We attended GreenBiz 24, and here’s what we found…

12 March 2024 by Acre
blog author

​Last month, we attended GreenBiz 24, hosted by GreenBiz Group. Bringing together more than 2,500 attendees, the event curated a vibrant space to unpack the collective yet complex goal of creating a more sustainable planet and growing a wider, more purposeful network with like-minded peers.

On the whole, from a talent perspective, something that didn’t go unnoticed for us was those conversations around the continual and steady shift of ESG into an audit/finance/assurance function have not reversed the trend of recent years. There was also a refreshing focus on building internal sustainability teams with more skill and regional specialisation, financing specific projects with Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding, and more discussions ramping up on the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

And, for those who didn’t get a chance to attend, we summarized the five key areas of interest that we observed at the event:

  1. In North America, ESG is increasingly moving into other key areas of responsibility including the creation of ESG Controller and Auditor roles.

  2. Sustainability leaders are focused on growing their sustainability teams with more specialised technical skill set, decarbonising the built environment and forming a deeper understanding of the CSRD.

  3. The event agenda was varied but a recurring theme was compliance and regulatory changes, which is very much front of mind as new European legislation, in particular, starts to make waves with US business across the Atlantic.

  4. The sustainability function is increasingly proven to be the most effective if the responsibility for sustainability targets is covered by all heads of, rather than a standalone sustainability team.

  5. Implementation is a key factor in many sustainability programs, and leaders spoke to us about their focus on building robust relationships with CFOs and CIOs, responsible for financing their projects with an increasing focus on – and robustness in – reporting on ROI.

  6. One of the most inspiring elements of this event was Bill Weihl and his impactful speech, making a call to action for sustainability leaders. Bill, founder of the ClimateVoice initiative, said:

    “If we are to make that transition from fossil fuels, companies need to do more than pipe up about their latest innovative work, as vital as it is. They need to speak up for policy progress loudly, again and again.

    “Companies won’t make net zero goals without public policy to speed the way and spread the progress. We need to move faster to avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change. Global emissions are still rising, maybe not as fast as they were, but they need to start falling and soon.”

    His speech about the strength of collective voice resonated with the entire room, a real driver for the inspired to move the needle and take greater, more urgent action.

    Bill joined with other sustainability professionals to develop a lead statement calling for all companies and sustainability leaders to raise their voices on climate policy.

    While promising to see that 568 public signatories have pledged their support, there are still some hurdles to overcome – particularly related to the fact that sustainability is increasingly politicised within larger companies. That said, in anticipation of this reality, leaders can still sign anonymously, which we’d hope to start seeing more of.

Our newly released 2023/24 Sustainability Census shows there is still scepticism among respondents (across all sectors) about their organisation meeting its sustainability commitments within the timeframes set.

The UK had the highest levels of confidence in the ability of their organisation to deliver against sustainability commitments, but North America reported the lowest levels of confidence. Could these emerging trends help shift the course?

Did you attend the GreenBiz event this year? If so, we would be interested to hear how you feel the event aligned with sustainability management within your organisation.

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