The Sustainable Business Awards are presented across 12 categories, which cover some of the most significant challenges facing companies, communities and economies.
Strategy and sustainability management
Achieving sustainability goals requires the development, articulation and execution of strategies that draw in all levels of a company. This category awards businesses for overall approach and strategy for addressing sustainability issues.
A company’s sustainability begins with its employees. Investments in diversity, training and development and health and wellbeing have been shown to have profound and positive impacts on productivity, while progressive and inclusive policies help to improve and to communicate a company’s culture.
Communities are the most important stakeholder for any company in any sector. Managing relationships with the communities that host a company’s operations, provide its workforce or represent its consumers is among the most critical aspects of sustainability.
Electricity generation for homes and businesses is the source of nearly 40 per cent of all global carbon emissions. Companies have a responsibility to create strategies to manage and ultimately reduce their energy consumption and to move to sustainable sources of generation.
More than 2 billion people live in countries experiencing hight levels of water stress, according to figures from the United Nations. Management of water resources is a critical challenge for the 21st century, as populations grow and the climate changes. Companies in all sectors can take meaningful actions to manage their own footprints and to ensure that the world has access to clean water.
Waste and material productivity
Many of the overlapping challenges of sustainability stem from how resources are managed and disposed of through value chains. Many companies are beginning to embrace a philosophy of ‘circularity’, where products are designed to recover the maximum value throughout their lifecycles, and to be fully recycled, ‘closing the loop’ on resource use.
Decarbonising the global economy to prevent catastrophic climate change is perhaps the most important challenge of the next decade. The private sector will be a hugely significant actor in addressing the root causes of climate change and helping communities and economies to adapt to its impacts.
Supply chain management
Trade links communities and companies across the world, with supply chains now vastly complicated and often spanning national boundaries and even continents. A company’s supply chain is a powerful tool for it to bring about social and environmental change, and many businesses are now leveraging their wider operations to improve livelihoods and address sustainability issues experienced by their stakeholders.
Land use and biodiversity
The world is experiencing an acute crisis of biodiversity, with critical ecosystems under threat and thousands of species at risk of extinction. Protecting and nurturing the ecosystems that support human activity is of vital importance, and the private sector, which depends on these services, has a major role to play through its investment policies and operational practices.
Business responsibility and ethics
The complexity and international spread of global supply chains means that companies are often exposed to different cultures and different governance environments. As customers and regulators demand more transparency into supply chains, companies must understand and manage the potential ethical concerns of their stakeholders, and take action to address them.
Stakeholder engagement and materiality
In an increasingly complex and connected global business environment, companies need to build frameworks and policies for engaging with the many stakeholders—from suppliers through to customers and regulators—on who they depend.
UN Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals provides a comprehensive framework for the private sector to monitor and measure their sustainability strategies and initiatives. The SDGs cover a broad range of social, environmental and economic outcomes, and many companies have begun to integrate them into their existing strategies as benchmarks or targets.