Our Research team tracks emerging trends and solutions central to building sustainable business. We aim to help business leaders stay ahead of the curve and shape future-oriented decisions on a wide range of challenges, from energy management, to sustainable consumption, to human rights.

We produce our research with two key business audiences in mind: executives responsible for shaping corporate strategy and practitioners in charge of implementation. Over the past three years, our output has grown considerably, and so, too, have the ways we convey our findings. Like many organizations, we have expanded the media through which we deliver our research, relying on traditional channels like reports, events, the BSR Insight, and external publications in the field of sustainability. In 2010, we also expanded our influence through the addition of social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Youku (a Chinese video-sharing site), allowing us to reach new audiences with our research.

Research in 2010

In 2010, we focused on climate and energy, ecosystem services, human rights, and sustainable consumption.

In addition to offering insight on emerging trends and solutions, BSR’s Research efforts focus on applied learning designed to promote and accelerate innovative efforts across our member company network, the wider business community, and the public. We achieve this by marrying lessons learned through project work with research and analysis that allows for wider adoption of good practices.

Our climate and energy initiative provides one example of how this works. After working on Walmart’s supply chain energy-efficiency program in China, we produced a research guide showing companies how to replicate Walmart’s work with their own Chinese suppliers. Based on that research, we launched our Energy Efficiency Partnership (EEP) initiative, which brings BSR member companies together with major suppliers to improve energy management. The group has three objectives:

  1. Create a platform to share investments and think collectively about emerging issues.
  2. Train suppliers in the Guangdong and Shanghai regions on energy management.
  3. Collect effective energy information for reporting to sponsoring companies.

Initially comprising 10 companies and nearly 80 suppliers in the consumer products; ICT; and food, beverage, and agriculture industries, EEP trained suppliers to develop energy-management plans and introduced them to local energy-service companies to help them pinpoint opportunities for improvement. As a result, suppliers started more than 100 projects that will help them conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2011, we will broaden EEP participation and develop tools for bringing energy-efficiency innovations to scale.

Also in 2011, we will focus on a new initiative related to sustainability futures—identifying the key trends that shape business success in the industries with which we work. We will also explore the business opportunities in making sustainable consumption a reality, and we will build on our previous work looking at how the world is responding to sustainability challenges and the implications for the future of business.