Business sees the benefits of sustainability

Marcelo Iezzi, PwC Argentina Sustainability leader, explores how Latin American businesses are on a journey to integrate sustainability into overall business strategy

 

Next week, I’m at the COP20 in Lima to hear first-hand governments, NGOs, industry leaders and scientists discussing the draft agreement that defines the way forward for greenhouse gas emission reduction. From my perspective, this is an important point in history - climate change and its consequences are a real issue for Latin American business and it’s only global collective action that can address it. 

 

Business must play its part of course and it strikes me that there is real understanding that sustainability thinking and initiatives are integral to business success.  PwC has just completed a C-suite survey in Latin America on sustainability with 205 CEOs from 18 countries participating.  

 

Headline findings reflect that Climate Change is a very real concern:

  • 73% executives view Climate Change as a significant issue for their business
  • 45% have been directly affected by the consequences of climate change in their operations or supply chain in the last five years

 

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and that sustainability is taken seriously:

  • 80% agree that sustainability is relevant to their business
  • 71% believe that a sustainability strategy is necessary to stay competitive.

 

It is clear to me that many companies are on their own journey to realize the benefits sustainability initiatives may bring.  Most saw benefits deriving from a focus on brand and reputation or stakeholder relations, with far fewer linking sustainability to core business and seeing the benefits that come from innovation, cost savings and improved risk management.  The benefits sustainability initiatives bring are diverse, but with less than half being able to point to a sustainability strategy core to their overall strategy, I can’t but help think there is much more here for business to explore. And, adding weight to this view, 40% thought sustainability initiatives had helped to drive an increase in profit.

 

It strikes me too that that business has focused hard on trying to improve the labor force and to mitigate the effects of climate change. Contributions toward social development, particularly in education and the environment were the most common form of sustainable action taken by private sector companies in the region.  As business continues to integrate sustainability thinking into its strategy, I suspect this will change and we’ll see more investment beyond corporate responsibility that looks at growth opportunities through a sustainability lens. 

 

 

 

About the report

1° PwC Survey on Sustainable Development in Latin America involved the participation of 205 CEOs and executives in 18 countries of the region. The survey was conducted between August and September 2014 through an online questionnaire.  To view the complete results please go to: http://bit.ly/1v46DND.

 

 

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