Nov 8

Is sustainability dead? A post-mortem on the fate of sustainability after the elections


Sustainability is dead...or is it? In the aftermath of the elections, many sustainability experts wondered what it would mean for national policies still being debated around the environment, energy and climate change. Andrew Winston, environmental strategist, penned a piece in the Huffington Post that predicted three trends that are likely to emerge as a result of the split Congress:

1.    National legislation will go nowhere while states move forward in advancing their own sustainability goals in the absence of congressional leadership.

2.    A clean economy is a green economy, meaning that mixed coalitions of all beliefs will end up partnering and finding common ground — realizing they can accomplish more together than apart — not only because it’s good for the environment but because it is profitable.

3.    Businesses will continue to be essential innovators in the sustainability space as federal legislation gets bogged down in partisan debates. Corporations such as WalMart and P&G have already demonstrated that they're way ahead of the game setting a trend for their competitors to follow.

As January approaches and the new members of Congress move in, it'll be interesting to see whether these trends bear out. It may be harder to get things accomplished at the national level, but locally, sustainability will thrive as it is currently doing in California (defeat of Prop 23), Georgia (passage of Amendment  4), Iowa (approval of Measure 4) and Oregon (approval of Measure 76).

Clearly sustainability is not dead.

What might this mean for our communications work? There are three strategies that could be utilized under Winston's predictions:

1.    With states taking a lead role in enacting their own policies for promoting sustainability initiatives, you may want to focus more on grassroots, localized campaigns that influence at the state level since any national legislation is likely to go nowhere

2.    Collaboration is key. Organizations and corporations may wish to combine resources and assets to execute joint campaigns that accomplishes goals for both organizations.

3.    Focus on innovations and impact in your communications efforts. As you're reviewing resources, keep your priorities focused around innovative strategies that help improve your sustainability results and demonstrate impact.

If you're reviewing your organization's communications strategy around sustainability, what will you change and what will remain the same under this new Congress?


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