Top 10 Stakeholder Engagement Trends of 2012

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As a team, The Future 500 staff and board believe passionately in the promise of corporations and NGOs coming together to advance systemic solutions to our most urgent sustainability challenges. Each Fall, we hold a series of strategic planning meetings where we outline our core issues of focus for the coming year.

From that promise, we identify what we believe are the Top 10 issues that activists and corporations will likely contend with in 2012. Based on extensive global interviews, engagements, and online research, Future 500 has identified the Top Ten most intensive corporate campaigns that brand-name consumer companies will likely face in 2012.

The Fall of Government

The Fall of Government 2011 was the year when governments across the globe spectacularly failed their people. From partisanship in the U.S. that nearly caused a global financial meltdown and the EU nearly rendered asunder by Greece's debt default, to the Arab Spring re-writing the political landscape of the Muslim world and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

With technology fueling access to information and immediate networking, "the world's population is experiencing a political awakening unprecedented in scope and intensity, with the result that the politics of populism are transforming the politics of power."

From the inability to act decisively on climate change and turn around a global financial crisis that left tens of millions struggling to feed their families, to repressive governments seeking to crush popular uprisings, the world's politicians were unable - or unwilling - to avoid a social capital beat-down with their constituents.

What's Ahead

In 2012, stakeholders around the world will continue to increasingly fill the void, seeking solutions to social, economic, and environmental challenges at the local, national and international levels - with or without - direct government participation. Issues related to climate change, free speech, the right to water, Internet access and a secure food supply are among the top concerns corporations and their stakeholders are grappling with.

Stakeholder skepticism over government ability to respond to such systemic challenges is both a risk and opportunity for corporations. While corporations may find themselves in the hot seat over issues related to climate change - such as toxic materials and coal - stakeholders will also be looking towards the private sector to help advance development goals and progress on issues like universal broadband access.

Company and industry characteristics will determine the depth of involvement on each individual issue, but any multinational with extensive product lines and supply chains should be aware of each of these issues, and actively engaged on a number of them.

So where will funders, campaigners, and activists focus their efforts in 2012? What campaign tactics are most likely to produce results? Which campaigns have the best political chance of success? Which campaigns are best positioned to advance pragmatic solutions? And how should companies and stakeholders engage constructively to accelerate the change we need to see? Read our Top 10 Trends Report to find out.

Want to dive deeper into any of the issues discussed in this report, or learn more about our sustainability and stakeholder engagement services? Contact Kellen Klein, Director –

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