BCG Henderson Institute

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Companies are setting more ambitious climate and sustainability goals than ever before—but many are finding that sustainability cannot be achieved singlehandedly. This is partly because, for many companies and products,  90% or more of greenhouse gas emissions are outside their direct control.

To achieve sustainability across the entire value chain, companies must act aggressively—and collectively—to transform their ecosystems. Three forms of collaboration can be used to achieve sustainability goals. Companies can forge partnerships to advance a specific sustainability-related product, service, or initiative. They can participate in or orchestrate a broader sustainability business ecosystem; that is, a dynamic group of independent businesses that together constitute a coherent solution to address a specific sustainability need in the market. Or they can participate in a corporate-led sustainability alliance.

Although partnerships and business ecosystems are important collaboration models, they are too limited in scope for many industries’ most deeply entrenched sustainability challenges, particularly those in hard-to-abate sectors. In many cases, what’s needed is option number three: a corporate-led sustainability alliance (CSA): a multistakeholder, business-led coalition designed to advance the sustainability of its members and their industries for the common good.

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