The strategic advisory firm SustainAbility has published a forecast on the top ten global trends in the sustainability domain in 2015, based on some crucial developments across different industries in 2014.
The major highlights are, as follows.
1. Governments will take more action to combat the global climate change. Last year, 25 developed countries donated $10 billion to the Green Climate Fund in South Korea that assists the developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change. Besides, governments of both developed and developing nations reached several major agreements on the future planet’s decarbonization:
In November 2014, the U.S. and China entered a joint agreement to stop climate change by cutting CO2 emissions 26%-28% below 2005 level—in the U.S., while China pledged to peak emissions around 2030, and to increase the non-fossil fuel share of all energy to around 20% by the same year.
In December 2014, almost all world’s countries signed an agreement, the Lima Accord, which commits all the parties to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030 significantly, and sets the guidance on how to achieve it.
2. Consumers, businesses and governments will try to address the problem of water shortage jointly. The last year’s World Economic Forum in Davos ranked water crisis as the third most urgent issue on the top 10 priority list. Companies (especially in the food and drinks sector) have already recognized the water crisis as a factor of financial risk, and continue to invest in the water infrastructure development.
3. Old “circular” business model and 20-century products will lost the battle for consumers’ trust. New bold, technological and humane “challenger” businesses—adepts of sharing economy—gain more trust from customers across the globe. Old-school global brands that do not correspond with the new sharing and innovative philosophy might fall off the competition.
4. Renewable energy suppliers will rule the segment by 2050. The coal, oil and gas companies will further realize the importance of re-structuring their business, as clean energy (of wind, sun, fossil fuel, etc) is gradually becoming the main source of electricity for households and businesses.
5. Companies re-think their relationship with employees. In addition to fair pay, more and more employers now have to provide a non-financial motivation, such as flexible working hours, additional education and professional training, or special conditions for older employees.
6. Corporate diversity becomes a norm, not an exception. More and more companies, especially in the American tech sector, declare the principle of full equality and non-discrimination, and trying to hire employees of various gender, sex orientation, race, age and physical condition (where appropriate).
7. Corporations will be further forced to eradicate human rights violations from their supply chains in emerging markets. According to ILO (International Labour Organization) every year the forced labour generates $150 billion in illegal profit. To fight this, the UK Parliament initiated the Moderm Slavery Bill that is supposed to set a regulatory framework on human right violations in the corporate world.
8. Banks and global corporations lack ethics, thus loose trust—governments will fix this. 2014 was marked by bribery and tax scandals, lack of financial transparency, some cases of misinformation of customers for the profit’s sake, etc. Reacting to those cases, the U.S. and Europe will introduce stronger regulative measures in 2015 .
9. International business will have more influence on global sustainable development processes, aimed to eradicate poverty, hunger, health-, environment- and education-related problems in emerging markets. This year the UN will finalize 17 Sustainable Development Goals for both governments and private sector.
10. Corporations will raise consumer awareness of sustainable lifestyle in a non-promotional fashion—through apps, joint ethical marketing initiatives or non-branded digital educational platforms.
More SustainAbility’s findings and figures on top trends in sustainability are available here.