Book Review: The Next Sustainability Wave

In The Next Sustainability Wave, Bob Willard gives us an overview of the drivers for sustainability in the corporate world. This is Willard’s second book on outlining how to build the case for sustainability in business ( The Sustainability Advantage, his first, was published in 2002). The book is written for corporate business leaders, and Willard clearly knows his audience. It is particularly formatted for executives or those who like their information is bit-sized parcels (on the right side is text, with bold headers; on the left are quotes, cartoons, or anecdotes pertaining to the header). Willard argues that although there are executives that have a personal passion for sustainability, businesses need a great deal more leadership in this arena. His arguments center on the bottom-line impact, but he also suggests that as the popularity of “sustainable” grows, firms that do not adopt sustainable practices will eventually have a public relations crisis. His stance is that social and environmental responsibility is not a moral imperative, but a business solution.

tThough Willard’s approach is accessible and pragmatic, the language is conversational and at times left me wanting more analysis. On the other hand, he covers many points that other authors miss, such as a businesses ability to afford sustainable options, and how to use sustainable-related terminology effectively. As well, he devotes an entire chapter that covers a variety of angles on how to handle objection from management. Over all, The Next Sustainability Wave is a great resource for those wanting to persuade executives or board members to adopt sustainability, but lacks appeal to those wanting to work outside of the corporate structure.
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Kate lives in San Francisco, and is currently earning her MBA at Presidio School of Management. Her motivation to engage sustainability in the arena of business started six years ago with books like “If Women Counted”, by Marilyn Waring and “Natural Capitalism”, by Paul Hawken, Amory & Hunter Lovins. She is particularly interested in working with the small business sector to promote sustainability and localism.

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