Last year’s Earth Day hardly seemed like the appropriate time to celebrate the event’s 50th anniversary. But a year later — with confidence that a vaccine will curb a devastating global pandemic — there is renewed hope for our future and the health of people and planet.
In the spirit of that sentiment, Ketchum’s team of purpose specialists — who help companies and brands strategize and communicate their sustainability and social impact commitments — are sharing their perspectives on why there is reason to be optimistic on Earth Day 2021.
Brands Respond to Consumer Passion
“Consumers turned up the volume on their concerns around plastic waste and climate change, and it’s been encouraging and fascinating to see how brands responded to the call for action. Many brands built with purpose have seen strong growth, and established brands are introducing or piloting new packaging, launching educational efforts and driving activism campaigns. Consumer expectations and interest in sustainability isn’t waning, and I’m looking forward to more of the brands I love further reducing their footprint.” –Jessica Mendelowitz
Post-pandemic Silver Linings
“One unexpected consequence of the pandemic has been cleaner skies and clearer waters. These inspiring views have provided a glimpse of what a brighter, alternative future could look like – if we reimagine and rebuild around more sustainable and equitable systems. The pandemic has forced governments, businesses and civil society to come together to address one the greatest public health challenges of our time. Can we do the same for the environment?” –Jonathan Younger
“While there is still much work to be done to ensure equity and justice for underserved communities, I am encouraged to see environmental justice among the topics of focus in this critical conversation. New legislation at the federal level to increase green investments in these communities is just the beginning, and I’m very hopeful that as climate change initiatives continue to take root globally, the impact on historically disenfranchised communities will remain at the forefront. If so, we will all see the benefits of a more environmentally just future in our lifetime.”–Caroline Friedman
“Ketchum’s Five Trends That Will Define UNGA and Climate Week 2020, shows that more environmental NGOs are embracing DE&I and the connection to climate justice by addressing the disproportionate impact the climate crisis has on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. With more NGOs focusing on equity and President Biden’s new commitment to address environmental justice, I’m hopeful for the upcoming policies and programs that will address the disproportionate environmental impact on underserved communities. Although we have a lot more to do in the U.S. and abroad, the focus on BIPOC communities and initiatives are a great start towards resolving climate and environmental inequities.” –Kenya Alvarado
Increase in Science-based Targets
“It seems the goal of reaching more consistent metrics and measures of accountability for corporate sustainability commitments may finally be on the horizon. From last fall’s launch of the Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics, which offer a set of universal, comparable disclosures, to this month’s open letter from hundreds of business leaders to accelerate the U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction, it’s clear the business community is ready and willing to set goals that are both ambitious and accountable to what climate science tells us must be done.” –Laura Clementi
Farms Supporting Nature
“Growing up, I spent a lot of time on my family’s farm. My grandfather often said his favorite thing was to see ‘a full field, with healthy grass, and lots of critters.’ Years later, I realize he meant farmed land that fit within, and supported, surrounding ecosystems. I’ve been heartened to see companies making commitments to support farmers as they grow crops or ranchers as they graze livestock in a way that helps not only improve the health of land and soil, but also restore habitats for native plant and animal species (aforementioned ”critters”). Nature is a powerful tool we can use to address the impacts of climate change, and I’m optimistic we’ll see more global companies leveraging their supply chains to make an impact.” –Paige Graham
Youth and Employee Activism
“The younger generation, which we’ve traditionally noted as being more concerned about environmental issues, now not only have buying power but are change agents as employees as well. Young employees place increasing importance on and have only amplified that importance given the pandemic and ongoing social injustice. GenZennials entering or getting comfortable in the workforce will demand change not just from the brands they purchase from but the companies they work for. Leveraging this emerging base of employees can help enact tangible change for our planet.” –Stephanie Vazquez
Renewed Government Focus
“I’m heartened to see a renewed commitment from the U.S. to climate policy on the global stage. Rejoining the Paris Agreement was a great first step in re-engaging in important dialogue happening globally on climate mitigation and reduction policies. I’ll be watching the Biden Climate Summit closely this week to see how the administration intends to reinforce these commitments domestically through increased emission reduction targets and investments that will hopefully underscore how seriously the U.S. intends to act on climate in the coming critical decades.” –Katie Michel
Looking for more insight on how these trends might affect your own organization? We’re happy to talk.