In the latest issue of The Sustainable Business Review, our columnists assess the year ahead, from growing pressure on brands to walk the talk of their net-zero commitments to the rising agenda of nature loss and showing progress on the S in ESG

This year has picked up where 2022 left off, against a backdrop of extreme weather events, with record high temperatures in Europe and the west coast of the U.S. being lashed by a parade of explosive winter storms.

Scientists tell us we are experiencing, in real time, the impacts of 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming since pre-industrial times. And they warn it is a small taste of what is in store if we fail to put the brakes on spiralling greenhouse gas emissions.

There will be a day of reckoning at COP28 in Dubai this year, as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change publishes its Global Stocktake of progress since the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

Climate change is a challenge that consumers, investors and regulators are increasingly demanding that companies address, despite the highly politicised anti-ESG backlash in the U.S. Pressure to walk the talk on their net-zero commitments will only increase this year, as Oliver Balch reports in this month’s issue of The Sustainable Business Review. 

Extinction Rebellion targeted HSBC's headquarters in London last year. (Credit: John SIbley/Reuters)

Mike Scott, meanwhile, believes 2023 could be the year that investors finally wake up to inter-connections between the nature and climate crises.

This comes as the U.N. prepares to hold a dedicated water conference in March, for the first time in 50 years, and on the heels of last month’s agreement at COP15 to tackle biodiversity loss. This year the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosure’s will publish its final guidelines. 

Mark Hillsdon attended COP15 in Montreal, and he writes about how the Business for Nature Coalition, spearheaded by Eva Zabey, helped secure an ambitious agreement through its letter-writing campaign encouraging signatories to make reporting on climate risk mandatory for large companies.

In his Society Watch column, Hillsdon also writes about how companies including Estée Lauder and American Express are investing in education and training, backing up their statements around social progress with hard, quantifiable evidence.

Meanwhile, Oliver Balch interviews Michael Okoroafor, chief sustainability officer of the U.S. spices brand McCormick, who has a unique background, having grown up as  the son of a subsistence farmer in Nigeria.

And staying with the Africa theme, I assess the progress of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, five years since it was launched, in turning the tide on devastating forest loss in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

That’s it for this month. I’m looking forward to bringing more in-depth news and analysis to our readers throughout 2023.   

Main picture credit: Fred Greaves/Reuters
nature-positive  Business for Nature  TNFD  McCormick  Estée Lauder  American Express  Nestlé  Mars  IDH 

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