Climate Change Among Top Sustainability Priorities for Business, Poll Finds

by | Oct 18, 2012

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Human rights, workers’ rights and climate change are the top three sustainability priorities for companies in the coming year, according to a poll of 500 business leaders.

Company executives said their primary challenges for climate sustainability include effectively coordinating business units throughout the value chain, establishing an effective strategy, scaling up projects globally and gaining resource commitments from senior management, according to the poll conducted by BSR and GlobeScan.

The BSR/GlobeScan State of Sustainable Business Poll 2012 outlines the progress business has made on 14 key sustainability challenges over the past 20 years; provides an outlook on the next two decades; and identifies the top priorities for companies in the coming year.

Business leaders who were polled believe the most progress has been made in health and safety, sustainability reporting and community and social investment. Respondents said the least progress has been made in sustainable consumption, public policy and water.

Considering the next 20 years, respondents rated sustainability reporting, water and responsible supply chains as the areas in which business will likely make the most progress. In contrast, respondents were least optimistic about future progress in public policy, governance and employee treatment.

Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of respondents said the integration of sustainability into core business function is their most significant challenging, mirroring last year’s poll results.

Seven in 10 respondents said energy management is their main priority in carbon reduction strategies, followed by working with supply chains and product waste and recycling.

The poll found a decrease in the proportion of respondents who indicated they will measure return on investment of their CSR and sustainability efforts. This year, 38 percent said their company measures ROI, a one percent dip from 2011. About 20 percent of respondents said this year their companies do not measure ROI, but will soon, down from 29 percent in 2011.

In a separate survey released by Globescan and SustainAbility in June, nearly 77 percent of sustainability experts said a major catastrophe will have to occur for national governments to take action on sustainable development.

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