In comparison to the 2011 edition of this survey, titled Key Challenges and Industry Performance this year’s results show a slight uptick in the level of urgency experts feel across top sustainability issues, as well as in their impressions of how well industry is managing the transition to sustainability. But, even while perceptions of performance have increased incrementally for nearly every sector (a first since 2000), the overall gap between urgency and performance remains significant.
For the first time in this survey series, experts were asked not only for their views on which issues are most urgent for particular industry sectors, but also which sectors are most accountable for reducing their impact on, or providing solutions for, each issue. By comparing these results against issue urgency, a series of sector-specific “accountability/urgency maps” were created, each of which provides an updated view on industry challenges and opportunities, and a unique input for materiality analyses, strategy setting and other processes.
This report includes a generalized version of these maps that aggregates ratings of urgency and accountability across all issues and highlights two distinct groups of industries: those facing high levels of both urgency and accountability on a number of fronts, versus those dealing with less overall urgency and accountability. For those in the second group, however, there is often still at least one or a subset of issues that stand out. For example, while the pharmaceutical industry’s overall urgency and accountability scores are relatively low (see page 17), experts consider this industry extremely accountable for addressing the issue of access to medicines/healthcare.
As outlined in GlobeScan and SustainAbility’s 2013 report Changing Tack, collaboration within and across industries is required to address the many challenges facing corporations and society at large. With this in mind, readers are encouraged to view the following findings as both a snapshot of where we are as well as a springboard for discussions that raise ambition and instigate enhanced collective action.