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Closing the Gap: Made to Matter

Posted by: Interbrand on April 24, 2014

According to Forbes, the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could not be clearer—climate change is a threat to economic growth. So how should investors and businesses react? A growing number of companies are already seizing opportunities, collaborating, and partnering to produce more sustainable products.

Target, for instance, is unveiling "Made to Matter," a unique program that is giving 17 sustainable brands like Method and Burt’s Bees a platform to launch their products. The hope, says Eric Ryan, co-founder of Method, is to “accelerate adoption of wellness-based products,” and create “a ripple effect on the industry." In another collaborative effort, H&M is teaming up with the design think tank, Ever Manifesto, to showcase sustainable design that doesn't sacrifice style. Appropriately, eco-minded supermodel, Amber Valletta, will be the face of the brand’s two new collections – Conscious and Conscious Exclusive.

From sustainable fashion and consumer products to the adoption of electric cars and the growth of solar, evidence of the move towards a low-carbon economy is increasingly visible. But opportunity isn’t only knocking for eco-fashion mavens and clean energy entrepreneurs. Companies in other sectors can make themselves more competitive by becoming more climate-smart and robust.

In a Triple Pundit interview featured in this month’s Closing the Gap newsletter, Suzanne Apple, SVP of Private Sector Engagement at the World Wildlife Federation, explains that responsible environmental practices are not only good for people and the planet, but also essential to the long-term viability of businesses—a fact that has not been lost on investors.

According to AXA Investment Management, investors are assigning greater importance to how environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors impact their returns in the long run. Students at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business have proven the point by beating the market with a socially responsible fund that has achieved a 50 percent return over six years. The jury is in for AXA IM, which called responsible investment ”a clear trend that is gaining momentum.”

To find out more about “capitalism with a conscience,” the evolving clean industrial revolution, the “new religion” of millennials (i.e., CSR), and how brands are working together to jointly develop solutions that minimize environmental impact while also improving business practices and profitability, check out this month’s installment of Closing the Gap!

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