Push for sustainability must go beyond just compliance

19 June 2023 Consultancy.eu 2 min. read
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A new survey on trends in sustainability shows that most professionals in the field believe leadership must go beyond just compliance with legislation. Companies must be deliberate in developing new business models with sustainability at their core while also demonstrating tangible impacts.

Respondents agreed that the sustainability agenda is now mostly driven by legislative initiatives and reporting frameworks. While this is important for the adoption of ESGs across industries, business leadership must take more initiative.

The survey questioned 520 sustainability professionals across 63 countries and was conducted by ERM, one of the world’s leading sustainability consultancies, in collaboration with global consultancy GlobeScan.

Push for sustainability must go beyond just compliance

This year’s edition of the annual survey, which has been ongoing for over 25 years, shows that the sustainability landscape has undergone big changes as climate change, Covid-19, the war in Ukraine have been the source of significant uncertainty in recent years.

Among the top concerns of the respondents were climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, and deforestation, among other important societal issues. A whopping 93% of respondents listed climate change as a top concern. Some other topics like air pollution and corruption had fallen in perceived urgency as compared with last year’s survey.

Legislation that pushes for more sustainable industries was seen by respondents as by far the most significant breakthrough in the past year, with 25% of those surveyed listing it as more significant than other developments. International agreements like the EU Green Deal, for example, which work to standardise and normalise sustainability reporting, were cited as “the most positive development related to the sustainability agenda in the past 12 months,” according to the survey results.

“In the US, it’s the Inflation Reduction Act with the amount of federal finding that will be made available to fund infrastructure and clean energy transition. These incentives will be transformative,” said one respondent from the United States.

Push for sustainability must go beyond just compliance

Initiative among business leaders that goes beyond simply complying with legislation can take many forms. Respondents stressed the importance of integrating sustainability into business strategies, being able to show evidence of impact and action, and setting ambitious targets.

“Sustainability integrated into company’s products and culture,” was the key to success for leaders in sustainability according to one respondent from China. Another professional from India stressed the importance of “accurate reporting, measurable goals, and ambitious targets.”