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  • Richard Bonn

Six essential steps towards sustainability

Any company that wants to secure its future must integrate sustainability into its business plan. But that’s easier said than done, says Richard Bonn, co-founder of Aethr Associates

Sustainability can seem like a complicated puzzle.

This year, pressure on the fresh produce business to respond to sustainability demands has reached unprecedented levels. As global concerns about climate change intensify, customers, regulators, and even the climate itself now urges companies to engage with their environmental impact and social responsibility.

The risks of not adapting are clear. Those that fail to integrate sustainability properly risk playing catch-up on evolving customer demands, regulatory changes, and the potentially disastrous impacts of climate change.

Successful businesses must therefore view sustainability not merely as a compliance exercise, but as an integral part of their commercial plan. Just as any such plan serves as a roadmap and outlines goals and strategies, sustainability goals and strategies should also be woven seamlessly into this framework.

Is sustainability a core part of your business plan? If the answer is ‘no’, it’s time to reassess and to act. How can you incorporate sustainability into your business plan? Here are six essential steps. 

Set out sustainability goals— Clearly define how sustainability features in your business goals. This ensures that sustainability is not an ancillary concern but an intrinsic part of your business delivery. 

Seek board consensus— Achieving sustainability goals requires all stakeholders to be aligned. Board consensus is imperative if you want to meet the demands of customers, investors, employees, and the community.

Double materiality assessment —This helps you identify priorities specific to your business. It means evaluating the environmental and social impacts on that business, and its impact on the environment and society.

Delegate responsibility— Ensure that sustainability is not the responsibility of a single department, but is woven into the fabric of the entire business. Delegate actions to people throughout the organisation, and manage those people effectively to ensure they are delivered.

Monitor and improve— Implement key performance indicators (KPIs) that focus on sustainability. Regularly monitor and assess your progress to stay on track towards your sustainability objectives. 

Transparent reporting— Lastly, report transparently to the market. Clearly communicate your sustainability initiatives, progress, and challenges. Transparency builds trust and credibility, essential elements in a world where consumers increasingly demand ethical and sustainable practices.

Businesses that successfully integrate sustainability into their business plans will be the winners in this evolving landscape. By avoiding conflict and ensuring alignment of priorities, these businesses are better positioned to navigate the challenges of a world increasingly focused on sustainability.

The brave new world belongs to those who not only embrace sustainability but embed it into the very DNA of their operations.

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