As corporate sustainability rapidly becomes a core element of global business, companies need to adjust accordingly to be competitive. Industry experts advise that to be able to embrace the paradigm shift, organizations must have key leaders who have a clear vision of the direction of their environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs. They need the right sustainability leaders to continually raise the bar when it comes to the sustainability programs reflected in their annual corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports. The Guardian News stressed that these reports are considered vital by shareholders and investors in their decision-making process, as they showcase a company’s ESG and CSR efforts.
Global leaders achieved a major landmark on climate change mitigation during last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference. The annual event, established during the mid-1990s, aids the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to establish a platform for openly discussing the Kyoto Protocol and negotiating its implementation. Also known as the Conference of the Parties (COP), the COP20 conference was held in Lima, Peru and facilitated discussions on a global climate agreement that will help reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to limit the rise in global temperature.
2014 was an eventful year for sustainable development and climate change mitigation efforts. As the impact of the changing climate became more indisputable, initiatives for sustainable development continued to promote dialogue among private sector, government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the globe. Sustainable development initiatives gained traction worldwide in 2014; some highlights included: the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon organizing the UN Climate Summit held during Climate Week NYC; the EU announcing the reduction by at least 40% of its carbon emissions by 2030; and China and the United States’ climate agreement at the COP20 in Lima, Peru.
The 2014 United Nations World Water Development Report anticipates that global water demand will increase by 55% by the year 2050, due to increasing water requirements for manufacturing, thermal electricity generation and domestic consumer use. Supporting this projection is Ceres, a non-profit organization promoting sustainability leadership, which predicts that continuous population and economic growth will trigger a growing demand for more potable water and food in the coming years. According to WWF, a leading conservation organization, the agricultural sector alone consumes about 70% of the world’s freshwater resources. Food production relies on water, and unsustainable water use in the agricultural sector can harm the environment, resulting in a diminished supply of clean and potable water.
The manufacturing industry was hit hard by the global financial crisis of 2008. As some manufacturing facilities could no longer pay for production costs, they had to close their doors, causing layoffs all over the world. Since 2010, the industry has slowly and steadily been recovering from the crisis. Factories opened for business again and employment has increased for some. Although there is no certainty in how long this growth trend will last, experts have claimed recent innovations in energy efficiency and sustainable practices have the potential to continue to help the industry flourish.
Many organizations are endangered by the unprecedented environmental risks that the world is experiencing today. As the world’s industries are affected by drought, heat stress and flooding, organizations are taking the necessary steps to mitigate climate risks. Support for sustainability has increased among business communities, and many organizations acknowledge that improving their sustainability performance by monitoring their energy use, natural resource access, and waste management can have a substantial effect on improving their climate resilience.
Over the past few years, businesses have started to see the implications that water-related risks have on their daily operations. The growing concern over water has reached policy-makers and non-governmental organizations around the world as they see the effects of water-related risks on cities and populations.
Many organizations are strategically choosing to become “greener” and socially responsible in their daily operations. Sustainability initiatives are serving to improve operational efficiency and are increasingly informing the purchasing decisions of customers and investors alike. Where competition between businesses is evident, companies are taking the necessary steps to stay ahead of their peers. Being environmentally sustainable and socially responsible is increasingly recognized as an essential element of corporate strategy, especially as regulations increase globally.
As sustainability makes waves in the corporate world, members of the food and beverage industry have begun to follow suit and take the necessary steps to go green. A recent study by Ernst & Young shows that consumers are now more conscious and responsible when it comes to the products that they buy, especially the food they eat. As a result, more companies are appealing to a more health-conscious market by selling healthy, organic and sustainable goods to the community. The impact of climate change on the agriculture sector has also increased the pressure on the food and beverage industry to produce sustainable goods, even as the global population continues to grow. Food and beverage companies see the need to be sustainable in order to be more climate-resilient, since their operations are heavily dependent on the interaction of food, water and energy.
Plastic bags are convenient and free to use, but their harmful impacts are finally being acknowledged. The use of plastic bags had been standard in many grocery and retail stores since the 1970s, but receiving a plastic bag for your purchased items is becoming increasingly rare in many cities. In fact, it might become impossible in the coming decades to get plastic bags from the grocery store as more bans and stricter laws are set in place around the globe.
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