Survey: Profit incentive derailing sustainability

Business leaders have today warned financial short-termism is continuing to prevent companies from becoming more sustainable.

A global survey of 642 senior executives, campaigners and academics conducted by consultancies GlobeScan and SustainAbility found 88 per cent of respondents regard pressure to deliver immediate financial results remains a significant barrier to firms’ sustainability efforts.

Inappropriate regulations and low awareness of the potential financial benefits of greener practices were also named as barriers to the adoption of sustainable business models by two-thirds of respondents.

Meanwhile, low consumer demand for green products and services was identified as a problem by 57 per cent. Although interestingly, low demand was seen as an issue by 66 per cent of respondents working in corporations, compared to just 46 per cent of those employed by NGOs.

Similarly, academics were much more likely to identify the lack of international standards and low awareness of the business imperative for sustainability among business leaders as barriers to the development of green businesses when compared to those working in corporations.

The results of the survey will feed into a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on the business case for the Green Economy, due to be published later this year.

“This survey underlines that governments must play their part, national and internationally, in setting the standards and backing the smart policies needed to promote sustainability over extraction and degradation of the world’s natural resource base,” said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner in a statement.

“It is happening, but not fast enough. Rio+20 in June offers an opportunity for governments to accelerate and to scale-up a better future for seven billion people.”

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