On behalf of Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas, who is one of a regular speaker at our events and Conferences, we include his new year’s article.

The start of a new year provides an opportunity for reflection and a chance to consider the broader developments that impact companies and the communities in which they operate. Directors and boards face interconnected challenges, global risks, and existential threats that require collective action from a global perspective. Companies must play their part in addressing these issues, as ignoring them could have dire consequences.

The priorities and practices of boards in 2024 will depend on how directors recognize the realities we face, broaden their perspectives, and change direction to address the consequences of past decisions and policies that now threaten our collective survival. Boards must proactively anticipate and embrace innovation, address vulnerabilities, and seize opportunities for transition and transformation. Corporate, collective, and community purposes and strategies must be more focused, adaptable, and resilient.

Despite the continuing rise in greenhouse gas emissions, the agreements made at COP 28 in Dubai are unlikely to be sufficient to limit global temperatures to no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Unless collective action is accelerated and prioritized, we have limited time before the situation becomes irreparable. However, COP decisions are constrained by the influence of fossil fuel interests and short-term national objectives. The future of our planet now rests on the board’s priorities in inspiring and creating sustainable lifestyles and societies.

Some boards may hesitate to look ahead, broaden their perspectives, and recognize their responsibilities to ecosystems, the environment, and future generations. They may be satisfied with current approaches to sustainability and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices, comparing themselves to others rather than striving for what they should be doing. Ethical issues that clash with business interests might be disregarded, and geopolitical concerns, scientific reports, broader discussions, and existential threats may be left to governments.

To address these challenges, boards must embrace a more forward-thinking approach, broaden their perspectives, and take on the responsibility of addressing environmental and social issues. By recognizing our realities and prioritizing sustainable practices, boards can contribute to a more sustainable future for all. Ask: What challenges do directors and boards need to address concerning climate change and its impacts? Contact Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas colin@coulson-thomas.com

Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas has advised over 100 boards on improving board and/or corporate performance. A regular speaker at corporate events and international conferences, he has given over 300 presentations in 40 countries. Colin has served on various corporate and public sector boards, and governing bodies of representative, professional, learned, and voluntary institutes, societies and associations, including as chairman and president.