News and Views

The Journey to Embedded Sustainability


A candid interview with International Paper’s Sustainability Manager, James McDonald.

thinkPARALLAX Co-Founder and Chief Creative Strategist Guusje Bendeler sits down with James McDonald, Director of Global Citizenship at International Paper, in beautiful, sunny San Diego. Over the city’s best fish tacos and local beer, they talk candidly about the evolution of sustainability at International Paper, the world’s largest producer of packaging, pulp, and paper.

James shares insights on the 20-year journey from a siloed, risk-based approach to one that’s now clearly linked to the business’ long-term growth strategy. Here, he talks about:

Making materiality meaningful.

In this Insights Paper, thinkPARALLAX provides ESG practitioners with strategies for crafting materiality assessments that lead to meaningful results. Engaging stakeholder groups with targeted questions, collaborating across teams, and methodically analyzing data are just a few ways to transform materiality from a requisite box-checking exercise to a key driver of business success. By leveraging an effort already required as part of reporting efforts, companies can better understand impact, risks, and opportunities from all angles. With an aligned, meaningful ESG materiality effort, a company can glean the insights to create a strategic advantage and best position itself for the future.

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