Establishing key goals to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the conference ensured companies across the globe now face enormous pressure to help the transition to a green economy.
Today, much of global business is undergoing a sustainable shift. To find out some of the key areas ripe for change in 2023, BusinessBecause spoke with sustainability experts from Copenhagen Business School.
Here are five of the hottest sustainability trends they identified, as well as how you can prepare for them.
Underpinning all of the changes that are likely to take place in 2023 are various sustainable regulation packages being implemented by governments across the globe.
The USA’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has outlined plans to finalize 29 ESG (environmental, social, governance) regulations and propose a further 23 amendments over the course of the year, aiming to increase governance of sustainable practices.
Likewise, for countries within the European Union, the implementation of new Taxonomy legislation means companies must now report the degree to which their turnover aligns with several criteria, including the impact on water and biodiversity, pollution, and support of a circular economy.
These are just some of the changes in progress.
“This is kind of a wake up call for a lot of companies,” says Andreas Rasche, CBS Full-time MBA associate dean and professor of corporate sustainability. “If you have neglected or downplayed [sustainability] until this stage, it is now really time to get moving. Because even if you don't want to, it becomes a compliance issue.”
2. Supply chain changes
Increased regulation and oversight means companies are under pressure to scrutinise their own products and processes.
Key to proving sustainability credentials, many firms must investigate their own supply chains to evaluate the entire life cycle of their products or services. From fashion to fintech, firms must be sure that any raw materials, processes, operational resources, and energy sources they use are sustainable from start to finish.
“Nowadays, to meet all disclosure requirements, companies will have to proactively manage their supply chains,” says Ivan Sokolov, senior sustainability manager at Ascendis Pharma and CBS MBA graduate.
“They will need to answer questions about their impact and their footprint, [and] they will need to reach out to their suppliers to solicit information and data.”
3. Life Cycle Assessments
Greater focus on the sustainability of products and services is driving a relatively new phenomenon: ‘Life Cycle Assessments’ (LCAs).
LCAs refer to services that provide detailed information on the life cycle of a product. They provide analytics to help evaluate the sustainability of the materials used, the manufacturing and operational processes, and distribution methods. This provides increased transparency for consumers.
Fledgeling Barcelona-based startup, Color Sensing, for example, has created technology that provides all this information and more when you scan a QR code on packaged food at the supermarket.
While this technology is relatively nascent today, Ivan feels it’s likely to boom in 2023: “It will no longer be this niche, but rather with every business, if they have a physical product, you will easily be able to calculate the LCA.”
4. Collaborations between startups and corporates
While Color Sensing aims to reduce food waste and improve supermarket sustainability, you’ll find a plethora of similar startups in other industries aiming to provide innovative green solutions.
There’s wide consensus that these startups will prove essential in achieving a green economy. Indeed, at a recent net-zero summit held by McKinsey, the firm suggested the world needs 200-300 green ‘decacorns’—private firms worth at least $10 billion—by 2030.
But transforming an innovative solution into a global company is tricky. While agile and innovative, startups often lack the reach and resources to scale up and take their solutions across borders.
To combat this, Ivan predicts a growth in collaborations between eco-startups and top multinational companies looking to enter the sustainability market.
“Entrepreneurs will indeed be a backbone of this green transition, but they need resources and backing from large corporations,” he says. “I think it’s going to be a mutually beneficial partnership.”
5. Increased pressure from consumers and investors
Regulation may be driving companies to shift towards more sustainable business models, but firms are also increasingly facing pressure from their stakeholders.
Today, consumers increasingly have an expectation that the companies they purchase from are ethical. In the US, the number of Americans who identify as vegan—meat consumption is a key issue linked to the climate crisis—increased 30 fold between 2004 and 2019.
Equally influential are investors, who increasingly demand that the companies they support employ sustainable business practices as those who do are less susceptible to reputational risks or logistical challenges caused by external changes.
“Investors press heavily, and they don’t do this for ethical reasons,” explains Andreas. “Sometimes people say: ‘What’s in it for the investors? Have they all turned ethical?’ Not at all, they do this for risk management reasons.”
How to capitalize on sustainable trends?
With business undergoing such wide-reaching changes, it’s important therefore to establish your own sustainable credentials if you plan to future-proof your career and capitalize on these sustainable trends.
Many careers today demand green knowledge or skills: the number of sustainable jobs among the workforce rose by 38% between 2015 and 2022, according to Linkedin.
To give yourself the best chance of career success, you need to understand the regulatory landscape as well as how sustainability impacts the key industry you’re interested in.
While Ivan had already held previous roles in sustainability, he enrolled in the CBS Full-time MBA to develop his understanding of these key areas: “I think it helped me stay up-to-date with the latest developments in legislation and just to stay tuned to the latest trends,” he says.
Ivan is one of many graduates from the program to land roles in sustainability, which is among the five most popular graduating sectors for CBS grads.
“A lot of our graduates move into sustainability positions because companies, due to regulatory changes, need to hire more people who do this kind of reporting and data gathering,” says Andreas.
“You need to know about sustainability because it is now bread and butter MBA knowledge.”
Copenhagen Business School (CBS)
CBS: efficient international network
CBS has always been ranked among the best universities in Europe and this means that it has become a sign of professionalism and success. The academic level is great thanks to the good teachers and the atmosphere is proactive and challenging. Lots of events are planned every week and this helps you to find your own way. CBS is not only a business school, it is a great and efficient international network.
Good academic career
I did my Bachelors at CBS and their academic excellence and career opportunities led me to pursue my Masters in Accounting, Strategy and Control. I was very lucky to go on an exchange in Singapore for one semester it boosted me to get a career in a global firm. I like that it is super modern and has all the facilities for the business student in 2019. Especially, I liked the library and Bitlab where I spent most of my time studying. However, note that it is very demanding and studying here is no joke. Everything is very competitive and you are among the most excellent business students in the country. The interaction with international students helped me to see different perspectives in business and culturally and I was lucky to make friends from any part of the world. CBS is like a brand in Denmark. Every serious business company prioritizes us over any other Danish university and also it is free for European citizens. Overall, I have a very satisfying experience at CBS and I'm looking to continue my academical career even further.
CBS is one of the best!
All I have to say regarding my experience at CBS is that it is AMAZING. Having been tutored by world-class academic staff, I can definitely support that I am receiving the best of quality regarding my studies in Digital Marketing. Staff is very friendly and easy to approach. In addition, the facilities we enjoy are top class and meet any demands. Keep in mind that, EU citizens do not pay any fees. Student life might be non-existent here, but the location of the University in The very center of Copenhagen has a huge variety of choices to offer to students regarding their entertainment. Accommodation might be a problem, but early research of the market can be very useful. In addition, the University promotes diversity. In CBS University you can meet people from the whole world which is quite interesting. I definitely suggest CBS for any student who he's interested in pursuing a career in marketing or business.
The ideal business school
I have been enrolled in this university for 2 semesters. What I took from this experience is that there is nothing better out there for those looking for professional growth while being guided by some of the top-notch professors in Scandinavia. They have a really strong focus in technology and digital transformation and they are up to date to guarantee you land a job in the modern fast-evolving world. They also embrace diversity which means many students come from any part of the world and it takes the entire learning experience to another level. You simply learn from every other student cause everyone has different experiences and background which makes you open your mind and see the world from a different angle. In Denmark, even businesses prioritize people who graduate from CBS as it's commonly perceived as the most prestigious university for business graduates.
A Place of Personal Growth
In CBS you can expect an environment of proactive thinking and growth. The university staff is always open to help and to debate. The teaching methods balance theoretical knowledge and practical skills enabling the student with capacity and confidence to enter the job market successfully. The existence of students from all over the world stimulates discussion and promotion of different cultures, ideas and perspectives. I highly recommend this university for students in business-related areas.
The environment here is really great. Despite the well organized buildings and libraries, there are also places for students to just stay and relax also even study in the corners of each campus. The professors are mostly really nice and try to interact with students a lot. So, to sum up, the environment is really nice for studying here.
Quality education where it emphazises the importance of academic. No finger to put on this aspect of the school. However, sometimes the administration and IT can be lacking a bit, but in general a really good choice for education!
Classes are challenging and conducted in a professional manner. CBS offers a wide range of possibilities to develop outside of the classes! Libraries and other facilities on the campus are very well adjusted to the student needs.
A heavily theory-based curriculum combined with an ever-stimulating environment
I am currently a Master student at CBS, but I have also completed a Bachelor's Degree in this university. I am quite satisfied with my studies and the teaching level. However, when compared to other business schools, it becomes apparent that most courses at CBS strive to find a good balance between theoretical insight and real-life examples. Compared to my exchange university, the projects that I have found myself writing at CBS have a far less practical application and also leave little room for creativity. If the teaching is heavily theoretical, on the bright side, the university arranges a number of events throughout the year to encourage students to apply their knowledge, in the form of career fairs, case competitions, and other events organized by student associations. In my experience, teachers are very easily approachable and happy to answer your questions. A foreign student like me will find a more international environment at Master level, since the number of international (or at least non-Scandinavian) students enrolled in the Bachelor programs is quite low. However, all communication (both oral and written) from teachers and the university offices is always in English. Administrative offices, student guidance services, the career center, and the international office are definitely worth a mention. All of the requests that I have had throughout the years have always been met with kindness, promptness and efficiency.