Hot Topics in Sustainability: Global Issues and Emerging Solutions
Sustainability continues to gather pace in all aspects of life, shaping the way people work, rest, and behave. Recent Sustainable Brands conference proved that sustainability involves many companies and makes them think of the prospects of the field and brands’ support. Looking at these discussions, it is possible to outline several topics that are gaining the spotlight globally.
Sustainable Development Goals
Members of the UN adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, which include affordable and clean energy, reducing inequalities, clean water and sanitation, and many other goals. The attention to these goals and organizations that set out to contribute to them is very high.
Lots of large companies and SMEs choose SDGs as a key framework for sustainability reporting to make sure positive changes take place. While an organization can contribute to all goals to some degree, it is better to concentrate the effort on a few that best align with your corporate values. In this case, the company will be able to achieve more in a shorter period of time, improving the morale of its employees.
With the rapid development of technologies, the appearance of cloud computing, blockchain concepts, and other innovations, AI proves to have a great impact on sustainability success. Using AI technologies, it is possible to make the entire supply chain work efficiently, beginning with the collection of relevant data and finishing with enhancing awareness.
Utility company Xcel Energy is a good example of how an organization can benefit from applying AI tools. The team equipped smokestacks with an advanced AI — neural networks that operate like a human brain. This network quickly analyzes the received information on coal combustion, gives recommendations on reducing nitrous oxide emissions, and hence makes the company’s work more sustainable.
Although 70 % of countries developed policies for regulating their waste sector, people continue to produce a lot of waste, which leads to unpleasant circumstances. According to the Statista report, 3.4 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste will be generated worldwide until 2050 in comparison to 262.4 million in 2015.
The worst thing about it is that a large portion of waste can be recycled and used to manufacture new goods. Circularity aims at the reduction of waste through its reusing, recycling, and reutilizing. Basically, this is a new approach to production, which is actively gaining popularity over the traditional “take, make, dispose” economy. The discussions about how to implement a circular economy in a variety of industries is one of the key topics of today’s business world.
Water Conservation & Clean Water Availability
Some people consider clean water availability as one of the most significant SGDs that must be regulated as soon as possible. 70% of Earth is covered by water; however, only about 0.1% is clean drinking water. The extended availability of clean water resources that is very crucial for supporting life on the planet. Thus, the planet is actively discussing ways to promote clean water accessibility and water conservation.
Due to the pressure of society, many companies consider sustainability reporting crucial for staying competitive on the market. They take a sustainability reporting online course to know how to properly measure environmental, social, and governance performance, hence plan strategy in accordance with the results. However, sustainability reporting remains to be one of the hot topics nowadays because its mandatory status varies from country to country.
For example, the authorities of European countries request public-interest companies and selected large companies to reveal social, material, and employee-related issues like corruption, anti-bribery, etc. In the USA, companies must disclose a code of business conduct and ethics in accordance with New York Stock Exchange sustainability reporting instrument; and environmental compliance expenses demanded by SEC regulation. Other countries including the UK, China, India also have their own mandatory sustainability reporting tools that encourage companies to disclose their performance. Anyway, there is a long way forward to put all practices across the world into a single approach.
The Bottom Line
Businesses of all sizes and specializations are taking sustainability seriously and realize that modern consumers prefer purchasing goods from sustainability-friendly companies. They should keep an eye on the topics that worry society to come up with new solutions for arising issues.
Each company should look at its activity from the perspective of future impact on the environment and society and bear responsibility for this impact. Companies that feel lack of expertise, may approach SustainOnline for sustainability education online to systematize the available knowledge and gain crucial skills.