Perspectives: Sustainability After COVID-19

Are there ways a company or even an individual can get more active with sustainability programs in their communities? What are the business opportunities or benefits of committing to sustainability actions? Can driving climate action initiatives be good business?

Excerpted follow-up questions from the OAAA Lunch Break Series with Sarah Finnie Robinson, ISE Senior Fellow and Founder and Director of The 51 Percent Project at ISE. Watch the full webinar recording below.

Question: Are there ways a company or even an individual can get more active with sustainability programs in their communities?

The first step is to think about ways to reduce carbon emissions. Sure, you want to take smart actions for yourself and your family – choose green electricity, adjust your thermostat even a few degrees, pull the window shades on hot days, avoid carbon-intensive products and food.

Do all those things – and scale them up. What if everyone in your town took these actions? What if you did them together, as a friendly competition? What if there was a financial incentive to repair your leaky windows or attic?

What else can you do? Look around. What’s going on at your company? Is your leadership leading on sustainability? Does your employer have a climate action plan? How is our changing climate changing business? What strategies will reduce material risk of exposure to extreme weather events like floods and heatwaves, or supply-chain interruptions?

Do you have an alma mater with an endowment? A pension? How are those funds invested? Get a group of co-workers and alumni together to encourage a smart transition for fund managers to invest in public companies that are out in front of the clean energy transition and taking concrete steps to reduce financial exposure.

Question: What are the business opportunities or benefits of committing to sustainability actions? Can driving climate action initiatives be good business?

SFR: Advantages of an ambitious climate action plan at your business can be waste reduction and improvements in the efficiency of all sorts, all of which translate to financial savings. Healthier workers perform better and represent the company with pride in the community.

Insulating your organization from extreme-weather disruption is simply good business. You will attract and retain top talent; many people want to work for a company that is out in front on sustainability and social responsibility. Your customers will be impressed by ambitious commitments and accomplishments; be sure to communicate them loud and clear!

Check out climate business organizations such as Ceres, SASB, Climate Action 100+, CDP, and RE100. These are mature, well-organized, and supported business networks, together representing $Trillions of assets. Many of these leaders will be familiar brands and names in every sector.

OOH can partner with these leading sustainability business organizations and networks. And of course, the amazing inventory of OOH displays worldwide can educate the public, generate collaborative partnerships, and generate significant collective impact.

There is enormous potential for OOH to play a foundational role in the exciting innovation surrounding the clean-energy transition underway; and to integrate business strategies with strong pillars of equity, accessibility, inclusion, well-paying jobs, and multiple stakeholder benefits.

Read further commentary from Sarah Finnie Robinson.

Sarah Finnie Robinson, a Senior Fellow at the Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy and Adjunct Clinical Professor, College of Communication, is an investor in large-scale climate solutions and Founding Director of The 51 Percent Project, which identifies efficacious communications messaging and modalities for optimal public engagement.

The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy.

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