Placing sustainability at the heart of growth

Embracing sustainability is critical to future success. Companies need to transform now to unlock their growth potential as well as do good for the planet

Sustainability is arguably the most over-used concept in business. It is also the most important. Future growth, future profits, even future existence, depend on it.

For companies the cost of transitioning to an environmentally sustainable way of doing business may seem daunting. Yet the cost of standing still is even greater, says Dr. Sally Uren of Forum for the Future, a non-profit organization that advises businesses around the globe on how to survive and even thrive in a world that is increasingly demanding something more than lip-service to the idea of true sustainability.

“I think businesses need to understand that sustainability isn’t just a risk-mitigation agenda,” says Dr. Uren. “If you are ambitious, it’s actually an opportunity agenda. But the way companies make money today is not the way they will be making money in 2030.

“Future sustainability is going to come from embracing circularity, from investing in nature-based solutions for climate change, and from creating sustainable products that speak to a new generation. These are the pathways, but we must start to build them into the business today.”

For business, sustainability is an intrinsically positive force which is actually about growth, she adds.

“We have to see that growth at any cost is flawed,” Dr. Uren says. “So let’s broaden our understanding of growth and go beyond just volume or sales and think about pathways to value creation. We shouldn’t just wait for this to happen: we need to accelerate, double down, and be incredibly ambitious.”

Watch Shikha Jain, sustainability partner with commercial growth specialists Simon-Kucher, explain how companies can start their journey to better growth.

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