Earlier this year, PwC’s 18th annual survey of chief executives revealed that only 6% of respondents listed ‘reducing the risk of climate change’ as one of their top priorities for Government – putting it at the bottom of their list of concerns; a list dominated by shorter term priorities such as regulation and taxation.
The truth is that, as business leaders, we cannot ignore the risks to our businesses from long term shortages or dislocation of both natural and social resources. Today the world consumes 50% more than the planet’s natural resources can renew every year and, with the world’s population set to grow to 9 billion by 2050 from 7 billion today, this issue continues to gather pace.
Taking the property sector as an example, in the long run, resource shortages are expected to lead to higher costs and security of supply issues for some construction materials and for the energy we use to heat, cool and power our buildings.
It is clear that if businesses don’t find solutions today, in the long term this will jeopardise the sustainability of their income and profit. Here at British Land, we have challenged ourselves to innovate across our activities, leading in best practice and going beyond our comfort zone – from being the first UK developer to set the highest sustainability standard (BREEAM Excellent standard) for all our office developments and cutting energy use by more than a third, to launching our Supply Chain Charter.
To help us to further integrate long term environmental and societal matters into our decision making, alongside shorter term financial considerations, British Land is working with other Chief Financial Officers through the Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability network to develop a framework.
Whilst financial metrics will continue to be an important indicator of business performance, we now also need to develop frameworks to evaluate a broader range of impacts, including better visibility of our natural and social resources and to understand the impacts they may have on our future business viability – looking to the long term.