Comunicare la Sostenibilità

In questo periodo di emergenza legata all’epidemia Covid 19 che ha in qualche modo sconvolto le nostre vite, le nostre abitudini ed i nostri stili di vita (compreso il modo di lavorare), il tema della sostenibilità emerge con forza come fattore di valore e asset strategico per le imprese, per le comunità e per le persone. Un cambiamento, quello causato dalla pandemia, che riguarda ed impatta da vicino anche la comunicazione da parte delle organizzazioni, sia private che pubbliche. Ed ecco che tornano alla ribalta i concetti di comunicazione responsabile e di comunicazione della sostenibilità.

Health A Political Choice

LInk to Global Health Governance

five key areas:

  1. Inclusive economics, defined by a new social contract and the pursuit of progress for all
  2. The fundamental requirements for a healthy life and equitable health care
  3. Equitable investments and how to make universal health coverage a reality
  4. Health in the digital age and how technology can help reshape the human rights agenda
  5. The long-term outlook on global health


Interesting website to follow


In today’s ever-changing media ecosystem, building a great product or service is no longer enough. Brands need to stand up to stand out by demonstrating bold leadership on the social issues the public cares about deeply.

WE partnered with Quartz Insights to learn what management and C-suite leaders think about brand purpose, bold leadership on today’s most important issues, and how brands can best tell stories about positive social impact.

Sustainability Reporting 2019 by Country

Norway – the world’s most sustainable country
30-12-2019 | Article
Scandinavia continues to dominate sustainability rankings, lead this time by Norway. All top-performing countries have robust, well

Circular economy erected as ‘number one priority’ of European Green Deal

The circular economy, including new waste and recycling laws, will represent “half” of the EU’s effort to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and will be erected as “the number one priority” of the upcoming European Green Deal, officials have said.

The EU’s 2015 circular economy action plan – which included a ban on single-use plastics and new recycling targets – has “paved the way for something new, something bigger,” according to a senior official overseeing the policy area at the European Commission.

The circular economy is “the number one priority” for the European Green Deal of incoming EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said Kęstutis Sadauskas, who is the director for circular economy and green growth at the Commission’s environment directorate.

Unveiled in December 2015, the first circular economy action plan became one of the hallmarks of the outgoing EU executive. Highlights included a ban on single-use plastic products like cutlery and food containers. And at least 70% of packaging will have to be recycled by 2030 – including 55% of plastics – under new rules brokered last year.

Are corporations taking SDGs seriously?

The  United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) were explicitly designed to engage the private sector in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. Four years into the UN’s 15-year timeline, the question is whether companies are advancing serious solutions or are simply embarking on a massive global public relations charade. Unfortunately, our internal research points to the latter. A dramatic and immediate change in direction by both companies and the UN will be essential if there is to be any chance of avoiding an embarrassing failure. The plan we describe in this article offers the necessary steps to reverse course and deliver urgently needed progress.


The commercial opportunities for business solutions to the SDGs are real and extensive. A CEO commission chaired by former Unilever CEO Paul Polman reported that meeting the SDGs offers a $12 trillion business opportunity. And, according to the UN Global Compact, more than 80% of its 9,500 corporate members have committed to advancing one or more of the goals. Ninety-five percent of those companies anticipated having a “significant” or “substantial” impact on the goals. To find out if corporations were acting on their words, we reviewed the websites of 100 of the largest global companies, interviewed executives at a selection of companies that appeared to have significant SDG efforts, examined UN and other SDG-related reports, reviewed FSG’s past corporate clients and members of the Shared Value Initiative, and tested our hypothesis with an international gathering of corporate leaders at the Shared Value Leadership Summit. Our finding: The commitment of almost every company we studied appears to be merely cosmetic; existing corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives were simply relabeled with the relevant goals. We found very few companies doing anything new or different to advance the goals. Do these companies really expect that business as usual will deliver the kind of outcomes that the SDGs require?


The SDGs are highly aspirational, of course, but their predecessor from 2000 to 2015, the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), demonstrated the potential for such goals to help galvanize organizations in ways that bring about meaningful progress. Although the MDGs never targeted the private sector, they deeply influenced governments, NGOs, and development agencies around the world. Infant mortality rates dropped by 45%, five times faster than before the MDGs were adopted. Malaria deaths plunged 58%. Primary school enrollment in sub-Saharan Africa increased 20%. Ninety-five countries met the sanitation target, and 147 countries met the target for clean drinking water. Official international development aid increased 66%. These changes may not be entirely attributable to the MDGs, but there is no doubt that many public and social sector actors changed their priorities, action agendas, and funding allocations to align with the MDGs in a way that contributed to these results.


When the SDGs replaced the MDGs, the decision to engage corporations reflected a substantial shift in policy after a long history of UN reluctance to work with business. Between 2000 and 2015, many leading actors from every sector began to accept the idea that social problems could be solved at a profit and that engaging the private sector might lead to even greater innovation, efficiency, and scale of impact. Social entrepreneurship, microfinance, impact investing, and other new approaches gained momentum and credibility. Concepts such as “creating shared value,” put forth by Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter and one of us (Mark Kramer), suggested that companies could even gain a competitive advantage and generate healthy profits by helping to overcome the challenges of poverty, education, nutrition, clean energy, and many other problems included in the SDGs.


There is no denying the scale of resources that the private sector can mobilize: In the United States, for example, private sector spending of $22 trillion is more than 7X government spending and 20X the nonprofit sector; there is also trillions of investment dollars available via the capital markets. But this scale of resources is only available if companies find opportunities to advance the SDGs through their core business activities. Corporate philanthropy and CSR can never deliver the scale of impact that the SDGs require. Even if all corporate philanthropy, a mere $20 billion in the United States in 2018, were entirely dedicated to the SDGs, it would be an immaterial addition to the $149 billion in development aid mobilized by the MDGs.


To be sure, there are a few companies that have taken seriously the business challenges inherent in the SDGs. Both DSM and Novozymes have engaged their senior executives in using the SDGs to prioritize their product development pipelines and strategic priorities, resulting in new and profitable product offerings that can be scaled up to make measurable progress toward specific goals such as the Novozymes’ BioSec technology that reduces the water required in treating waste. Enel, the global energy company, is accelerating its retirement of coal-fired power plants and investing only in renewable energy going forward. Capturing the innovation and potential scale of private sector solutions through efforts like these are exactly what will be needed to reach the goals.


Sadly, these are the rare exceptions. For example, although 27 of the 50 largest U.S. companies explicitly claim to be working to advance an average of nine SDGs per company, hardly any are doing anything new or different in their core business activities to advance the goals. Very few are even doing anything different in their philanthropy or CSR efforts.


The universality of the goals and the lack of a mechanism to hold anyone accountable for their vague promises to address them has made it all too easy for corporations to sidestep serious commitments. It was hard to claim under the preceding MDGs, for example, that one was working toward reducing mortality rates of children under five without actually doing something about it. But goals like SDG 3, “to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all,” can encompass just about anything.


In many cases, companies’ core business activities seem to contradict their commitments. Philip Morris, the tobacco giant, claims to advance this health goal. Really? ExxonMobil’s commitment to SDG 7, affordable and clean energy, doesn’t seem to have changed its business model. No doubt these companies are doing something somewhere that contributes to the stated goals in some way, but their core business activities are also obstructing progress far more significantly toward the very goals they proclaim. The proverbial fox seems entirely welcome in the SDG henhouse.


The tragedy is not merely that companies can make such superficial and, at times, contradictory claims; it is also the loss of an immense opportunity to engage the private sector in a meaningful way that would help reach these urgent goals. We’ll never make progress without a dramatic change course.


For companies that are serious about addressing the SDGs:


Choose fewer and more specific goals. Limit yourself to between one and three SDGs that are most central to your business. A number of companies claim to be addressing all 17 goals and, as noted above, the average number of goals that the large U.S. companies we surveyed claimed to be pursuing was nine. No company can seriously pursue so many different goals. If companies are to tie the SDGs to genuine business opportunities, they will need to be far more selective and precise. Toward that end, companies should shift their focus from the 17 broadly framed SDGs to the 169 far more specific sub-goals that the UN has defined and frame their commitment in terms of those more concrete and measurable outcomes.


Focus on the most promising business opportunities. Companies should do this when selecting which goals to pursue. The larger and more profitable the opportunity, the faster new products and services can scale up to advance the goals. This means that the SDGs must move out of the CSR department and into corporate strategy and operations. The CEO must set the agenda and task the relevant business units with implementation.


Adopt meaningful near-term targets. Companies must commit to specific and measurable targets that include both the social progress they intend to achieve and the value that such impact can bring to their shareholders. The remaining 11-year timeline is too long to wait for reports on progress. Companies must translate the relevant SDGs into three- to five-year targets and report publicly on their annual progress toward achieving the targets, just as they would with any other serious business initiative.


Reallocate resources. No significant innovation will happen without dedicated resources, and the resources cannot be limited to corporate philanthropy. Companies must make substantial investments to expand the effectiveness and reach of products or services that can advance their chosen goals.


Be honest about and address inconsistencies. Most companies will have product lines or activities in their value and supply chains that work against the SDGs. Companies must acknowledge these conflicts and offer a plan and a timeline for mitigating their negative impact.


The UN and its affiliated agencies will also need to act very differently to push companies beyond the current public-relations campaign and meaningfully enlist them in advancing the goals:


Require accountability for and verification of all corporate claims. The UN must hold companies accountable for their commitments and, equally important, for sidestepping inconvenient goals or claiming to work on goals that their fundamental business model undercuts. This will require an official approval process for companies that wish to make SDG commitments. Rather than welcome all companies that voluntarily commit to the goals, the UN must review all corporate commitments to ensure their integrity and seriousness, rejecting false, contradictory, or exaggerated claims, and publish a registry of officially endorsed private sector participants.


The UN’s endorsement should clearly delineate between companies that are advancing the SDGs through philanthropy and CSR versus those that have embedded the SDGs in their core business model through their product development, sales promotion, supply chain procurement, and the budgetary allocation decisions made by senior management. And in both cases, companies should be required to articulate what they are doing differently in order to animate their commitment to the SDGs. The CEO task force, since disbanded, could be reconstituted as a review board to validate company claims.


Add up the commitments. There is a very real risk that the goals voluntarily chosen by companies, even if quantified and seriously undertaken, would never add up to discernible progress toward the needed outcomes. The UN should therefore aggregate the specific targets set by each authorized company and report on whether the cumulative efforts of different industries will add up to material progress on each goal and then proactively encourage new companies to join and existing companies to expand their ambitions so that the combined efforts will likely show actual progress.


Facilitate partnerships. The UN, its agencies, and CEO coalitions must actively organize multi-sector coalitions to work in partnership toward each of the goals, as contemplated by SDG 17. The goals create a common language across companies, NGOs, governments and development agencies that enable these different sectors, long used to speaking different languages and pursuing different goals, to find common cause and a single framework that illuminates opportunities for collaboration. A “collective impact”  framework that FSG developed can help players in these different sectors form effective coalitions to tackle ambitious initiatives by defining an agenda, implementing shared measurement systems, engaging in mutually reinforcing activities, continuously communicating, and creating backbone support to hold the coalitions in place.


The SDGs offer the potential to unite the most powerful organizations in the world — governments, corporations, and civil society — behind a single agenda to save humanity and the planet from suffering and devastation. Including the private sector in their development and execution can greatly magnify the odds of success. But unless we change course to ensure that the private sector’s engagement goes beyond mere lip service, we will never reach these vital objectives. Companies will proudly boast of their commitments while leaving billions of people to suffer the life-threatening consequences of inaction.


Rapporto ISTAT 2019 SDG

L’Istat presenta la seconda edizione del Rapporto sui Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adottati con l’Agenda 2030 il 25 settembre 2015 dall’Assemblea Generale delle Nazioni Unite. I 17 Sdgs stabiliscono dunque l’agenda fissata dalla comunità globale per porre fine alla povertà, proteggere il pianeta e assicurare prosperità a tutti entro il 2030 e si articolano in 169 sotto-obiettivi che fanno riferimento a diversi domini dello sviluppo relativi a tematiche di ordine ambientale, sociale, economico e istituzionale. 

A profound shift in attitudes is underway all over the world. People are now recognising that 'progress' should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy.



EIB stops financing Fossil Fuel extraction

  • The EIB will end financing for fossil fuel energy projects from the end of 2021
  • Future financing will accelerate clean energy innovation, energy efficiency and renewables
  • EIB Group financing will unlock EUR 1 trillion of climate action and environmental sustainable investment in the decade to 2030

This adventurer says we can save the planet and do good business. But we have to do it now.

Swiss explorer Bertrand Piccard managed a rare feat: in 2016, he co-piloted with André Borschberg a solar plane 26,000 miles around the planet. But he has an even more impressive skill: He can talk to you about climate change and leave you feeling hopeful and energized. With his Solar Impulse Foundation, he has a new mission — saving the planet through good business. He is vetting 1,000 innovations for both environmental benefits and economic viability and is taking them on a world tour of governments, corporations and major institutions. To him, environmentalism and capitalism need not be opposed. Here's our conversation, excerpted and edited for length and clarity.

Read Isabell Roughol here

The Challenge Ahead of us

Call to Action for all enlightened people.

Sustainability for All

Nel Def 2018 i 12 indicatori di benessere equo e sostenibile

Selezionati i 12 indicatori tratti dal contesto del BES che saranno inclusi nell’esercizio di simulazione di impatto delle politicheGrazie all’introduzione degli indicatori di benessere equo e sostenibile nel ciclo di bilancio, l’Italia è il primo e a oggi unico paese dell’Unione Europea e del G7 ad avere introdotto nel ciclo di programmazione e disegno delle politiche pubbliche l’uso degli indicatori di benessere

1. Reddito medio disponibile aggiustato pro capite;

2. Indice di diseguaglianza del reddito disponibile;

3. Indice di povertà assoluta;

4. Speranza di vita in buona salute alla nascita;

5 Eccesso di peso;

6. Uscita precoce dal sistema di istruzione e formazione;

7. Tasso di mancata partecipazione al lavoro;

8. Rapporto tra tasso di occupazione delle donne di 25-49 anni con figli di età prescolare e delle donne senza figli;

9. Indice di criminalità predatoria;

10. Indice di efficienza della giustizia civile;

11. Emissioni di C02 e altri gas clima alteranti;

12. Indice di abusivismo edilizio (in attesa del Consumo di suolo).

Sono questi i 12 indicatori di benessere equo e sostenibile individuati dal Comitato per gli indicatori di benessere equo e sostenibile, istituito presso l’Istat che saranno considerati nel Def, Documento di Economia e Finanza.

‘Secular stagnation’ meets the ‘GDP fetish’

This week saw the launch of System Error a documentary film from the prize-winning German Director Florian Opitz, who has made something of a reputation for himself critiquing the flaws in 21st century capitalism. The film explores our obsession with economic growth through the testimony of some of its most vociferous advocates. It’s a fascinating insight into the ‘GDP fetish’ that has dominated economic policy for over sixty years despite long-standing critiques to the contrary. Opitz’s film is a testament to the tenacity of the growth paradigm – even half a century later.

If there’s one thing that might really throw a spanner in the works it’s that economic growth as we know it is slowly slipping away. Growth rates in advanced economies were declining already even before the crisis. The day after the film’s première in Berlin, former US treasury secretary, Larry Summers writing in the FT defended his contention (first advanced five years ago) that the growth rates expected by economists and yearned for by politicians may be a thing of the past. Sluggish growth, he has argued, is not simply the result of short-term debt overhang in the wake of the financial crisis but might just turn out to be the ‘new normal’. It’s an argument that has support, not only from other mainstream pundits, but also from national statistics:  UK growth slumped to another five year low in the first quarter of 2018.

Most reactions to the absence of growth consist in trying to get it back again as fast as possible – whatever the cost. Low interest rates, cheap money, inward investment, bank bailouts, government stimulus, land-grabs, tax havens, fiscal austerity, customs partnerships – you name it. Some of these things didn’t even make sense when put together. But at least they divert us from an inconvenient truth: that the future might look very different from the past. Were it not for a climate destabilised by carbon emissions, oceans which will soon contain more plastic than fish and a planet reeling from species loss a thousand times faster than any at time in the last 65 million years, it might not matter that they don’t add up. But is throwing good money after bad (so to speak) an effective strategy, even in its own right, when so much is still uncertain?

How can we be sure that these increasingly desperate measures will work at all? We’ve been trying most of them for well over a decade, to very little avail. The best we’ve managed, claims Summers, is to stop things falling apart by throwing everything but the kitchen sink at monetary expansion and oscillating between stimulus and fiscal tightening (mostly the latter) as political preference dictates. The end result is a somewhat frightening sense, as the IPPR recently pointed out, that when the next crisis hits there will be neither fiscal nor monetary room for manoeuvre.

In our latest CUSP working paper, I explore the dynamics of this emerging ‘post-growth challenge’. I believe it demands both a deeper understanding of how we got here and a wider palette of colours from which to paint the possibilities for our common future. The paper examines the underlying dynamics of secular stagnation, on both the demand and the supply side, and discusses its relationship to labour productivity growth, rising debt and resource bottlenecks.

The toughest element in this challenge, not yet fully addressed on either the political left or the right, is the relationship between declining growth and social equity. The coordinates of inequality are now plain to see in the stagnant wage rate and declining living conditions of ordinary people. ‘Thousands upon thousands’ of people flocked to this year’s TUC march in London, making it abundantly clear that persistent inequality is threatening political stability. According to TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady ‘there is a new mood in the country; people have been very patient, but now they are demanding a new deal.’

We have addressed the mathematics of this relationship in depth elsewhere. What we found was unexpected. The rising inequality that has haunted advanced economies in recent years wasn’t inevitable at all. Nor is it inevitable in the future. The problem lies, as I argue more specifically in this paper, not in secular stagnation itself but in our responses to it. Specifically, I suggest that rising inequality is the result of our persistent attempts to breathe new life into capitalism, in the face of underlying fundamentals that point in the opposite direction. Our growth fetish has hindered ecological innovation, reinforced inequality and exacerbated financial instability. Prosperity itself is being undone by this allegiance to growth at all costs.

What’s clear now is that it’s time for policy-makers to take the ‘post-growth challenge’ seriously. Judging by the enthusiastic reception from the 900 or so people who attended the première of System Error in Berlin, such a strategy might have a surprising popular support.


  • Jackson, T 2018: The Post-Growth Challenge: Secular Stagnation, Inequality and the Limits to Growth. CUSP Working Paper No 12. Guildford: University of Surrey. Read full paper.

Finanza e Sostenibilità: gli investimenti responsabili protagonisti del cambiamento

La finanza sostenibile rappresenta ad oggi una modalità nota e consolidata di intendere e praticare l’investimento finanziario. Sempre più organizzazioni del settore investono ed offrono strumenti finanziari integrando considerazioni di tipo ambientale, sociale e di corporate governance intercettando anche le esigenze degli investitori e della comunità globale e influenzando in tal modo il cambiamento verso un modello di sviluppo più sostenibile. Si è svolto a Milano il convegno con la partecipazione di:

prof. Stefano Pogutz – Università Bocconi – Moderatore

Giulia Guidi: Former J.P. Morgan Chase - Il ruolo della banca di investimento nel percorso verso la sostenibilità
Sara LovisoloLondon Stock Exchange ESG e trasparenza:  il ruolo del reporting delle società per la sostenibilità degli investimenti
Luciano Balbo: Oltre Venture - Il caso del primo fondo italiano di venture capital sociale
Alessandro Cremona: Goldmann & Partners - Finanza immobiliare SRPI sustainable and responsible property investments - green lease, certificazioni, social bond

Seguite i links per saperne di più e vedi Impact investing

About digitization, Lean and sustainability, and how to make them work together -Published on November 9, 2017 Fabien Tertois

A few days ago a bunch of articles made the headlines about how absurd Bitcoin energy consumption has become. It is well summed up in this Financial Times article but let me give you one take-away: Bitcoin mining and transactions will soon consume as much electricity as Switzerland. According to this index (where assumptions and sources are well documented so that you can get your own opinion on how reliable it is), energy consumption has raised by 30% in the last month only and places the Bitcoin network a couple of steps behind Ireland. In other articles from less renown sources - and maybe less reliable so I spare you the links, but this information is easily googable - it is also mentioned that one Bitcoin transaction uses 5000 times more energy than a Visa transaction! I was considering buying a fraction of Bitcoin just to see how it was done and what I could do with it, but now that I am aware of the environmental impact there is no way I will. I'm checking out other crypto currencies that have been substantially better eco-designed using different kind of algorithms.

Digitization leaders need to be much more aware of sustainability

Eco-design and sustainability unfortunately are absent from most shortlists of benefits or even requirements when you think of digitization. Most often you are looking for "efficiencies" which is the current politically correct word to say you will have workers laid off - but even though social impacts of digitization are one of my prime concerns, there are not the topic here so I will not discuss them further. Automation, digitization, artificial intelligence all require energy to function and implementing such solutions will have an impact on your environmental footprint. As leader of my employer's incubator for Industry 4.0 solutions, I am often presented with devices and solutions that will help increasing our equipment or process efficiency. All of them involve cloud-based solutions, so sustainability-aware customers should be careful in making sure that at least the infrastructure running the target system meets their own sustainability requirements.

Some services also require additional devices such as tablets which are short-lived and not repairable, which should be a concern when you operate them in an industrial environment. I am very worried about the current trend we see with hi-tech consumer goods being less and less repairable - yes Apple I'm especially thinking about you and your 10 years stretch of not allowing your customers to replace batteries in Iphones and Ipads, but unfortunately you are not the only one out there in that trend. For Industrial applications, we may be tempted by going also for the cheap devices and just dump them and replace them when they start failing, but this goes against all sustainability principles that a vast majority of companies are saying sit as their core values. We are all accountable for sustainability and we are all actors in building it. Which brings me to the last point I wanted to make, about how Lean fits in all this.

Digitization works better on what has already been optimized

The most visible aspect of Lean management is waste elimination or reduction. This is sustainability by and large. Every action, every operation has an environmental footprint which can be positive or negative. In Lean (as long as we see a positive footprint action as value added), eliminating waste or reducing waste should result in increased sustainability and value. And what about digitization ? I have often seen digitization started before process streamlining or waste elimination and reduction was even considered. Companies are mistaken if they think they will accelerate in "skipping this step". It's not skipping a step to move forward quicker, it's loosing an opportunity to improve even more. Okay, you may have your digital solution sooner if you do it that way. The problem is, there are high chances you automatized or virtualized waste by doing so.

And this is definitely something you don't want. Once your waste is automatized or virtualized, it is much harder to identify. And once it is identified, it is also much harder to eliminate because the root causes and impacts may not be tangible things anymore. Of course, analytics tools will help you there, but that means you need a new tool to correct the almost new tool you may not even have needed in the first place. Doesn't sound such a good idea to me. Waste reduction should first be considered when things are physical and tangible before going for digitization, this is in my humble opinion how we can leverage most digital opportunities to their optimum. And yes, companies may be in need of new tools to spot and eliminate wastes in Operations in the first place.

This is where my thoughts trailed after reading these Bitcoin energy consumption articles. In a nutshell:

  • It's not because you digitize that you're more sustainable
  • Lean can (and should) be done with sustainability in mind
  • Lean is among the first things to consider in a digital journey

That's how I personally connect the 3 concepts. I probably missed many things! What are your own thoughts ?


Forum on Sustainability hosted in Paris by BNP. Very interesting material


You might be familiar with the classic definition of sustainable development as formulated by the Brundtland Commission in 1987: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Today, we might more immediately define sustainable development as how 9-10 billion people will live at least reasonably well, within the constraints of One Planet, by mid-century.


What’s in a name? Doing business responsibly and sustainably…

You might be familiar with the classic definition of sustainable development as formulated by the Brundtland Commission in 1987: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Today, we might more immediately define sustainable development as how 9-10 billion people will live at least reasonably well, within the constraints of One Planet, by mid-century.

For a more detailed understanding of what the international community (Governments, business, Civil Society) now understand by sustainable development, it is worth examining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), formally adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015[1]. The 17 SDGs to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all, are inextricably interlinked. There has to be progress on them all: quality education; gender equality; clean water & sanitation; responsible consumption & production; peace, justice and strong institutions and so on. The SDGs speak to the interlocking three pillars of sustainability, identified by Brundtland: the Social, Environmental and Economic (SEE).

Without education, without access to sustainable jobs and economic development, we can’t be surprised, for example, if impoverished people cut down precious rainforests for energy and livelihoods, and thereby exacerbate climate change. Without respect for human rights, there is less understanding and commitment to our stewardship responsibilities for the planet.

In recent years, there has been an unhealthy and ultimately unsustainable emphasis on the economic: on un- or under-regulated markets, and a misguided theory of Maximising Shareholder-Value as the purpose of business – when actually, optimising value over the medium to long-term for all stakeholders, should be the consequence but not the purpose of a well-run business[2]. Otherwise, it is like saying breathing is the purpose of life[3].

Today, mainstream investors like Blackrock – the world’s largest institutional investor – now recognise that sustainable value-creation, requires organisations to identify and manage proactively their SEE impacts[4]. In economic terms, this is about managing the externalities. A mature approach to corporate sustainability understands that all three SEE pillars matter and need to be aligned.

Taking responsibility for SEE impacts requires a business first of all, to minimise negative SEE impacts. This year’s influential Edelman Trust Barometer (an annual global survey of general and informed publics and their trust or otherwise in governments, business, NGOs and the media), for example, specifically identifies several risk areas, which businesses must avoid. These include not transferring profits around the world to aggressively avoid tax; not getting executive remuneration too out of line with the average worker in the organisation; not moving jobs aggressively to the other side of the world; not compromising on product or service quality through reducing jobs; and not bribing or being party to corruption[5].

To be clear: this is the “do no harm” minimum: the basics to retain a licence to operate.

True corporate sustainability, however, is not just about managing the risks by minimising SEE impacts; but also explicitly emphasises maximising positive SEE impacts that a business has. Hence definitions of Corporate Sustainability as “a business commitment to sustainable development, and an approach that creates long-term shareholder and societal value by embracing the opportunities and managing the risks associated with economic, environmental and social developments.”[6]

Or as the UN Global Compact says: “Corporate Sustainability is a company’s delivery of long-term value in financial, environmental, social and ethical terms. [7]

This is especially important if sustainability is going to be truly embedded in business. I don’t know of any successful entrepreneur, any enduring business which has been built on a risk mitigation mindset. On the contrary, entrepreneurs look for business opportunities. Shortly before he died, the great management guru Peter Drucker declared: “Every single social and global issue of our day, is a business opportunity in disguise.”[8] The challenges of sustainable development offer myriad business opportunities – and I think this is incredibly exciting!

Boards and senior management teams (SMT) have to see sustainability not just as about minimising SEE risks but also about maximising opportunities. It is no coincidence that the recently established Business & Sustainable Development Commission has published papers with titles such as “Mapping The SDGs, Corporate Tax, And Business Accountability” and “Business, Human Rights, and the Sustainable Development Goals.” However, their flagship report Better Business, Better World, articulates and quantifies the compelling economic case for business to achieve the SDGs. Better Business, Better World says: “Achieving the Global Goals opens up US$12 trillion of market opportunities in the four economic systems examined by the Commission. These are food and agriculture, cities, energy and materials, and health and well-being. They represent around 60 percent of the real economy and are critical to delivering the Global Goals.”[9]

Most recently, a follow-up study specifically covering Asia, suggests sustainable businesses can unlock US$5 trillion in new market value in Asia by 2030 and that key market “hotspots” in food an agriculture, energy, cities and health could also generate 230 million new jobs—12% of the Asian labour force.[10]

In almost forty years of working at the interface of business and society, initially on the ground with a start-up social enterprise in the north-east of England, then mobilising business nationally and internationally through Corporate Responsibility Coalitions, and most recently in my ten years in management education as Cranfield professor of Corporate Responsibility, I am very conscious of how our understanding about the responsibilities of business have evolved enormously. This is reflected in changing language from Corporate Philanthropy to Corporate Community Involvement & then Investment, to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), to Corporate Responsibility & Responsible Business, and now to Corporate Sustainability that can deliver profit and purpose.

Along the way, we have understood the growing range of issues covered by “Corporate Sustainability.” Human Rights, Modern Slavery and accountable supply chains. Health & Well-Being and being a good employer for working carers. Responsible marketing especially to vulnerable customers and taking responsible for the mis-use of products and services (think alcohol, gambling, financial services). Responsible use of water and preserving bio-diversity.

These demand a range of new leadership skills – especially for collaboration on sustainable development with other businesses, NGOs, governments, international development institutions etc – as I discuss in two other recent blogs[11].

This is an exciting agenda demanding an integrated approach, embracing science, technology andmanagement capacity. This integrated approach is something which we are committed to achieving at Cranfield University. A good example is in our response to disruptive new business models such as the Circular Economy, which leading strategy consultants like Accenture believe has the potential to be a game-changer for corporate sustainability. Successful adoption of Circular Economy will require new technology solutions, sophisticated change-management, new strategic lens, board and senior management leadership, revolutionising supply chain and logistics, and new approaches to collaboration.



[2] Combining profit with purpose, Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility for Coca-Cola Enterprises 2014


[3] John Kay, The Future of Purpose-Driven Business, Blueprint for Better Business, 2014





A Sustainable Model : Profit People Planet

Responsabilità sociale: scatta l’obbligo per 300 società italiane


L’obiettivo dell’Unione Europea con la Direttiva 2014/95/Ue è quello di spingere le aziende a integrare la sostenibilità nel business.

Il recepimento in Italia delle nuove regole (con il D. Lgs. N.254/2016, in vigore da gennaio 2017) impone alle grandi aziende di depositare - dal prossimo anno - una dichiarazione di carattere non finanziario, per spiegare l'impegno nella tutela dell’ambiente, nella corretta gestione del personale, nella garanzia del rispetto dei diritti umani e nella lotta alla corruzione. Il documento deve essere redatto sotto la responsabilità del CdA ed è soggetto a revisione come il bilancio finanziario. 

Con il D.Lgs. 254/2016 si passa dalla responsabilità sociale d’impresa adottata su base volontaria a una rendicontazione obbligatoria per società quotate, banche, imprese di assicurazione che hanno almeno 500 dipendenti e almeno uno dei due requisiti seguenti alla chiusura del bilancio

  • Il superamento dei 20 milioni di euro di stato patrimoniale
  • e/o il superamento dei 40 milioni di euro nel totale dei ricavi netti delle vendite e delle prestazioni. 

Le società alle quali spetta quest’obbligo sono circa 300, con una sanzione per l’inadempimento che va da 20 mila a 100 mila euro

Le altre aziende, di dimensioni più piccole, possono redigere dichiarazioni volontarie di carattere non finanziario «conformi» alle disposizioni del D.Lgs. 254/2016.

Gli investitori sono sempre più interessati alle aziende con un elevato tasso di sostenibilità e sarà sempre più importante e necessario che la sostenibilità entri a far parte delle scelte strategiche di un’azienda

Il decreto di recepimento impone anche di inserire informazioni sulle misure adottate per prevenire le violazioni dei diritti umani, dato non sempre facilmente reperibile, in quanto richiede una conoscenza approfondita della filiera e della condotta dei fornitori, sia nazionali che esteri.

L’introduzione del principio “comply or explain” permette una maggiore flessibilità all'impresa per l'adeguamento del proprio sistema di governo societario alle nuove regole.

Nelle imprese italiane si evidenzia come ci sia un certo di ritardo rispetto gli altri paesi sui principi di sostenibilità e che le aziende dell’industria alimentare e dell’energia adottino con più frequenza il bilancio di sostenibilità e il bilancio integrato a differenza di quelle della moda e del settore assicurativo che diffondono meno informazioni sulle strategie di corporate social responsibility adottate. 

Gli effetti operativi delle nuove norme e la corretta applicazione dei nuovi principi saranno approfonditi nell'ambito dell’evento Paradigma “Le informazioni non finanziarie: reporting sociale e sviluppo sostenibile” che si terrà il 27 giugno 2017 a Milano con il qualificato contributo di esperti di corporate reporting e di responsabilità sociale.