Capgemini Research Institute, the prestigious research division of the worldwide consulting and technology expert, released its most recent sustainability trends report, "A World in Balance 2023: Heightened sustainability awareness yet lagging actions". The report highlights an increasing commitment towards sustainable business practices among company leaders.
More than half of Australian executives report active engagement from their board of directors in sustainability strategy, which indicates a notable shift in organisational priorities. Furthermore, 64% of these leaders believe that generative AI, a rising force in tech, will play a significant role in their company's sustainability efforts.
Above and beyond, over 56% of Australian executives are taking proactive measures to lessen the environmental damage associated with the usage of generative AI models. The report also reveals other vital Australia-specific insights:
The business case for sustainability is reportedly clear to 63% of executives, a substantial increase compared to only 14% in 2022. An interesting change can be observed as only 26% currently view sustainability initiatives as a financial burden to conduct business, down markedly from 61% in 2022.
More than half of executives in value chain functions are reportedly redesigning their products to have a lesser effect on forests (e.g., using less virgin timber to reduce deforestation). A majority of executives reveal that their organisation has set a priority list of initiatives for the next three years and is redesigning its business/operating model for increased sustainability.
There is an increased focus on social sustainability within organisations, as expressed by 62% of executives. However, the report also uncovers that 44% of Gen Z consumers think organisations are greenwashing their sustainability initiatives. Moreover, 65% of these consumers say they only trust an environmental declaration sometimes, rarely, or never.
The report, in its second year, witnessed a tripling of executives clear on the business case for sustainability compared to the previous year. This shift in climate disasters and regulatory pressure was driving the sustainability business case. However, it also noted that the positive shift would have a limited impact without increased investment in climate change mitigation.
The research also identified a perception gap between executives and consumers surrounding greenwashing, with only 17% of executives believing consumers were concerned about the risk. In comparison, 33% of consumers globally believed organisations were greenwashing their sustainability initiatives.
The study underpins the expectation that generative AI will be a focal point in sustainability strategies, with 59% of executives believing it will play a crucial role and the same proportion (57%) stating that their organisation has started to mitigate the environmental impact of using generative AI models.
The Capgemini Research Institute conducted the research using a survey of 2,151 executives from 718 organisations, each with over AUD $1 billion in annual revenue across 13 countries and in 11 industries. It also included a global survey of 6,500 consumers over the age of 18 across 13 countries.