New major survey from ING Research concludes: Done well, sustainability-driven initiatives — improving energy efficiency, rethinking supply chains and even transforming business models — have the potential to drive competitive advantage, innovation and revenue growth!
- Sustainability strategies are a must-have in today’s environment, and half of firms are embedding sustainable thinking into their business growth plans Four in five US firms (81%) surveyed now have formalized sustainability strategies in place, and 48% say that sustainability concerns actively influence their growth strategies.
- Firms that have gone furthest to embrace sustainability are more likely to view it as a potential driver of revenue growth Among the “most mature” firms in the research (that is, those firms with an enterprise-wide sustainability framework in place), 43% say revenue growth is a key driver for their action on sustainability, while just 37% of other firms say the same. The less mature firms are more likely to see cutting costs and efficiency gains as the major benefits of sustainability.
- Those firms with the most comprehensive sustainability frameworks tend to have experienced better revenue, borrowing and credit-rating outcomes While 87% of the most mature firms have experienced some level of revenue increase over the past 12 months, only 67% of those with less integrated sustainability strategies say the same. In addition, 65% of the most mature firms have improved their credit ratings over the past two years, compared with just 51% of the less mature firms.
- The biggest challenge for US firms is identifying sustainability-led business opportunities For US firms, difficulty identifying sustainability-led business opportunities is cited as the biggest barrier to greater investment in sustainability initiatives (52%). They also want to see more evidence that sustainability-led initiatives deliver real business value before they increase their investment levels.
- Appetite for green bonds has been strongest among the largest firms, but it is now growing among smaller firms Larger firms in the US have issued the lion’s share of green bonds over the past two years: 48% of those with >$10bn revenue have done so, compared with only 32% of those with <$10bn revenue. However, 37% of smaller firms plan to issue green bonds in the two years ahead. For the larger firms, 36% plan to issue green bonds over the next two years, but 45% plan to undertake green loans, up from 33% that used them in the last two years.