“Despite the fact that we’re on the right path and that the business case is increasingly compelling, why hasn’t sustainability mainstreamed? We’re not deliberate enough about the interventions that we make. What’s the change model we’re deploying here?”


Sally Uren, deputy chief executive, Forum for the Future, February 20, 2013


At the GreenBiz Forum in New York last week, Sally Uren, deputy chief executive at Forum for the Future, questioned the slow advancement of sustainability. In her riveting session on driving system-wide change, Uren demonstrated the critical role that multicompany and multistakeholder collaborations play in advancing the sustainability agenda.  (For a taste of that session, read Uren’s GreenBiz blog, “Five Steps to Successful Collaboration,” in which she calls for 2013 to be “the year of collaboration.”)

At BSR, we couldn’t agree more. We’ve maintained from our earliest days, when corporate responsibility was an almost unknown term, that collaboration often spurs the greatest change. Recognizing the need to take a systems approach to sustainability challenges, many of our collaborations bring together participants from the entire value chain.

Some of our efforts gather companies from similar industries—such as our Mills and Sundries Working Group, which works with apparel and retail companies, as well as their suppliers, on social and environmental issues. Others bring together less traditional bedfellows, such as HERproject, which links multinational companies and their factories to local NGOs for workplace programs that increase women’s health awareness.

BSR is exploring the frontiers of what’s possible when we address challenges together in partnership. Through strong networks and collaborations—whether among expected or unexpected partners—we’re working to push fast forward on sustainability. And like Uren, we hope to see increased collaboration among business, civil society, and others in 2013.

For more on BSR’s 18 multicompany, multistakeholder collaborative initiatives, follow our blog series.