2022: A Tumultuous Year in ESG and Sustainability

The past year has been a challenging one for companies on the ESG front. Overlapping environmental, social, and political crises—from flooding and wildfires to the first war in Europe in 80 years—have made the jobs of leaders that much harder.

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It was another tumultuous year for humanity and business. Inflation, supply chain problems, the first war in Europe in 80 years, and much more came together to challenge us all.

The existential challenges we face—which the business community is increasingly being asked to help solve—got worse this year. We experienced climate-change-driven extreme weather with record heat waves in Europe, India, and the earth’s poles; sprawling fires in the US; and the shocking summer floods in Pakistan that covered one-third of the country. In the largest context of all—how many people live on this planet—took a symbolic step forward as we hit 8 billion people. (And no, the fusion energy breakthrough will not save us all).

In the realm of what is mainly called sustainability or ESG now, the pressures on business to do more and better expanded rapidly this year. Companies are now asked to take positions on nearly everything from climate and inequality; to racial, gender, and LGBTQ+ equality; to democracy and misinformation. No major environmental, social, or geopolitical issues are off the table.

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