The war in Ukraine changes the business landscape. As a united Europe fights for peace, democracy and the rule of law, sustainability is not only an opportunity, but the cornerstone of New Peace. This is a test for Europe and for corporations that lead the change.
Over the past years we have seen how the New Sustainability Drivers accelerate the transition to sustainable business.
Firstly, science tells us ever more clearly and convincingly that Earth’s capacity is at its limit. In order to preserve healthy living conditions, and to produce the water, food, and energy we need, we must within seven years drastically cut greenhouse gases and stop the loss of biodiversity.
Secondly, there is growing evidence that a global majority of consumers clearly prefer products and services that are produced responsibly and enable them to live more sustainably.
Thirdly, regulation continues to require businesses to adopt more sustainable practices.
Fourthly, investors are the real engine of change. They see that businesses that are part of the solution are better businesses, and push for an immediate and swift commitment to sustainability.
Now, the unlawful Russian war in Ukraine accelerates the green transition from fossil fuels. It amplifies the need for Circular Economy. It also forces corporations to change their approach to all raw materials they need and how they manage their supply chains. As companies across the globe have condemned the Russian aggression and even decided to withdraw from Russia, we have seen companies taking an unprecedented stand on questions of right and wrong. You either condemn Russia and stop doing business with it, or you support the war.
The crisis is a sign of fundamental change in our “global village”. Of course, the risk of the war escalating is real, and the security situation requires new arrangements that change the political landscape. The war in Ukraine is also in danger of causing hunger and poverty for nearly two billion people. This is another huge security risk.
It is tempting to think that sustainability and the green transition are luxuries that can wait until the war is over, the economy is growing again, and things are back to “normal”. But the transition is not something that can wait. There will be no new normal or lasting peace without sustainability.
The change requires leadership. In my next posts I will explain why I think it is Europe and corporations that should show us the way.