Sustainability Now on Global Business Agenda - Global Trade Magazine
  July 5th, 2015 | Written by

Sustainability Now on Global Business Agenda

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  • Sustainability issues are increasingly on corporate agendas because they impact performance.
  • Investing in women's education and economic empowerment is a key to sustainability.
  • Sustainability study: Stop offshoring environmental and social responsibilities to less-regulated markets.

Marking the 15th anniversary of the launch of the UN Global Compact, the global body’s corporate sustainability initiative, a study has found that the tide is turning in corporate practices.

A report from the New Jersey management consultancy DNV GL concludes that the UN program has had an impact on the development of sustainability in the business community over the past 15 years.

The report found, among other things, that sustainability issues, such as equality, climate change, and corruption, are now increasingly on corporate agendas “because they impact performance.” Leading companies move ahead of regulation and drive the debate to make regulations smarter. “These companies are in the minority,” the report noted, “and less progressive companies are blocking positive change.”

Some companies are trying to achieve zero footprint in the areas of carbon, water, and waste. Some leading companies have established goals for reaching these levels. Others are urging governments to enact policies that support sustainable business practice, such as establishing a price on. Still other companies, according to the report, are beginning to look for ways to turn sustainability risks into new business opportunities.

“Over the past 15 years, companies around the world have been awakening to their role in society and starting to make important strides to operate more responsibly and innovate for a greener, more sustainable future,” said Georg Kell, executive director of the UN Global Compact. “But there is still a long way to go.”

To achieve the goals of the UN program, many more companies will have to recruited to the cause. The cause of gender equality is also a critical part of the solution. “We will see a multiplier effect if we invest in women’s education and economic empowerment and in securing women’s rights,” the report said.

Companies should also commit to co-investing in the societies in which they operate, the report recommended. “This entails paying taxes to the communities where we operate and make our profits and stopping any offshoring of environmental and social responsibilities to less-regulated markets.”