The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability

Mar 2nd, 2010 | By | Category: Sustainability

Ceres released The 21st Century Corporation: The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability in March 2010.  Ceres, a national environmental network founded in 1989, envisions the integration of sustainability into modern-day business markets to promote the protection of the environment and its people.  The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability describes new standards and expectations of business leadership, one of the four key concepts of Ceres 20-20, Ceres’ plan for achieving a sustainable global economy by 2020.

According to David Blood, Senior Partner with Generation Investment Management, “the [current] financial crisis has reinforced our view that sustainable solutions will be the primary driver of industrial and economic development in the coming decades.”

The Roadmap Vision

The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability targets the following sustainability issues:

  • Climate change;
  • Water scarcity;
  • Energy use;
  • Natural resource depletion;
  • Pollution; and
  • Poverty.

Since economic activity is dependent upon the use of natural and human resources, Ceres considers businesses to be in the best position to address these issues profitably.  It believes that businesses can maximize their long-term financial performance by improving their performance socially, environmentally, and ethically.

According to Ceres, sustainability will become increasingly important as competition for natural resources escalates and as stricter laws regarding carbon emissions are enacted.  Also, economic globalization means more risk for companies, and enhanced communications increase transparency whether a company wishes it or not.

The Roadmap Strategies

According to Ceres, sustainability cannot be an isolated concern within a company.  It must be integrated into a company’s strategy so that all stakeholders can be considered, including:

  • The government;
  • Investors;
  • Shareholders;
  • Labor unions;
  • Civil society;
  • Business partners and suppliers;
  • Employees; and
  • Consumers.



Ceres’ goal is a 50 percent improvement in companies’ energy efficiency and a 25 percent reduction in their carbon footprint by 2020.  It envisions the elimination of hazardous waste, the existence of universal closed-loop systems, and an increase in human rights standards.  In order to achieve this, The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability focuses on 20 key expectations within four broad categories:

  • Governance;
  • Stakeholder engagement;
  • Disclosure; and
  • Performance.



Within the governance section, Ceres outlines expectations of the Board of Directors, executives, and management.  It calls for the establishment of corporate sustainability goals, then details different methods of implementing the goals into day-to-day practices.


To engage stakeholders, Ceres suggests regularly engaging a focused, diverse group of stakeholders.  In addition, it recommends substantive dialogue with stakeholders, investors, and c-level executives.


Ceres places great importance in company transparency.  Within the disclosure section, Ceres outlines standards for disclosure, as well as vehicles for disclosure that include not only annual meetings, reports, and websites, but also social media.  Ceres also recommends transparency regarding the sustainability performance of a company’s products.


Ceres’ biggest priority is performance.  Within this section, Ceres gives concrete areas in which companies can improve their sustainability practices.  These areas are:

  • Operations;
  • Supply chain;
  • Transportation and logistics;
  • Products and services; and
  • Employees.


Ceres incorporates limited but noteworthy examples of existing sustainability practices adopted by global corporations into each of the sections. 

For a copy of The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability, please visit

About the Author

Kathryn Lidington is a project scientist at Environmental Resources Management in Boston, U.S.A. She specializes in environmental due diligence and environmental compliance assistance.

Photograph: Sunflower by Gabriella Fabbri, Rapallo, Italy.

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