We are living in a new reality today. The precarious nature of the existing order of things has led to a heightened awareness towards sustainability. Rapid technological adoption has become a necessity and it has drastically transformed workplaces and businesses. This year also saw many countries make ambitious commitments towards carbon neutrality and sustainability: The UK, EU, and Canada have made net-zero emission pledges that they intend to hit within a specified time frame and policies in line with these are expected to follow in 2021. Other countries are also expected to announce they climate change target goals soon.
With more countries gearing up for mass vaccination drives, let’s delve deeper into some of the key sustainability trends that are deemed as being enduring, based on insights.
Organizations will tackle the change head-on
Stakeholders have become more demanding as organization’s have fallen short of their projected goals in the previous year. Expectations and ambitions have increased greatly in 2021. In many countries, voting actions, lawsuits, and boycotts have made organizations re-assess their socio-environmental impact. It is quite clear that organizations today would also need a social license for business continuity. It would also mandate a profound change in business approaches and models, with an increased emphasis on sustainable initiatives.
Governments and companies have made announcements about their sustainable goals and the initiatives that they intend to undertake to achieve those goals. This includes companies deemed to be industry leaders like IKEA, Morgan Stanley, and Microsoft who has also provided blueprints for those looking to adopt a similar approach towards sustainability. In 2021, we can expect a broader framework and best practices to emerge that smaller organizations can also follow towards carbon neutrality. In the long-run, companies who have not taken sufficient action towards carbon neutrality will suffer consequences as a result of these policies.
Affordable, agile, and resilient energy solutions
The pandemic and climate change crises have brought the world at a crossroads. As more people started working home, the energy consumptions patterns also changed. Adoption of renewable sources of energy like solar power started to accelerate. Electric vehicles too are stated to play a significant role towards achieving carbon neutrality goals and their adoption has also increased.
The confluence of these energy trends is shaping a reality of clean and reliable power. R&D efforts are towards a technological panacea for energy that is sustainable in the long-run. Recently, a federal investment commitment of $1.7 trillion in clean energy and climate resilience was made by the Biden Administration. This investment is set to take place over the next decade and if one were to face in ancillary state, private, and local investments then it totals up to a figure that is more $ 5 trillion. There are also a range of clean, resilient infrastructure projects underway in the EU. Other countries are expected to follow suit.
Emphasis on a circular economy
Another import area of focus today is waste reduction. Which is why, the idea of circular economy- based on reusing, reducing, and recycling – means that fewer resources are used, less energy is wasted in manufacturing, and there are reduced carbon emissions as a consequence. The focus today is on building or creating infrastructure and products that turn the idea of a circular economy into a large-scale reality.
As per the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, China and India are where significant opportunity exists to create and impel a circular economy. In Europe, Slovenia has committed to become a fully circular economy in January 2020.
The advent of new policies and frameworks will greatly impact the business case for sustainability. Today, investors, enterprises, and financial institutions realize that there is tremendous value in sustainable initiatives. This has led to the funding of big projects that will enable the better mass adoption of sustainable technologies and practices.