As 2012 comes to a close, GreenBiz asked executives from a range of companies and organizations to reflect on the past year and look at what lies ahead.
They obliged by telling us about their accomplishments, frustrations, lessons learned, their thoughts about the biggest issues of 2012 and what they think will drive sustainability in 2013.
A few big themes emerged: the failure to make significant progress at major global conclaves -- Rio+20 and the Doha Climate Change conference in particular -- the lack of urgency and action from policymakers on climate change, and the need for stronger, more transparent standards and ratings systems to meet increased consumer, investor, and corporate demand.
Here's what they said when we asked:
What was your company's greatest frustration this year?
Neil Hawkins, Vice President, Global sustainability and EH&S, Dow Chemical Co.
Lack of carbon pricing destroying markets for renewable energy products.
Mark Lee, Executive Director, SustainAbility
The stunning lack of negotiated outcome at Rio+20; the overall absence of national and international policy leadership on climate change specifically and sustainable development generally.
Peter Madden, Chief Executive, Forum for the Future
The Rio+20 Conference, where our Governments showed a pitiful lack of collective leadership.
Terry Yosie, President and CEO, World Environment Center:
The growing lag between accelerating megatrends' challenges and efforts of business, governments and stakeholders to marshall solutions. The pace of change is increasingly striking and disruptive. Many CEOs continue to live in a fantasy world regarding sustainability. Across business sectors, many CEOs and other C-suite executives believe that their companies are already implementing sustainable development at an advanced level.
Amy Hargroves, Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sprint Nextel Corporation
Our inability to capitalize on all of the incredible opportunities presented. Resource constraints. Excessive supply chain assessments are contributing more significantly to the resource constraints.
Aron Cramer, President & CEO, BSR
Ongoing apathy from investors and consumers regarding sustainability.
Bridgett Luther, President, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute
Single attribute, one point in time won't change the world - continuous improvement, multi-attribute programs like our C2C certification will change the industrial system.
Leisha John, Americas Director of Environmental Sustainability, Ernst & Young:
Finding the right vocabulary for communicating sustainability inside of the company to executives and making the financial business case for it continues to be one of our greatest challenges and opportunities. Our company is lucky to have supportive leadership that is actively embedding sustainability initiatives throughout our company strategy.
Beth Shiroishi, Vice President, Sustainability & Philanthropy, AT&T
Navigating the art of providing context in a world where there is so little standardization. We’re a large and complex business, and what might be the right context for AT&T does not necessarily work for other companies even within our own industry. And often times the different aspects of our business are not fully understood by those trying to compare numbers, metrics, or achievements. But I’m hopeful that as we continue to forge ahead with our sustainability efforts and as industry groups come together, this will become less of a challenge and more of an opportunity for us to work collaboratively with others.
Image of frustrated figure near earth courtesy of eyeidea via Shutterstock.