Once again, the authoritative Harvard Business Review weighs in on corporate sustainability with a commentary piece on the top trends of 2017 – with “big leaps both forward and backward” in the year just concluded. And there was some predictability, writes author Andrew Winston in his commentary, as he says he predicted: “…the context for sustainable business in 2017 may center on the competition between two stories, the election of Donald Trump and significant action on climate change…”
Of course, as we all quickly learned after the January 20 inauguration, the U.S. signaled it would be pulling out of the historic Paris Climate Accord – to become at some point in 2018 probably the ONLY country standing by itself. At least at the [Federal] governmental level.
And so, Trend #1, writes Andrew Winston, is the “Newtonian equal-and-opposite reaction from business, states, and cities – nothing short of amazing – their pushback on policy decisions is my #1 story of 2017.”
Other top stories & trends that he picked:
#2, the deadly costs of climate change became even more obvious.
#3, Trump Administration begins dismantling of environmental protections.
#4, (we can hear the cheers at your end as you read this – “investors woke up about climate risk and benefits of sustainability”).
#5, something to carefully watch from other leading economies (like the USA!) in 2018, China accelerated its cleantech advantage with a series of dramatic moves.
Completing the list:
#6, cleantech continues the relentless mark and coal continued to die (Morgan Stanley predicted an inflection point in 2020 when renewable become the cheapest energy source globally).
#7 is “famous CEOs” took moral stands (Tesla’s Elon Musk, Disney’s Robert Iger and others).
#8, companies took a stand, such as suing to fight the president’s first Executive Order (the poorly-executed and hateful immigration ban).
#9 is the early -2017 event that millions watched on TV, the Super Bowl, as companies touted in their very expensive ads their views on social sustainability and stands taken on the new administration’s policies.
Finally, at #10 author Winston has in focus the global Unilever, “the consensus corporate leader on managing sustainability for business and social value” -- fighting off a takeover bid by Kraft Heinz and 3G Capital.
What is your list of top stories and trends for 2017? Send us your nominations. And if you have not already read G&A Institute Chair Hank Boerner’s book published at the end of 2016 and looking into 2017 and 2018, the book is available with our compliments. (“Trends Converging! – A 2016 Look Ahead of the Curve” – that is, what’s ahead in 2017 that affects Sustainability & CR managers…sustainable/ESG investing professionals?)
Reading Trends Converging! you can see what is working / what may not work if the policies of the Trump Administration and the Congress intervene on the wrong side of history. The book is can be downloaded at: https://www.ga-institute.com/research-reports/trends-converging-a-2016-look-ahead-of-the-curve.html
About the HBR essay: Author Andrew Winston wrote the popular books “Green to Gold” and “The Big Pivot.” His “So What’s Next” look at mega-trends is included with predictions for 2018.
This is a very powerful column and we urge your reading – it’s our Top Story for you this week.
This is just the introduction of G&A's Sustainability Highlights newsletter this week. Click here to view the full issue.