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  • Justin Wright

Is sustainability in the trough of disillusionment?

There are many things the Gartner hype cycle can describe – from personal relationships to a family holiday. Possibly the least interesting is whether the hype around AI has peaked or whether we’ve still got more to endure, before the bubble bursts.

How we remember the Gartner Hype Cycle

Gartner Hype Chart

This week we got talking about whether the sustainability sheen is wearing off – slipping precariously into Gartner’s ‘trough of disillusionment’. This would not be a good thing for anyone other than the most ardent climate sceptics, but it’s a fair question based on the general vibes we’ve been picking up. COP 28 seemed to pass without much of a fanfare, Blackrock and the other ESG-loving investors are easing back on their commitment to sustainability, some of our clients seem more reluctant to write cheques for big impact reduction projects and, on top of all of this, your average punter is refusing to pay more for sustainable toilet rolls.

Is the mood music is changing? Is this just a bad case of the January blues? Is it a consequence of wider economic pressures or just a speed bump on the road to a more sustainable future? Whatever the root cause or the prognosis it does nothing to help businesses hedging their bets on whether to fully invest in a sustainability agenda.

That’s when we remembered the Gartner Hype Cycle. Maybe our hopes and expectation around sustainability have become overly inflated in the past 3 years. Perhaps we’ve all been guilty of hype at the expense of the scale of the implications of ‘going good’. Now we’re at the ‘making it happen’ stage, anyone could be forgiven for a period of disillusionment.

Except... the risks of adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach are huge, because this stuff takes time and a loss of momentum may have long-term consequences. Putting things on ice until everything shakes down will not only impact the planet, it will cost businesses money, damage reputations and disenfranchise employees. The timing will never be right – we’ve just gotta crack on, and get up that ‘slope of hope’ or whatever Gartner called it.

Also in the news

Major consulting firm delivers more bullshit that their clients want to hear – this time about how consumers would love to pay more for sustainable stuff


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