Skip to main content

Report Report

Report Report: AI, Global Risks, Climate Governance and Circularity

The latest crop of reports of interest to sustainability professionals.

The Report Report is a monthly wrap-up of recent research on sustainable business and clean technology, produced by Corporate Eco Forum, a by-invitation membership organization comprised of large, global companies that demonstrate a serious commitment at the senior executive level to sustainability as a business strategy issue.

A New Circular Vision for Electronics: Time for a Global Reboot (World Economic Forum and PACE) makes the case for a more circular electronics system that unlocks the full economic value of e-waste. The report outlines its vision and the changes needed to make this new vision a reality:

  • Vision: Society needs to collectively rethink the rules of the game and create a vision around which government, consumers and industry can rally.
  • Awareness: The public needs to learn more about this growing global challenge and opportunity.
  • Collaboration: This coalition seeks to work with multinationals, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurs, employers’ associations, academia, trade unions, civil society and associations in a specific and deliberative process to bring about change. Public-private collaborations through platforms such as PACE and the E-waste Coalition will play an important role.
  • Action: Coordinated action by all actors is needed within and across national borders.

Artificial Intelligence and the Circular Economy (Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Google) examines the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in two value chains: food and consumer electronics. The report finds that AI could unlock up to $127 billion annually for the food value chain by 2030 and up to $90 billion for consumer electronics.

Circularity Gap Report 2019 (Circle Economy) finds that the global economy is only 9 percent circular, meaning that just 9 percent of the 92.8 billion tons of extracted raw materials that enter the economy are re-used annually. The report also highlights three key circular strategies that could be adapted throughout the economy:

  1. Optimizing the utility of products by maximizing their use and extending their lifetime.
  2. Enhanced recycling, using waste as a resource.
  3. Circular design, reducing material consumption and using lower-carbon alternatives.

Climatescope 2018 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance) assesses clean energy investment and deployment activities across 103 developing countries around the world. Select key findings included:

  • In 2017, most of the world's new zero-carbon power capacity was built in developing countries. A total of 114GW was added in these nations, compared with about 63GW added in wealthier nations.
  • In a first, renewables accounted for the majority of all new power-generating capacity added. Developing countries added 186GW in 2017 to their grids, with wind and solar alone accounting for 94GW — just over half.
  • Clean energy deployment is growing fastest in developing nations. New-build additions rose 20.4 percent year-on-year in these countries. By contrast, new build in wealthier nations fell by 0.4 percent.
  • Chile was ranked as the most attractive emerging nation for clean energy investment, followed by India and Jordan. 

Finance for Seafood in South East Asia (Global Canopy) assesses 24 of the largest regional and national banks across South East Asia on their efforts to manage risks associated with lending to seafood firms with negative environmental and social impacts. The report finds that no banks assessed have a sustainability policy on seafood in place to help manage these risks.

From Me to We: The Rise of the Purpose-led Brand (Accenture Strategy) analyzes survey responses from nearly 30,000 consumers globally to better understand what they expect from brands and companies. Key findings included:

  • 62 percent of consumers globally want companies to take a stand on the social, cultural, environmental and political issues close to their hearts.
  • 63 percent are buying goods and services from companies that reflect their personal values and beliefs.
  • 62 percent of consumers say their purchasing consideration is driven by a company’s ethical values and authenticity.
  • 74 percent crave greater transparency into how companies source their products, ensure safe working conditions, and their stance on important issues.
  • 66 percent believe their actions can influence a company’s stance on issues of public concern.
  • 47 percent have stopped doing business with a company as a result of its actions.

Global Risks Report 2019 (World Economic Forum and Marsh & McLennan Companies) assesses the impact and likelihood of 30 global economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological risks that could pose a significant threat to our global system over the next 10 years. The top 10 risks, in terms of likelihood and impact, include:

Global risks in terms of likelihood:

  1. Extreme weather events
  2. Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation
  3. Natural disasters
  4. Data fraud or theft
  5. Cyber attacks
  6. Man-made environmental disasters
  7. Large-scale involuntary migration
  8. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse
  9. Water crises
  10. Asset bubbles in a major economy 

Global risks in terms of impact:

  1. Weapons of mass destruction
  2. Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation
  3. Extreme weather events
  4. Water crises
  5. Natural disasters
  6. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse
  7. Cyber attacks
  8. Critical information infrastructure breakdown
  9. Man-made environmental disasters
  10. Spread of infectious diseases 

How to Set Up Effective Climate Governance on Corporate Boards: Guiding Principles and Questions (World Economic Forum and PwC) presents eight climate governance principles to increase directors’ climate awareness, embed climate issues into board structures and processes, and improve navigation of the risks and opportunities that climate change poses to business.

Integrating Natural Capital in Risk Assessments: A Step-by-Step Guide for Banks (Natural Capital Finance Alliance and PwC) offers step-by step guidance to help financial institutions conduct a rapid natural capital risk assessment. The report guides users through two processes:

  • Rapid Natural Capital Risk Assessment, which allows an institution to quickly identify the areas of highest natural capital risk.  
  • Sector/Asset Analysis, which uses location-specific environmental data to assess the likelihood and likely impact of disruption that businesses in their portfolios face due to environmental change. This notably could help financial institutions in their climate scenario analyses as recommended by the TCFD.

Investing in Society (The CEO Force for Good) explores how leading companies are aligning their corporate social investment strategies to solve the world’s most pressing issues. The report highlights company examples across five focus areas: priorities; performance; people; planet; and policies.

It’s Time to Plant the Seeds of Sustainable Growth in Agriculture (The Boston Consulting Group) highlights the opportunities for agribusiness companies to become central players in sustainable agriculture. The report calls on agribusiness to play a larger role in sustainable farming, become knowledge partners with their customers, drive innovation and technological solutions, improve crop yield and enhance the quality for food for people.

New Energy Solutions for 1.5 Degrees C: Pathways and Technologies to Achieve the Paris Agreement (WBCSD) provides viewpoints from WBCSD member companies on the developments and changes needed to enable an energy transition that aligns with the Paris Agreement. The report also identifies the current barriers and potential solutions to decarbonizing the power, transport, buildings and industry sectors.

State by State: An Analysis of U.S. Companies and Cities Across Seven States (CDP) examines how companies and cities in the United States react to climate change impacts across Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Texas. Key findings included:

  • 88 percent of U.S. real estate companies cited operational risks related to hurricanes, flooding, storm surges and sea level rise.
  • Californian companies reported in 2017 more opportunities from environmental regulation than companies headquartered in any other state; 81 percent of Californian companies disclosing inherent benefits to their business from climate-related regulation.
  • In 2017, companies in the Southwest operating within the Colorado River Basin have reported more than 70 serious water risks to their operations and more than 70 percent of these risks were linked to expectations of higher operating costs and plant disruption.
  • Ohio-based companies consistently have reported fuel and energy regulation as a top risk since 2015.
  • In 2017, over 50 percent of Californian companies pointed to corporate reputation and changing consumer behaviors as drivers of business opportunities, with 69 percent reporting either or both drivers in their responses to CDP. 

More on this topic