What’s the sustainability impact on the business environment?

Environmental and social issues are on the CEO agenda

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What's on the CEO's agenda?

Far-reaching changes are taking place, and they’re taking place faster than ever. In this new era of ‘stable instability’, risks that once seemed improbable and even remote have become the norm and for CEOs across the world, ‘expect the unexpected’ has become the mantra. The only solution is to build organisations that can thrive amidst disorder: organisations that are agile and adaptable, able to cope with disruption and emerge stronger than before.

Environmental and social issues get more focus

CEOs are intent on securing natural resources now, including energy, water, and raw materials. Over the next three years, 35% of developed-market CEOs plan to increase investment in securing natural resources and 52% of emerging-market CEOs say the same.

Energy is on the radar for CEOs with 52% concerned about rising energy costs as a threat to growth prospects.

Global energy demand is set to grow more than one-third between now and 2035. Environmentally, that's unsustainable. On this path, not only will greenhouse gas emissions soar, but energy will become thirstier. Water needed for energy production is set to grow at twice the rate of energy demand, due to more diversity in the energy supply. Add a trend toward greater interactions between fuels, markets, and prices and the result is little immunity from global energy market fluctuations. (Source: World Energy Outlook 2012, ©OECD/IEA, November 2012.)

Beyond securing what they'll need, CEOs will make energy efficiency and water conservation measures pay off in both cost and reputation; 48% CEOs plan to increase efforts to reduce their company's environmental impacts.

Other stakeholders--including employees, local communities, governments, and supply chain partners--are important too.

  • 56% CEOs plan to increase the company's focus on a framework to support a culture of ethical behaviour.
  • 41% plan to increase the company's focus on non-financial reporting, giving stakeholders a better view of the company’s worth and the value it contributes to society.

A way forward

We know from our work with business that companies are facing growing pressure from many angles:

  • the need for transparency from stakeholders to maintain existing investment support and secure new investment
  • consumer pressure and the impact of negative press
  • growing and changing risks to business models and supply chains
  • increased competition for efficiency and growth opportunities attained through access to new products and markets
  • the war for natural resources important to business

Engaging with the global CEO community

We polled 1,330 CEOs in 68 countries, and talked face-to-face with another 33 CEOs, in our 16th Annual Global CEO Survey ‘Dealing with disruption’, to find out how they’re creating resilient organisations that can flourish under stress. See the full 16th Annual Global CEO Survey


Dig deeper

The true value of water
This PwC paper examines the future business implications − business disruptions, higher costs, and the loss of license to operate in locations experiencing water insecurity − of the growing scarcity of water around the world.

12th Annual PwC Global Power & Utilities Survey 
The survey covers 72 different companies in 43 different countries around the world, giving a unique window on the worldwide power and utilities industry viewpoint.

CEO interview quotes

"When we hear almost daily about catastrophic storms and hurricanes and melting icecaps, the risk scenario I see is that governments focus largely on economic challenges at the expense of the environment. ...It’s critical that sustainability doesn't fall off the agenda."

Pertti Korhonen
President and Chief Executive Officer of Outotec Oyj