News | 19th November 2014

Foreword to the Future‑Fit Business Benchmark

By John Elkington

The Future-Fit Business Benchmark is an idea whose time has come – and what follows is an invitation to leaders in business, financial markets, government and civil society to join in the vital task of co-evolving the tools to define and measure true sustainability – or “future-fitness”.

Some of the thinking unveiled here will come as a bit of a shock for business leaders who think they have already nailed the environmental, social and governance agenda.

Several years back, for example, a survey of over 700 CEOs around the world had no less than 81% reporting that they had already embedded sustainability in their businesses.

This just isn’t so.

But even if they bend the truth, most CEOs are not liars. So we must assume that these business leaders had simply failed to understand the nature and scale of the sustainability challenge. After all, until now, there has been no common agreement about what constitutes a fully sustainable business model.

Perhaps they imagined that a bit of stakeholder engagement here, a bit of reporting and supply chain challenging there would do the trick?

No such luck.

Once seen as a source of problems, business is now viewed as a critically important source of today’s innovation and tomorrow’s solutions. To succeed in what we call the Breakthrough Challenge, business leaders need a much deeper understanding of what it will mean to be future-fit.

The Benchmark is designed to help business measure – and manage – the gap between what they are doing today and what science tells us they will need to do tomorrow.


John Elkington Strategic Advisor

John Elkington is a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development.

View profile