GHD Advisory Research Reveals What is Holding Organisations Back from Executing Sustainability Strategies


On the eve of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28), GHD Advisory, a leading professional services company, today published the results of its global corporate sustainability research to uncover what’s holding organisations back from executing their sustainability strategies.

GHD Sustainability Monitor 2024: From Ambition to Action found that the scale of sustainability ambition is unnerving for most organisations and the gap between intention and action is significant. While a promising 97 percent of executives believe that their sustainability agenda is adding commercial value, more than 50 percent of executives feel that economic uncertainty has reduced or significantly reduced commitments and actions.

COP28 is a crucial moment for organisations and governments to evaluate progress on climate action and identify pathways towards increasing the rate of progress on sustainability. GHD is attending COP28 with a strong on-the-ground presence and program of activity across the blue and green zones, as well as Climate Action’s Sustainable Innovation Forum.

Research highlights:

The global research of 550 executives across the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and India examines the state of corporate sustainability.

  • 95 percent of executives say that sustainability is central to their organisation’s vision and strategy. Executives cited less confidence in integrating sustainability strategy across internal stakeholders. A greater level of stakeholder engagement and change management is needed than exists within organisations today.
  • 79 percent of executives believe a moderate to significant gap exists between what they are trying to achieve and what’s been implemented. The need for a step-change in external and internal stakeholder collaboration is seen as a hurdle.
  • 75 percent of executives said there are fundamental contradictions in the sustainability agenda with for-profit companies working towards making a positive impact while furthering the bottom-line.
  • 62 percent of organisations set targets aligned to the bare minimum of compliance and regulatory requirements. Begging the question whether this is enough to meet the scale and pace the world needs.

“While there is indeed solid progress with sustainability being strategically and commercially valued, it’s evident there are still significant and complex obstacles to overcome if organisations are going to make the herculean shifts needed to reach net zero goals,” said Richard Fechner, Executive General Manager, GHD Advisory. “The GHD Sustainability Monitor 2024 reveals the barriers which help to identify practical and tangible ways to overcome challenges and close the gap between ambition to action through new levels of engagement, collaboration and action. The challenges are complex, the action forward does not need to be,” Fechner added.

In addition, the report outlines five ways to expedite immediate sustainability action:

  • Actualise sustainability: With economic uncertainty and budget constraints looming, test your strategy and identify the full cost of implementation against goals with a timeline.
  • Lead with social engagement: Integrate stakeholders, internal and external. Explore the multitude of connection points that must be considered together and create an actionable plan for progress.
  • Prioritise corporate sustainability regulation: Build internal and external stakeholder trust by gaining consensus on targets. Use regulation to drive new efficiencies and collaboration.
  • Tackle Scope 3 emissions: Upskill and retool the supply chain through change management and behaviour-related programs to influence and educate to track and report Scope 3 emissions.
  • Be a pioneer: Take advantage of early access to finite funding and talent to develop training and education programs to equip people with sustainability skills.

Richard Fechner will be attending COP28 and participating in various panels and events where he will be discussing the results of the GHD Sustainability Monitor 2024: From Ambition to Action report. In addition, Richard is panelist at the event “Best practice approaches to gender and climate”, held at the Australian Pavilion, Sunday 10th December 2023, 1600-1700hrs.

An ardent believer of today. A word player but Journalist by profession. My passion is in writing, while I love photography

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