Joe Franses of Coca-Cola European Partners picks out his highlights of progress made in 2017, and calls for business to pick up the pace on delivering change in 2018

So much happened last year in the world of sustainability and as we enter 2018, here is a quick look back at some of the highlights. Progress is undoubtedly being made, much of it led by individuals and companies committed to driving forward the significant changes that our world demands. Yet the speed with which change is being delivered remains questionable. We have so much more to do in a context of declining trust and a vacuum of political leadership. Time for business to step forward and deliver even more this year.

  • 1 The Enactus World Cup came to London in 2017, with Enactus India walking away as winners for Project Raahat, an inspirational project which aims to increase sanitation in slum communities of urban Delhi. An important reminder of how grassroots, entrepreneurial-led programmes can drive significant local impact.

  • 2 Jigsaw’s pro-immigration ad campaign – a brilliant and brave campaign, highlighting the value of immigration to fashion, the high street and British businesses in a Brexit-obsessed year in the UK.

Apple has committed to using only recyclable materials (credit: Apple)
  • 3 With many companies failing to understand, disclose and tackle human rights in their supply chain, I am proud that the Coca-Cola Company issued its first stand-alone Human Rights Report and believe it is a significant step forward. Another highlight for me was the collaboration between the impressive Thomson Reuters Foundation and Know the Chain, which will rightly ensure that human rights will once again be a significant sustainability issue in 2018.

  • 4 The global transition towards renewable energy is unstoppable and with the plummeting cost of solar and wind power 21 April 2017 will go down in history. Britain’s first working day without coal power since the industrial revolution was a significant step.

  • 5 Few companies have been truly successful in engaging consumers on sustainability issues, yet energy supplier e.on’s partnership with Gorrillaz is really excellent. The result was “We Got the Power”, a music video produced exclusively with solar power and battery storage. 

  • 6 Two years on from Paris and the world remains far off a 2C degree (let alone a 1.5C) pathway. We’ve seen strong science-based carbon reduction targets from Tesco and Mars this year, joining 300+ companies that have done the same. Hopefully more to come in 2018. Anything else should be viewed as unacceptable.

  • 7 Apple’s commitment to use only renewable energy and recyclable materials – superb ambition and big promises from the one of the world’s most recognised brands. Apple’s technology continues to impress and it now has an opportunity to impress on the sustainability stage, too.

  • 8 There was huge change in the mobility sector in 2017 and plans by Paris to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2030, with London quickly following suit, were significant. These were quickly followed by pledges from both Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover to focus exclusively on hybrid and electric vehicles. Impressive.

Credit: Coca-Cola
  • 9. Technology will undoubtedly play a key role in driving forward sustainability solutions for business and communities alike. The 2030 Vision Report from the Global Goals Technology Forum highlights how and underlines the critical role that technology will play as an enabler to delivering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

  • 10. To end on a personal note, my highlight for 2017 was the publication of This is Forward, a new sustainability action plan and a significant landmark for the Coca-Cola system in western Europe. We continue to place a major focus on drinks, packaging and science-based carbon reduction targets. We’ve achieved a lot, but by using the power of our business and our brands, we have so much more to do.

Joe Franses is VP sustainability for Coca-Cola European Partners. See also Ethical Corporation's top 10 stories of 2017.

Main image credit: Jigsaw
Enacturs World Cup  Jigsaw  Apple  SDGs  diversity  immigration  recycling  coca-cola  science-based targets  renewable energy 

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