7.9-trillion (US) in 2012, giving them – rightly or wrongly – the economic power to create the change we need.

Environmental IQ in the business world today is reflective of that among the general adult population, with many believing that less than five percent of Canadian adults are truly environmentally literate.

Couple this with the fact that soon, 75 percent of Canada’s population will be covered by one form of carbon pricing mechanism or another, and you see a clear signal that we are no longer in a “business as usual” scenario. Taking a leaf out of nature’s book, those pursuing – or enabling – innovative adaptation and mitigation strategies will prevail. The invisible hand of the market is quite effective, once unleashed.

Corporate leaders now face myriad threats to the viability of our businesses: supply chain disruptions due to climate change, rising long-term commodity and energy prices, water shortages, weather-accelerated infrastructure degradation and increasing consumer demand for better solutions, especially among millennials. 

However, talking about these challenges isn’t enough to get business to manage them effectively. Environmental IQ in the business world today is reflective of that among the general adult population, with many believing that less than five percent of Canadian adults are truly environmentally literate.

How then do we fix the problem of the (well intentioned) illiterate leading the illiterate? 

This issue of A\J will demonstrate the value of effective strategies for business and explore career strategies for those entering the field.

The business case for building in-house expertise in sustainability varies by industry, but has never been stronger, as Gavin proves in Make Way for the CSO. Businesses need to address everything from avoiding sustainable economy risks (such as stranded fossil fuel assets and investments in resource projects that will never win social license) to building an innovation strategy providing a competitive advantage and improved brand equity. Bea Boccalandro’s article Work with Purpose demonstrates that many organizations find enough benefit through enhanced employee engagement alone to justify green investments. 

We will also explore the actual career paths of some of the most effective sustainability professionals from across Canada, including Clean50 award winners who are making a real difference on the ground. We’ll see that the emergence of the profession has given rise to unique opportunities for individuals to repackage and apply disparate backgrounds into sustainability leadership roles.

Forward-thinking CEOs need to act now to both adapt to today’s realities and prepare for carbon pricing and increasing risks of broken supply chains, extreme weather events, rising insurance costs and water shortages – to name a few. 

This edition of A\J will give readers a taste of the benefits to be derived by mimicking successful programs from across Canada, like HP’s Eco Advocates. We invite you to join the organizations that are enjoying substantial benefits from deploying sustainability as a key business strategy. 

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