In 2016 sustainability is not just about adding value it is a matter of survival. In the wake of the Paris Climate Agreement there is increased pressure on businesses to understand and respond to the challenges of a rapidly changing landscape. This includes environmental and climate issues as well as social and economic factors.
We are tasked to see economic growth in a whole new way. People need jobs and they need to earn a living wage. However, to be sustainable, these jobs and this economic growth must be low impact which includes low carbon.
Ceres has set ambitious targets and the business community has responded. Years ago Ceres put forth its principles and the business community has taken note. Ceres does not shy away from squarely confronting the issues that are at the heart of sustainability. The organizations put the fossil fuel industry in its cross-hairs when they called for an oil and gas stress test in 2014. Also in 2014 Ceres asked businesses to sign their climate declaration which called them to engage climate action which it described as one of the biggest economic opportunities of the 21st century.
In 2015 Ceres advocated on behalf of carbon pricing, supported some creative educational initiatives and they helped to organize corporate and investor support for President Obama's Clean Power Plan. Ceres led initiatives tell lawmakers to draft legislation and regulatory initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and incentivize renewable energy development.
Ceres has produced reports on water stewardship, investor resolutions, climate risks, financing the low carbon economy (the Clean Trillion Report), cost/benefit analyses of climate action and the costs of failing to act. They have advocated for clean investing and finance including green bonds. Their support for green bonds continues in 2016.
Earlier this year Ceres was recognized at the White House for their sustainability work focused on water stewardship. On May 16th Mindy Lubber, the head of Ceres published an article in GreenBiz called "A 2020 roadmap for corporate sustainability." In this article she discusses the updated to Ceres Roadmap that was first published in 2010. (Click here to see how Nike is working with the roadmap)
The ambitious expectations included in the new roadmap includes the pursuit of 100 percent renewable energy (more than 50 companies have already made the pledge) and leveraging the power of corporate supply chains.
She explains that corporations need to address both climate change and social issues. This entails policies to deal with everything from water risks to human rights. As Lubber points out, the world has supported the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Cere's new roadmap includes 20 specific expectations for sustainable corporations in the 21st century. They fall under the categories of governance, stakeholder engagement, disclosure, and performance. Performance is further broken down into the subcategories of operations, supply chains, transportation and logistics, products & services, and employees.
The expectations in the new roadmap seek to accelerate action, this includes climate and clean energy, natural resource protections and fair, safe and equitable workplaces.
Lubber cited the disruption in the electric power and transportation sectors, and the increasing levels of EV sales attributable to lower battery prices. She also explained how the new roadmap calls on companies to, "prioritize electric vehicles in their logistics and fleets, and to provide employees with the infrastructure needed to charge their vehicles at work."
Discussing the recent conference in Boston where the new roadmap was launched, Lubber said:
"But perhaps the most encouraging message that I heard was the critical need for companies to systematically integrate sustainability into their core business."On May 10, Lubber was awarded the Climate Visionary Award at the Earth Day Network's 2016 Climate Leadership Gala.
Corporations are bringing their tremendous power to bear on a range of environmental and social issues. This is sustainability in action, this is what Ceres does for the world.
Click here to see more information about the new Ceres Roadmap.