by Joel Makower,Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group
The State of Green Business Report, seventh annual assessment of corporate sustainability trends and metrics, was released earlier this year. It paints a picture that is both optimistic and highly problematic – a perfect metaphor for the sector.
First, the good news. The state of the art of corporate sustainability continues toevolve. What’s business as usual today was not that long ago innovative, even breakthrough: bio-based products, accounting systems that place a realistic value on water and carbon, smart supply chains that optimize transportation and energy, renewable energy that isn’t just for show, and more.
In the annual report, we identify 10 key trends that point the way toward future advancements and progress in the year ahead.
Now, the bad news. For all of the advancements and achievements – some of which are chronicled in the more than 1,200 articles that we run each year on GreenBiz.com – we’re not making much progress. When you actually measure year-on-year progress companies are making, it’s a disappointing state of affairs.
That’s what we do each year in the report, along with our partners at Trucost plc, which helps companies, investors, governments and others “understand the economic consequences of natural capital dependency.” Trucost researches and standardizes the environmental performance disclosures of more than 4,600 companies worldwide, representing 93 percent of global markets by market capitalization.
To create the metrics for State of Green Business, Trucost looked at two subsets: the 500 U.S. companies that make up the Standard & Poor’s Index, and the MSCI World Index, covering more than 1,600 companies in 24 developed markets. For most metrics we present, we compare the 500 U.S. companies alongside the larger, 1,600-plus global universe over a five-year period.
With mounting crises – from the gray specter of increasingly polluted air in China to the dangerous toxic chemical spill into the waters of West Virginia – we are experiencing the perils wrought by our current economic models. As these and other dangers increase, do we have the social will, economic fortitude and creative where-with-all to meet the challenges? Now is the time to accelerate the development of more innovative and sustainable energy solutions.
From the beginning, GreenMoney has deeply believed that these challenges are in fact substantial opportunities for the companies and investors who seek a responsible economy with a cleaner, safer future. There is no future for humanity without drinkable water, breathable air and a healthy food supply, not to mention the beauty inherent in our natural world.
So on that positive note, welcome to our third monthly eJournal.We feature the annual Green Business Report from GreenBiz, always a reliable indicator of where things stand in the business world. Take some time to read this and other important articles that include the new Natural Capital Leaders Index and the Top Ten Trends in Sustainability.
Recently I attended a unique corporate event in Phoenix, the GreenBiz Forum, where I learned about the impressive Global Institute of Sustainability at the ASU. There were discussions on responsible global food supply, honestly transparent products, successful NGO and corporate partnerships, and using biomimicry to better design, well, everything. More details in future issues. On a side note it was good to see Fast Company magazine state that ‘Sustainability has found a new gear’ in their Innovative Companies issue (March 2014).
Coming up in our April edition is an article by Mindy Lubber of CERES, which is celebrating 25 years of mobilizing investors and business leadership to build a thriving, sustainable global economy.