Sustainability Leaders Share their Plans for the Future in NAEM’s Latest Trends Report

February 18, 2016 — As corporate sustainability leaders start work on their latest set of goals, they are increasingly seeking solutions to systems-level challenges, according to the latest research by the National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM).

NAEM's 2016 "Planning for a Sustainable Future" report documents the emerging issues that are on the minds, if not yet in the budgets of, corporate environment, health and safety (EHS), and sustainability leaders. The report draws insights from more than 20 in-depth interviews with those at the leading edge, and is being offered free-of-charge thanks to financial support from Dakota Software, Enablon, Intelex, ProcessMAP andVelocity EHS.

Executive Director Carol Singer Neuvelt said the trends report reflects that a shift is taking place among those at the fore, whose new goals for product sustainability, zero waste and renewable energy will require broader, system-level changes to achieve.

"By talking candidly with EHS and sustainability leaders about their latest ideas, we glimpsed a future where the boundaries of a company's sustainability efforts will go well beyond their gates," she said.

Solving problems at the systems level relates to the emerging emphasis on having an 'impact' on the issues that are material to a company, she said. Accordingly, some of the latest goals are focused on not just improving energy efficiency, but on reducing the greenhouse gas footprint of the company and its products throughout the full lifecycle. Achieving changes on this scale will likely take longer, she added, and involve collaboration between companies, customers and policy-makers.

"These changes won't be easy, and the wins won't be quick. Indeed, the path forward from here is one in which innovation will continue, but much of the real progress may go unseen," she said.

In addition to providing a look at some of the strategic conversations taking place around the latest goals, the report also identifies specific shifts in key aspects of corporate sustainability management, including: supplier engagement, external reporting, climate change risk management and regulatory compliance in the supply chain.

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