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How to Set the Scene to Improve Sustainability Success

Published: October 6, 2021

We get it. Companies have many daily operational, compliance and shareholder pressures to contend.

Include sustainability in the mix, and the CEO’s work agenda gets a whole heap busier.

Yet, we also know that sustainability is one area that no organisation can afford to put aside or ignore. Not only does climate mitigation create an immediate need for businesses to move to a more sustainable platform on energy use, but sustainable development goals (SDGs) are also putting a spotlight on the need for organisations to be strong enough to support the local communities they engage with and ensure responsible consumption and production.

Add to this the high number of policy initiatives that indicate a more challenging regulatory stance, and businesses operating in the EU and the UK will have to ensure they are compliant with a continuous raft of new sustainability requirements. So how can the C-suite set the scene to ensure that ambitious sustainability initiatives succeed?

#1. Reboot the regulatory approach to influence outcomes

In a recent report, entitled “Circular Economy for Europe: bridging the gap between policy and implementation”, the research undertaken across the electronic and fast consumer goods sectors identified approximately 87 EU and national policies on sustainability. It is estimated that a small to medium-sized company would need at least 17 full-time workers to track this number of policy developments, which, considering that research was non-exhaustive, is unsustainable for many companies from a business perspective alone.

The challenge here is to understand that there is ambition on both sides; ambitious sustainability plans from businesses and ambitious plans from regulators to influence more sustainable production. The key is to ensure that both sides take the middle ground so that the innovation process and global sustainability ambitions are not hampered by regulations that are often localised or fragmented. While European regulators are working hard on EU-wide sustainability policies, companies should also consider rebooting their regulatory approach by engaging with regulators directly or via associations and partner firms to influence a more proactive way of overcoming regulatory barriers.

Caroline Heinz

Caroline Heinz

Senior Sustainability Consultant

Federico Magalini

Federico Magalini

Managing Director, Sofies UK