the sustainability mandate


Deloitte sustainability services - making an impact that matters

The sustainability mandate

Deloitte member firms work with clients to make an impact that matters. For more than 25 years, part of our purpose has been helping clients address the sustainability mandate.

Business and society are facing an array of urgent and critical social, environmental, ethical, and economic challenges. In fact, six of the ten global risks of highest concern (in terms of impact) identified in 2016 by the World Economic Forum are environmental and societal issues. (1)

Because of this, broad societal responses are playing out in the realms of policy, technology, and the marketplace, including a significant growth in the number of CSR indices launched by financial institutions.

Many of the fundamental factors that influence a company's performance and profitability today — energy prices and availability, supply chain reach and resilience, regulation, and public sentiment, among many others — are therefore changing quickly and dramatically. No business or organization is immune to these systemic challenges and societal responses.

This means it is critical to plot adaptive strategies for operating effectively and communicating transparently. While the risks of taking inadequate action are formidable, the sustainability imperative is also creating tremendous opportunities. Each vulnerability constitutes a call for innovation; each unmet need offers a prospect for growth. Consider a few issues representing both opportunity and risk:

• Sustainability Reporting: This has become increasingly commonplace. In fact, it is a membership requirement for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a member-led organization of approximately 200 global companies. (2) A number of organizations use corporate sustainability reports to rank companies, including the CDP, the WBCSD itself, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, and a number of sustainability-focused investment platforms.

• Water Risks: This topic is regarded as "substantive" by more than two-thirds of the 174 Global 500 companies surveyed for the CDP's 2014 Global Water Report. Over 40 percent of these risks are expected to materialize within three years. On the other hand, some three-quarters of the companies in the survey have also identified new business opportunities related to water. (3)

• Social impact: The world has seen a number of societal issues not only persist but grow. There is increasing recognition that traditional approaches and business models for addressing intractable societal problems are proving ineffective. Translating visionary ideas to address these issues into practice requires often unprecedented action, drawing on diverse domains of expertise, emerging evidence about “what works,” and progressive thinking in terms of social impact.

In response to sustainability-related opportunities and risks, organizations need to:

• Comprehend sustainability pressures and societal responses to appropriately assess and prioritize risks,

• Convert this understanding into opportunities to reduce cost, increase revenue and profits and manage risks more effectively, and

• Capitalize by implementing sustainable practices across every aspect of their businesses and accounting for their impact in a credible manner.





(1) World Economic Forum, Global Risks 2016

(2) World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Reporting Matters 2015

(3) CDP, CDP Global Water Report 2014

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