I recently wrote a thought piece  “Affordability versus Sustainability – a cause to be addressed.”

That piece looked at the shifts that I felt were underway, moving from a society that accepts where it is heading, and expecting “affordability” is changing as our “choice” becomes constrained.

I argued there is this growing recognition that a consistent amount of crisis points are causing growing anxiety and stress, and these tensions and pressures are not sustainable–they are shifting our attitudes.

Are we appreciating that there is a fundamental change happening, and we have to have an increased sustainability focus, one that is becoming a much larger part of our thinking in the future?

So how do you vote?

So if you are voting for a continuance of affordability and expecting an abundant world, then our innovation stays locked into incremental improvements, continuing to force the price down and demand up. But by doing this, we are deluding ourselves.

Presently we drive efficiency and effectiveness but progressively into a crisis of our own making. Demand outstrips supply. We are consuming more than we can sustain, and something will have to give.

By choosing sustainability, innovation has a real chance of being radical, distinctive, and providing breakthroughs that can revolutionise our world. It can allow us to begin the pathway back to getting our planet and its limited resources into some semblance of balance.

The question raised today is can we adjust to the reality that our planet is finite and only able to “sustain us” by a radical change in our behaviours and consumption habits.

We need to appreciate that our environment needs our attention. We need to fully understand in new ways and recognise that we, as humans, are wreaking havoc on an increasingly fragile planet.

Sustainability must become the core of all we do

A difficult journey of changes is coming – Will sustainability make the case?

Consumers recognise the world is entering different moments of extremes: in weather, politics, economics, and more. There is growing awareness of all these problems.

Shortages and rapidly rising prices are suddenly grabbing our attention. Today we are caught at a crossroads–on currently expecting abundance and affordability versus accepting a sustainable one, where choice and prices will challenge our present acceptance of availability and convenience, in a rapidly depleting world of resources.

Sustainable innovation needs to shift our thinking

Presently, sustainability is a concept that makes sense, but it is not yet embraced and accepted by the vast majority. Crisis, what crisis? What will drive any change?

For many consumers, saying yes to environmentally-friendly products means saying no to something else that is cheaper, and that “difference” still makes that essential decision-making based on price!

We simply don’t get the arguments that sustainability is central to our future as this is shifting our existing habits and mindsets; I mean, why should we change? Yet the question becomes a growing imperative of “when is now.”

Making honesty and transparency central to any relationship

For years to come, honesty and transparency are becoming super-critical to build that lasting trust-based relationship with principled customers. The sustainability story will be driving this.

Narrowing the gap between simply affordability with a new compelling, logical value proposition of building an inclusive, sustainable future where demand and supply become more equitable, is shifting and finally altering awareness. It recognises we need to put back proportionately more than we take out.

Purchasing behaviour recently went through a fundamental shift.

Purchasing has radically altered in the past eighteen months. Choices have been forced upon us due to lockdowns, COVID-19, and supply chain disruptions; we have not been free to choose, travel or socialise as we have in the past.

Add in this seemingly escalating set of global tensions of politics, environment and social upheavals. We are in a state of flux, and often this leads to fundamental change.

The perception of a negative impact on our personal environment is forcing a rethink to reflect on making changes in jobs and careers, where and how we live, who we want to spend it with (or if we can), what and how we spend our free time, and most importantly forcing us to question where we are going.

Was this period simply a pause, then we carry on, or a trigger to fundamentally rethink what we value, what has impact and worth?

The shift has its impact and implication. That “being worthy” judgement

The recognition that social responsibility and environmental sustainability factors are rapidly becoming part of the world’s agenda will be driven by the forces of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in portfolio selection and management. it fits with consumer demand and a “life choice” surge.

The invest, divest, walk away or joining a more sustaining lobby for lasting change is shifting the past, more “passive” consumer into a more demanding one. The moment has come where all products and services are being judged as “being worthy.

Think about that. “Being worthy” is very powerful; this is shifting the dynamics. Consumers, investors, employees, employers, our products and services will all be judged on whether they are “worthy” of our support; they have to earn it, if “we” are going to change.

A time for sustainability is now.

The language, the lexicon, the context and the why all need to make the connections in any sustainability narrative.

In a world where anyone can check and validate in simple Google searches, those narratives provide a fertile ground where collective intelligence can check and validate many sustainability claims and challenge them if they are based on flimsy evidence or misleading information.

Today there is a need of being transparent, open and honest, so openly providing that where they are today, gives clarification, and where any journey needs to go si it is to be worthy of having that sustainable tag is super-important.

I suggested in a recent post, “Reshaping the core of your business through a focus on sustainability,” and suggested users embrace a new set of principles of governance that bring the planet, people, and prosperity far more into the thinking.

What would that mean in the magnitude of change and where innovation becomes central to undertake this sustaining journey?

Is the onus on the brand to make the case?

The problem today is most corporations are still internally validating sustainability and not making the value case to their customers; they are often still too caught up in making the business case internally.

Consumers want to see their issues qualified, not the internal case for showing shareholder value business credentials. Corporations are in real danger of missing the “wave” of consumer interest if they do not achieve a very high level of market engagement.

Innovation can drive this in new, highly imaginative ways.

Those who embark on a sustainable journey need to build a credible narrative; one that embraces and offers services that clearly state “we are problem-solvers and solution providers.”

The clarity needs to be made on how this all fits into a sustainability story that builds out their current offer or how they are actively and visibly working on it. Transparency will gain trust and build rapport.

I would argue we are in a time and place where being transparent and candid in communicating is extremely important.

Any sustainability values and positioning need to be crystal clear not just internally but in “all things” externally to Business

Otherwise, we as a society, living on a connected planet as final consumers, do not make the move that is needed or the connection into the reasons for sustainability, one where it is central in our lives going forward.