From COP21 and the “Accords de Paris” to the recent Katowice COP24, and during recent G7s, the Global warming agenda is now a top priority for the global community, as pressure from society is finally beginning to tell.
I• the same accelerating momentum, Sustainability is becoming a factor for corporations: responsible companies are building Sustainability and Innovation at the core of their strategies, around which they can truly transform their business models, and this trend will – and should - expand across all sizes and business areas.
Expectations from consumers, investors, and regulators are rising significantly in this space, as this evolution becomes inescapable: at the end of the day, it could well be about ‘to be or not to be’ for companies to pursue their development with social and environmental responsibility.
Business planning in the medium and long term – without taking into account market expectations regarding sustainable development – can be an extremely irresponsible omission. In many sectors, it has already become the deciding factor that determines the pace of company development, their further expansion into new markets, or the risk associated with new regulations.
These trends can only accelerate: such are the expectations of a new generation of consumers, who are not only becoming more and more aware of the climate crisis, but are already adapting their behaviours towards specific choices of products and services to try and address it.
These trends are confirmed by various global studies, according to which as many as 71% of consumers declare their readiness to pay more for a given product if it is environmentally friendly, and 80% would even choose a product of an unknown brand if it was environmentally friendly. These changes also stimulate legislators who, in response to consumer expectations and major climate challenges, are creating laws that promote sustainable and pro-climate actions of businesses. Ultimately, this also affects employees, who wish to work for companies that are driven not only by profit, but which will also have a positive impact on the environment with their products and activities.
The expectations of all these stakeholders are already like an avalanche, which makes the sustainable development trend more and more tangible. Businesses cannot afford to ignore it and this is not just a matter of the company’s reputation. This is a real requirement, which means that companies that do not adapt and fail to adjust their products or processes to environmental or social expectations may face challenges in their further development.
Innovation for the greater good represents a wonderful and huge opportunity. It is a chance to positively impact the natural environment and local communities we all live in, but also an opportunity to combine this with favourable business development. There is definitely a business case that is well aligned to these mega-trends and ensures successful long-term development, increasing competitiveness and attractiveness for investors and employees together, and this area is likely to be of great importance for the Polish economy. Embracing these mega-trends by Polish companies will support their expansion and could constitute their competitive advantage in foreign markets, where consumer expectations are often more pronounced… the journey must start now, or…
The factor that drives development, creates value and brings a competitive advantage is, above all, Innovation. Making clear statements and changing the mindset of R&D so that engineers systematically take into account Sustainability challenges at the early design stage will not only allow the meeting of sustainable development goals but also optimize production processes and product life cycles.
At 3M, we have found that such transformation brings positive effects, and also for business. As we operate in virtually every sector, we decided that, from January 1, 2019, every new product - there are over 1,000 per year - must meet sustainability criteria.
This fundamental change – like many transformational initiatives - is only possible if relentlessly driven from the top, becoming part of the company DNA, thus allowing Sustainability to be truly integrated within the company’s business model.
It is our belief that this is THE way forward, embedding Sustainability driven innovation as an engine for growth for all enterprises, whatever their size or sector: this is an opportunity for Poland … will she seize it? ... we all hope so.
As many as 71% of consumers declare their readiness to pay more for a given product if it is environmentally friendly, and 80% would even choose a product of an unknown brand if it was environmentally friendly