Powerful thinking.

Empowering leaders in understanding the evolving trends and challenges that influence their growth strategies.

Embracing radical collaboration and authentic communication across industries

By Michelle Sartorio | Founder and CEO | True Value Creation

How to inspire eight billion people to live differently? As the world grapples with pressing threats, we are presented with unprecedented opportunities for positive change. Addressing challenges like climate change demands radical collaboration. 

Wicked problems require radical collaboration. Climate change and environmental degradation are prime examples of wicked problems. These problems are complex, have no clear solution, and are often interconnected. To tackle these issues, we need to bring together experts from different sectors, countries, and backgrounds to work towards a solution of common interest. 

According to a survey conducted by insights & advisory consultancy firm GlobeScan, almost half of people globally wants to change their lifestyle to be more environmentally friendly, with half of these already taking practical actions. This is a positive sign that people are becoming more aware of the impact of their actions on the environment. However, the same survey identified that the most important enabler for change is to have clear information on how to live sustainably.

This is where I think collaboration comes in. The same survey showed that one of the biggest barriers to achieve progress is lack of supporting cross-border regulations for sustainable options. Governments must take the lead in creating and enforcing regulations that promote sustainable practices. Citizens must also demand that their governments hold businesses accountable for what they say they will do. Green washing is a growing concern and people are becoming more aware of the need for systemic solutions globally. The message is loud and clear: businesses need to progress faster, as it’s no surprise that the younger generations are driving a sense of urgency to sustainability matters. 

Looking at the food system as an example. The food sector has an essential role to play in feeding the planet. Our global food system is the primary driver of biodiversity loss, with agriculture alone being the identified threat to 24,000 of the 28,000 (86%) species at risk of extinction. The global food sector is responsible for more than 30% of total climate emissions and 60% of nature loss, and today we see a higher global rate of species extinction than the average rate over the past 10 million years. To mitigate this, the WWF brought together five CEOs of the five largest supermarket chains, on an effort to pledge to make UK weekly food shop ‘greener’ and help tackle climate crisis

What could radical collaboration look like for the built environment? Nearly 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions is believed to come from the real estate sector; of these emissions, 70% are produced by building operations, while the remaining 30% comes from construction. Like other sectors, real estate is moving forward with some ideas and actions that will tackle ESG, but currently it’s mostly focused on the ‘E’. Arguably, by investing in the ‘Living’ sector (e.g. senior housing, affordable homes, student accomodation etc.), investors and investment firms have the greatest social impact, as they are able to support nation’s housing need. 

The so-called ‘brown discount’ and ‘green premium’ discussion has moved considerably in recent years, with green premium now being closer to status quo. A growing number of investors and occupiers are favouring buildings with common areas, green spaces – buildings with a stronger sense of community. Despite this trend, the journey is clearly a long one and radical collaboration towards more sustainable targets in real estate is at its infancy. 

Collaboration and regulatory changes in real estate have already propelled progress. For example, the EU’s Financing Sustainable Growth Action Plan established SFDR to re-orientate capital flow towards sustainable finance, and since inception, it’s driving the bar higher in terms of transparency on sustainability and mandatory ESG disclosure obligations.

With consumer awareness growing regarding the environmental and societal repercussions of their actions, companies must adapt by recalibrating their ESG strategies and making concrete commitments. It is not enough for companies to focus solely on their own ESG performance: they must work in collaboration with competitors and with experts from adjacent sectors to create sustainable and meaningful change to the ‘end beneficiaries’. This can only be achieved with relentless resilience, vision and determination – and with an eye in the future, well beyond ‘the quarterly economy’ and financials results.

It is not enough for companies to focus solely on their own ESG performance, they must work in collaboration with competitors and with experts from adjacent sectors to create sustainable and meaningful change to the ‘end beneficiaries’. Things started happening, but most buildings are currently managed with minimum universal some consistent ESG metrics.  

As we look ahead, radical collaboration for real estate could offer more radical solutions to address behavioural change across the entire property ecosystem. To move the dial, we should tackle occupier engagement, well-being, biodiversity, community engagement and many other aspects that are not easy to quantify. And while we progress, I also believe that every achievement towards a more sustainable real estate sector could be celebrated and communicated. The sector is centre to hearts and minds: we live in buildings, we play in buildings, we work in buildings, we shop in buildings. 

I believe that it is all right for firms to be genuine about their barriers to progress, but it is not all right to give up. Resilience, collaboration, communication and determination will keep firms focused on common cross-sector goals: people, planet and purpose.  

The need for collaboration to address problems such as climate change and environmental degradation cannot be overstated. It is imperative that we work together to create comprehensive solutions that are sound not just financially, but also have an impact on the environment and society. Governments, businesses and citizens alike must prioritise sustainability and accountability and work together towards a common goal. 

It is time for radical collaboration to tackle the most pressing issues of our time and create a more sustainable future for all. 

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