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There are many principles that can guide sustainability leadership. Some of the key principles include:


Systems thinking

Leaders should understand that sustainability is a complex system that requires an integrated approach. They should be able to identify and address interconnections between different parts of the systems.


Visionary thinking

Have a clear vision of what a sustainable future looks like and be able to communicate that vision to others.


Long-term strategic thinking

Have the capacity to prioritise longer-term sustainability goals over short-term gains and be able to balance economic, environmental, and social considerations in their decision-making.


Innovation and creativity

Be willing to explore new ideas and solutions, experiment, take risks, and be open to learning from failures.


Collaboration and engagement

Work collaboratively with stakeholders across different sectors and areas of society to drive sustainability initiatives forward.


Accountability and transparency

Be accountable for actions and transparent about their sustainability goals and progress.



Have the ability to overcome difficulties and sustain momentum under pressure.



Have the ability to anticipate and respond to challenges and disruptions, and be able to adapt sustainability strategies accordingly.


Empathy and Equity

Include and prioritise empathy and equity in sustainability initiatives, ensuring that the needs and perspectives of all stakeholders are considered and addressed.



Ethics is a key driver in decision-making and strategic planning


By embracing these principles, sustainability leaders can help drive positive change towards a more sustainable future.

UpThink Innovation Agency offers our clients support and guidance in crafting innovative and achievable sustainability strategies, including embedding sustainable leadership strategies and briefing sessions for Boards and Leadership teams.  We would be delighted to talk to you and explore further how we can help.  Please contact Mary Cronin.

Mary Cronin
Author: Mary Cronin
September 29, 2023
Mary is an innovation specialist, systems thinker and circular economy facilitator. As the founder of UpThink Innovation Agency, Mary works with SMEs and large organisations as a circular economy/climate change/ESG consultant.