background image

The sustainable solutions are out there – why don’t we adopt them faster?

author image

By Stefanie Gey

· 9 min read

The Synergy potential of ‘Sustainable Solutions’ in the ‘E,’ ‘S’ and ‘G’ (= ESG Solutions) sphere is huge. Some paradigm and behavior shifts are needed to tap into this potential and thus help accelerate the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG). These shifts are part of a Transformation we are all part of, and that needs to and can happen faster. For that, everyone – individuals, private & public organizations on a national & international level – is needed at the table ‘in Pro-Action’ mode. Collaboration and Partnerships play a critical role!

Have some of these questions recently crossed your mind?

Did you wake up this winter and have the outside temperature go above +20° C? Do you know someone who was affected by water shortages, heat waves, floods, forest fires, and droughts? Are you convinced there is no correlation between those events and our human activities? Have there been moments where you felt overwhelmed with the amount of (mis)information and data available, and which of all of this can you trust and use for your personal decision-making? Have you ever walked through a general store and asked yourself if all of these thousands of products will be needed, eventually purchased, used (until the very end of their life-cycle), and after that, properly disposed (recycled) by SOMEONE?

How often do you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes?

Do you enjoy encountering during your outdoor activities (on land or water) human-made-and-disposed-of garbage such as plastic packaging, piles of clothes, technical and other hard-asset devices, old chemicals, or battery residuals? Do you crave consuming fresh water with non-visible or tastable microplastic residuals? Can you imagine to (forcedly) leave your home and belongings not just for a temporary vacation but ‘for good’ to head to a destination you don’t know yet? And if so, would you do it?

Have you heard of the Planetary Boundaries?

A recent, third major update from the Planetary Boundaries [1] framework has found and quantified that we have ‘broken’ through six of the nine critical planetary boundaries that regulate the stability and resilience of the Earth System. Or more expressed from the perspective of us human beings: “Crossing boundaries increases the risk of generating large-scale abrupt or irreversible environmental changes.” And while “drastic changes will not necessarily happen overnight,” it is essential to understand that “together the boundaries mark a critical threshold for increasing risks to people and the ecosystems we are part of.” Given that these boundaries are all “interrelated processes within the complex biophysical Earth system,”

  1. it leads to increased pressure on all of them (except ozone depletion – cf. graphic) and

  2. it also “means that a global focus on climate change alone is not sufficient for increased sustainability. Instead, understanding the interplay of boundaries, especially climate, and loss of biodiversity, is key in science and practice” [2].


Source: The 2023 update to the Planetary boundaries. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. Credit: "Azote for Stockholm Resilience Centre, based on analysis in Richardson et al. 2023".

It all comes together – collaboration & partnerships are key

Regardless of whether you have heard of the Planetary Boundaries or how you have answered the above questions (for yourself), what matters is your awareness of the following ‘takeaways:’

Screenshot 2024 04 04 184154

The human factor

Our planet is full of us, our demands, our ‘stuff’ and waste, while our economy is now bigger than our planet. And so, our economy is no longer sustainable, and when something is not sustainable, it will come to an end. Or, differently said:

1. we cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet.

2. the planet can live without us humans, but we (+ generations to come) depend on the planet with liveable conditions.

3. we need to ‘reset the buttons,’ shift some paradigms, and adopt existing and new ESG Solutions much faster.

“We’ll go down in history as the first society that wouldn’t save itself because it wasn’t cost-effective.” – Kurt Vonnegut, American writer & novelist (1922 – 2007)

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Accelerating ESG solutions – synergy potential: Does 1+1= 3?

As of today, we are struggling to reach the 17 UN SDG by the 2030 target, while the Synergy potential of already existing ESG Solutions that are helping to accelerate the UN SDG is huge. Why are we not tapping into this potential at scale?

There are many answers to this – a small selection of ‘levers’:

1. Issue: We have not committed resources to expand these ESG Solutions at anywhere near the rate that resources are still being committed to discovering new or producing more hydrocarbons. Most of the 8 billion inhabitants on this planet still use hydrocarbons on a daily basis in one form or another. Both need to be shifted.

2. Opportunity: These same 8 billion need access to fresh water, food, medicine, accommodation, education, energy, mobility, jobs.... etc. Today, all of these needs can already be provided by existing ESG Solution out there! So, if we shift our demands to adopting these ESG Solutions, they will naturally be scaled as more resources will flow into them, more ESG Solutions will come to the market, more of the above needs will be satisfied...etc.

The impacts of these selected ‘levers’ will create a sustainable economy with new businesses and jobs across a wider geographic range than the hydrocarbon industry.

Paradigms & behavioral shifts are good for people & planet

Accelerating ESG Solutions means we, collectively need to embark on this transformation, and that means shifting from existing paradigms and behaviors to new ones, e.g.

From less...

To more...

Financial growth

Sustainable (ESG Solutions) growth

Producing any product/service

Producing sustainable (needed, lasting, reusable, etc.) products/services

Extract new material from planet Earth/build new infrastructures

Re-use already extracted (and used) material/existing infrastructures (Circular Economy)

Embedded Sustainability as single ‘bits & pieces’ along the entire Value Chain

Embedded “Sustainability by Design & by Default” along the entire Value Chain

Reactive, let’s wait & see (what others do)

Proactive, let’s try & apply (role model)

Silo, competitive advantage

Collaboration & Partnering-up (applying synergies)

Within comfort zone (‘slow motion’) pace

Outside comfort zone, faster scaling pace

Continue Acting more of the same

Stop – Think (Ask) – Act differently (change)

Divide & Exclude (those that are not (yet) on board this Transformation)

Find & apply constructive ‘ways’ (to bring everyone on board this Transformation)

There is one planet, earth as well as one humankind and it’s in OUR hands!

illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

Footnotes and references

[1] The Planetary Boundaries framework is: 

- “a set of nine planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come.”

- It was first proposed by the former director of the Stockholm Resilience Center (Stockholm University) Johan Rockström and a group of twenty-eight internationally renowned scientists in 2009, and since then has been revised several times. Johan Rockström is currently the Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and the EAT Co-Founder.

- On 29 February 2024, it was announced that Johan Rockström had been awarded the prestigious 2024 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for his pioneering work on the “Planetary Boundaries” framework, a scientific guide to help keep the planet in a safe operating space.

- The prize was awarded to him for his “science-based approach to sustainable development for people on a stable and resilient planet,” citing the need for a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to the mounting environmental crises.

- Johan Rockström is one of the most-cited researchers in the world, Rockström’s Planetary Boundaries framework seeks to identify the natural systems that make human life on Earth possible and the amount of change that humans can safely make within them without severely altering life on the planet as we know it.

Sources: cf. following Footnote #2

[2] Planetary boundaries - Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University); EAT Forum - EAT is a non-profit dedicated to transforming our global food system through sound science, impatient disruption and novel partnerships

[3] DrivingWhatMatters4ESG (DWM4ESG)....

- Is your Global ESG Solutions Marketplace & Community, founded end of 2021, launched @ COP27 and brought to life through an Interactive Hub. Our name (nomen est omen) indicates what we stand for and believe in, i.e., playing an active role with regard to generating tangible synergies to tackle our many planetary challenges and doing this with a positive ‘can-do’ attitude.

- Our Vision: To become ‘THE Global ESG Solutions Marketplace & Community of like-minded Stakeholders’ that brings together credible solution providers & seekers in the 'E,' 'S' or 'G' sphere, thus driving what matters to accelerate the reaching of the 17th (SDG) UN globally committed timelines.

- Our Purpose: To accelerate the ‘connecting of the dots’ between ESG Solution Providers (ESG Supply) & ESG Solution Seekers (ESG Demand) worldwide across borders, across private and public sectors, across industries, thus triggering an increased adoption, usage, distribution, funding, improvements, etc. of such Solutions and related partnerships.

- At the heart of DWM4ESG is the ‘call4action’ with regards to our Purpose, generating tangible synergies, as not everybody has to “reinvent the wheel” besides together we can make much more happen to master the transformation we are finding ourselves in globally (“L’Union fait la force!”)!

- Who can access DWM4ESG?: Essentially, everybody around the world.

- Who can be visible on board of DWM4ESG?:

1. Credible Solution Providers & Solution Seekers in the Environment, Social & Governance (ESG) sphere. The provided or sought

for Solution has to help to accelerate at least one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG)

2. Advocates & Ambassadors

3. Supporters, Sponsors & Partners.

- DWM4ESG functions like a traditional Marketplace Community, yet on a global basis, where supply & demand actively contribute from their particular angle to help DRIVING WHAT MATTERS 4 our People & Planet.

illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

Did you enjoy this illuminem voice? Support us by sharing this article!
author photo

About the author

Dr. Stefanie Gey is a Founder of DrivingWhatMatters4ESG (DWM4ESG), a pioneering entity, launched at COP27. DWM4ESG is dedicated to shedding light on the millions of credible Solutions in the ‘E’, ‘S’ or ‘G’ sphere that are already out there to help accelerate the 17 UN SDG and thus to tackle our many planetary Challenges. Stefanie is also a Board Member of Montana Capital Partners AG (MCP). Prior to DWM4ESG & MCP, Stefanie spent almost 14 years at EY, with different leadership responsibilities, including Regional Managing Partner Talent; Member of the Regional Consulting Executive Team, Data Protection & Privacy Leader; Head Insurance Legal, Regulatory & Compliance and Global Insurance Law Leader. Before EY, Stefanie had several leadership functions in the FS sector for almost a decade.

Other illuminem Voices

Related Posts

You cannot miss it!

Weekly. Free. Your Top 10 Sustainability & Energy Posts.

You can unsubscribe at any time (read our privacy policy)