Leaders Believe Sustainable Prosperity is Possible
According to the "Advancing Sustainable Prosperity" survey conducted by Ceres last week at its annual conference in Boston, direct action by government and corporations are the best ways to improve the sustainability of the global economy.
Nearly 80 percent of the nearly 300 respondents cited climate change as the biggest global sustainability challenge today, while an overwhelming majority -- 90 percent -- of those surveyed said greenhouse gas emission reductions and improved energy efficiency are the most important sustainability issue that corporations need to address in 2007. Two-thirds of the respondents -- 67 percent -- cited renewable energy technology as the technology with the biggest opportunity for achieving sustainable prosperity.
"Achieving sustainable prosperity will require integrating environmental and social challenges into corporate strategies and capital markets so that the global economy and the global community can flourish hand in hand," said Ceres president Mindy S. Lubber.
Respondents strongly feel that the responsibility for implementing sustainable business practices within companies lies at the top. Forty-six percent of respondents said direct engagement with corporate CEOs and board members is "the single, most effective method" for investors to spur sustainable business practices. Asking companies to improve disclosure on sustainability issues was a distant second at 15 percent. Filing shareholder resolutions received only 10 percent support.
Respondents were cautiously optimistic that government and business action will improve environmental and social conditions. According to the survey, 37 percent of respondents said that sustainable prosperity is "best achieved" through government policy & action, followed by corporate action at 32 percent and 20 percent consumer/personal action.
A very positive sign lies in the prospects for the future. Three-quarters of the respondents -- 78 percent -- believe that sustainability conditions in North America will "significantly improve" or "slightly improve" by 2025. Respondents were less optimistic about emerging/developing countries, with 55
percent saying sustainability conditions would improve, while 31 percent said they would "significantly" or "slightly" worsen by 2025.
Ceres is the world's largest network of investors, environmentalists and companies united for sustainable prosperity. The 2007 conference, "Advancing Sustainable Prosperity," attracted a record 650 attendees and addressed ways to unite both investor and environmental perspectives so that business strategies can be aligned with sustainable solutions.
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