Survey sheds light on sustainability

GOING green is more about the economic gains than the environmental benefits, a recent survey has shown.

BDO Kendalls and Effective Governance have released the 2009 Corporate and Environmental Sustainability Survey that shows becoming sustainable is more about increased efficiency and competitive advantage than environmental protection.

Partner Dylan Byrne says 83.5 per cent of respondents see developing a unique value proposition as the main motivator for adopting sustainable practices, with 77 per cent choosing competitive advantage as a key driver.

“Interestingly, financial and social motivations rated more highly than environmental factors when it came to organisations becoming more sustainable,” says Byrne.

“Ultimately, making financial gains from sustainability initiatives by translating them into a competitive advantage such as a unique value proposition or increased efficiencies are the key drivers.”

The level of sustainability also equates to how the community views organisations as well, with 94 per cent of respondents recognising enhanced reputation with all stakeholders is a key driver.

Another major issue is the expectations of clients to go green, with 93 per cent agreeing this is a major factor.

But 56 per cent were unaware of government funds available for sustainability initiatives and 59 per cent cited a lack of a clear vision or objectives as key barriers.

“From an environmental perspective, organisations are primarily concerned with reducing energy consumption and waste, with social drivers such as improving their standing with stakeholders also being financially motivated,” says Byrne.

Effective Governance senior adviser Shad Sears, says organisations are motivated by pressing financial concerns so justifying expenses to develop a business case for sustainability can be difficult.

He says surveys into motivations for going green are very important as Queensland has the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, accounting for 30 per cent of Australia’s total.

“By analysing organisations’ motives and barriers to improve their environmental, social and governance performance, programs can be developed to enhance their sustainability and provide financial justifications for it,” he says.

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