IN SOME ways the sustainability landscape in 2013 didn’t shift, as the slow grind of some well-documented trends continued. Stories of resource crunches abounded, extreme weather events were witnessed, and the grim reality of social inequalities continued to wash through our media channels. Oh, and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere exceeded 400 ppm, the point of which many scientists said would mark the start of runway climate change.
2014 will of course feature more of the same. But, with acceleration on two fronts. First, the momentum towards the era of radical transparency will increase. The genuine shock, and in quarters, revulsion at the prospect of unknowingly eating horse meat, has meant that more questions than ever are now being asked about where and how our food is made. There hasn’t been quite the cut through on scrutiny of apparel supply chains, for some reason the terrible tragedy at Rana Plaza hasn’t dampened demand for 50p T-shirts. Yet. But the continued explosion of digital platforms may still change that, as social media brings events in far-flung lands closer to home.
Second, we will see activity towards addressing certain sustainability challenges scale up and get cut-through. My prediction is that 2014 will be the year where we actually see some serious action in reducing food waste, both in production and post-consumption. Several levers have been pulled, or are about to be pulled in this area, from Tesco disclosing the scale of the challenge, to civil society engagement, with the result that we are now at a tipping point. Which, I hope will be the first of many, and result in not just food waste, but other complex sustainability problems, being solved, once and for all.