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The fields of corporate social responsibility and sustainability need a major overhaul in order to grow at an exponential scale and attain urgent climate-related goals, says entrepreneur and business author John Elkington.

Elkington spoke in his keynote address for the 19th annual League of Corporate Foundations CSR Expo and Conference, which was held virtually last July 6-8.

Elkington pointed to the climate emergency that the world is facing in this and the coming decades as the catalyst for the change needed in the global economy. He rallies around the notion of “regenerative capitalism,” a sustainable and purpose-driven kind of capitalism needed to address the threat of the climate crisis within the next generation.

He outlines the need for what he calls “green swans” that the world has to meet to help guide it into an accelerated age of sustainability to effectively deal with the threat. These are the green swans of policy, renewable energy, and talent.

The green swan of policy refers to a profound market shift caused by changing values, mindsets, and business models, delivering exponential progress in the form of economic, social, and environmental wealth creation.

The green swan of renewable energy refers to the growth rate of the adoption of renewable energy sources such as solar power and wind, which should become cheaper to operate and consume over time as opposed to traditional energy sources.

The green swan of talent is the leadership of the youth, leveraging the potential of the current generation to enact the needed change in the world.

“Corporate social responsibility and sustainability are important, and they’re incredibly useful stepping stones, but if we think that’s the endpoint of our journeys, I think that may well be a mistake,” said Elkington, challenging businesses to consider going even further in their efforts to go green.

Elkington is the co-founder of Volans Ventures, a consulting firm that helps businesses drive positive change. He is known for coining the term “Triple Bottomline Approach to CSR and Sustainability of People, Planet and Prosperity”. He has authored and co-authored 20 books, including Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism, The Green Consumer Guide, and The Breakthrough Challenge: 10 Ways to Connect Tomorrow’s Profits with Tomorrow’s Bottom Line.

The League of Corporate Foundations (LCF) is a network of operating and grant-making corporate foundations and corporations that promotes and enhances the strategic practice of Corporate Social Responsibility among its members and the larger business community, towards sustained national development.

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