The major CR challenges and sentiment, a few thoughts

SustainAbility and GlobeScan have put out a new survey on how some CR practitioners view the current state of affairs called “Key Challenges and Industry Performance“.

The findings will not surprise many of you.

Key findings from the survey are below in quotes along with some vague attempts at commentary:

• “Experts rate climate change, water scarcity and food security as the world’s most urgent challenges; this highlights the severity of the energy-water-food nexus”

– This won’t surprise anyone. Climate change appears to be a dead issue for most politicians right now. Water is where business and NGOs are miles ahead of government. I’d love to hear of a country that has a really pro-active national water strategy and works with companies and business on supply security.

Food supplies we all know large companies are very worried about. Again it’s an area where I am unclear as to whether any individual government is taking serious action to support corporate/NGO activity.

To me it is now clear that if large companies want governments to work with them to make such plans, they are going to have to embarrass them into doing so. A major leap from where we are today. Exhortation has not worked.

A friend quoted the line to me this week that we are “nine meals away from chaos” when it comes to food. He’s not wrong.

• “Yet the urgency of top issues has declined since 2009 due to a combination of factors”

– The financial and political crisis around structural reform of debt is exclusively to blame here. This is alongside climate change becoming a political potato too hot for even the Democrats to touch in the US a year out from an election.

• “Experts predict that energy and climate change will pose the most urgent sustainable development challenge in their country next year”

– I can see the energy angle here. In the UK prices are shooting up. I’d like to know more as to how climate change is urgent next year, as opposed to the longer term.

• “Europeans and North Americans are most concerned with energy and climate, while those from emerging markets focus on climate and water issues”

– That sounds very logical, given water supply, until fairly recently, was seen as ‘safe’ in Europe and North America. We know there’s a looming crisis in many emerging markets.

• “According to experts, no sector is managing the transition to sustainable development effectively; all 17 sectors are perceived as net negative”

– Right now all we have is a few leading companies in each sector really pushing the boundaries. Then a following of other large companies, then everyone else…

• “Leading sectors – including forest products – have shown marginal improvement in their ability to manage the transition to sustainability in recent years”

– As above

• “Experts say the electronics and chemical sectors’ ability to manage the transition to sustainability has deteriorated most since 2000”

I’d like to know more about this finding. Do we know why the respondents think this? I have written to SustainAbility and GlobeScan to see if I can find out. I’ll report back when I hear.

More on the survey, which is well worth a read, is here.

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