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The World Needs More Sustainable Leadership

Today, we face many challenges that threaten our planet and its people. Climate change, poverty, inequality, and conflict, to name a few. But we also have the power to change the course of history. We can create a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world for all.

The Sustainable Development Goals are our blueprint for a better future. All United Nations Member States adopted them in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Sustainable leaders recognize that our planet is finite and must work together to protect it. They understand the interconnectedness of all life and the importance of respecting human rights. They know that economic growth must be balanced with environmental protection and that social progress must be inclusive of all people.

That said, a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group found that fewer than 7% of consumers pay a premium for sustainable products and services presently, but 40% could be convinced to do so if companies make a compelling case for why it matters. Sustainable leaders are those who can make that case. They can inspire us to change our behavior and make the world a better place.

According to Trent Lessar, the CEO of Lessar Energy, sustainable leaders share four common characteristics. First, they have a long-term vision. Sustainable leaders think beyond the next quarter or election cycle—they focus on creating a better future for all. Second, they are collaborative. They know that no one person or organization can solve the world’s problems alone—we must all work together. Third, they are innovative. They are constantly looking for new and better ways to do things. And fourth, they are courageous, willing to take risks and stand up for what they believe in, even when it is unpopular.

Take solar energy as an example. Critics say that it’s too expensive and will never be able to meet our energy needs. But sustainable leaders see the potential of solar and are working to make it more affordable and accessible so that one day it can power the world.

Lessar said, “sustainability is not simply about utilizing the benefits of renewable energy; it’s also about helping their customers understand the choices they have when it comes to home energy solutions,” in an interview. He added, “For example, from the beginning of every project, we keep clients informed and involved in their journey to create a more sustainable environment, whether it be solar panels, smart home chargers, or home battery storage systems.”

According to Tatiana Mitrova, a research fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, there are three ways to be a sustainable leader. One is to focus on creating economic value—finding ways to create prosperity that does not harm the environment or future generations. Another way is to focus on developing social and environmental value—finding ways to positively impact people and the planet. And a third way is to focus on creating economic and social value—finding win-win solutions that benefit people and our environment.

“The challenge for sustainable leaders is to find ways to create value that benefits both people and the planet,” said Mitrova in an interview. “This is not always easy, but it is essential if we want to build a better future for all.” So, to be a sustainable leader, start by thinking about creating value for both people and the planet. Then, take action and make it happen. Here are four ways you can.

1. Be a role model for sustainable living

This means sustainably living your life and setting an example for others, alongside making operational decisions that help the environment and future generations. Lessar Energy, for example, is donating solar panels to properties in Nigeria for every solar package purchased in the US. “Providing and giving back to those that don’t have easy access to basic resources here in America is incredible,” said Lessar in an interview with Yahoo Finance. Become an example of responsible consumer behaviour and help to promote sustainable products and services by telling your followers about your habits and life hacks. As a leader, you are an influencer—so use this opportunity to popularise energy efficiency, green technologies, recycling, shared economy and an overall environmental-friendly model of consumer behaviour.

2. Find ways to reduce your carbon footprint and beyond

One of the best ways to make a difference is to start with yourself. There are many ways to do this, such as driving less, recycling more, and using energy-efficient appliances. You can also offset your carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy or planting trees. According to Lessar, “It’s not just about making less of an impact; it’s about making a positive impact”. “I believe that’s the key to sustainable leadership.” The Queen Mary University of London’s Nadia Zahoor agrees with Lessar. Her research proposes that firms promote sustainable development by favoring inclusive and sustainable industrialization, promoting sound community relations, and fostering innovation, fingering that carbon footprint reduction is a journey, not a destination. “Most importantly, businesses should avoid the common but dangerous pitfall of thinking that simply reducing their carbon footprint is sufficient to make them sustainable,” Zahoor said in an interview. In other words, it is not only about being less harmful but also about having a positive impact. It starts with finding ways to reduce your and your organization’s carbon footprint and goes beyond that.

3. Invest in sustainable businesses and projects

Investing in sustainable companies and projects is one of the best ways to create lasting change. This means supporting businesses and projects that are working to solve sustainability issues. For example, you could invest in renewable energy, green buildings, or organic agriculture. “As an impact investor, I look for companies that solve real problems in the world,” said Lessar. “I want to invest in companies making a difference and creating positive change.” After all, when you invest in sustainable businesses and projects, you are not only helping to solve environmental problems—you are also making a financial investment that can generate returns. In fact, a study by the World Economic Forum found that sustainable investments outperformed traditional investments over the past decade. So if you want to make a difference and earn a return on your investment, investing in sustainability is a great option.

In summary, sustainable leadership requires a new way of thinking about business. It is about creating value in a way that is sustainable over the long term. It is about doing business in a way that positively impacts the world. If more companies adopt this approach, it will create a more peaceful and prosperous future for all. And so, if you are a leader, ask yourself: What am I doing to create a more sustainable world? If you are not a leader, ask yourself: What can I do to support those who are? We all have a role to play in creating a more sustainable future. Let’s work together to make it happen.


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