Mapping Global Sustainability Leadership on Social Media

Posted on 06 May 2023

Mapping Global Sustainability Leadership on Social Media

Edward Bass

Strategy, Insight and Innovation for a better world.

In this article you can learn:

  • How global sustainability leadership is made up of several varied and interconnected groups on social media

  • The three main environmental risk topics disused by sustainability leaders

  • How one specific topic has dominated environmental solutions conversations, and why 

As businesses have become more and more aware of the looming climate crisis and are increasingly seeking to address it, there has emerged a new group of sustainability experts working both within companies and independently. 

Since these sustainability roles have largely emerged in parallel with the adoption of social media for business communications it is no surprise that sustainability experts are often active on social platforms - using these to communicate their message, build communities and learn from each other. 

In this article I plan to explore the groups which make up this audience, their primary concerns and interests in relation to the environment.  


As a first step I used social intelligence tool Audiense to identify Twitter accounts which featured sustainability leadership roles in their bios - including versions of these in all major languages to ensure global coverage. This method identified just over nine thousand sustainability leaders globally. A random sample of 1,000 of these was then loaded into Pulsar Intelligence to study conversations related to environment and sustainability from the past year. Using the recently developed Ecomatter data models these conversations were then analysed for conversations relating to environmental risks and solutions. 

Who are the global sustainability leadership on social media?

As visible in the segmentation map below, global sustainability leadership is made up of both large, concentrated groups - two of which are regional and number of smaller groups which indicate a strong interest in specialist area such as sustainable fashion, energy, food and finance. This suggests a healthy mix of specialisms and generalists within the overall audience

Also, of interest here is the large amount of connectivity between the groups, suggesting that rather than operating in silos of knowledge and expertise, the audience is connected and communicating with each other - which is certainly beneficial as it means insights and understandings are likely being shared across multiple interest areas and between large generalist groups and specialisms.

In terms of demographics, gender was balanced with different groups interest groups seeing variance. For example, the generalist groups such as UK/US sustainability leadership and Corporate Chief Sustainability Officer saw larger female shares - whereas specialist groups focusing on areas such as energy, housing and food saw larger male shares. The audience was mainly made up of over 25’s - with each group over this age over-indexing compared to average on social media. 

Analysis of location confirmed that the UK and US saw the largest audience share overall, with the remaining audience distributed throughout the global north and south. 

What are the key issues they discuss?

Over the past couple of months, I’ve developing a couple of data models to track social conversations and media coverage relating to both environmental risks and solutions - and so this felt like a good opportunity to test these using the global sustainability leadership audience. 

The doughnut (yes, I’m aware of the relevance!) chart above shows the environmental risks most discussed over the past year from this audience, with climate change / extreme weather, Pollution / Acid Rain and greenwashing showing the most prominence. 

Both climate change and pollution are broad topics, however greenwashing is somewhat more specific and one is getting increasingly more attention as national regulations to combat it are becoming more and more prevalent. 

This second chart tracks conversations relating to environmental solutions, as and you can see this is dominated by the topic of Renewable energy, which saw a share of over two thirds of all related conversations over the past year. 

A deeper dive into the data revealed much of this is because of the larger share of media coverage this topic has seen compared to others, as well as a common tendency for sustainability managers to share articles about it on social media - for instance, if we remove social posts with links to media websites, this share drops to just 27.5% 

Alternative Fuels, EV & Transportation and Waste Reduction also saw noticeable shares - and unlike Renewable Energy, these mainly came from posts without links to media but instead tended to feature audience perspectives and opinions.  I’d personally hope to see other solutions see more coverage here - especially Environmental Education (given the noticeable concerns about greenwashing from this audience), Green Building, Plastics Solutions and Sustainable Travel. 


Having established the Ecomatter newsletter as a leading voice in sustainability insights we’ve recently launched the Ecomatter website, where we’re providing insight services for brands who need to understand how their environmental risks and solutions are perceived by global audiences and media.

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