Tuesday 29th Sep 2020 - Logistics & Supply Chain

Can we still afford sustainability?

With the world’s banking infrastructure in tatters and the looming spectre of a global recession, can business still afford a green conscience? Will sustainability be put on the corporate back burner? Or is it the case that we can’t afford not to pursue a commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility?

Research undertaken by accountants, KPMG, at the recent CIES World Food Business Summit held in Munich indicated that investment in sustainability may be affected by an economic slowdown. Just over half (52 per cent) of those surveyed believe that sustainability investment will either be put on hold or reduced in an economic downturn. Yet nearly half of those questioned (47 per cent) felt sustainability was an important driver of innovation.

Unfortunately, it would seem that sustainability is still largely regarded as a cost on the enterprise rather than an opportunity to reduce costs by employing innovative techniques to reduce carbon emissions. As transport is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions better planning and clever collaborative initiatives can make a significant difference to both carbon and cost reduction.

However, we could be about to whiteness an ironic twist. Expectations of slowing industrial output is putting pressure on the price of oil – which is widely seen as a good thing – but will this dampen the incentive to cut carbon emissions? The higher the price of oil, the stronger the motivation to reduce consumption, with the added benefit of cutting carbon emissions.

Despite this, there is still hope. Sustainability is now widely seen as a core element of business strategy – as revealed by 56.6 per cent of the survey participants. Perhaps, such ingrained thinking will ensure the long-term future of sustainable policies.

Nonetheless, if sustainability is seen by so many as an important driver of innovation (as again reflected in the survey), surely the pursuit of green goals is a worthy course of action for any creative enterprise – one that is essential for corporate growth.

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