Enter the Sustainable Century – Part 2.

Enter the Sustainable Century – Part 2.

Strategic communication for business will be critical as President Obama ushers in a new green vision for America and the world.

“The danger posed by climate change cannot be denied. Our responsibility to meet it must not be deferred. If we continue down our current course, every member of this Assembly will see irreversible changes within their borders. Our efforts to end conflicts will be eclipsed by wars over refugees and resources. Development will be devastated by drought and famine. Land that human beings have lived on for millennia will disappear. Future generations will look back and wonder why we refused to act; why we failed to pass on an environment that was worthy of our inheritance.  And that is why the days when America dragged its feet on this issue are over.”
 
- From President Barack Obama’s Address to the United Nations General Assembly, September 23, 2009
 
Building on my previous post, President Obama is moving quickly to reframe the environmental debate and reset expectations on the part of many stakeholders.  All this change will have both an immediate and a long-term impact for business.
 
Despite some uncertainty over the timing and substance of legal and regulatory changes to come, whether you are an American firm, or a global enterprise doing business in or with the U.S., there’s a new sheriff in town.  And despite the policy and political challenges Obama faces, companies would do well to take stock of the fact that the very citizens who voted for a green president are the same consumers who will vote for clean energy, for products with recycled content, for low energy consuming electronics, for reduced product packaging, and for companies with a genuine and demonstrated commitment not only to quality and value, but to sustainability.
 
It’s about embracing both environmental opportunity and environmental responsibility – and the two aren’t mutually exclusive.  There are tax incentives and grants to take advantage of; a host of new business opportunities with the public and private sectors; new product and service offerings; partnership possibilities; bottom line energy and resource efficiency gains to be made; not to mention risks to be mitigated and managed (in the form of fines, lawsuits, boycotts, protests, and disastrous media stories).  And the low carbon economy will bring about new winners, including solar, nuclear and natural gas providers, which will increasingly fuel the rest of the economy.
 
Each company will need to take a close look at its current strategy, and determine where, when and how it makes sense to introduce or expand environmental sustainability programs, partnerships, policies and processes into its operations.  But in terms of strategic communication and stakeholder outreach in support of business goals, there are some clear and deliberate actions that every company, regardless of size or sector, should be actively considering.
 
I’ll outline these in my next blog post…

 

Chad Tragakis, Senior Vice President, Hill & Knowlton, Washington D.C, and writer for the Hill & Knowlton Blog, ResponsAbility.

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