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Paul Sanderson's Friday Blog

Date: 20/09/2013 | Author: Paul Sanderson

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I read with interest the report from the United Nations Global Compact and consultancy Accenture that found 67 per cent of chief executives of major companies around the world don't believe they are doing enough to be sustainable.

Interestingly, when asked which tools to increase sustainability should be prioritised, 55 per cent of them said they wanted more regulation, and 43 per cent wanted governments to adjust subsidies and incentives.

Clearly, more than half are in favour of greater regulation to ensure that they can implement more sustainable business practices. There is often a view that businesses are against regulation and "red tape" but this is often not the case when firms see that regulation can benefit their business. For example, copyright, patents and trade marks can be seen as a form of regulation that benefits businesses, while I am sure many in the recycling sector would view the increased environmental legislation seen in the Conservative Government of the 1990s and carried on and developed by the subsequent legislation of the Labour Government from 1997 as responsible for the massive growth we have seen in the UK in recycling and now resource efficient practice.

Indeed, it is interesting that 85 per cent of the 1,000 chief executives surveyed want clearer policy and market signals to support green growth. But 46 per cent of bosses also say that consumers put sustainability second to price, quality and availability - I'm surprised this isn't higher to be honest. 

While there is much that is disappointing in this report, there is also reason to be optimistic. If the right conditions are created by governments and supra-national bodies such as the European Union, then businesses will develop the sustainable practices necessary.

However, our politicians must ensure that the balance is correct and that regulation doesn't harm businesses and lead to sustainability in terms of the environment, but not for sustainable economic growth. I'm sure this can be done and that sustainability in both environmental and economic terms can be achieved.

I'll leave the last point for this week to SITA UK chief executive David Palmer-Jones who summed it up in the following tweet:

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