Grasp the Situation: In Sustainability, Context is King

For companies today, ignorance about the state of our planet and associated disruptive risks can no longer be excused. With independent researchers, global organizations, scientific bodies and think tanks publishing well-researched status and risk reports, there is no good reason for lack of attention and response. 

The sustainable organization’s obligation is to assess and synthesize this wealth of information into specific actions for its people and benefits for customers.

Sustainability is big-picture stuffIt begins with an accurate appreciation of our global context, its relevance to your industry and a sustained focus on the long term. No easy task for workers in today’s fast-paced world. 

Yet those organizations committed to sustainability must grasp the shifting context that is shaping their future. They must do this in ways that ensure every worker understands the big-picture and can translate implications into day-to-day operations.

Here is just a small sampling of insightful reports worthy of evaluation and application:

Renewable Energy and Sustainability

From REN21, a nicely balanced look at the benefits and potential negative impacts of renewable energy deployment.


State of the Cryosphere Report 2023: Two Degrees is Too High

Visually compelling report shows that Earth’s frozen regions will experience irreversible damage at 2°C of global warming.


Emperor’s New Climate Scenarios: A warning for financial services

Climate-scenario models in financial services are significantly underestimating risks & carbon budgets may be smaller than anticipated.


Reinventing Capitalism: A Transformation Agenda

A World Business Council for Sustainable Development overview of current system weaknesses and priority action areas for business.


Resource Efficiency and Climate Change: Material Efficiency Strategies for a Low-Carbon Future

From the UN’s International Resource Panel, important reading for anyone advocating technology-based sustainability/climate change solutions


Geopolitics of the energy transition: Critical materials

Data-rich & informative IRENA report on critical materials and their associated geopolitical implications.


Protecting Intangible Assets: Preparing or a New Reality

Lloyds/KPMG explores intangibles from a risk and valuation perspective. Complimentary to the MultiCapital Scorecard's vital “social” capitals concept.


Living Planet Report

Biodiversity loss is now recognized as a significant business issue. A great place to start is with the WWF’s bi-annual report.

A gap assessment, SWOT analysis or simple review of the implications to business activities from any of these, or the hundreds of other reports produced annually, can help companies ensure future success. 

So, whose job is it to review these types of reports and translate them into actionable steps? Is it the Board of Directors? Executive Leadership? Functional Leaders? A Central EH&S Team? Staff? The answer for sustainable organizations is ‘all of the above’.

Everyone has their role and unique functional perspectives with work to do translating insight into action. The fulfilment of a company’s sustainability vision is wholly dependent upon a contextually well-informed, empowered workforce.



Jim Banks

Jim is a Sustainability Advisor based in Montreal.