What kept you up at night during 2016?

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ShutterstockNadezhda Shoshina
What has kept sustainability leaders' heads buzzing deep into the night?

This article belongs to a three-part series. Read part 1 and part 2.

2016 will certainly go down as a memorable year. The EPA announced the Clean Power Plan. Brexit. The Olympics. And apparently there was a presidential election in the United States.

Here's what our members said when we asked: What kept you up at night during 2016?

Trisa Thompson, senior vice president and chief responsibility officer, corporate social responsibility, Dell Technologies

What kept me up is wondering whether all countries would sign and activate the Paris Agreement and, even if they did, was it enough? Do we all have to really push harder? Beyond our corporate boundaries and homes — do we have to raise this more stridently to the public? I worry that we are not all doing enough.


Tyler Kirsh, global energy and sustainability manager, W.W. Grainger, Inc.

How the new administration’s policies will affect sustainability in this country keeps me up at night. Everything from the promotion of drilling/fracking and its effect on dirty energy prices, to potential decease on trade with China and the increase costs of solar panels. Also, how would their signal of defunding the EPA affect business leaders’ perception of sustainability efforts in their own businesses?

Keith Kenny, VP global sustainability, McDonald's

Lots of things — as we learn more it seems there is more that we need to do. Externally, of course our ability to feed the world’s growing population remains a massive challenge, especially in the face of additional stresses on global agriculture from issues such as climate change and water availability.

Internally, the good news is that as we restructured our business through the course of the year, we have a stronger sustainability team, and more broadly as a business we are better equipped to make a difference.

Emilio Tenuta, vice president, corporate sustainability, Ecolab

Despite increasing engagement of corporate decision makers around sustainability issues and opportunities, CFO engagement as it relates to sustainability and the value of externalities continues to be low. This makes it hard for leaders to make the business case to implement more sustainable practices throughout their company.

Paul Holdredge, manager, resources strategies, General Electric

Some big focus areas for the team this year were driving emission reduction opportunities, structuring renewables opportunities and developing a digitization plan for various sites around the world. In a business with such a massive footprint, coordination across functions and building stakeholders can be a full-time job.

The passion and creativity of our front line facilities and EHS teams are how projects get done, so figuring out how to energize and empower them has been a key to success.

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