Thinkers360 2023 Predictions are member-sourced from our opt-in B2B thought leader and influencer community with 100M+ followers on social media combined. The 2023 Predictions are part of a series to provide actionable insights for business and technology executives.
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We asked a selection of our Thinkers360 global thought leaders and influencers about their predictions for Sustainability in 2023. Here’s what they told us…
What are your predictions for Sustainability in 2023?
This should no longer be a debate. By 2040 we will need 70% more energy on the earth if we want all citizens to experience the level of energy and resource consumption of the west. The bigger question is how we think about sustainability at the more microcosmic level, our lives as managers, parents and members of communities. Do we choose not to fly because the carbon footprint is worth more than the potential value of a meeting? Do we re cycle office space and furniture and not have whole buildings with AC when the team only meets there once a week? These sound like small, microcosmic things but for sustainability to truly work we each need to take deeper responsibilities for how we contribute. Research we just did with Cambia Information group showed how Americans by 2025 will be more to consider EV’s than ICU’s. That is ten years ahead of government legislation. Do we have enough charge stations at our offices or maybe local events we are planning. Every little thing will help in 2023 and beyond if we take this personally.
– Michael Gale, CMO, Snr VP Wind River.
When we talk about sustainability, we cannot wait for others to do something. Still, we must take action ourselves to pursue the goal of reducing emissions and safeguarding the future of our planet and our civilization. We can be sustainable by consuming less energy in our daily life and using less polluting cars. But we can also be part of the solution through decentralized energy generation, as with Energy Communities – private citizens who save the planet without waiting for others to do so.
– Antonio Grasso, Founder & CEO at Digital Business Innovation Srl.
As 2030 looms closer, there will be an increasing sense of urgency to achieve the SDGs, and a realisation that they will not be achieved without large scale deployment of Tech for Sustainability. Large scale use of big data will and analytics be key to predict, measure and report across the SDGs, combined with AI, Blockchain, IoT and 5G. Mobile technology combined with Blockchain and gamification will be used to incentivise large scale community action, combined with the power of the influencer economy to drive concerted action.
– Dr Jane Thomason, Chair of Board at Kasei Holdings.
At time of writing we are already over 25% of the way through the decade, with every five weeks that pass signifying one percent further to 2030. As such, my prediction for sustainability in 2023 is that we will see focus in corporate sustainability move away from data-gathering and aggregation towards taking urgent action based on the insights we’re able to generate quickly. We’ve spent years trying to construct the perfect dashboards, but nothing is going to happen if we just sit around staring at them rather than changing our behavior. I also anticipate that the focus of our attention will expand towards a broader concept of sustainability that places more emphasis on social issues, particularly human rights; organisations have been grappling primarily with their environmental impact thus far, but the upcoming European human rights legislations will force companies to look more closely at their performance across other dimensions under the banner of “ESG”.
– Mark Perera, CEO & Founder at Vizibl.
In 2023, the world will continue to move toward a sustainability mindset, primarily fueled by consumers and policymakers. As the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the United States proposed new climate-related disclosure requirements for public companies in March 2022, researchers believe this is only the beginning. Additionally, as Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, and his family donated their portion of the $3 billion dollar company to fight climate change, consumers may look for more organizations to ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to sustainable practices and actions. With the sustainability practice finally moving from a buzzword to consumers, researchers, and analysts seeing progress, 2023 may be a year for more visibility and transparency among organizations to validate sustainability from a quadruple bottom line – people, planet, profit, and purpose – perspective.
– Justin Goldston, Professor of Project and Supply Chain Management at Penn State University.
In my opinion, our planet’s sustainable development for meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the essential resources for future generations is possible only with an integrated approach to socio-economic, cultural and environmental goals. I believe, we will witness the following evolving trends in Sustainability: 1. Sustainability in 2023 will focus more on practical solutions that would help fast track progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 2. Combination of technologies like the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning etc will enable Enterprises in achieving their sustainability goals, going beyond monitoring and mandatory reporting needs laid out by different governments. Technology will help in going green and clean by using real-time operational production data for controlling and predicting ways to reduce carbon emissions, adapting in real-time to climate change, helping identify early the potential sources of pollution with their impact, and eliminate them very early in the system. 3. In addition to the Corporate Social Responsibility, Individual/Personal Social Responsibility will become important in 2023. Accountability at an individual level, respecting diversity and inclusiveness for achieving sustainability goals will create more change-agents for accelerating transformation to greener lifestyle and business practices.
– Shweta Berry, Head of Strategic Alliances- Industry & Academia, Marcom and CSR at Aeris Communications India Pvt. Ltd
The drive for comparable, meaningful and decison-useful ESG metrics and reporting will accelerate, particularly in the EU and the USA, resulting in a scramble to enhance and ‘professionalize’ sustainability disclosures by those companies that have been doing so voluntarily, as well as an influx of new organizations seeking to meet the evolving standards. Those that have already been doing so will face an increase in competition for stakeholder differentiation, driving environmental, social and governance performance.
The COVID pandemic has changed the industry conversation on Sustainability profoundly as it has effectively served as a portal from one business reality into another. Before the pandemic sustainability was perceived as somewhat of a dreaded subject that took away from the comfort of doing things the old way focused solely on maximizing short-term profits for the shareholders and not creating long-term human social and environmental value for people and the planet. After the pandemic sustainability is gaining an increasingly social and humanistic subtext. This is because thanks to COVID we have experienced oneness – the fact that one action of an individual on the other side of the world has vast consequences for all of us everywhere. This universal law can be applied to business with a positive effect as well especially as we now see that the collective sum of our individual decisions matters and can make a real difference in the world. We are moving away from seeing sustainability strictly as environmental efficiency. Sustainability in the post-COVID landscape is being reintroduced as the natural extension of our own humanity – not just the matter of supply chain ethical sourcing raw materials and upholding human rights but equally as the matter of ethics respect value integrity longevity conscious creation meaning and a larger awareness of the world we live in the value we create and for whom through what means and why. In this way Sustainability is becoming less of a business discipline and more of the new overarching philosophy – new shared business consciousness – where business is created consciously with intent to create meaningful value in a larger sense: human social cultural market political economic and environmental value to better serve people our shared humanity and the planet. To apply Sustainability to its full effect in the future we need to move beyond the product and supply chain discussion focusing mainly on enforcing global rules for compliance and see it more for its creative potential also: as the new business ideology to be embedded at the core of brands and organizations to produce meaningful human value.
– Dr. Martina Olbert, The Meaning Expert™, Founder & CEO at Meaning Global.
2022 has been a climate wake-up around the world, we saw more and more climatic events and have become acutely aware that we are on the cusp of a future that can be irreversibly disastrous or regeneratively wonderful. As we move into 2023, our relationships and connectivity with our natural world need to deepen and to surface in nature-based climate solutions. And in doing so, to work to co-create conditions that will allow all life to flourish and thrive. We need a shift in mindsets, seeking potentials and solutions, not barriers or placing band-aid fixes on problems we have failed to solve for decades. Giving ourselves and each other the time and space to ask better questions and understand how each decision and action is either degenerative or regenerative. This means not only questioning and changing the ‘outer’ (the what we do), but also seeking to change the ‘inner’, our mindsets, behaviours and how we, and our organisations, show up in the world. We all have agency in making 2023 that tipping point for a future where we thrive and co-evolve with the living systems upon which we depend.
– Martin Brown, Regenerative + Sustainability Provocateur at Fairsnape.
In 2023, sustainability finds its footing with SMEs, as it becomes a differentiation tool.
97% of large organizations have sustainability programs and departments. However, although data shows that SMEs that are certified sustainable are growing dramatically faster than their non-certified peers, less than 1% of SMEs have introduced formalized (ie, certified or 3rd party verified) sustainability programs due to fear of change and perceived fear of cost and time constraints. In 2023, with increasing consumer, supply-chain-large-company-client, investor and regulatory demand, combined with the need for a cost-effective competitive point of difference from peers, the SME market starts showing meaningful adoption of sustainability certification to not only do good for the planet, but also to satisfy demand and differentiate from peers.
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