The EXCEL Partnership - Envisioning a Sustainable Future for Companies
GLOBE-Net (March 15, 2020) - The landscape of corporate sustainability has changed significantly over the last decade with major increases in corporate responsibility reporting, greenhouse gas inventories, climate change mitigation strategies, carbon trading, stakeholder engagement frameworks, efficiency planning (water, waste, and energy), and transparency. However, there are still many challenges corporations face with regards to environment and social impacts.
According to the World Watch Institute's, 2010 State of the World Report, Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability, consumption is at the highest levels ever.
In 2006, people around the world spent $30.5 trillion (2008 dollars) on goods and services. 6.8 billion Human beings are demanding ever greater quantities of material resources translating into purchases of 68 million vehicles, 85 million refrigerators, 297 million computers, and 1.2 billion cell phones in 2008 alone. Annually, 60 billion tons of resources are extracted, which is the equivalent of 112 Empire State Buildings from the earth every single day.
Humanity now apparently uses the resources and services of 1.3 Earths (Figure 1). Knowing this begs the question: how will corporations respond to continue to offer high quality products and services, while closing the production loop?
Assessing the impacts of these environmental and social forces can be overwhelming, but certain leading corporations are facing them head on to create transformative change from within. One such group of corporate sustainability leaders is called the EXCEL Partnership. EXCEL is a unique learning partnership of major Canadian corporations who are committed to environmental and sustainable development leadership through continuous improvement of environmental and social performance.
The group functions in some respects as Canada's 'inner circle on sustainability' for leaders of some of the country's largest companies.
The partnership has a long and proud history being founded in 1995. EXCEL is an initiative of the GLOBE Foundation and is managed by The Delphi Group . EXCEL is also a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's Regional Network.
As Canada's leading forum for corporate sustainability strategy, the EXCEL Partnership has always had a strong focus on promoting best practices and innovation.
As Canadian corporate leaders in developing strategies and solutions to sustainability challenges, EXCEL members have maintained that such strategies can boost competitiveness and performance and deliver tangible environmental and social benefits for Canada and Canadians.
Some recent publications of the partnership include: A Sustainability Lens for Capital Decisions: A Corporate Sustainability Approach to Reduce Business Risk, and EXCEL Sustainable CEO Publication - A Collection of Speeches from EXCEL Leaders as well as monthly management briefs for members.
This year the EXCEL partnership has challenged itself to better understand the business analytics for sustainability, looking in depth at how to quantify, qualify, and communicate sustainability analytics and their value for an organization-as a basis to further embed sustainability in their corporation's decision making process.
As a part of this, at EXCEL's spring 2010 Roundtable - just prior the GLOBE 2010 conference located in Vancouver-the partnership will assess and discuss how EXCEL members companies can plan for the future in a way that anticipates, reacts and evolves with the trends that are shaping our world.
EXCEL's 2010 Roundtable titled, Envisioning a Sustainable Future for Our Companies, will look back at the previous ten years of corporate sustainability to identify major influences and factors that have changed the business playing field; such as, executive buy-in of sustainability, the triple bottom line, the mainstreaming of CSR reporting, increasing stakeholder pressure for the need and sometimes requirement to consult, engage, and be transparent, climate change, increasing regulatory requirements, and resource efficiency.
Looking at the past will help EXCEL Partners define where corporate sustainability is going. Speakers from our outstanding roster of EXCEL companies and invited guests (such as InterfaceFLOR and the Cleantech Group) will identify what they think the next ten years of business and sustainability trends will look like and discuss ways in which they are preparing their companies for the future. Some of the anticipated discussions will be focused on:
Changing Social Issues: How will globalization, communications, the changing demographics and expectations of employees, and transparency impact corporate sustainability strategies?
- Information and Communication Technology: The ICT world holds great promise for increasing corporate energy and resource efficiency, while offsetting the impacts from production and operations. How will the business world support the necessary R & D now, in order to maximize these efficiency gains while closing the production loop?
- Social Media: Social media tools-such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flicker-are growing exponentially. Facebook alone has 250 million active users. About 70 percent of these individuals live outside the US, and the fastest-growing Facebook demographic is people 35 or older. Sixty million Americans said information shared on the Internet has helped them make a major life decision, and 90 per cent say that they trust the recommendations of their networks over any other form of communication (such as advertising). How will corporations deal with this real-time communication network and potentially use it as a mechanism to engage their stakeholders?
- Corporate Responsibility Reporting In 2008, there were over 1000 companies reporting under the Global Reporting Initiative, which is the world's most widely used sustainability reporting framework. What is the future of CSR reporting and how will it manifest over time, in particular considering the onset of the digital age?
- Urban vs. Rural Development: The United Nations projected that in 2008 more people lived in cities than in rural areas. These locations in which population densities are intensified will be much more vulnerable to climate change and water shortages. How will urban areas, which include the majority of corporate operations, adapt and become more resilient to the effects of climate change?
- Servicing the Developing World: Globally, there are 340 microfinance institutions, The Grameen Bank, one of the first, lends a billion dollars annually to 8 million borrowers, with 99 per cent of the funds being paid back on time . How will corporations help the developing world by ensuring clean technology transfer, fair wages, safe working conditions, and access to basic needs such as clean water and healthy food?
Environmental Progress and Decline: What future are we going to experience? Are corporations at the crest of the wave for environmentalism? Have businesses only just begun to see the impacts on their operations?
Transforming Global Energy: There are 2.3 million people worldwide working either directly on renewable energy or indirectly in supplier industries. Considering our economy's heavy reliance on energy to fuel growth, how will the re-emergence of major energy efficiency incentives, reduced access to cheap oil, and new clean tech applications influence how energy considerations are factored into long term business planning?
Economic forces: Can our existing corporate structures absorb sustainability analytics, meaning; how far can we go in valuing environmental and social strategies? How will sustainability indices and metrics influence capital and operating decisions in the future?
Climate Change: Worldwide, carbon trading reached a total value of $59.2 billion in 2007, up 80 percent over 2006, according to estimates from the market research group Point Carbon . Since then, trading volumes have actually declined. This leaves companies wanting to know when will a regulated price on carbon across economies be in place, and how will it change societies consumption patterns.
The final output of the EXCEL Spring 2010 Roundtable will be a brief identifying the next decade's major sustainability challenges and opportunities. It will also include what the EXCEL partnership believes will be the top 5 forces of change in the next 10 years. This communication will be made available at GLOBE, through Globe-Net, and on the EXCEL Partnership website.