January 27, 2023
Now that we’re almost a month in to 2023, we asked the leaders of our organizations – Biboye Aganaba, Executive Director of Leading Change; Dr. Carol-Ann Brown, President of Delphi; Ted Ferguson, Chief Sustainability Officer of our group and Managing Director of CBSR; Elizabeth Shirt, President of GLOBE Series; and Mike Gerbis, CEO of our group – what they’re most excited about in the year ahead, what they predict 2023 will mean for ESG, and how we can turn climate ambition into meaningful action.
Key words for 2023: Momentum, turning point
What are you most excited about in 2023? We’re finally reaching a collective “aha!” moment. Communities and businesses are wanting to take action on climate change like never before – the imperative is there. The climate crisis has created a tipping point for solutions, and I’m excited to see the scale of innovation and adoption ratchet up.
How do we continue to bridge the gap between climate ambition and action?
Three things need to happen:
What’s your ESG prediction for 2023? We’ve seen some hot takes in the media lately on ESG, but any significant trend will experience pushback before it reaches consolidation. And that’s a good thing, as it always drives improvement. But the contentiousness surrounding ESG will disappear, as most of it is just a distraction technique from those who don’t want to see change. ESG isn’t going anywhere, and let’s be honest – it’s critical for businesses to succeed in the 21st century.
Where will our group have the most impact? Our collective of organizations is enabling and catalyzing action across all sectors of the economy. This is only going to intensify this year as we forge new and unconventional partnerships to drive more positive impact than we ever have before. This work is hard but our team is amazing, and we are making and will continue to make a significant difference – that’s what keeps me going.
Key words for 2023: Urgency, action, determination
What are you most excited about in 2023? The world has faced some hard truths in the last few years. The COVID pandemic, deep political divisions on the global stage and in many nations, and the tenuous and interconnected nature of global supply chains – along with economic disruptions and inflation – have laid bare our societal vulnerabilities. Despite all of this, the world has almost universally embraced the commitment to net zero. The overheated tech sector took a beating and yet, at the same time, US$40 billion and 1,000 early-investment deals in climate tech were reported. The US Inflation Reduction Act is spurring trading blocs and jurisdictions world-wide to catch up, essentially generating a cleantech arms race. I’m heartened by following the money!
In 2023, I’m looking forward to seeing more investment along the whole value chain of cleantech – from new concepts to new companies and applications. It’s also an exciting time for linking net-zero targets and sustainability objectives to execution and action.
What advice do you have for organizations in 2023? There’s lots of activity that can feel disorienting relating to carbon markets, ESG disclosure, technology development and quantification of environmental benefits. This is perhaps not too dissimilar to watching my adolescents muddling their way through to maturity. However, making sustainability mainstream is where we need to go, and as fast as possible. Organizations need to stick to their guns. Don’t lose your nerve or lose sight of the benefits and opportunities associated with following through.
Where will Delphi have the most impact? We’re going to continue cutting through the noise to get to what’s most important: how to action environmental, social and economic goals. The world is waking up to the economic imperative and opportunity of addressing climate change. We’re here to empower our partners to hold their own in this global race.
Key words for 2023: Investment and impact
What are you most excited about in 2023? For years there was a lot of talk about climate change but very little action. Now I’m seeing more robustness and rigour in climate change commitments, and it’s happening across sectors. Companies are establishing net-zero targets and embedding decarbonization strategies into their DNA. It’s really exciting to see momentum after all these years of working in the space.
Looking at CBSR, I’m excited to build on the work we did in 2022 – for example, our Net-zero Leaderboard as well as the Sustainable Procurement Fellowship, which we developed in partnership with HP Canada. In 2023, look for the re-invigoration of our Education Foundation, which I think is going to really help us advance sustainability and climate action in Canada.
What’s your prediction for 2023? I think we’re going to see a flood of creative solutions for decarbonizing existing assets. There’s a ton of ways to look at current emission profiles and to innovatively break down net-zero goals into tangible steps. I also think the blowback about ESG will settle down and actually lead to better decision making. The new standards and scrutiny are a good thing; they’ll make us get better at things that are core to future progress on sustainability. If a company doesn’t address its environmental, social, and governance issues and opportunities in 2023 and beyond, they will be missing out on strong upsides while also increasing their risks.
Key words for 2023: Tired but hopeful
What kinds of global collaborations are inspiring you as we begin the new year? I was lucky enough to be part of the GLOBE/Delphi team supporting the Government of Canada’s pavilion at COP27. It felt incredibly meaningful to see Canada create a space where young people, Indigenous leaders, and experts from other underrepresented groups could come together. We won’t reach the net-zero future that we need and want if we don’t make sure those critical perspectives are at the table.
What are you most excited about in 2023? The opportunity for that increased collaboration and to harness Indigenous knowledge and what we’re hearing from young people, among others. Plus, exploring how more collaboration with Delphi, CBSR and Leading Change can help us have more impact and punch above our weight.
I’m also looking forward to seeing how the intersections between our climate action, circular economy, resiliency and other critical sustainability goals are revealed. I think there are innovative solutions and opportunities that we have yet to uncover because we’ve only just started to think about how these priorities might overlap.
Where will GLOBE have the most impact? Our next big event is GLOBExCHANGE in Toronto from February 27th to March 1st this year, and we’re really emphasizing action and outcomes – for example, our 10×10 framework, which is all about the 10 actions we need to take in the next 10 years to get us on the road to net zero. That’s one of the ways in which we’re looking to create accountability through our convening power. It’s lovely to come together with a few 100 or a few thousand of your closest friends in our big tent, and to rub elbows with Canada’s leaders and decision makers. But we also have the opportunity to do something really powerful here, and create a collaborative space where we can tackle tough challenges together. Let’s keep the foot on the gas pedal – I should say, the electric vehicle pedal.
Key words for 2023: Energized and optimistic
What are you most excited about in 2023? Climate and sustainability risks are increasingly being understood as financial risk, and this going to impact how organizations do business – especially when it comes to taking social purpose more seriously. There’s a huge opportunity for young people to use their own spheres of influence to effect corporate change and sustainability strategies. 2023 will also be a key year for young people to start modeling what we would like to see in the future, now. We’re not going to have everything perfectly figured out from day one, but being more intentional about the way we interact as businesses and individuals is going to help us pave the way forward.
Where will Leading Change have the most impact? Leading Change wants to continue to find opportunities for youth and businesses to collaborate, to start new initiatives and cultivate innovative ideas. We want to help organizations connect with their young leaders, and retain and attract young talent. Keep an eye out for new programming on building better language and communication for businesses when interacting with young people. We’re also going to help young leaders be part of important conversations about the future and create brave spaces for them to influence workplace culture.