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Why Companies Need to Step Up and Lead the Sustainability Agenda

[fa icon="calendar'] 19-Jul-2015 10:30:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Sustainability

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In June 1992, over 30,000 people and more than 100 heads of states gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the largest environmental conference that became known as the Earth Summit.

The goal was to respond to the pressing global environmental challenges and to agree on a plan for tackling issues such as biodiversity, climate change, pollution and unsustainable production, extinction of resources, forest management, population growth, consumption rates and poverty.

The result: a declaration of 27 principles for nations to commit to becoming more sustainable. These are still adhered to today and influence political and business decisions.

But how far have we come?

Call me a pessimist, but not as far as we could have.

Sustainability Agenda not on the Corporate Radar

A recent survey by GlobeScan/SustainAbility has tracked and analysed the evolution of the sustainability agenda and what progress the leaders and institutions most responsible for driving it forward have made since the Earth Summit.

The one thing that stuck in my mind after reviewing the infographic with the results (see below) is that corporates and businesses have not advanced enough.

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The ABCs of Social Media for Sustainability

[fa icon="calendar'] 11-May-2015 07:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Social Media, Sustainability

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Sustainability... What a difficult word, don't you think? And how about social media?

Can you describe the two in a short sentence? No? You are probably asking: "What does social media have to do with sustainability?"

A lot, actually.

Social media and sustainability are both paradigm shifts. The challenge is how to leverage them and do so in synchrony in order to create business value. Utilising social media could transform any sustainability initiative. And because the foundations of social media and sustainability are guided by the same values of community, transparency, authenticity, innovation and collaboration, combining and aligning the two concepts could have a powerful impact on effectively balancing the triple bottom line.

To help you see the connection, let's go back to school and make things a little bit easier to understand. Below you'll find my list of ABCs with each letter representing an important characteristic that ties these two seemingly unrelated concepts. Additionally, you will find multiple actionable tips you can deploy in your business.

So pay attention now!

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WIIFM: The New Language for Sustainability Communications

[fa icon="calendar'] 30-Mar-2015 07:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Storytelling, Sustainability

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Consumers have changed. They know they have the power. And they use that when they make purchase decisions.

The times when companies simply used to talk about their business and their products are gone. Now is the time of the consumer, where WIIIFM or “what’s in it for me” is more relevant than ever.

In the world of social media, blogging, podcasting, video broadcasting, etc. customer-centricity is the only way for them to be heard among the noise. It is WIIFM that brands need to communicate throughout the entire customer journey.

There’s one industry where this is extremely palpable – sustainability with surrounding terms such as resource scarcity, sustainable supply chains and sourcing, climate change, eco-efficiency etc.

Why? Because all these words are confusing, hard to understand and often regarded as greenwashing by the normal consumer.

That’s something I’ve discovered when I was doing my own research for my dissertation, but is also evident year after year in the results of Sustainly’s Social Media Sustainability Index.

The latest one even opens up with the question: “How do you talk about sustainability when no-one really knows what it means?”

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Moving to a New Society and a New Consciousness Inspired by and in Harmony with Nature

[fa icon="calendar'] 26-Jan-2015 07:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Sustainability

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Does the headline surprise you? It doesn’t really sound like the usual topics that I write about – PR, social media, marketing. And that’s true because today I want to dig deeper and put you on a journey that will help you learn so much about our current crises and the reasons behind it.

How am I going to do that? Well, I want to present to you my new infographic – number five in my arsenal of infographics – this time in collaboration with Giles Hutchins, author of The Nature of Business and The Illusion of Separation, the latter being the focus of the infographic.

But before I get to the visual itself, I want to tell you the story behind it and how I got to work on this project with Giles.  

About three years ago, Giles held a guest lecture at Plymouth University about 'The Firm of The Future'. It was his talk that for the first time opened my eyes to our current reality and sparked my interest in sustainability. He spoke about the challenges we and our planet are facing and that today’s business paradigm is unsustainable. What followed after that for me was an entire research about sustainability and the use of social media communications.

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Time for Disruption: Why We Need a New Sustainability Narrative

[fa icon="calendar'] 13-Oct-2014 09:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Sustainability

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What is sustainability? You've got 15 seconds to define it in one sentence! Go! Tough, right?

It's difficult for businesses to describe what sustainability is, but it's even more difficult for consumers to understand it.

Companies have already recognised the value of sustainability to waste and energy reduction, cost savings, increased profitability over the long term and a prosperous future for all of us on our endangered planet, but has the mainstream consumer realised that? Does she see the need to adopt and demand sustainable consumption?

Sadly, I think no.

And that's the biggest barrier for sustainability. The real problem behind making sustainable consumption mainstream is the lack of awareness among people that such products and services exist, and that these are a big part of the solution towards solving pressing global issues such as resource and water scarcity, pollution and waste, carbon footprint, urbanisation etc. I'm not saying that companies don't have an important role here, I am only saying that if companies were facing much stronger demands from consumers for sustainable products, then companies wouldn't have any other choice but to respond to that pressure in a timely manner and transform their business models. If that were so, then the process of aligning sustainability with overall business goals and especially financial strategy as well as embedding sustainability within the entire business, including developing metrics to track progress and tie in with external factors (e.g. environmental costs), would have already been largely adopted. And so would have consumer behavioural and consumption change already been mainstream. It's a viscous circle...

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