A Look Ahead to 2014

Greetings, and Happy New Year!

The New Year is traditionally a time of new beginnings, of setting resolutions you’ll keep until February, and of planning for the next twelve months. Here at S&S we’re doing the same (minus the “resolutions we won’t keep” bit), but we’d also like to take a moment to acknowledge the wonderful year we’ve had. We re-launched the site, published our first ever Issue Series, and continued to publish podcasts and blog posts.

However, the world of sustainable development is a fast-moving and fluid one, and in 2014 S&S will be working to stay on top of a number of key issues, including:

  • Stranded Assets: As environmental regulations tighten around the world, many fossil fuel companies run the risk of stranding investments in oil sands, coal mines, and other high-emission ventures. What impact will this have on investment and market valuations in the coming year?
  • Innovation and the Business of Sustainability: Many companies have already recognized the brand-value of green, but haven’t moved beyond glossy marketing materials and sustainability reports. Is there an economic case for sustainability beyond simple brand equity? How might innovative new companies capitalize on trends toward making sustainability part of their core value proposition?
  • China: Long pushing environmental concerns aside in favor of rapid industrialization, recent civil unrest has forced Chinese officials, business leaders, and civic groups to rethink their approach to balancing the two. Will this trend continue in 2014?
  • Clean(er) Energy in America: As the shale gas revolution unfolds in the US, will cheap gas continue to displace coal? Will it displace other, cleaner forms of energy? Will cheap US gas flood world markets, or will US coal continue to fire power plants in Germany?
  • The Rise of Cities: The modern world is an urbanizing world. With more than half the world’s population living in urban areas, cities are more important to global affairs than ever before. And with national governments and international institutions unwilling or unable to tackle problems such as climate change and water depletion, cities and mayors have taken the lead. Will this trend continue, and can local government make a dent on problems that are inherently global?
  • Global Healthcare: As the developed world’s population ages, and the developing world’s population ages, healthcare will be an increasingly critical issue. Delivering care to the growing cohort of retirees will eat up a growing share of world GDP, even as more and more people are in need of modern medical care. Efforts to address this, from the ACA to the global fight against malaria, have had mixed results. What does 2014 hold?

As 2014 unfolds, we’ll be following these issues, among many others. Stay tuned! We hope you have a very happy new year, and we look forward to continuing the conversation!

Image courtesy Ximeg & Wikicommons