What do we see as the key trends for 2021?

The growing adoption of sustainable development by governments and business alike has created a ‘wild west’ of initiatives, approaches, targets and solutions. What are the key trends we expect in 2021 and how do you respond to them?

Shifting standards

Everyone – from investors to companies and NGOs – are asking for rules. Rules on what companies need to do, rules on what they can claim, rules on how to disclose their impacts. But instead of harmonization, this has just created more standards. Not only general standards but also specific guidance such as new circular economy standards and the EU Taxonomy project on what can be called a ‘green solution’.

  • Are you aligned to the right standards? Doing them all is impossible and complete harmonization is a while off – so which ones are you using? We notice a gradual critical mass gathering around SASB and TCFD, de-throning the ever-present GRI. MerchantCantos helps you identify the right one for you, ensuring you are aligned to best practice and taking the sweat out of disclosure.

Activist investors

The year 2020 made all of us ‘accidental climate activists’. Building on the momentum of the ‘climate strikes’ in 2019, there will be a further acceleration of these trends in 2021, which is making itself particularly felt amongst investors. No longer confined to activist shareholders, nearly all investors are now actively putting climate change on the agenda of AGMs. The days of ‘negative screening’ are long gone; investors are actively engaging companies in dialogue on a range of sustainability issues. And when they can’t meet face-to-face, they’re expecting an increasingly branded approach to ESG from companies including digital tools for engagement.

  • Have you aligned your sustainability approach with the increasing ESG expectations of investors? ESG is more and more branded and investors are expecting stronger digital engagement. MerchantCantos specialises in helping companies translate their sustainability approach into ESG success.

Focusing on the ‘S’ in ESG

The year 2021 is the start of the ‘decade of delivery’. This means that the focus will be squarely on achieving sustainability commitments this year. And there’s a significant momentum building in several areas to affect real change. The focus will be on solutions and impact to change those issues most material to an organisation. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pressure is on ensuring that the transition to a more sustainable world is a ‘just and inclusive’ one. Issues such as diversity and equity, remuneration and employee relations, resilience and transparency will all feature prominently this year.

  • Have you integrated your sustainability messaging with priorities beyond climate change and community action? Diversity, equity, remuneration and leadership are all key elements of a branded ESG approach. MerchantCantos knits all your activities together into a coherent narrative that resonates with the investor community and beyond.

If you have any questions about any of these trends or would like to find out more about navigating these challenges, and delivering sustainable strategies then please get in touch: [email protected]

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