Business leaders around the world are increasingly embracing sustainability and are confident of their abilities to turn challenges into opportunities, according to a new report that also found Europe is lagging behind.
Whilst business leaders in China are the most optimistic, with 48% stating they can take advantage of sustainability opportunities, followed by India with 44%, Europeans are the most cautious with just 23% believing in development associated with sustainability.
The report, which has been launched by DNV GL, the UN Global Compact and Monday Morning Global Institute, is based on a survey and consultations with more than 6,000 public and private sector leaders in over 21 countries. It identifies and ranks 15 sustainability opportunities and highlights more than 120 readily available solutions to a wide range of challenges.
The study found that emerging economies are especially ready to pursue market opportunities associated with sustainability challenges. In terms of sectors, manufacturing and finance were the most confident in their ability to address barriers to deliver profits.
Business leaders see untapped and profitable opportunities in addressing water scarcity, and in particular water-efficient agriculture. Some 37% said this opportunity would have great benefits for society as well as their country having the capacity to address the issue.
Georg Kell, executive director of the UN Global Compact, said, ”Businesses across the planet are not shying away from global risks such as climate change, and increasingly recognise the positive benefits of seizing related opportunities.
“The report confirms that there has been a turning point, where private sectors are now a critical driver of sustainable development with emerging economies in the front seat.”
Whilst the public sector is expected to play an important role in realising sustainable opportunities and implementing regulation, many public sector respondents were less optimistic than their private sector counterparts. However, the report notes this could change as younger, female or emerging economy leaders begin to play a bigger role.
Henrik Madsen, group CEO and president of DNV GL, commented, “I believe that one of the most interesting findings is how young leaders under 30 years of age, people in emerging economic and also women embrace regulation as a strong tool for sustainable change. It is very likely that the decision makers of tomorrow will be found in these groups, and it gives us hope that we can see a stronger collaboration between the private and public sector in the future.”
Photo: Henk L via Freeimages