What level of awareness do you see among people towards sustainability? How can it be increased? How can one ensure that environmental sustainability and profitability go hand in hand?
Being a global company we are witness to varying levels of sustainable focus and commitment, the level of sustainable awareness has a strong correlation to the governance of each country. On a business level, for some companies, sustainability is part of their foundation and their DNA, for other companies it is a market reaction strategy.
Sustainability isn’t a special new vehicle to business success; it is mainstream, practical and as old as the hills. Efficient use of resources and ethical behavior used to be called just “good business practice”, we simply have a new vocabulary for age old management and care of our environment. With the global population swelling, governments and individuals are realizing that the earth’s resources are finite and precious; it is unwise to carelessly discard viable resources.
Legislation and incentives certainly help in increasing the level of awareness among people.
The United Nations has global reporting by companies on sustainability among its proposed key outcomes for the Rio+ 20 summit in June. At present environmental reporting by companies is voluntary. The UN proposal calls for "a global policy framework requiring all listed and large private companies to consider sustainability issues and to integrate sustainability information within the reporting cycle."
Companies face growing sustainable risks such as changing consumer preferences, climate change, and water, food and natural resource insecurity which currently do not feature clearly in companies' financial reports. This oversight gives investors and companies an incomplete picture of the risks they face, and also the opportunities they could be missing.
Two cases in point are the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which not only had a devastating effect on the surrounding environment but also on BP Global's reputation and finances. Recent issues with factory conditions at a Chinese supplier for Apple highlighted Apple’s poor level of staff treatment in their supply chain and resulted in a very public backlash.
Today's financial accounting standards are outdated. They emerged in the Industrial era when natural resources were in abundance and manufactured and human capitals limited. Today the opposite is true. According to Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room “The climate challenge is the economic opportunity of our generation”
Published on: 22/03/2012
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.