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Enhance business resiliance for long term success
“93% of CEO’s believe that sustainability issues will be critical to the future success of their business” (UNGC Accenture CEO Study, 2010)
A sustainability plan allows your business to manage long term risk and look at things very differently than a traditional business plan or risk assessment methodology. Sustainability planning asks tough questions of your business. The answers to the tough questions prepare your business to be more resilient and position it for long term success. Some of the areas you may want to consider:

Planning for energy security:
Energy security, availability and cost will be at the forefront of challenges faced by any business and serious consideration should be given to the following:
What will our energy demands be in the future and what can we do to reduce these?
What alternatives should we be looking to as conventional energy supplies diminish and costs increase?
What emergency plans do we have in place to cope with energy cost spikes?

Planning for resource security:
Having reliable sources of safe materials for the manufacture of your products is just as important. Raw materials (everything from precious metals and petroleum based products to water) are gaining in value as they are in demand by more people than ever.
Where will our raw materials come from in the future and is our supply secure?
What will our raw materials cost and will we be able to pass on those costs?
What is the complexity of our raw material matrix and can we simplify and reduce?
What alternatives do we have, do our customers have?
How safe are our current raw materials?
Can we recover raw materials from our products once their product life has ended?

Planning for financial security:
Sustainability leaders embrace opportunities to manage risk and to create long term shareholder value. More institutional investors are examining climate change and other sustainability risks of a business before investing in them. A number of ethical and sustainability indices (Jantzi Social Index) have established themselves in the investment world and are attracting significant investment. A growing number of insurers and pension funds have signed to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. This global framework that incorporates environmental, social and governance issues promotes longer term views, increasing returns on assets and lowering the risk for beneficiaries. The sustainability funds are selective about who they invest in based on independent assessments and expel or admit members depending on their sustainability assessments.

Climate Change is the greatest risk facing insurers, but not the only one. The global insurance industry has nine global sustainability issues which they consider to be urgent:
  • 1) Climate Change
  • 2) Micro-insurance
  • 3) Lifelong income
  • 4) Health
  • 5) Emerging man made risks (ex. Nanotechnology)
  • 6) Environmental liability
  • 7) Natural Resources
  • 8) Recycling
  • 9) Internal Efficiency
It is in insurers’ interests to reduce these risks and improve sustainability. (UNEP Finance Initiative 2007)

Planning for impacts by Climate Change:
While Climate Change deniers may be capturing attention of the media from time to time, there is no question that most governments, many non-governmental organizations and corporations around the world do take Climate Change very seriously. They are beginning to take actions to reduce emissions and are also planning ahead to reduce their exposure to the consequences of Climate Change.

In their Climate Change Roadmap of April 2010 the US Navy has identified Climate Change as a national security challenge which will lead to increased tensions in nations with weak economies and political institutions. Climate Change is already affecting US military installations, access to natural resources and will affect the type, scope and location of future missions. This forward looking organization has developed a strategic plan to cope with Climate Change. As a result it is taking significant action to curb its appetite for fossil fuels, assess and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and put plans in place to deal with its locations which are being affected or will be affected by fresh water supply, permafrost and ice melt leading to sea level rise.

Certainly large and small organizations that find themselves in similar situations should be preparing longer range plans regarding locations which may be impacted by ice melt, access to fresh water, agricultural land, secure electricity and to deal with mass migration from certain regions. Taking these long range, high altitude views does not have to be negative and demoralizing. It can lead to some very inspiring innovation, given the right spirit!

Need more inspiration? Checkout:Office of Federal Sustainability DOD Performance
The US Department of Defense uses more energy than any other single organization in the world. They have taken significant actions to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels. They have put plans in place to measure, avert and respond to climate change and be transparent with their results.