A quick review of sustainability trends reported on the internet shows (not surprisingly) that energy will stay a high priority. The focus is on alternative energy, energy efficiency and solar energy. Within the green building movement, retrofitting buildings for sustainability is gaining momentum.
This poses a huge market opportunity for businesses. However, it helps if (local) governments create the environment that is beneficial for investing in clean energy. For rapid introduction of new technologies a so called ‘innovation system’- the needs to be in place. Innovation systems are networks of organizations that work together on diffusing new technologies. They are facilitated through entrepreneurial activity, knowledge development through collaboration with educational institutions, and knowledge diffusion through networks such as accelerators and business platforms. Governments can play pivotal roles in facilitating innovation systems.
A more recent trend is concern over water issues. Many places in the world don’t have access to enough water to meet agricultural, urban and industrial water needs. Large areas deal with droughts, and disruptive weather patterns caused by climate change aggravate these issues.
Though this is important for business, especially in the food industry, it is even more important to governments. Water supplies are directly related to energy and food needs. The repercussions of water shortages in combination with an exploding world population cannot be underestimated – and may lead to water wars. Meriting this issue to be dealt with from a diplomatic point of view. For example: it is for a good reason that China does not want to leave Tibet: the country is the source of all the rivers in the region.
Thirdly, employee engagement is finally on the corporate agenda. Which is great, because the social side of the triple bottom line often gets little attention. I often wonder why we have so few very successful cases for sustainability. In my opinion, engagement is the missing link – you can’t just roll out policies, or change light bulbs. Sustainability becomes a part of the organization when employees are engaged in the subject. Luckily for us, there is a strong business case for engagement, and links to sustainability within a company