What Do People Want to Know About Sustainability?

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People are curious about sustainability. But what do they really want to know? Our analysis identifies 6 priority topics.

Sustainability is a huge area with a lot of elements. At NBS, we wanted to know where to focus our attention. What’s on managers’ minds?  What sustainability information do people most want?

To answer these questions, NBS’s Marketing Communications Officer, Adanma Onuoha, analyzed the sustainability terms that people were searching on the Internet.

She found six priorities within the general area of sustainability. People want to know what these concepts are, why they matter, and how they relate to businesses and everyday life.

These priorities are relevant for companies as well. They suggest what areas might be top of mind for your stakeholders: where they might seek education and action.

Watch the video, where Adanma walks us through the priorities.

We’ll be exploring these topics in 2021. Subscribe to our newsletter to get involved

6 Priority Topics Related to Sustainability

  1. What is sustainability?

    Sustainability comes from the idea of ‘sustainable development.’ But ever since that term was coined in 1987, people have found it confusing.

    The classic definition is: “Development that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations” (WCED, 1987).

    In a recent NBS article, we spell out what that means for businesses. See: “What is Corporate Sustainability.”

    And over time, people are becoming sufficiently knowledgeable to recognize different types of sustainability – including both social and environmental.

  2. How do we practice sustainability?

    Just knowing what sustainability means isn’t enough. Today, managers are asking “How can we incorporate sustainability into our daily lives and businesses?” One answer comes from case studies and success stories from other organizations.

  3. What is biodiversity?

    People want to know what biodiversity means, why it’s important, and how it’s threatened.

    Arguably, the environmental issue presenting the greatest challenge to humans is the loss of resilience that comes from biodiversity loss.  This topic is often overlooked in the global environmental conversation, so it’s encouraging to see it rise to top of mind in 2021.

  4. What is a sustainable business model?

    Managers want to learn both how they can integrate sustainability and how to make it work financially.

    NBS looks at the business model in terms of the business resilience that comes from sustainable practices.  Resilience enables companies to bounce back from shocks and thrive over the long term.

  5. What is the circular economy, and how does it work?

    People often say that a circular economy embodies sustainability. A circular economy keeps products and resources in the economic system through reuse, repair, and recycling. As a result, it enables growth and reduces resource use and waste.

    There’s a lot of current action on the circular economy (e.g. the  European Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan). Managers want to know how these changes will affect their companies and industries, and how they can get involved.

    NBS provides an overview: “What is a Circular Economy and How Does it Work?

  6. What are innovative solutions to food waste?

    It makes sense that people are concerned about food waste. A third of all food produced globally is wasted, at an estimated cost of $1 trillion. Luckily, this is an area where real change can be made, and where easy, cost-effective actions do exist.

Explore the top sustainability questions

It’s great to see people investigating sustainability issues and to see new conversations staring up, e.g. around biodiversity, the circular economy, and food waste.

Let’s help each other tackle these questions. NBS is starting a new series, “The Basics,” that provides essential knowledge about core business sustainability topics. Get the latest insights by subscribing to the NBS newsletter and following us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Share your perspective as well. What questions or answers do you have?  Comment below or send an email to info@nbs.net.

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Author

  • Abby Litchfield is a Senior Associate at the Network for Business Sustainability, overseeing partnerships, processes, social media, and all things graphic. Abby is deeply passionate about bringing people and organizations together to advance sustainability, and loves creating new content with NBS collaborators because it's an opportunity to do just that.

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