A brave new era of sustainability leadership
It's fair to say that 2016 will go down as one of the more memorable years in our history, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons.
Britain sits on the precipice of leaving the European Union and Donald Trump is set to take the White House – two political earthquakes that have shaken the complacent preconceptions of the establishment and rocked international business confidence.
The green economy has not been immune to the turmoil. A chop-and-change approach to green policy had led investor confidence in clean energy to hit an all-time low, while fears remain that the protections for our environment will weaken with Brexit.
But if 2016 was the year of uncertainty for green business, 2017 is the year of courageousness; of progression, innovation and ambition. Or to put it another way: 2017 is the year of sustainability leadership.
This is not just rhetoric. The past year has thrown up numerous examples of organisations going to great lengths to drive a green industrial revolution, not just from within their own operations but also through new collaborations and sector-wide commitments.
Nowhere is this revolutionary ethos more evident than on the speaker programme of edie's flagship, two-day Sustainability Leaders Forum and on the shortlist of our 2017 Sustainability Leaders Awards - taking place on 25-26 January and 25 January respectively.
The Forum will be a fantastically comprehensive and truly immersive experience; bringing together an array of ambitious professionals moving beyond environmental objectives to deliver transformational change and create brand value.
Meanwhile, another huge year of entries for the Awards saw our expert panel of judges decide upon 125 finalists across 19 categories (an expansion of the awards scheme this year which itself serves as evidence of the level of progression we are now seeing).
Sitting alongside the well-established Sustainability Leaders Awards favourites – such as the all-important Sustainability Leader, Sustainable Business of the Year and Sustainability Reporting awards – a host of new categories – including the CSR, Charity or Community Initiative and the Consultancy of the Year awards – were added this year to fully recognise the wide spread of pledges, initiatives, collaborations and innovations taking place across the green business spectrum.
The sheer variety of entries to this year’s awards scheme also serves to highlight the pace of positive change. As you’ll see from the overview of 2017 Sustainability Leaders Awards finalists that follows, a huge array of individuals and organisations – from the largest multinationals to the smallest micro-organisations – are together tackling a raft of environmental challenges and successfully building new green markets.
This year, we asked our Sustainability Leaders Awards entrants to provide a short overview of their business, initiative, team or individual for publication. And the result is a truly fascinating insight into the fast-expanding green business community. Download the full 'Meet the winners' report here.
Despite all of the ongoing political uncertainty facing organisations, there remains a defiant sense of optimism that a greener economy can deliver, clean technologies can work, and sustainability and profitability can go hand-in-hand – as evidenced by all of the shortlisted awards finalists.
I hope you find our snapshot of sustainability leadership as useful as it is inspiring, and I look forward to celebrating all of the finalists at edie’s upcoming Sustainability Leaders Awards night.Luke Nicholls