Bob Willard - The Business Case for Sustainability

Bob Willard - The Business Case for Sustainability

Bob Willard is a leading expert on quantifying the business value of sustainability strategies. He has given over a thousand presentations, has authored six books, and provides extensive resources for sustainability champions. He serves on the boards of Forum for the Future U.S. and the Future-Fit Foundation. 

Bob joins Sustainable Nation to discuss:

  • Selling the business case for sustainability

  • Communicating sustainability benefits

  • The B Corp movement

  • Learning from decades of experience in corporate sustainability

  • Tips and advice for sustainability professionals

What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?

Find an issue that you really care about and find an organization that you can partner with to have a lot of leverage on doing something about that issue but start with something that you really care about. It could be a social issue, it could be an environmental issue. You've got to have some energy around that at a personal level or you'll just get worn down and you need to be able to recharge your batteries by recommitting to something that you really care about for whatever reason. And then don't try to do it yourself. Partner with other people and increase your ability to make things happen.

What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability and regenerative development?

The point that gives me hope is amazingly simple. It's the dramatic plummet in the cost of renewable energy where it's in many jurisdictions on a par with fossil fuels. So that's fantastic. It makes this transition off fossil fuels much more attractive than it was five or 10 years ago. And combined with that is the requirement for companies to be more transparent about their carbon footprint, led by investors and bankers who say that they need to know that in order to make a more informed decision about whether they want to put their money into a company, and it's not only the companies footprint, but it's supply chain or value chain footprint as well. So it's those two things, the drop in renewable energy and the demand for more transparency from investors and bankers, and they have a lot of influence on the mindset of businesses.

What is one book you would recommend sustainability professionals read?

I need to pick one that's not mine. Andrew Winston is an incredible author on the subject of the business relevance of sustainability. His original book, Green to Gold that he coauthored. I'd put at the top of my list. There are a couple that are a bit older, the Ecology of Commerce, that Paul Hawken wrote many years ago. His prose is as close to poetry as you can imagine. And he's just so good at expressing the obvious in terms of trying to get your attention. So those two books, Natural Capitalism is a bible for me. The one that Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins and Paul Hawken wrote there. I've got a library surrounding me right now that are just phenomenal books. So, I'll stop there, but there's no lack of really, really good stuff in it there.

What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in the work that you do?

I subscribed to a bunch of news clip services, Triple Pundit and Green Bizz, whole bunch of those. And that to me is a daily window into what's moving and shaking out there on the sustainability and business front. So, I use them as a lens as to what reports I want to drill down into what a book I want to take another look at what websites I want to track down. So, to me it's that window that's the most important resource. It's the news clips that gives you a nice little soundbite as to what's going on and then you can decide which of those are most relevant to the projects that you're working on at the time,

Sustainable Brands, Environmental Leader, all excellent resources that give daily emails and all that great information on what's happening.

I think there were about a dozen, I should probably check this out before this call, but there's a better, doesn't that I subscribed to and it doesn't take long. Just take a quick look at them, see which ones are of interest to you and it's a great reminder of how much is going on out there. It's very energizing. Yeah.

And finally, where can our listeners go to learn more about you and your work?

That's pretty straight forward the website to help people do that. So is my website. That gives a brief overview of the six books that I've written gives you a sense of some of the other resources that are available, some of the spreadsheets, some of the dashboards, some of the videos, most of which are free, uh, cause I really do think we need to be able to make it easier for people to access tools that are going to hopefully be useful to them. and, um, uh, yeah, that's a, that's a pretty good window into who I am, what I do, um, and resources that may be useful to people in, uh, in the work that they're doing.