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Sustainability – decoupling growth from consumption

NEW YORK: A new global survey of senior executives and graduate students says transparency and sustainability integration remain the greatest challenges for both current and future business leaders.

Conducted on behalf of the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) network, for the first time the survey compared the views of BSR members with respondents from Net Impact, a nonprofit that supports the next generation of corporate leaders.

Nils AndersenBSR says that while both the current and future respondents generally rate business low on transparency, the students have a lower perception of business transparency in general. Net Impact graduates were more likely to say that business is characterized by a lack of transparency than BSR members (31 percent vs. 20 percent).

The students agree with BSR members that climate change is a top priority issue. However the Net Impact graduates, who were asked to rate what should be the highest priorities for business, also ranked sustainable consumption and water issues as important: "I am drawn to brands with a story. If businesses don't have values that resonate with me, they are unable to provide me both reason and reward for their products," says Kelsey Moyes, a college student member of Net Impact.

Both groups agree that technology, economic changes and transparency are the three mega-trends that will have the most impact on business over the next 24 months. A total of 72 percent also identified political instability in key markets as having the greatest potential impact on business, followed by an inadequate pipeline of skilled labor (60 percent).

The survey coincides with an announcement by Maersk Group CEO Nils Andersen (right) at BSR's annual conference in New York who said his company plans to increase the reduction of CO2 emissions per container from 40 percent to 60 percent from a 2007 base level. In the past six years Maersk Line says it has cut the CO2 impact per TEU by more than a third.

"This means that in 2020 we will have increased our volumes by 80 percent while cutting our absolute emissions by 15 million tons. In this way we can continue to grow our business and help increase trade without increasing our impact on the environment," Andersen declared.

"Maersk Line's focus on energy efficiency enables us to be cost competitive while fulfilling our ambition to grow responsibly. That is why we are decoupling growth from resource consumption to achieve this," added Søren Toft, Maersk Line COO.

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