As we enter 2023, we are quickly approaching the half-way point of the timeline to achieve the United Nations’ 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
This year will be the defining year as to how we strive to achieve the Global Goals as we continue to understand what we are accepting as the new normal post-COVID. These next 12 months will need to be filled with innovation towards a more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future.
Here are our ten top predictions on sustainability trends for 2023.
Regeneration has been an important part of sustainability practices within businesses for many years, but we see this trend increasing in 2023. Regeneration is focused on the idea of a net-negative approach as opposed to a net-neutral approach to corporate sustainability. For instance, it is not just about no longer destroying rainforests but replanting them instead. As it stands, our planet cannot continue with the amount of environmental damage that has been done. In order to ensure our planet remains habitable, it is no longer enough to celebrate businesses not harming the planet; we should be looking to only celebrate businesses that are helping restore and regenerate the planet we have damaged.
2. The busting of green-hushing
We have previously covered the idea of green-washing as well as SDG-washing, but a new trend has cropped up over the past couple of years — green-hushing. Green-hushing is the complete opposite of green-washing. It is the practice in which businesses do not promote what they are doing to contribute towards a more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future. As an increasing number of consumers, employees and stakeholders hold businesses to account in regards to their contribution to our future, green-hushing will lessen across large corporates and small businesses alike.
3. Well-being measures in hiring packages
Across the country, we are facing a significant labour shortage crisis. This is especially true for professional services industries. As businesses compete with one another to recruit talent to their organisations, well-being measures as part of hiring packages will be an important way to attract potential employees. These measures will include but not be limited to parental leave, work-life balance and mental health support.
4. Lithium-free energy storage solutions
We now know there is not enough lithium globally to achieve net-zero by 2050. This means in order to create a sustainable future, we will need to discover innovative solutions to the energy storage requirements for a net-zero future. Currently, a number of new technologies are being trialled around the world both for large-scale and small-scale storage. These technologies include the use of gravity, sand and sodium as alternatives for lithium.
5. Hydrogen trains
2022 saw significant progress in the industry for hydrogen trains. As recently as two weeks ago, China launched the world’s first hydrogen train that can travel at a speed of 160km/h. As we see further innovation in the hydrogen fuel space, we predict we will see a greater adoption rate of these technologies for transport around the globe.
6. Energy efficient solutions
As energy prices rise, we will see an increasing number of businesses and households look for energy-efficient solutions, not only driven by our need to live more sustainably for the planet but more sustainably for our hip pocket. These energy efficient solutions include devices and appliances which draw less energy to operate as well as retrofitting buildings, machinery and other operational equipment with improved energy-efficient technology.
7. Urban renewables
Renewable energy solutions such as solar and wind turbines have come under scrutiny in recent years for their other environmental impacts. For example, wind turbines have been heavily criticised for their impact on wildlife, especially birds. Towards the end of last year, two companies released bladeless wind turbines. These turbines, designed by both Vortex Bladeless and Aeromine, require less maintenance, emit less noise, harm less wildlife and are overall, more aesthetic, making them a better solution for renewable energy in urban areas. In fact, the Aeromine wind turbine can be placed on top of a building and produce the same amount of power as 16 solar panels. Filia Solar has also come up with a solution for those living in apartment buildings that do not have their own roof space and cannot have solar panels. Known as solar film, this film is attached to external roller blinds, which when lowered, can produce energy. The blinds can even be integrated into a smart home set-up.
8. AI in healthcare
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a culture change in our healthcare system with the overwhelming pressure placed on our healthcare professionals. AI has been presented as a way to cope with this pressure. There are three main ways AI has been suggested to revolutionise the system. These are through improving patient care, offering physicians a work-life balance and optimising the systems that run the behind-the-scenes of healthcare.
9. STEAM-based programs in education
For years, there has been a strong focus on STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Now, there is an increasing focus on STEAM which incorporates the arts into education. This concept was introduced in 2006 but is gaining more traction over time. The idea of incorporating the arts into STEM educational programs is to foster creative thinking and how imagination can lead to further innovation in real-world problem-solving. We know that for a truly sustainable future, we need significant disruption to a number of industries. This will only eventuate through creative innovation, fostered in the minds of young people through a STEAM-based approach.
10. Biodiversity regeneration
In 2020, the timeline to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets ended with none of the targets met. On December 19, 2022, the Kumming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted. This framework included four goals and 23 targets to restore biodiversity and protect our planet by 2030. This lines up with the timeline for the United Nations’ 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. There is considerable work to do to ensure these goals and targets will be achieved over the next eight years, so all eyes will be on efforts to restore biodiversity and ensure this GBF is achieved.
If you have any questions about any of the above trends and how you can incorporate these into your business or if you would like to discuss your sustainability plan for 2023, please feel free to get in touch with one of our team members today.