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News Article

Sustainability is a Non-Linear Process

By Cinthya Alaniz Salazar | Wed, 05/11/2022 - 14:05

The private sector is being increasingly pressured by investors and consumers alike to ramp-up and accelerate sustainability initiatives as a means of creating a green circular economy. This call to action demands that companies reassess their entire business model and practices, a transition process that should not be expected to unfold without complications, according to industry experts.

“Businesses are starting to realize that the business as usual has an expiration date. Companies today more than ever understand that sustainability is a must have and that they have to be environmentally conscious to be part of the solution,” said Alicia Silva, President, SUMe.

Climate change has become an omnipresent challenge for governments, private industry and consumers, all of which will play a critical role in forming a sustainable circular economy in Mexico. Achieving this economic model will be possible by revaluating business practices, a capacity that was demonstrated amid the accelerated digital transformation.

Similarly, it will require companies to place sustainability at the center of business development if they are to make substantive and sustained contributions to society and the environment, said Claudia de la Vega, Director of Corporate Affairs Mexico and Central America, Walmart.  As companies embark on this intersective process, however, they should not expect it to be linear, warned de la Vega. “There will be setbacks, but companies should not be dissuaded from becoming a regenerative company to restore our planet for future generations.”

Ultimately, business as usual is obsolete, said Silva. This is reflected in an upsurge in green investments, which grew by 36 percent in 2020 according to the CCFV in Mexico, as reported by MBN. After two years overcoming challenges ranging from public health and the accelerated digitalization of daily life, people and companies alike are poised to successfully lay the groundwork towards Net Zero. For companies, that starts with identifying how they contribute to the production of carbon emissions and waste locally and through their entire supply chain.

This information is central to the development of a sustainable roadmap that can be achieved through incremental changes, an increasingly common prerequisite for raising capital and attracting investors. This points to an institutional shift that demands accountability and engagement throughout the entire organization. With added-value clearly established, companies stand to benefit from the agency that can be provided by ESG professionals. These experts can help companies be pragmatic about the development of strategic roadmaps and more importantly, avoid potential setbacks. 

Complementary to these efforts, consumer education should be considered a parallel priority by companies, said Adrián Sánchez, CEO, Lealtad Verde. Some businesses fear changes to consumer behavior because they might cause friction but companies have forgotten that consumers are also looking at their role in the road towards sustainability, he added. Surveys outline that climate change is a major concern for consumers but they do not know how or where to begin tackling this problem, presenting a substantial opportunity for leaders in this space.

Fear of transition is real; people are really concerned that it will not be possible to undo the environmental damage that has been done. Demand for sustainable products has increased but now there should be a focus in making these products accessible so low-income households can take part in the transition.Short-term, sustainable decisions will not be as remunerative as this is a long game. As a result, every single business decision needs to be evaluated from a lens of sustainability, a process that has been highlighted as doable during the accelerated digital transformation.

Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Journalist & Industry Analyst