The sustainability transformation in the Netherlands


The Sustainability Transformation in the Netherlands

Looking ahead, looking inside and looking around

Today’s climate crisis urges us to rethink and reinvent our economy. Although many Dutch companies are aware of the need for a sustainability transformation, they find it challenging. In order to accelerate their transformation, they need a partnering attitude and bold leadership. Organisations that want to turn sustainability from a risk into an opportunity need to look ahead, look inside and look around.

By Vanessa Otto-Mentz

One of the reasons I recently chose to work in the Netherlands is the forward-looking approach on sustainability many companies here have embraced. Responsible organisations know that the sustainability transformation should be at the heart of their strategy. Not only because it will make their organisation future-proof, but also because they know they can play a crucial role in the social and environmental challenges our world is now facing.

The next question however is: How? How do you embark on this sustainability journey? And how do you find new opportunities and avenues for growth in a sustainable future? I fully endorse the Deloitte Center for the Edge point of view described in the article The Sustainability Transformation, in which we encourage organisations to look ahead, look around and look inside.

Looking around

‘Looking around’ is my favourite, because this actually says that no organisation can make a sustainability transformation on its own. We need an ecosystem approach and to build strong partnerships so we can learn from each other and accelerate the transformation. One of the reasons I chose to join Deloitte is our partnering across industries and different kinds of public and private organisations to help them make this transition. Together we create the aligned toolkits and metrics now being called for in non-financial performance.
Recent examples are our energy scenarios and sustainable shipping perspectives, as well as the World Economic Forum (WEF) perspective on aligning non-financial reporting we co-developed.

Another example of Deloitte's own looking around approach is the virtual sustainability round-table session for financial leaders we are organising this winter. Many leaders face similar challenges and opportunities and can learn from each other. We will bring these leaders together to build a network and start a discussion that will strengthen the sustainability ecosystem in the financial services industry.

Looking inside and looking ahead

‘Looking inside’ means that you first need to ask yourself what sustainability means to you and how it relates to the purpose and long-term future of your organisation. ‘Sustainability’ and ‘purpose’ are big words, and if you’re not specific about them, it will be hard to find a direction for your transformation and measure your progress. After that, you need to prioritise. People tend to do a standard materiality assessment asking what's important to their stakeholders. They end up with a long list of issues and start working on all of them. That’s not the way to go. Focus. Organisations that are doing well in their sustainability transformation often have chosen a few topics that are close to their core business where they can have significant positive impact and influence.

‘Looking ahead’ will help organisations reshape their enterprise risk management capabilities. As a society, we should be looking ahead in order to become more proactive and to prevent risk events, rather than reacting to and recovering from them. For informed decision-making, organisations should be working with climate risk scenarios based on robust, dynamic data. There are many scientists telling us what’s coming from a climate change point of view, a social change point of view. You need to stay informed about those changes, because they will affect your future organisation and its stakeholders. Deloitte’s thoughts on the Future of Food , the Future of Mobility and the Future of Energy might also be helpful for organisations that want to look ahead.

Learn more

Do you want to learn more about how we guide businesses to a more sustainable future? Please feel free to contact me via the contact details below.

The Sustainability Transformation in the Netherlands

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