2012 introduced several significant developments in sustainability, most notably around the issues of climate change, risk management, and supply chain ethics.
June’s Rio+20 United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development dominated the year’s discussion, reinforcing the need for corporations to play a larger role in attaining sustainable development goals. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Low Carbon Economy Index publication1 supports this sentiment, showing only minor improvements in global carbon intensity reduction. As climate change regulation escalates in response to these numbers, we can expect to see more investors and consumers paying attention to corporate sustainable development strategies.
Companies anticipate these changes. More than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies now issue sustainability reports, with many also investing in sophisticated methods of tracking and reporting emission data. The Carbon Disclosure Project2 reports that in 2012 alone top firms integrating climate change into their business strategies reduced their emissions by nearly 14%.
2012 was filled with corporate behavior scandals. Companies like Barclays and Walmart found themselves in the spotlight amid global concern over lack of corporate and supply chain ethics. Natural disasters raised further questions about the ability of companies to adapt and become resilient to social and environmental challenges. Greater investment in supply chain management, stakeholder engagement and financial-environmental reporting will develop as business leaders seek to address these reputation and environmental risks.