Sustainability Champions Share Three Characteristics

The World Economic Forum (WEF) released a report this week highlighting the innovative business practices of 16 "Sustainability Champions" in emerging markets.

The companies were chosen for creating unconventional,  profitable solutions that positively impact economic growth and enhance overall sustainability in their regions.

These companies share three characteristics: 

Proactively turn constraints into opportunities through innovation

Sustainability Champions find ways to overcome a lack of material resources, customer education or customer financing.

When it was confronted by the high costs of energy, Shree Cement, for example, developed the world’s most energy-efficient process for making its products.

Similarly, Broad Group, a large Chinese producer of air chillers, uses waste heat from buildings to power its range of non-electric air-conditioners.

Jain Irrigation, based in India, uses dance and song to explain the benefits of drip irrigation to local communities. And Kenya’s Equity Bank is expanding its presence among small rural farmers through a mobile phone banking platform.

Embed sustainability in their company culture

Sustainability Champions are defining bold visions for sustainability, integrating that vision into operations and engaging their workforce in the process.

Sekem, an Egyptian organic food producer, is using a profit-sharing to reclaim desert land, produce food for the local market and reinvest in the community.

Masisa, a wood products manufacturer in Chile, developed a  sustainability scorecard that measures performance in all dimensions, including non-financial indicators.

Natura, a Brazilian cosmetics company, trains and rewards its managers for identifying socio-environmental challenges and turning them into business opportunities.

Actively shape their business environments

Sustainability Champions actively partner to achieve mutual goals and to influence policies and standards.

Grupo Balbo, a Brazilian organic sugar producer, wants to transform the sugar industry to organic, and is collaborating to create Brazil’s first national organic certification system.

New Britain Palm Oil, in Papua New Guinea, worked closely with local NGOs to smooth negotiations involving land rights – a critical issue since conflicts with suppliers and landowners are the largest barriers to palm oil operations in the region.

"The New Sustainability Champions are more than just symbols. Their overall performance matters because emerging markets in total are set to contribute more than three-quarters of global growth by 2025 – and because those markets will likely feel resource scarcity most," says Knut Haanaes, Partner and Managing Director, Boston Consulting Group, Norway.

The 16 New Sustainability Champions are:

  • Broad Group, People’s Republic of China
  • Equity Bank, Kenya
  • Florida Ice & Farm, Costa Rica
  • Grupo Balbo, Brazil
  • Jain Irrigation Systems, India
  • Manila Water Company, Philippines
  • Masisa, Chile
  • MTR Corporation, Hong Kong SAR
  • Natura, Brazil
  • New Britain Palm Oil, Papua New Guinea
  • Sekem, Egypt
  • Shree Cement, India
  • Suntech, People’s Republic of China
  • Suzlon, India
  • Woolworths, South Africa
  • Zhangzidao Fishery Group, People’s Republic of China

The New Sustainability Champions are being showcased at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2011 in Dalian, People’s Republic of China, September 14 -16.

The meeting is held in collaboration with China’s government with the support of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Over 1,500 influential stakeholders are convening in Dalian to gain strategic foresight on key economic, industry and technological developments that are reshaping consumer behavior, business models and financial markets.

Read the report:

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