With the breadth of challenges facing humanity, each new year gives us the collective opportunity to reflect on the progress we’ve made toward creating a more sustainable future for all. Lazar Armianov, EcoVadis Regional Sales Director, Northern Europe, Middle East and Africa, points out that those of us in the procurement space have a significant role to play in this quest.

While the pandemic has highlighted the weaknesses of our interconnected global society, it has also reinforced that collaboration is needed across every region, every sector of our economy and every segment of society to address our current problems. But above all, it has shown that we have the capacity to achieve rapid change if we all play our part.

With that in mind, here are a few ways you can help drive the transition in 2022.

1)  Rethink How You Travel and Work

In 2020, COVID-19 caused global air travel to grind to a relative halt, with flights down by two-thirds relative to the previous year. While 2021 has seen a significant uptick in air travel, the ongoing pandemic is continuing to reshape the industry. Contributing to this industry transformation are growing discussions around the ethics of carbon-intensive travel – like the “flight shame” movement that has gained ground in Sweden – and the rise of remote working.

As a business leader:

The pandemic has decisively ushered in the age of virtual business. Weighing the factors of cost, environmental impact and employee demand for greater flexibility, companies are redirecting funds previously earmarked for business travel toward technology that enables greater remote connectivity. In particular, developing new models of work that can be sustained even beyond the pandemic will be crucial for talent acquisition and retention in the future.

2)  Engage and Communicate With Your Peers

The fundamental ingredient in the sustainability transition is collaboration – engaging and communicating with your peers is essential to the success of any efforts related to not only climate action but also the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Such collaboration must take place at every level, from the smallest of grassroots movements to the C-suites of the largest multinational companies.

As a business leader:

“Every job is a climate job now” – this sentiment captures the mindset that business leaders should bring into 2022. No matter your industry, there is scope to engage in actions that positively impact both the climate and communities around the globe. In particular, with COP26 highlighting the need for the private sector to accelerate net-zero efforts, it is crucial for companies to develop science-based targets and strategies around decarbonisation. The EcoVadis Carbon Action Module, which provides a comprehensive toolkit to prioritise, engage and drive emissions reductions, can help you work toward this in 2022.

3)  Reframe Your Perspective and Scale Your Impact

While sustainability has been steadily moving up the corporate agenda in recent years, many companies still view it through a “risk” lens rather than an “impact” one. However, this is rapidly changing as more companies realise that taking decisive action on sustainability issues can yield myriad benefits across the value chain, from building resilience to unlocking new opportunities and generating revenue (explored further in our 2021 Barometer report).

As a business leader:

By shifting your organisation’s focus from risk mitigation to scaling impact, you can unlock opportunities throughout your value chain and positively impact a range of sustainability issues. Collaboration, both internal and external, is crucial to this reframing. As a starting point, engage and rally your executive team around an impact approach and identify champions in all departments – from procurement to sales to finance – that can help drive holistic sustainable change. Once you have achieved this, focus on scaling your impact by collaborating with industry peers and joining emerging initiatives that focus on addressing global and sector-specific sustainability challenges.

Driving change throughout your supply chain is crucial to scaling positive impact. If you do not already have a sustainable procurement programme – or you need to upgrade your existing one – now is the time to get started. The EcoVadis solution, underpinned by a powerful technology platform and the Sustainability Intelligence Suite, can provide you with the insights you need to move from maintaining compliance to achieving impact at scale this year.

Looking Forward

As the global pandemic stretches into its third year, the vulnerabilities of our interconnected society have never been more apparent. However, in the face of all obstacles, it appears we may have reached a key inflection point in the fight against climate change. This year presents an opportunity for us – in both our personal and professional lives – to push for a more equitable and sustainable future for all

By Lazar Armianov, who has been spearheading the development of EcoVadis in the UK and Northern Europe for the past 5 years, supporting public and private sector organisations to achieve their sustainability objectives. He has over 15 years of international experience in sustainability and responsible procurement with a focus on business development across all major industry sectors including: financial services, telecoms and manufacturing. He gained his expertise during his time at CEB (now Gartner), the Carbon Trust and Sphera. Lazar holds an MSc in European Politics & Governance from the London School of Economics, is a native Bulgarian speaker and is fluent in English and French.