Not only in Europe but all over the world, companies and organizations are starting to understand that doing business as usual is no longer a valid option. There is indeed a shift in perception running through corporate DNAs as management are linking sustainability to long-term existence.
After all these years of best practices and fact findings, this is not too soon …
Recent studies based on data from the Sustainability Global Platform, had a closer look at corporate sustainable behavior in six regions worldwide (Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, North America, South America). And they came to surprising conclusions.
Adoption of corporate sustainability has become culturally, legally and industry sector related. Philanthropy reaches its height in North America while Canada places emphasis on education. Europe has always been more democratic with a lot of focus on equality and social aspects. With the Netherlands and France emphasizing their attention and dedication mainly to different stakeholder issues.
The adoption of sustainability is also directly linked to specific industries as some sectors are more inclined to change. This indeed seems to be true.
Last week Agoria, Belgium’s largest employers’ organization and trade association, covering 5 industries, organized an interesting event for young professionals to give them a taste and feeling on what’s going around in these industries today.
Leading companies such as the cable company Telenet , cooling specialist Baltimore Aircoil, radiation expert Mirion Technologies, lighting partner ETAP, and Japanese giant Panasonic, all explained their specific implementations and practices. With different angles and focus on CO2 reduction, recycling, efficient machinery, water-materials-energy management and waste, innovative product development and social engagement, they all made strong cases in their approach.
However what is still missing in general and all over the world, is the idea of real integrated development, and using sustainability as a strategy and springboard to wild profitability. What are the revenues that can be directly attributed to a product, a service or line in business, with sustainability at its core? We still don’t know…
What we do know is that companies that embrace sustainability seize new business opportunities. They have convinced skeptical shareholders, go beyond greenwashing, incorporate innovation into their entire chain of production and enable break-through results.
Adapting business models and practices, innovation to create sustainable products, brands and partnering (often with competitors) to drive scaled impact, is for many still a step too far. This is mainly the case for European companies as the value-driven and economic perspective on sustainability is far less popular than in the US.
Today America’s Green economy is worth $1.3 Trillion per year, a huge opportunity. The same market exists in Europe.
If our companies want to keep growing long term, this is where to invest.