Businesses bullish on opportunities from sustainability, survey shows

20th January 2015

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Rachael Martin

Business leaders are increasingly confident they can turn sustainability challenges into opportunities for growth, according to a global survey.

Consultants at DNV GL, the UN Global Compact and Swedish think tank, the Monday Morning Global Institute, surveyed more than 6,000 public and private sector leaders in over 21 countries.

Their report ranks 15 sustainability opportunities according to public and private sector interest and potential impact on business and societies.

Business opportunities from dealing with water scarcity and fossil fuel lock-in were identified by survey respondents as being particularly strong. Developments in water-efficient agriculture inspired the most confidence among leaders, with 37% considering their country is well placed to benefit economically from designing solutions to this issue.

The survey found that public sector respondents were consistently less optimistic than the private sector about their capacity to pursue opportunities from improving sustainability, however.

Erik Rasmussen, founder of Monday Morning Global Institute, said: “The strong interest in pursuing sustainable business opportunities in the private sector is very positive. Yet, the governmental sector seems to be more reluctant and not seeing the same opportunities.

“This is a pity. Governments can play an important role by issuing regulations that support both sustainability and business ventures. Business and governments must share visions and initiatives,” he said.

The authors of the report believe this trend will change, however. The survey revealed that leaders under 30, people in emerging economies and women held the strongest belief in the market opportunities created by dealing with sustainability challenges.

Regionally, China is the most optimistic, with 48% showing high confidence; followed by India with 44% and South America at 37%. Europe is ranked lowest, with only 23% of respondents believing that sustainability can bring growth opportunities.

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