Collaboration – Our Key to a Sustainable Future

Collaboration – Our Key to a Sustainable Future

Climate change affects us all. The reliable patterns of the past are shifting, sometimes rapidly. Residents and businesses in the Great Lakes region will face new and increasing challenges from invasive species, lower crop yields, and harmful algal blooms. Metro Detroit will experience more flooding and unprecedented heat waves that test our infrastructure.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that to avoid the most severe impacts, we must limit global warming to no more than 1.5°C. This will require a worldwide commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Accomplishing this ambitious but necessary goal will require a collaborative approach that works across sectors to come up with new solutions.

Businesses are facing a growing demand to clean up their operations and invest their profits back into their communities—at the same time shifting climate patterns are putting profit margins at risk. The current landscape requires that businesses evaluate impacts on the communities in their ecosystems and across supply chains and take a triple bottom line approach that looks at people, the planet and prosperity.

Turning that evaluation into action is key. Working with stakeholders across multiple sectors and interests will allow for a truly collaborative approach to solving climate change in a way that enhances equity and prosperity for all.

We believe in collaborating with business as a force for good in society, and that there is a positive role for our region in this work. As Neil Hawkins, president of the Erb Family Foundation mentions in a recent video about this topic, “Southeast Michigan is uniquely positioned. We’re the hub of manufacturing, innovation – really for the United States and in some ways for the world.”

Metro Detroit has all the ingredients needed to become a model of collaborative sustainable business. With an international border, Great Lakes waterways, and businesses of all sizes spanning many industries, the region is positioned to improve the prospects for its future by strengthening collaboration and partnership. This is a place, for example, where a small nonprofit watershed organization can partner with a Fortune 500 automotive corporation to create sustainable business practices that protect nearby waterways and the Great Lakes.

One group that’s helping facilitate these kinds of connections is the Sustainable Business Network of Detroit (SBN Detroit). In partnership with Inforum, Southeast Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, Wayne State University, and the Erb Institute at the University of Michigan, SBN Detroit mobilizes businesses and organizations of all sizes to make metro Detroit a global leader in sustainability. Check out this video to learn more.

Balancing the needs of the planet, society, and the economy is a complex problem that requires complex solutions. Coming together around these issues and advancing more sustainable business enterprises and collaboration is the best chance we have. We encourage you to check out the SBN Detroit website where you’ll find sustainable business resources, be able to add your own resources, and learn about upcoming events.