The concept of sustainability has garnered lots of attention in recent years. Not all of it good. A big question for us — what’s next for sustainability in 2022?
Expectations: What’s Next for Sustainability in 2022?
As Andrew Winston observes for the Harvard Business Review:
In 2021, many climate trends that gained steam in years past became the norm. During 2022, look out for the growing youth voice, ESG tug-of-wars and new standards, and more partnerships to solve big problems, among other coming trends. There are some other trends that were more promise than reality in 2021, but could gain steam in the year ahead.
- A loud, growing youth voice. At the climate summit in Glasgow, while the Boomer and Gen X leaders stumbled toward moderate improvement in climate goals, Swedish climate leader Greta Thunberg led youth groups in chants of “blah, blah, blah.” Young Millennials and the Gen Zers that are entering the workforce today are speaking out.
- An ESG (environmental, social, and governance) tug-of-war, with both acceleration and backlash. The rush of money into ESG will continue. Pressure will come from younger people — members of wealthy families asking for more focus on impact investing. Yet, we’re starting to see pushback on what ESG even means.
- More standards and regulations. To help manage the ESG anarchy, regulators and watchdogs will continue to develop standards for companies to follow.
- Continued expansion of business’s role in society. In the last couple of years, business and NGO leaders have felt the need to make statements and take action on everything from LGBTQ rights to racial equity to democracy. With a gap in government’s ability to solve our biggest problems, we will see companies face higher expectations from customers, communities, investors, and employees.
- Revisiting issues that got lost. The broader sustainability agenda did not slow down. But, some issues took a back seat. Concern about plastics and packaging, for example, was a huge issue in 2019.
- More partnerships to solve big challenges.
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