Sustainability Trends for 2023

WRITTEN BY Bronagh Loughlin

January 30, 2023

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Sustainability Trends for 2023

Bronagh Loughlin

30 Jan, 2023

If greenwashing has taught us anything, sustainability is an essential factor for customers and the current young generations. Yes, greenwashing is, of course, a bad practice but think of it this way: if people didn’t care so much about checking off that green box, there would be no green to wash. 

A couple of months ago, Forbes reported this year; environmental sustainability will become a strategic imperative. It will be a “business opportunity, a matter of survival, and a customer obsession enabler as well as an integral part of business risk.” It’s not just businesses; governments are too feeling the pressure (as they should) to go green. 

We are edging closer to the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and meeting the commitments laid out in the Paris Agreement. Unfortunately, we are still a bit off course in attaining these goals. With sustainability becoming so integral for businesses, governments, and customers alike, perhaps this may be the year for major transformation! 

As we kick off a new year and hopefully one of climate success, it seems only fitting to ponder the sustainability trends for 2023. Some of the predictions made for last year included more climate technology, a greater focus on the blue economy, solutions to restore biodiversity, driving the circular economy, and, let’s not forget, the rise of carbon markets. 

I’m sure we’ve all seen a post or two about carbon offsetting in 2022. Whether it be on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or perhaps, your favourite news site. It definitely was all the rage and is sure to continue to power on. While offsetting isn’t the solution, it certainly seems to be a crucial element in our decarbonising efforts. But look, that was so last year (literally), so let’s get into the predictions for this booming year.

 

#1 Out with fast fashion and in with mindful consumption

In 2023, we are well-versed in fast fashion and its detrimental effects on the planet. Thanks to Channel 4’s ‘Inside the Shein Machine: UNTOLD’ documentary released in October of 2022, many other issues have been highlighted beyond mass production. Some of these surrounding human rights and social justice. It seems people are done with the fast fashion machine and are more eager to swap it for mindful, responsible consumption with full transparency. As a result, we also imagine social sustainability will begin making waves just as environmental sustainability has. 

#2 Carbon removal to continue to achieve net zero ambition

We’re on a mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions towards zero. Due to this, we can expect carbon removal to continue in order to achieve this ambition. What does this mean? Well, we can expect more carbon removal technologies like direct air capture. Additionally, we kind of teased it above, but carbon offsetting will continue to be a key pillar in our strategy to achieving net zero. While the practice does not remove carbon from the atmosphere, it allows us to offset what is challenging to reduce. 

The carbon credits market is set to continue to evolve this year, and improved standards and regulations will be in place thanks to the We Mean Business Coalition and Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative. Nature-based solutions will also be key in fulfilling our net zero vision. For example, restoring mangroves and planting trees are already activities occurring globally to slow the rate of climate change. 

#3 Governments to step up and drive climate action globally

As mentioned, governments, too, are experiencing a lot of pressure to take climate change seriously. As we get closer to our 2030 target and everyday people continue to demand action, we can expect governments globally to step up. The Irish government launched its updated Climate Action Plan last month for 2023, which sets out how our country will accelerate the action needed to respond to the environmental crisis. The plan includes ramping up renewable electricity in homes and businesses, increasing public transport, and retrofitting homes. Hopefully, the plan signals the urgent and significant transformation we are relying on! 

#4 Climate change adaptation to be a big focus following COP27

The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 occurred in November of last year. While this year’s COP was certainly controversial, one positive and promising development was the new loss and damage fund for vulnerable countries hit by climate disasters. It means people in more vulnerable countries have the potential to rebuild if disaster strikes which ultimately improves their ability to adapt to the climate crisis. Adaptation was a major focus of this year’s COP, and new pledges, totalling over 230 million USD, were made to the Adaptation Fund at the conference. The UN has also said adaptation will continue to be an important issue at COP28. 

#5 Green technology will be ramped up

Just as governments are under pressure to take climate action, so are businesses. They will need to work hard at reducing their carbon footprint and being more considerate of the planet’s needs. With that in mind, we can expect more exciting green technology, from electric cars to alternative energy, carbon capture, and more. Some kinds of green tech have already experienced wide adoption globally. For example, according to Bloomberg, global investment in all renewable energy sources worldwide exceeded $300 billion in 2020. Fingers crossed, it’s only up from here.

#6 The push for circularity will continue this year

It’s been a trend for some years now, and is sure to continue: the circular economy. The linear economic model is no longer working. This model is causing us to drain the Earth’s resources quickly, and we cannot continue this way. The circular economy, by contrast, is mindful of the Earth and pushes the 3 R’s – reduce, reuse, and recycle! Ireland’s third Climate Action Plan is heavily focusing on pushing for circularity this year. Additionally, events like the Dublin Circular Economy Hotspot 2023 hosted by Dublin City Council are being promoted. This event, in particular, aims to create a global network of circular economic events worldwide. 

#7 2023 will be about creating the smart cities of the future

For our last sustainability trend for 2023, we predict that government leaders will be increasingly pushing smart cities. The reason for this will not only be to tackle environmental issues but also for economic vibrancy and to improve the quality of life for the people. This will involve enhancing transportation to push public transportation and other modes of getting from A to B beyond private vehicles. It’s no surprise, really, considering just about everything is going digital. With the creation of smart cities, we can expect healthier and more resilient communities and environments. 

The outlook for 2023 on sustainability is looking positive as more people start to care about protecting the planet. We’re hopeful that climate action will be prioritised this year globally so we can achieve the ambitious climate goals needed to tackle the climate crisis. The trends listed here are not only considerate of our planet’s needs but serve the people in our communities by improving their livelihoods. Sustainability is about fighting for nature’s rights but also looking after all living on the planet, so the prospect of advancing these goals in tandem this year is an exciting one.

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