One-third of businesses don’t have sustainability plans: Survey

Measurement, finance, inconsistent regulation are barriers
||Last Updated: 04/20/2011

There is widespread and growing acceptance of the increasing value sustainability programs have in the private sector today, yet more than 30 per cent of businesses do not have a strategy for sustainable growth in place, according to a global survey by KPMG.

However, 60 per cent of the 378 executives surveyed worldwide said they currently have a working strategy for corporate sustainability — up from 50 per cent in a similar survey in 2008. Of those that do not have a strategy, over 70 per cent expect to do so within one to five years and 25 per cent said they don’t have a specific timeframe. Yet, nearly 50 per cent of executives surveyed said they believe implementing sustainability programs will contribute to the bottom line, either by cost reduction or increased profitability, according to Corporate sustainability: A progress report.

The survey found three main reasons for slow progress on sustainability:

•a lack of common metrics and tools — and information systems — for measurement and analysis of the impact of sustainability programs

•a lack of available financing that will put sustainability on par with operational programs that have a higher short-term return on investment

•a lack of a clear and rigorous international regulatory framework which companies can use to plan with confidence.

“We are finding that most companies understand what they need to do strategically,” said Ted Senko, global head of climate change and sustainability at KPMG and a partner in the U.S. firm. “But they need help in building the strategic models and information systems to establish how effective they really are at reducing carbon, benchmarking their plans against the standards of their competitors and optimizing their businesses to manage the challenges of a changing regulatory environment.”

Larger, publicly listed companies are more likely to have a strategy than their smaller, privately held counterparts. Nearly eight out of 10 of the large companies polled have a strategy, compared with just under one-half of the smaller businesses, found the survey.

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