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Driving Business Value through Sustainability- The next phase of our journey

In this first of a series of blogs that looks at how organizations can create business value through sustainability we hear from Jim Fava, leading a series of blogs on his and others experience of the imperative of Sustainability in driving business value. 

As I reflect on the next phase of my personal journey, it’s hard not to draw parallels with our collective journey in the sustainability field.  Gone are the days where we were defining the term and creating standards; every step forward now will only be successful it if delivers business value.  Yet, I’m convinced the most important progress is still to come.

For those of you who are not familiar with my background, a short summary might be helpful. My focus – for over 30 years – has been to build a framework to drive business value through sustainability. 

 I’ve had the opportunity to provide technical and management leadership support to companies around the world to take actions around environmental and social issues that have resulted in increasing revenue, reducing costs, enhancing brand and mitigating risks.  Some core examples of this work include:

  • Co-founding and / or  leading roles within SETAC[1], ISO[2], UNEP/SETAC[3] Life Cycle Initiative, and FSLCI[4] programs for over 25 years developing the technical framework, standards and advancing the practices and use of life cycle thinking and assessment. Some people call me the ‘father of LCA’
  • Founder and co-chair of the Product Sustainability Roundtable (PSRT) over 20 years ago, which brings together the product sustainability leaders of the world’s most respected companies, from across the value chain, in a non-competitive environment to provide support, benchmarking, and best practice advice to their product-oriented programs.
  • Leading the development of a sustainability implementation framework over 15 years ago which helped companies understand their strategy, management systems, programs, decision support tools and data needed to achieve their business goals. Recognized examples are Johnson and Johnson’s ‘Earthwards’ & Carnival’s ISO 14001 certification by over 80 of their ships
  • Co-chairing a current project with UNEP to develop a ‘hot spots analysis’ methodological framework which will be able to be applied at the product, sector and ultimately at the city and country levels.
  • Serving as the Executive Director for the Electric Utility Sustainability Supply Chain Alliance, which developed a Supply Chain and Supplier maturity models to advance sustainability.

And much like the Sustainability journey, I have decided that my retirement too is a journey! Post my retirement from thinkstep I began looking for part time opportunities where I could continue to pursue my passion in working with businesses to drive business value through sustainability. Something that I think is an imperative to the long term success of a business. After considering a number of options I am delighted to say that I recently joined the Anthesis Group as Chief Strategist in August 2016.

While considering my options Anthesis became an obvious choice because of our alignment personally as well as our vision for sustainability.  Sustainability has become an established field in the past 30 years, but too much of our activity as practitioners is busy work without as much impact as we need to have to drive necessary change.  I’m excited about joining with Anthesis to further the progress they’ve already made in changing that trajectory, as well as the opportunity to continue to work with thinkstep, and my long-term friend and colleague John Heckman as well as several others from our shared Five Winds & thinkstep heritage.

I look forward to continuing to work with you as the next phase of my journey commences.  Stay tuned to learn more on how you can drive business value through sustainability.  In the next blog in this series we hear later this month on the “Golden Rules of Sustainability”.

View the PSRT leadership framework here

[1] Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
[2] International Organization for Standardization
[3]United Nations Environment Programme
[4] Forum for Sustainability through Life Cycle Innovation
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