Top Five Sustainability Trends for 2019

“Ethical Markets partners with CSE on content for these courses and these “Five Sustainability Trends for 2019“, including “Artificial Intelligence“ which does hold promise but requires serious technology assessment lest it becomes a new threat to privacy and liberty.

I point out in my article “Let’s Train Humans First … Before We Train Machines“  that the  term AI is really a misnomer, since there is nothing artificial about it and the reality at present is that humans train machines, often introducing unconscious cultural attitudes, i.e. updating of the old computer saying “garbage in-garbage out“:  is now “bias in – bias out“.

So the deeper context required to steer human training of machine intelligence is spelled out  in my “The Future of Democracy Challenged in the Digital Age“ , CADMUS, Oct. 2018, which we debated here in our seminar at Ethical Markets Library, November, 2018.

Hazel Henderson, Editor and Advisor to the CSE Sustainability Academy”

Top Five Sustainability Trends for 2019

The rise of sustainability practices in unexpected places

using innovative applications of cutting-edge technologies

Years of research, international observation, working with corporate intrapreneurs and social entrepreneurs around the world – we feel confident looking toward the future!

 

2019 will be a continuation of trends, growing in momentum. This year will also see the rise of sustainability practices in unexpected places using innovative applications of cutting-edge technologies.

 

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE in its many manifestations will assist sustainability efforts by increasing efficiencies – a trend we’ve seen for the past couple of years. Now, entrepreneurs are bringing their technology to market as reported in CSE’s Sustainability (ESG) Reporting Trends: North America 2018. What is brand new (pun intended) is the application of AI to social marketing. AI algorithms can create emotion- and character-based interfaces to gain consumer buy-in and brand loyalty. Creating a persuasive digital persona will draw from positive human characteristics such as ethics, empathy, transparency and social awareness. This AI-driven marketing increasingly will be deployed in social media.

 

SUSTAINABILITY PROFESSIONALS are leaving home. Sustainability practitioners will be found in and demanded by departments throughout an organization to strengthen organizational culture around sustainability. The legal team, Financial department, ERM (risk management), Procurement, communications, R&D, investor relations – cross-organizational departments will want a sustainability expert among their ranks, working side-by-side, answering questions, leading programs and informing policy throughout the corporate structure. Sustainability practitioners will no longer be relegated to the Sustainability Department, under a Director of Sustainability, outsiders who tap the rest of the company once a year for metrics in pursuit of the increasingly in demand Sustainability Report.

 

TRANSPORTATION is moving toward greater efficiency using established methods of better scheduling, on-demand delivery, and computer-assisted routing. These are well established trends. What is new is the growing awareness that climate change will change transportation dynamics. The industry is experimenting with significantly low-fuel and even no-fuel options. Elon Musk has a functioning mile of Hyperloop. Adhering to the sustainability principle of transparency, his Hyperloop concept is explicitly open-sourced, encouraging creativity and entry by other players. Jeff Bezos is betting on battery-operated drones for urban delivery – limiting carbon emissions and congestion. Already social entrepreneurs are using congestion to their benefit to promote the use of electric scooters in dense urban settings.

 

AGRICULTURE is increasingly under scrutiny for health and safety. Blockchain will track products farm-to-table. Local sourcing is growing, as is the demand for fresh products which are organic, biodynamic and/or non-GMO. To accommodate this growing market, there is concern that these farming practices, being taken over by Agribusiness, may actually be contributing more to climate change. If more acres of land must be cleared, even slash and burned, to get non-GMO yields equivalent to 1 acre of “regular” farming, research shows the carbon load is greater for the more natural farming practices. One option is to use existing farmlands, too often being subsumed into suburbia. Another option is the use of halophytes which grow on desert or denuded lands, thrive on salt water and have long root systems which sequester carbon. Increasing yields without the carbon burden of clearing lands will affect the climate change race by carbon sequester and lower dependency on fossil fuels.

 

CARBON TAX debates will increase as Canada implements its carbon tax (revenue neutral, as are most options debated in the US). Canada’s carbon tax may be high enough to meet climate targets but won’t cover the social cost of carbon. Canada’s move is in part because it is already experiencing climate-related “coastal erosion, thawing permafrost, increases in heat waves, droughts and flooding, and related risks to critical infrastructures and food security,” as noted in its legislation. With the Canadian carbon tax, between 2019 and 2022, gas prices will increase less than 10%, but the cost of coal will double, increasing demand for cheaper carbon-free electricity. The US Paris commitment is to reach 26 -28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Any headway the US makes will not come via a Carbon Tax anytime soon but, at least, both state and federal options are being discussed and legislation proposed.

 

Nikos Avlonas, President and Founder, Centre for Sustainability and Excellence

Rosalinda Sanquiche, Manager, CSE North America

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