State of Green Business: The Sustainability Cha-Cha

Following is an excerpt from GreenBiz Group’s 16th annual State of Green Business, which explores sustainable business trends to watch in 2023. Download the report here.

“Stay the course” is a brief summation from Joel Makower, chairman and co-founder of GreenBiz Group.

He writes: “That may be the key message coming out of the convulsing, confounding year that was 2022. For all that those 12 months threw at us — a still-raging pandemic, a global economic downturn, major supply-chain chokepoints, political upheavals, climate-exacerbated natural disasters, and a global energy crisis spurred by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine — there’s no turning back for sustainability professionals.

“Of course, inflation and low economic growth led some companies to tap the brakes, slowing some initiatives, including the increased headcount that goes with companies’ growing sustainability ambitions. But not for long. There’s a general sense that the critical nature of social and environmental challenges, and the risks they pose to companies and society, will keep sustainability a hot-button business issue for the foreseeable future.

“It’s another round of the sustainability cha-cha: two steps forward, one step back.”

The risks are growing, he says, “but so are the rewards — to professionals, their organizations and, ultimately, to the planet and all who live here.” Since 2008, the GreenBiz editors and analysts have focused on 10 key trends worth watching, reflecting a broad spectrum of environmental and sustainability topics: transportation, carbon removal, the circular economy, climate tech, sustainable food systems, renewable energy and more.

Much of the sustainability wish list is coming to fruition, according to the report. “At last, biodiversity and natural capital are being recognized as critical inputs to business and industry; healthy ocean ecosystems are linked to climate mitigation and resilience; the financial sector, from insurance to banking to venture capital, is awakening to a post-oil future; and forthcoming transparency and disclosure frameworks promise to help separate leaders from laggards.”

Stakeholder capitalism “is alive and well, as companies and mainstream investors increasingly view environmental and social issues not as some social engineering conspiracy but as activities critical to business and macroeconomic success.”

For the 16th consecutive year, we’ve tapped the GreenBiz analyst and editorial teams to identify 10 key trends and developments GreenBiz will watch over the next 12 months. To learn more, download the free report here.