Science, consumers, and new founders to drive ESG innovation

If 2021 was the year when ESG (short for Environmental, Social, and Governance) went mainstream, 2022 will be the year that innovations and innovators propel it forward, say members of the Fast Company Impact Council—an invitation-only collective of leaders from a range of industries. Members say a number of business, regulatory, and cultural factors will motivate companies to keep advancing an agenda that places sustainability, social good, and inclusion on equal footing with profitability and growth. Edited excerpts follow:

Carolyn Brown, managing director, Closed Loop Partners

“We expect expanded adoption of transparency tools, new material innovations, reuse solutions, plus advancement in technology, such as molecular recycling and advanced 3D design and manufacturing platforms. We believe science and technology will continue to influence consumer products in a way that we haven’t seen before. And finally, we see a continued growth in emerging circular business models on all levels of corporations, allowing companies to take better advantage of materials and products, increasing loyalty with consumers and lessening their environmental footprint.”

Andrea Carafa, Emergence Fellow, Stanford University, and director, Blackstone Launchpad

“Climate tech, entrepreneurship, and deep tech innovation are on the rise to tackle the biggest challenges that humanity faces. It is crucial for large companies, as well as startups, to launch new products, not only with their target customers in mind, but also with other stakeholders and equity in mind. And the has come for universities to lead in the innovation side of this story. We’ll see more universities teaching students how they can build technology products and ventures of a new kind tackling some of humanity’s most pressing challenges with the values of diversity, inclusion and equity from day one.”

Brad Lukanic, CEO, CannonDesign

“Built environments in 2022 are going to be supercharged for change, partly because about the agile need for interaction Tools for addressing climate change are also going to be front and center. We have better tools connected to the Internet of Things that are going to be able to measure and make things more accountable in built environments. And as we think about supply chain woes and labor shortage, we will see modular [solutions]. Fabrication is going to be at the center at the intersection of design and technology.”