This past week, New York was transformed into a marketplace of activity and ideas related to climate change and inclusive economic development, alongside Climate Week NYC and the UN General Assembly meetings, where the UN adopted the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Much of the world was watching this transformative moment for sustainability, which was also a pivotal opportunity for business action.
The importance of these events is underscored in the results of our seventh annual BSR/GlobeScan State of Sustainable Business Survey 2015, released today. Our survey of more than 400 business leaders from 196 global companies—representing 77 percent of BSR’s global membership network—highlights the widespread support of business leaders in incorporating these international policy agreements into their business strategies, goals, and activities.
One in three companies said they plan to use the SDGs to set corporate-performance targets, and 62 percent of respondents said they place a strong priority on inclusive growth. When it comes to climate issues, 83 percent of respondents said they prioritize managing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in operations, with nearly half also reporting that they manage energy and emissions in their supply chains. More than half of all respondents said the COP21 agreement is important to their business, with a global commitment to decarbonization and regulatory incentives the most desired outcomes.
For the seventh consecutive year, practitioners identified human rights, workers' rights, and climate change as the top three sustainability priorities for their companies for the upcoming year. In this year’s survey, the number of respondents identifying both climate change and access to products/services as important increased significantly over the responses from last year.
And while external developments and pressures continue to be important drivers for sustainability within companies, internal changes, such as increased leadership buy-in and commitments, were the dominant factors in 2015.
These internal developments manifested in great progress among companies in integrating sustainability into the core business, with almost seven in 10 companies reporting sustainability as at least fairly well-integrated. Such integration seems to be happening through a variety of mechanisms, with nearly half of companies highlighting integration into products/services, strategic planning, key performance indicators, and board oversight. More than 20 percent of respondents said their companies embed sustainability into compensation for executives or all employees. In previous years, internal integration remained a persistent challenge, so this progress signals strong promise for the future.
For more than 20 years, BSR has been helping global companies take a leadership role in addressing the world's challenges, including issues highlighted over the past two weeks during Climate Week NYC and the UN General Assembly meetings, as well as other related events.
One of the best opportunities for companies to collaborate on these issues is just around the corner at the BSR Conference 2015, November 3-5 in San Francisco. At the Conference, “Resilient Business, Resilient World,” we’ll explore themes of integration, what to expect at COP21, how the UN’s adoption of the SDGs will affect business, and much more. I look forward to seeing you there to work together on building a more resilient and inclusive economy.
View the results of the BSR/GlobeScan State of Sustainable Business Survey 2015.