Strategic Planning and Execution

Corporate Purpose and Business Case

Articulate a purpose that demonstrates shared value for all key stakeholders and aligns financial interest, business strengths and the company’s role in sustaining and improving the well-being of the planet and society.


Companies align their financial interests and core business with a purpose that defines their role in sustaining the planet and society as a business imperative. Corporate strategies and priorities create shared value for all key stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers and the communities in which they operate and that they impact. Companies develop and articulate a clear business case for sustainability by actively considering sustainability issues through a diversity of lenses, including risk mitigation, cost savings, increased resilience, improved growth, workforce attraction and retention, consumer loyalty, innovation and license to operate, among others. 

Getting Started

Unlike the Critical Impact Actions, the actions within Strategic Planning and Execution do not have milestones leading to 2030. Each company already has the ability to begin taking or continue integrating these actions today.  Rather than taking iterative steps over the next 10 years, companies should prioritize strengthening their corporate systems and equipping themselves with the tools to address risk and capitalize on opportunity as soon as possible.

This section of the Ceres Roadmap 2030 identifies a list of resources to help companies further integrate sustainability into strategic planning and execution.

Corporate Purpose - A collection of resources from McKinsey & Company to help companies define their corporate purpose.

UN Guiding Principles: Salient Human Rights Issues - Part of the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework that shows companies how to focus their human rights reporting on their salient human rights issues.

The Use of Scenario Analysis in Disclosure of Climate-Related Risks and Opportunities - A guide to assist organizations in using climate-related scenario analysis to support the development of disclosures consistent with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

A4S Essential Guide to CapEx - A guide that shows how businesses can adapt their existing capital investment appraisal processes in a pragmatic and systematic manner to integrate social and environmental issues.

A4S Essential Guide to Finance Culture - This guide provides practical tools that will help finance teams develop a culture that embraces sustainable decision-making and supports the business in creating sustainable value.

Applying Enterprise Risk Management to Environmental, Social, and Governance-related Risks - This guidance is designed to help risk management and sustainability practitioners apply enterprise risk management (ERM) concepts and processes to ESG-related risks.

Companies in Action

NIKE Inc. unleashes innovation to address sustainability challenges and boost revenues. Leading companies are creating shared value and redefining business strategies to meet society’s most pressing environmental and social challenges. Innovation is a core part of Nike's business strategy. The footwear giant has turned to its ever-evolving innovation approach over the past decade to deliver high-quality products while meeting ambitious sustainability expectations. A milestone in its journey is Nike’s FlyKnit. The company’s innovative technology has generated more than $1 billion in revenue (and is quickly approaching $2 billion) since its launch in 2012—along with diverting 470 million plastics bottles from landfills and avoiding over 10 million pounds of waste. Nike has been drawing attention to these connections for its shareholders, and the broader stakeholder community, making the case that sustainability is a powerful business catalyst now more than ever.

Patagonia’s purpose-driven approach fuels long-term business growth. The company’s mission statement—build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis—has rallied millions of consumers to join Patagonia on its journey and, in turn, fueled business growth. With a business approach geared towards long-term thinking, Patagonia has managed to bypass the traditional mentality focused on quarterly results, quadrupling revenue over the past decade while staying true to its mission. Known for its disruptive marketing campaigns, environmental activism and commitment to transparency, Patagonia has built a movement in the sustainability space and led the charge among retailers. Building on its founder’s bold mission to save the planet, the company has launched business initiatives that have set the pace for the market, ranging from a venture capital fund that invests in starts-ups addressing environmental issues to Patagonia Provisions, a move to expanded into the food space through a selection of sustainable foods aimed at fixing the food chain.

Unilever’s purpose-led brands outperform and reinforce the business case for sustainability. Under its Sustainable Living Plan, launched in 2010, the giant consumer goods company has established leading targets for decoupling its growth from its environmental impacts, embedding these priorities within the company’s core business. In its 2019 integrated report, the company notes that one in three people globally use Unilever products. Realizing the responsibility that comes from this sweeping reach, Unilever has defined its purpose to make sustainable living commonplace. In 2019, the company announced that its Sustainable Living Brands were growing 69% faster—up from 46% in 2017—than the rest of the brands in the company’s portfolio, delivering 75% of the company’s growth.