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Task 10: Harness communications for positive change

Companies can use their communication and marketing muscle to build public understanding of (and appetite for) sustainable business.

A significant proportion of the information citizens and governments receive is via the communications, marketing and public relations undertaken by business. These powerful influences could be used to help stakeholders across civil society see why sustainable business makes sense, why a sustainable economy is not only critical for survival but a great place to live and do business. Our popular culture is based in large part on our relationships with brands. If those relationships could be harnessed for sustainability, then the shifts the world needs to make will be more likely to occur.

Marketing and communications professionals, as well as public affairs experts, have a vital role to play in building awareness and engaging in an informed debate about sustainability. Key starting points are customers, suppliers, investors, regulators, and the business schools that train the future employees of the firms concerned.

Given what is at stake for business in the transition to a sustainable economy, this is no time for greenwash. Not all stakeholders – including governments – are currently on board with the challenges, or pedalling hard to find solutions. Deploying corporate influence for positive policy and cultural change is an essential characteristic of a sustainable business. For example, how does a company show its investors that it is making capital work in the long term? And how is it communicating the need for effective enabling policies to governments?

Marketing and communications professionals, and public affairs experts, have a vital role in building awareness and engaging in an informed debate about sustainability.


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