By Shar Olivier, MEM, LEED-AP
Global Business Development Manager/Director of Sustainability and CSR, IIL
Happy New Year from all of us at IIL. Here are some of our Sustainability/CSR predictions for this year.
Water will be a front page issue.
Water has been on the top 10 lists of concern for a number of years and this year is no different. Water security or lack thereof has improved with the number of people living with water insecurity dipping below 1B. A growing number of companies recognize water scarcity risks as material and are including them as a financial concern in annual reports. Most soft drink companies state that water supply challenges could put $2.5 billion of its future sales at risk.
Extreme weather events increase.
Just over this holiday break, at our distribution center in Monett, MO there was another “100 year flood.” Trouble is there was one only 7 years ago! These floods and other extreme weather events will continue to increase this year, and not just in coastal and island settings. Tornadoes in Mississippi, earthquakes in Greenland, extreme storms like Typhoon Patricia of 2015 will continue to make news and bring Climate Change impacts to the forefront.
Ethical Supply Chain will be at the forefront.
In 2015 there was an overwhelming focus on Supply Chain management and impacts. 2016 is sure to bring even more scrutiny and transparency around how our goods and services are made and delivered. Pollution, emissions, air and water quality, and labor rights are all issues every company must address.
The world will unite like never before over Climate Change.
2015 saw the COP21 summit in Paris and all the impact it portends globally for 2016 and the years to come. We have reached the tipping point for a global call to action and with it 2016 brings a renewed commitment from global leaders, corporate executives, and people around the world.
Sustainability & Talent Development are table stakes.
Gone are the days of optional training around these sustainability issues. Consumers, investors, and stakeholders are requiring companies to have trained human capital. Competency and innovation in Sustainability are now table stakes.
Cross-generational Consumer Engagement.
Millennials have now surpassed the baby boomers in sheer numbers and they are more Sustainability savvy than their GenX parents and baby boomer grandparents. 2016 will see a rise in Millennial engagement and companies from Coca-Cola to Monsanto are hiring managers to direct communication to this enormous consumer group.
Impact investing will reach a tipping point.
Interest in socially responsible investing is at an all-time high with proponents like Bill Gates and the Pope. This year will see increased divesting with leads from Mike Bloomberg and other big names in finance. According to Goldman Sachs, Millennials are more socially minded and will push for change, and capital and technology will drive innovation in emerging markets and the developing world.
Shar Olivier is a recognized thought leader in Sustainability and the Director of IIL’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice Area. With more than 18 years of experience in the field, Shar has presented to more than 100,000 professionals across dozens of business sectors. She presented most recently at the PMI Southern Caribbean Chapter in Trinidad on Organizational Survival, and graduated at the top of her class in Environmental Leadership and Sustainability at Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment.