“As an old ecologist I am also getting impatient. It’s been a long time. If we don’t convert all of this heat into light and all of this excitement into work, we will, I am afraid, be badly frustrated… Excitement cannot be sustained unless there are results... What I am concerned with is not what is wrong with the world, but what do we have to do to put it right.” - Peter Drucker, 1971
In 2015, we saw major advances in the way that world leaders, businesses, and the general public perceive and prioritize environmental, social, and governance issues. In September, leaders from around the world agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—complete with 169 targets—to eradicate poverty and hunger, foster safe and inclusive societies, and combat global warming by 2030. In December, representatives from 195 nations adopted the Paris Climate Agreement, with the vital aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to halt global temperature increases and maintain life as we know it.
The business community has played a major part in these achievements with your advocacy, financial support, and aggressive targets to limit environmental impacts and promote social good. These efforts are led at most companies by dedicated corporate citizenship professionals. Each day, you and your colleagues around the world are developing initiatives to tackle the global challenges that affect every community. As programs are executed at the local level, opportunities are emerging to create scale that can deliver the global change necessary to achieve progress on critical benchmarks identified in the Paris Accord and the SDGs.
The ultimate objective of corporate citizenship is to produce the results that Peter Drucker spoke of almost 45 years ago—to create a safe and sustainable world for generations to come. To accomplish this, we must weigh many options to determine how and where we can achieve the most good while also delivering the benefits that are needed to ensure future growth.
As corporate citizenship professionals, we set out to reach audacious goals. To meet them we must remember that all great journeys are accomplished by single steps toward a focused objective. From the employees you support, to the child you set on the path to a future of health and prosperity, to the water you preserve—it is the collective impact of these efforts that will chart new paths toward growth and opportunity. As we begin this new year, I hope that you will be inspired to build on the successes of 2015 to create a sustainable and prosperous future.