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Our impact on society
Impact on society: 2019 Global Annual Review

We believe business has a key role to play in addressing societal challenges.

Today, the systems underpinning society are being challenged like never before. We believe we have a responsibility to actively support the evolution of these systems so that they benefit communities more widely.

This is particularly important in the context of the growing dislocation between economic growth and social progress. For many years, three forces – globalisation, ‘financialisation’ (a focus on financial measures of success) and technology – drove growth in the global economy and, in turn, ongoing improvements in many people’s lives. At the same time, there has also been large scale mistrust and dissatisfaction in growing portions of the population in many countries.

It is important to address these concerns by addressing their underlying causes. What’s needed is a realignment of societal and economic systems – including changes to the role that business plays in both.

One of the ways in which we are addressing these issues is through our collaboration with the T20 (a network of think tanks that provides policy recommendations to the G20) and Global Solutions, a multi-stakeholder initiative. We have contributed our perspectives to policy discussions on critical global issues such as scaling up business impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), delivering workforce productivity growth, corporate governance, and digital skills strategies. We have also taken part in the annual Global Solutions Summit as well as roundtables and panel discussions around the world. Read our policy briefs.

Together, we are highlighting the need to create common purpose by realigning societal and economic systems so that they once again deliver what society needs, including changing the role that business plays in both. Achieving this requires nothing short of systemic change and we’ve outlined 11 principles that provide a starting point for conversation.

In 2019, we will also celebrate 10 years as the exclusive knowledge partner of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit which brings together business leaders, policy makers and heads of state from across Asia Pacific to discuss key topics including making globalisation and technological advances work for all. In November 2019, the meeting will be held in Santiago, Chile, under the theme of ‘Co-creating the future– improving lives together’.

In addition to the work that we do with the T20 and APEC, PwC is also a long-standing strategic partner of the World Economic Forum (Forum) where we work together on issues ranging from the impact of 5G on mobility and the potential of 4IR to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, to sustainable reporting and the development of future cities.

This year, we collaborated with the Forum to consult over 50 board members and corporate executives, and used their feedback to develop a guide to help corporate boards drive effective climate governance. We provided technical feedback on the 2019 Status Report on Climate-related Financial Reporting and surveyed International Emissions Trading Association members around carbon pricing and what’s needed to achieve the Paris Agreement.

With regards to the environment, we also explored the opportunities and challenges around the journey of going circular, being smarter with our resources, and our impact on the planet in two key reports (the road to circularity and closing the loop). We invite you to take a look and assess what going circular could mean to you and your business.

Young man in glasses

Community investment

Our community investments are an important part of our efforts to build trust in society and solve important problems. In FY18, we set an ambitious global target: to invest in the future and growth of 15 million people, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and social and micro enterprises to help them maximise their potential by 2022. We are delighted to report that we are on target to achieve this goal. Since the launch of our ambition, we’ve reached 8.5 million beneficiaries.

This progress is thanks to the ongoing efforts and dedication of our people. In FY19, over 61,000 PwC people contributed more than 925,000 hours – of which more than 676,000 hours were spent sharing their professional skills. This year, our volunteers spent more time in their communities than in FY18, with an approximate increase of one hour per volunteer.

Many of our community investment programmes are focused on supporting the next generation, by helping young people to upskill and develop the digital and technology skills they’ll need to thrive in the new world. In FY20 and beyond, we want to direct more of our community initiatives to this area. Find out more.

When disaster strikes, our foundations work with local organisations providing support and aid to people and communities. The recent hurricane in the Bahamas – Hurricane Dorian – was one of the strongest storms to ever make landfall in the Atlantic and it left behind widespread destruction and devastation. PwC provided much needed financial support to a team on the ground, helping with its immediate response and recovery efforts. Our support provided critical medical care, damage assessment, and route clearance enabling access to affected communities. Our support will not only help address the immediate but also the long-term recovery needs to support communities to get back on their feet.

Following the 2015 Rohingya refugee crisis, the PwC network set up semi durable, primary healthcare structures at refugee camps in Kutupalong and Balukhali through humanitarian efforts and programmes. Further enhancements have been carried out so that the healthcare camps can operate comfortably. These include windows and ventilators, shade nets, solar lamps and fans, and wash facilities. From July 2018 to July 2019, the camp had 57,275 patient footfalls (male 22,856, female 34,419) who were provided free medical support. In addition, we are currently deploying 61 shelter units with comprehensive support infrastructure for sanitation, clean drinking water and public lighting.

Environmental stewardship

Every business needs to address its environmental impacts, and in line with societal expectations and the PwC values, we’re working to do just that.

We remain a proud signatory to the UN Global Compact and are committed to operating responsibly in line with the ten principles. We are using our skills and expertise to demonstrate how the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be delivered and are also using technology to raise awareness about the goals. PwC Netherlands has developed an immersive VR experience that brings to life the urgency of the SDGs while demonstrating how emerging technologies can solve some of the most important problems of today.

To address our environmental impacts, in FY18 we announced a global commitment to drive efficiencies, go 100% renewable, and offset 100% air travel emissions. This sets a strong and consistent baseline, with our member firms being encouraged to set local targets to supplement and build upon this ambition.

By the end of FY19, a large number of our member firms were working towards our global ambition. Our environmental ambition now covers nearly 90% of our global revenues.

This financial year, we made good progress in reducing the energy consumed in our buildings and vehicles, decreasing our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 6% and 2%, respectively. The proportion of electricity coming from renewable sources also increased, from 60% in FY18 to 65%, which supports our goal of becoming 100% renewable.

Business travel is a part of our business and, while our headcount has grown, we have kept emissions per employee flat. This does mean, however, that absolute emissions have increased.

Air travel remains our largest source of carbon emissions, and this year we saw an increase in Scope 3 emissions. We are managing this by exploring how to increase our use of online meetings and use less carbon intensive forms of travel, such as rail, within the context of stricter travel policies. To mitigate the impact of our air travel, and as part of our environmental ambition, we are also now supporting a range of high-quality carbon reduction projects. These projects not only reduce carbon emissions, but allow us to take responsibility for our impact while we investigate longer-term solutions.

Examples of the offset projects we support include the Paradigm Kenya Improved Cookstoves, which tackles household air pollution and deforestation; Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve REDD+ in Indonesia, which preserves carbon-dense tropical peat swamp by helping to halt deforestation; and the award-winning Seneca Meadows Landfill Gas Project in New York, which captures methane from waste to reduce GHG emissions and generate renewable energy. The projects we are helping to support have collectively impacted over 4.6 million people, protected or restored 636,000 hectares of forest, and created over 480 new full time jobs. Find out more about all our offset projects.

To raise awareness around climate change, and to coincide with World Environment Day, we collaborated with WWF to shine a light on the importance of wildlife and nature in providing a stable and benign planet for humans, and the vital role business has to play. Called Our Planet: Our Business, the film aims to build awareness of nature loss within the corporate world. We hosted live screenings for our people and other relevant audiences across the globe, giving them the opportunity to join a lunchtime webcast or local events to hear from PwC experts and WWF representatives.

Find out more about our approach to corporate responsibility and read stories about some of our CR activities around the world.

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Mike Davies

Mike Davies
Director, Global communications, PwC UK
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Andrea Plasschaert

Andrea Plasschaert
Senior manager, Global communications, PwC Switzerland
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