Last week GreenBiz hosted its 6th annual State of Green Business webcast, based on the 2013 report. For those of you who were unable to participate, we wanted to share a few of the key takeaways. If you’d like to watch the webcast for yourself, the recording is still available online here.
Published by GreenBiz and Trucost, the report used a set of predetermined indicators to examine key trends in business sustainability – looking at environmental impacts through the lens of natural capital and examining them in terms of risks and opportunities. From a business perspective natural resources have always been viewed as free, but they are not free to the planet or society at large. The report highlights how measuring environmental impacts in financial terms can provide business context to spur sustainability progress.
The webcast, hosted by Joel Makower, executive editor at GreenBiz and Richard Matteson, CEO of Trucost, focused on the big picture given by these indicators, what trends they point to, and what companies are actually doing. The overarching message from the webcast is that the time is right for forward-thinking executives to take the lead in remaining competitive in our current resource-constrained, volatile economy. Here are a few of the key takeaways:
- Natural capital: The big picture is that most companies are still not accurately valuating their environmental impacts. Many are starting to realize what their impacts are but they are not correlating them to economic costs. Most companies still don’t realize what paying the true cost of impacts on air, water and other resources will have on their bottom line. If companies had to pay the true cost of their impacts, it would amount to 40-50 percent of their profits.
- Investing: Sustainability and risk issues are starting to rise up in investor communities as it pertains to water, raw materials and energy requirements.
- Reporting: One recent trend is a big push for integrated corporate, sustainability and financial reporting. There has also been an increase in companies using third party assurance for sustainability reporting. It has been shown that companies that quantify environmental performance and assure their sustainability reports create more trustworthy and credible communications.
- Improvements: For most of the companies making sustainability improvements, the changes have thus far been incremental with very few big swings. However, new technologies are on the horizon that promise to shift the rate of progress.
- Supply Chain Sustainability: Companies that understand where their operational and supply chain environmental costs are embedded will be best positioned to identify opportunities from natural resource constraints, depletion and volatile commodity prices. Companies should make environmental costs a key decision factor in selecting more sustainable suppliers and developing more sustainable products and supply chains.
If you have questions for the authors, Makower and Mattison will also be talking about the report at the GreenBiz Forum this week in New York and next week in San Francisco. If you’d like to read the report, it’s available for download on the GreenBiz website, and again, if you’d like to view the recording for yourself, the entire webcast is available online.