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A look into the future of sustainable business leadership - Our new report

Making sustainability a core business strategy is now commonly regarded as best practice. Indeed, there is robust evidence (1) to suggest that companies that embrace a sustainability agenda or strategy are more likely to thrive in the long term. From increased long term returns for shareholders, lower risk, and greater connection with incoming generations of consumers, it is clear that adopting a sustainable business strategy generates value.

But who will lead the agenda on sustainable business? Who are the players that might drive it? What systems and pressures will influence their actions? With our latest report exploring scenarios of sustainable business leadership in 2030, we want to showcase different opportunities and risks that lie ahead for leaders. We aim to provide a projection of the upcoming decade’s ESG and sustainability narrative in an organisational context and prepare for future leadership challenges.

Scenario planning is a fitting methodology for this exploration that showcases multiple futures in a thought-provoking way. The scenarios are designed to be not only plausible, but also relevant, and challenging to those who use them. Scenarios don’t describe what will happen, or what should happen. Rather, they explore what could be. In doing so, they give rise to new conversations and options in the present.

The scenarios discussed in the report have been designed to stretch the thinking of leaders, enabling them to contemplate events they may consider less plausible. The ambition is to help leaders with their strategic planning processes and engender reflection and review on their approach to sustainability leadership in the here and now.

In addition to our own research, experts—business leaders, board directors and their advisors, as well as leaders from academia and civil society—were interviewed and asked for their perspectives of factors influencing sustainable business leadership in the future (2030). These factors were used to build a set of four equally plausible scenarios:

• ESG Intrapreneurs

• Idealist CEOs

• Leading Boards

• Governments and Stakeholders

Please join our virtual roundtable on Thursday, 1st of July 2021, 10am EDT / 3pm BST / 4pm CET / 10pm SGT. You can register here.

Frederik Otto

Founder of The Sustainability Board Report

(1) For a comprehensive overview we recommend the September – October 2020 Harvard Business Review: Making Sustainability Count, Reprint R2005B,


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