Gem of the day

The 2013 Sustainability Leaders survey is out from Globescan & SustainAbility, and the results aren't surprising. Unless, that is, you happen to think that Coca Cola looks painfully out of place in the top 10 next to the likes of Unilever, Natura and Nike.

First thing's first: Coke is doing a lot on water, setting huge goals like net zero water consumption in its operations that the company hardly has any idea how to achieve. But in a year where we saw the obesity epidemic finally rising to panic button levels, Coke's sports-as-medicine strategy that places the burden 100% on people to "consume responsibly" is starting to make the soft drinks industry look like the new tobacco (Franck Riboud was already saying this at Danone 7 years ago, and the company refocused its business on healthy products as a result).

Companies that deserve to be on a leadership list are those that are not only accepting responsibility for, but truly leading an effort to transform their most material impacts into net benefits for everyone. Unilever on personal resource efficiency and sanitation at scale, Natura on biodiversity and Nike on innovation driven by sustainable materials fit that description - or at least have set the kinds of long-term goals that commit them 100% to getting there.

Until Coke's board gets real about the obesity crisis and the central role of its products in fueling it - and that includes stopping its ridiculous 1990s-esque attempts to stymie any and all regulation, read it and weep - they don't belong in such company.

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