Timely, accurate, transparent and, above all, persuasive and effective communication will play an important role in driving change and motivating humanity. Therefore, the sustainability work cannot be done without an active, inclusive, and clear role of communication.
The world is on the brink of something new, as crisis after crisis shakes our societies, our planet, and our humanity. Sustainability and the green transition offer us constant opportunities to secure our future, mitigate climate change and preserve biodiversity. Tools, business models, regulations and guidelines are abundant, yet change is too slow.
The jungle of sustainability claims
In recent years, various sustainability claims have become the core of sustainability communication and are rapidly becoming a necessity in the race for attention. Carbon neutrality, carbon positivity, environmentalism, social justice, and many other terms fill the sustainability narrative in the private, public, and third sectors. Sustainability must be visible in communications, as no one wants to be stigmatised as irresponsible. However, in our race against irresponsibility, we are easily tempted to cut corners.
Communicators, therefore, have a huge responsibility. When making climate and carbon neutral claims, we must remember that they are not a value in themselves, but a way of communicating a genuine will, action, and ambition. Reporting is part of sustainability communication and a great opportunity to go deeper into an organisation’s sustainability journey, but in terms of communication, reporting once a year is not enough. Communication must be able to support the organisation’s strategic objectives and the systemic susformation to enable value creation – value is created when actions, deeds and values become reality.
Growing distrust of responsibility communication
As a society, we have already become numb to certain climate and carbon neutrality claims, and our distrust of these claims is growing. This is often driven by uncertainty about how claims can be verified and how an organisation defines itself as climate or carbon positive. In addition, our expectations of organisations are constantly growing as new perspectives on different aspects of sustainability work emerge. It is therefore of paramount importance for credible sustainability work and communication that an organisation is able to demonstrate that it has mastered the whole concept of sustainability and that it is taking sustainability actions where they have the greatest impact. Relevance is the key, both in action and in communication.
In a critical media environment, the role of the communicator is not always easy. Communication is often the area of sustainability that attracts the most criticism, which is why transparent sustainability communication can feel daunting. At the same time, it is important to remember that sustainability is becoming increasingly important to partners, customers, and consumers in purchasing decisions and can be a decisive criterion at the moment of choice. To create change, we must have the courage to communicate it. Planned, transparent, honest, adaptable, and self-critical sustainability communication is essential to accelerate the green transition and enable organisations to be responsible.
More information: Sustainability Communication | Gaia.fi
Corporate, Sustainability and Crisis Communications; Communications Planning and Strategy, Sustainablity Reporting, Communication Analysis