UK execs report big gap between green vision and execution

A large majority (87%) of British executives report a moderate to significant gap between their sustainability vision and execution.

Globally, 97% of executives believe their sustainability agenda is adding commercial value, while more than 50% feel that recent economic uncertainty has curbed commitment and action.

And according to the GHD Sustainability Monitor 2024, the top five obstacles to achieving corporate goals in the UK were:

  • lack of consumer demand (21%)
  • difficulty balancing short term vs long term focus (20%)
  • lack of clear transition plan or action (18%)
  • polarising nature of sustainability across political landscape (18%)
  • complex organisational structures (17%)

Other UK research highlights reveal:

  • 85% of executives reported experiencing a challenge around reviewing their Risk Management practices, compared to 69% in Singapore and 93% in the UAE.
  • 75% of executives stated they are grappling with having to reduce the environmental impact of their production process, compared to 66% in the US.
  • 69% of executives said they face a challenge in acting in the best interests of their stakeholders, compared to 75% in the UAE.
  • 63% of executives reported challenges in improving the environmental impact of their products and services, compared to 79% in Australia.
  • British executives identified the need for specialist sustainability skills as the number one “lever for progress” they need to achieve their goals.

GHD spokesman Tim Mawhood said: “While significant strides are being made in recognising the strategic and commercial advantages of sustainability, organisations are facing tough challenges in achieving their net-zero goals.

“The misalignment of vision and execution raises a critical question: how can we collectively avoid veering towards failure?

“Our research has unveiled that British executives consider specialised sustainability skills as the foremost factor crucial for progress, but the existing green skills gap in both the UK and the global labour market is a cause for concern.

“The GHD Global Sustainability Monitor 2024 has outlined a strategic course to address this gap and other challenges through new levels of engagement, collaboration, and action. The challenge is complex, but the meaningful action forward does not need to be.”

The report outlines five ways to expedite immediate sustainability action:

Actualise sustainability: With economic uncertainty and budget constraints looming, test your strategy and identify the full cost of implementation against goals with a timeline.

Lead with social engagement: Integrate stakeholders, internal and external. Explore the multitude of connection points that must be considered together and create an actionable plan for progress.

Prioritise corporate sustainability regulation: Build internal and external stakeholder trust by gaining consensus on targets. Use regulation to drive new efficiencies and collaboration.

Tackle Scope 3 emissions: Upskill and retool the supply chain through change management and behaviour-related programs to influence and educate to track and report Scope 3 emissions.

Be a pioneer: Take advantage of early access to finite funding and talent to develop training and education programs to equip people with sustainability skills.

Download the full report here.

Published by professional services company GHD, the Monitor surveyed 550 executives across the UAE, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and India to examine the state of corporate sustainability.

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