Sustainability leaders are forecast to spend less on consulting services over the next five years, but this will be more than offset by expenditure elsewhere.
Independent analyst firm Verdantix has predicted that spending by heads of sustainability on consulting services will shrink globally by 2.4% a year over the next five years, from $417m to $369m.
However, the finance, sourcing and product design functions are forecast to spend more on sustainability projects, resulting in compound annual growth of 4% over the same period, according to the analysts' report. Verdantix said the global sustainability consulting market would grow from $912m to $1.1bn.
Industry analyst Yaowen Ma said the figures indicated that more non-sustainability executives were taking responsibility for the sustainability agenda as the role’s importance steadily diminished. ‘Over the past 18 months our research has identified a trend towards the head of sustainability role disappearing. Responsibilities are being handed over to the environment, health and safety or to the director of corporate responsibility. The role is slowly becoming redundant as sustainability programmes mature and other function heads take over,’ said Ma.
Verdantix said spending on sustainability consultancy services in 2016 across nine major economies would total $912m, with the US accounting for $344m (38%) and Europe for $292m (32%). Elsewhere, Brazil and India will spend $78m and $38m respectively this year.
One quarter of the money ($227m) spent on sustainability consulting this year will fund supply chain initiatives as firms seek to better manage reputational issues, such as those linked with conflict minerals and slavery. Some 23% ($206m) will be spent on support programmes to improve energy management.