Top 7 Sustainability Challenges in 2016

Mar 29, 2016 9:00 AM ET

Download the Full Report — Business Challenges for Sustainability

Each year, the Network for Business Sustainability (NBS) outlines annual Sustainability Challenges based from a group of select business leaders. This year's report, Business Challenges for Sustainability, synthesizes the top seven sustainability issues facing business in 2016.

This year also marks the report's 10th anniversary. It’s time to reflect: how should we advance business sustainability? 

In the next years, NBS will form online communities of researchers and practitioners to tackle sustainability challenges like those contained in this report. We invite practitioners in all industries to use this report as the starting point for dialogue within their organizations.

1. Public Policy & Climate Change

Climate change is the most significant challenge of current and future generations. It affects all aspects of our economy, society, and environment. Canadian firms need to play a greater role in decarbonizing the economy and building resilience to climate impacts...

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2. Collaborating for Sustainability

Most sustainability issues require systemic change, and systemic change requires collaboration among stakeholders. Businesses need to speak with one voice with competitors and affected stakeholders to tackle sustainability challenges...

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3. Respecting Aboriginal Rights

Canadian businesses, NGOs, governments, and society need collaborative processes and institutional structures that ensure that Canada’s Aboriginal communities are proactively, freely, and comprehensively engaged in managing natural resources that impact their lands...

4. Measuring & Reporting Sustainability

Given the proliferation of sustainability rankings and reporting standards, businesses need to know how to streamline reporting to reduce redundancy, resolve inconsistencies, and produce a positive impact...

5. Sustaining Sustainability Programs

Though many people look to the Brundtland report for a definition of sustainability, there is an incomplete, inconsistent understanding of what sustainability means for business. Sustainability needs to be a core part of business activities...

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6. Educating Consumers

Sales of sustainable, socially responsible products and services are not reflective of the efforts invested in their development. Businesses need to better understand how to measure, classify, and market sustainable products and services in a way that avoids greenwashing and instead positively influences consumer behaviour...

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7. Creating a Long-term Orientation

Turbulent financial markets, unstable consumer purchasing patterns, changing trade agreements, and inconsistent public policies make it increasingly difficult to act for the long-term. Businesses need a way to reconcile short-term and long-term perspectives...

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Recommended citation for report:

Bansal, P., Good, J., & Sharma, G. (2016). Business challenges for sustainability: Inspiring new research and innovating new solutions. Network for Business Sustainability. Retrieved from