Managing climate change is an opportunity for the EU

Following the COP24 summit in Katowice last year, the European Commission has recently published its “Sustainable Europe 2030” paper. Rightly, the reflection document identifies the need for an inclusive and just transition to a low-carbon, climate-neutral and resource-efficient economy that respects biodiversity in full compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals. However, with its sole focus on consumption and production, the Commission leaves out the central drivers of the transition: managers and workers. If they are not taking ownership and steer the transition as key stakeholders, the best strategy will be doomed to fail. A more holistic approach is needed.

 The benefits of transitioning to a sustainable socio-economic model are increasingly undeniable. It could bring an estimated EUR 10 trillion of market opportunities to the EU[1] and create one million jobs until 2030 in the circular economy alone, according to the European Parliament Research Service[2]. Contrarily, not implementing existing EU environmental legislation could amount to EUR 50 billion a year in health costs and direct costs to the environment.

Furthermore, in October 2018, leading climate scientists from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warned that only 12 years were left to take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst impacts of a 2°C or more warming scenario, including economic crisis.

Against this background, not only ambitions, but particularly action matters. Therefore, managers will be crucial actors to drive sustainable change with a renewed set of leadership instruments and principles rooted in sustainability. There is urgency in shifting the current paradigm and reinvent the way we conceive both policies and the purpose of businesses in the light of the pressing environmental, but also social and economic challenges we are currently facing.

At EU-level, business sustainability is measured through non-financial reporting standards[3]. Around 6000 companies across Europe are required to report on policies, risks and outcomes concerning environmental matters, social and employment aspects, among others. Due to the nature of a directive, the flexibility left to member states in defining the reporting requirements has undermined the objective of increasing the consistency and comparability of sustainability information. Since different companies and sectors have different starting positions on sustainability, it a reflection on increased sustainability efforts based on capacity and current impact is needed.

To respond to the need for a more sustainable way of leading, CEC European Managers has published its Sustainable Leadership Guidelines providing innovative and practical advice to managers for transforming thought patterns, behaviours and processes in companies and beyond. Please find them below.

[1] Business and Sustainable Development Commission, “Better Business Better World, The report of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission”, January 2017

[2] European Parliament, Towards a circular economy — Waste management in the EU, 2017, European
Parliamentary Research Service.

[3] Directive 2014/95/EU

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