“Besa” A New (old) Word Every Sustainability Leader Could Add to their Vocabulary

Over recent years, corporate sustainability leaders  have had to extend their vocabulary to accommodate some novel new terms:  “atmospheric rivers,” “polar vortexes,”  “heat domes” and “mega-droughts.”  Here’s one more that might be useful: “besa.”    

“Besa,” according to the Intrepid Guideis “an Albanian verb and pledge of honour that means to keep a promise by honouring your word.” That brings us to the 2015 Paris agreement, the 2021 GFANZ coalition,  and the specific sustainability promises of corporate enterprises around the world.  

Let’s take a moment here to pause and credit the leaders – pubic, private and NGO –  who have brought us this far:  Naming the problem, calibrating it scientifically,  gaining consensus to acknowledge the problem, and convincing political and corporate officials to set aside narrower and shorter-term considerations in favour of a longer-term and more expansive view of who and what is really important.  In short, to Make Promises.   

Now it’s time for “Besa.”  There are promises to keep.   There’s a clock ticking. And according to people in a position to know,  we’re behind schedule. Here are two public comments shared in Sept. 2022 that underscore the drift: 

  • Francesco La Camera, director-general of International Renewable Energy Agency shared this with Financial Times

“If we don’t change dramatically the way we produce and consume energy, 1.5C is close to vanishing,” …. “If we don’t change attitudes very soon, also 2C is at risk — and we will pay the consequences….Current global spending on clean energy is about $1tn dollars a year, well shy of the $5.7tn the world needs to green its economy sufficiently to avert the worst climate impacts.” 

  • On a similar note, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell offered this: “If we continue doing what we’re doing,  we’re going to fall off a cliff edge.” 



Promises to pursue sustainability – are important symbolic achievements – but not if they remain merely symbolic.  The same actually goes for measuring, tracking,  reporting and complying with new corporate sustainability reporting standards.  The most important thing is actually doing something. 


That’s the hard part.   


At Future Planet – we’re working to make the hard part of sustainability easier.  One way we’re doing that is with tips to help you lead a Materiality Assessment process that helps you besa…keep your promises.  It’s a free download here.


Use them, share them. Teach them.  Besa.  


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