Navigating Towards Sustainability: New Indicators to Guide Companies

Amidst the growing global focus on sustainability, Stockholm University researcher Beatrice Crona has identified a critical gap in how companies measure their environmental impact. While many claim to prioritize sustainability, Crona’s research reveals that existing metrics often miss the mark. In response, she is spearheading the development of innovative tools and indicators aimed at steering companies and asset managers towards a future that safeguards the planet’s ecological balance.

Crona’s journey began with a quest to understand the underlying drivers of humanity’s overexploitation of Earth’s resources. Recognizing the pivotal role of the financial sector in shaping corporate behavior, researchers at the Stockholm Resilience Centre delved into the nexus between capital investment and planetary boundaries. They soon realized that the financial industry’s metrics for assessing environmental impact were skewed towards financial sustainability rather than true ecological stewardship.

Drawing insights from companies’ sustainability reports, Crona uncovered a glaring mismatch between the indicators used by the financial sector and those aligned with environmental sustainability. While existing metrics primarily focused on financial risks associated with climate change and regulatory policies, they fell short of capturing the broader ecological footprint of businesses.

After a decade of intensive research, Crona’s team unveiled the Earth System Impact (ESI) measurement tool—a groundbreaking framework that transcends conventional metrics by incorporating factors such as land use, water use, and geographic location. Unlike traditional approaches fixated on carbon emissions, ESI offers a more holistic perspective on environmental impact, accounting for biodiversity loss and regional variations in ecological sensitivity.

In addition to ESI, Crona and her collaborators identified 15 key variables—ranging from raw material usage to primary sector activities—that serve as robust indicators of companies’ environmental footprint. By standardizing these variables across sectors, the aim is to empower asset managers to make informed investment decisions that drive sustainability across supply chains.

While acknowledging that ESI is not a panacea, Crona emphasizes the importance of grounding sustainability metrics in scientific rigor. As humanity grapples with the urgent imperative to rein in ecological degradation, Crona’s pioneering work offers a roadmap for businesses to navigate towards a more sustainable future—one informed by science, accountability, and collective action.


A content creator who is passionate about the intersection of culture and creativity, seeking to create content that sparks meaningful conversations and inspires positive change.

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