Sustainability Communication Explained

gray concrete building covered trees

Sustainability communication has become an increasingly important aspect of communication and marketing for businesses in recent years. With the escalation and growing awareness about climate change, resource depletion, and income inequality, stakeholders are increasingly demanding that companies take: 

  • Responsibility for their impact on the planet and society
  • Take steps to mitigate that impact 
  • Develop and incorporate solutions to make their operations more sustainable
  • Communicate in a transparent, accessible, and consistent manner about all of the above-mentioned steps to their various stakeholders 

However, effective sustainability communication is a lot more than merely sharing information. It requires an understanding of the various elements of corporate sustainability, how to measure sustainability as well as the mediums of sustainability communication.  In this blog article, we will explore what sustainability communication means in a business perspective, what are the tools and modes commonly used by companies to communicate sustainability, and why its effective use is of key importance for any modern business.

communicating sustainability effort

What is Sustainability Communication?

Sustainability communication for corporates is the practice of communicating a company’s ESG (environmental, social, and governance) data and impacts, sustainability initiatives, and performance to its stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, suppliers, and society at large. It involves transparently and consistently conveying this information pitched alongside the sustainability vision and goals of the company. 

“Sustainability communication is the strategic use of communication processes and tools to advance social, economic and environmental sustainability. Sustainability communication is grounded in the principles of inclusivity, collaboration and transparency, and is geared towards raising awareness, building knowledge, changing attitudes and behaviours, and promoting collective action to achieve sustainable development.” 

UN Economic and Social Council, 2019 

Modes of Sustainability Communication

  • Sustainability Reports: Sustainability reports are by far the most comprehensive and standardized tool for businesses to communicate their sustainability data, practices, initiatives, and performance. These reports are usually based on standards accepted worldwide such as the GRI and SASB and provide the stakeholders with all pertinent ESG data in one place (read more about sustainability reporting standards). Sustainability reports can be published annually or bi-annually and incorporate other sustainability documentation such as LCA (Life Cycle Assessment), emissions data, stakeholder engagement practice and results, and materiality assessment.
  • Corporate Websites: Corporate websites are a key platform for communicating a company’s sustainability information, practices, achievements, and goals. Company websites usually include a dedicated sustainability page, where stakeholders can access related information. For example, many companies in addition to inform about their sustainability efforts, use these pages to display key results of LCA and emissions findings, information about their supply chains, and findings of additional studies they have conducted in relation to their product or service.
  • Social Media: Today, social media is a key medium for all corporate communication. Not only does it help with greater outreach but it also provides immediate access to stakeholders. Social media platforms, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, are used by businesses to share sustainability-related information, as well as to interact in real-time with stakeholders.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Marketing and advertising campaigns have been the traditional ways for businesses to communicate with their customers and other stakeholders. They continue to be important and valuable modes of sustainability communication. However, in the sphere of sustainability, they have acquired a somewhat dubious reputation mainly due to being used for greenwashing purposes. 
sustainability report

Need for Effective Sustainability Communication?

There are several reasons why effective sustainability communication is important for businesses:

  • Building trust and credibility: Sustainability communication allows corporates to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and to share transparent information about their ESG practices and impacts with stakeholders. This helps to build trust and credibility with stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and the wider community.
  • Meeting stakeholder expectations: Stakeholders are increasingly expecting companies to be transparent about their ESG impacts and to provide measurable proof of their commitment and progress toward their sustainability goals. Effective sustainability communication helps corporates to meet these expectations.
  • Managing risks and opportunities: It enables corporates to identify and manage ESG-related risks and opportunities. By sharing information about their sustainability practices and performance, corporates can identify areas for improvement and take action to mitigate these risks while capitalizing on the opportunities.
  • Creating long-term value: Transparent and effective sustainability communication helps businesses create long-term value both for themselves as well as for society at large. By prioritizing sustainability and effectively communicating their ESG practices and impacts, corporates can attract investment, build brand loyalty, attract and retain customers and employees as well as innovate to reduce cost and discover hidden opportunities.

(read more: Why Effective Sustainability Communication is a Must-Have for All Modern Businesses)

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“Sustainability communication is an opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves, build trust with stakeholders, and create value for society and the environment.” – 

WBCSD, The Business Case for Sustainability Communications


In conclusion, sustainability communication is an essential aspect of modern business communications and marketing strategy. It not only helps to create value in itself but is also a key pillar in the transition that all modern businesses are today going through, one that helps us move into a more sustainable future while protecting our planet, its resources, and our way of life. Therefore to be successful communicating sustainability requires a more holistic approach. One that has transparency, authenticity, and a sincere intent for change as a foundation on which it can build a strategy to share the vision, practice, and measured progress of sustainability within the company with its various stakeholders.