Sustainability has traditionally been seen as a cost to business; the burden of supporting the common good. However, new research shows that business leaders are increasingly motivated by the cost management benefits of moving towards more socially and environmentally sustainable practices.
New figures from Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR) show that businesses leaders in emerging markets are more focused on the sustainability of their operations compared with peers in developed markets.
The "Sustainability: Changing the Debate in Emerging Markets" report also reveals a keen appetite in emerging markets for clean energy technology, with business leaders reporting that the cost, reliability and sustainability of energy is a priority for their expansion.
Over three-quarters (76%) of African business leaders, 72% in Latin America and 67% in Southeast Asia say that the cost of energy is important to their growth strategy over the next 12 months; this compares with just over half in Europe and North America.
Reliability of the energy supply is also vital, with businesses in Africa (71%), Eastern Europe (71%) and Latin America (65%) most likely to cite supply as important to their growth strategy.
“These results highlight the fact that we need to change the narrative of the sustainability debate," says Nathan Goode, global leader for energy and cleantech at Grant Thornton. "We need to start talking in language that resonates with businesses, stressing the benefits of action and the costs of inaction."
The IBR reveals that the emerging markets most concerned with the cost and supply of raw materials are also the most focused on looking for sustainable sources; Latin America (64%), Africa (51%) and southeast Asia (49%) recognize the long-term importance of greener energy sources to their businesses.
On a country-specific level, India (83%), Mexico (74%) and Botswana (72%) topped the list for green focus.