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Valuing sustainability: Making the business case for investment

UN Global Compact—Accenture Strategy CEO Study

Engaging Investors

“Our sustainability agenda is fully linked to business value: For us, sustainability is competitive advantage, productivity, innovation, differentiation and growth.”
JOSÉ ÉDISON BARROS FRANCO

Board of Directors’ President, InterCement

Across the CEO Study’s decade of research, one theme stands out: the importance of investors and financial markets in accelerating progress on sustainability. This year’s survey suggests that investor interest has not yet evolved to become a principal motivator: Just 10 percent of CEOs cited pressure from investors as a top three factor driving them to take action on sustainability.

But CEOs believe that investors are increasingly looking at sustainability performance as an indicator of smart management, innovation and the ability to build long-term value. Nearly two-thirds of CEOs (64 percent) report they engage investors on the value of long-term strategies and investments addressing global challenges.

"To what extent do you agree with the following statements regarding the business case?"



Quantifying Value

This year's study also demonstrates a significant uptick in the ability of companies to quantify the business case for action, with 59 percent of CEOs reporting their company is able to accurately quantify the business value of their sustainability initiatives, up from 38 percent in 2013.

Despite progress, it is evident that there is room for greater engagement and dialogue between companies and investors on the value of sustainability, mobilizing investment to scale sustainability solutions at speed. Fully 88 percent of CEOs say greater integration of sustainability issues in financial markets is essential to progress on sustainability. Yet companies have not sufficiently educated investors about the role of sustainability in their ecosystem: Including competitive threats, long-term opportunities, and future industry landscapes.

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DOWNLOAD THE UN GLOBAL COMPACT—ACCENTURE STRATEGY CEO STUDY INFOGRAPHIC [PDF]

“We’re still dealing with the myth that you lose money if you invest sustainably: This is not the case, and it’s a crucial discussion if we’re to progress.”
AXEL A. WEBER,
Chairman of the Board of Directors, UBS Group AG

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