As we enter 2023, it is easy to focus only on the polycrisis, the numerous and interconnected challenges business and the world are facing. It is more compelling, and certainly more useful, to focus on the immense array of opportunities to build on progress that is well within our grasp.
We should not learn the wrong lesson from the upheavals of the early 2020s. Instead, we should recognize that we clearly know what the challenges are, and embrace the fact that many business leaders have responded to health, social, political, and environmental challenges by raising ambition.
It is now time to deliver on that ambition.
Indeed, the unexpected developments of the past three years should serve as stark reminders of the essential value of our shared agenda: a rapid and inclusive transition to a clean energy economy; equitable societies and economies that work for all; business advocacy for policy solutions and good public policy; and corporate governance that eschews short-termism in favor of long-term leadership that benefits both business and society, all reinforced by global cooperation.
Some would dismiss these as luxuries during a time of change and disruption, others that they represent a hijacking of business by unwise social engineering. These arguments, many of them quite cynical, are fundamentally wrong. In fact, just and sustainable business is indispensable to building resilient, innovative companies; healthy and prosperous societies; and a stable natural environment that can sustain human life.
BSR is looking forward to advancing these objectives through our insights, advice, and opportunities for system-changing collaboration.
Our priorities for 2023 include:
- Business transformation
- Reporting and disclosure in support of value creation
- Net-zero transformation
- Climate justice and just transition
- Preserving nature
- Advancing social justice
- Creating a fair and inclusive economy
- Human rights amidst a changing geopolitical environment and new technologies
Our work entering 2023 is defined also by the need to ensure that just and sustainable business delivers on its promise. We will take head on the important questions about the delivery gap and how to define elements of ESG consistently and with integrity. Ensuring that sloppiness and misleading information is out of bounds is crucial. Put another way, there are legitimate questions about whether just and sustainable business commitments are being translated into real action that makes a difference: these questions must be addressed, with action.
At the same time, we will continue to counter the many cynical voices seeking to misrepresent ESG, or just and sustainable business, as somehow inconsistent with business objectives.
There is no doubt that the world will continue to deliver the unexpected. Whatever happens in 2023, we know that there are fundamentally sound business and social reasons to double down on delivering on sustainability commitments. This is precisely what we continue to hear from each and every one of our 300+ member companies. This is why investors continue to shift capital to just and sustainable business, and it’s why regulators are focusing increased attention on ESG. And it’s why we are excited to get underway in the new year.