“Sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
The United Nations

The sustainability challenge is moving into an important new phase. We’ve already come a long way in terms of facing into the scale of our environmental crisis. But things are developing quickly.

Climate change is now directly impacting our societies, industry and economies. And sustainability has moved from being a specialist CSR topic, to become a core priority for many organizations – and an intrinsic part of the transformation agenda, owned and led by the people at the very top including the COO, CFO, CTO, and CMO.

However the complexity of the challenge cannot be underestimated. Dealing with it requires a highly sophisticated combination of expertise, including functional, sector, and specialist ESG. At BearingPoint we bring together everything required to help clients develop a strategy and deliver the necessary change.

Addressing bio-diversity and society as well as climate change

Most forward-thinking organizations already have substantial programmes and targets in place around topics such as GHG emissions and achieving net-zero across their value chain.

However, there is now a growing understanding that the challenge is greater than just ‘climate’: We need to start thinking in terms of an ecosystem of inter-related factors, encompassing people, society, and environment, with clients playing a pivotal role in making change happen.

In this new thinking, biodiversity is one of the hot topics. We are waking up to the extent of human impact on the natural world and the rapid degradation of habitats, and mutually dependent plant and animal species. The idea of a sixth species mass extinction - whereby millions of species (and maybe our own) will be consigned to geological history alongside the dinosaurs - is now a mainstream scientific view.

Since the problem is human-made, it follows that people – and businesses - can be part of the solution. Already, some progressive organizations are adopting a ‘nature positive’ position – whereby they don’t just cut-out those activities with a negative impact on biodiversity, but through their operations actively contribute to the restoration and regeneration of ecosystems and the natural world. Athough this is currently a minority stance, at BearingPoint we believe that it must quickly become a mainstream approach.

Increasingly, social issues are acknowledged to be an intrinsic part of the overall sustainability challenge, as well as being directly linked with the environment. It’s about how we live, and what we do to create a sustainable society for our future.

Meanwhile, as we transition our way of life in response to the environmental crisis, the direct effects are clear to see; from the rising cost of energy, heating, and mobility, to massive changes in types of employment - away from traditional value chains and towards emerging low carbon industries such as EV.

A systematic approach must be the way forward

Social issues are a growing part of the equation. And in terms of positive initiatives, trends on the rise include: the ‘bottom of the pyramid approach’ whereby a focus on alleviating poverty actually brings growth and profitability for corporations; diversity and inclusion, creating fairness of opportunity but also maximizing talent for the benefit of all; social businesses; and the concept of altruism and giving back – recognizing our debt to society as a whole, and sharing our expertise as well the fruits of our achievements.  

What is clear, is that the issues of climate, biodiversity, and society are entirely interlinked. And in order to address each, a systematic approach must be the way forward. 

Examining the significant risks to organizations

One thing is for certain, the time for talking is over, and organizations that fail to properly address the sustainability issue will face profound risks.

Most immediately, environmental responsibility and sustainable practice is mandated by law. However, compliance in itself is a huge problem, especially for international organizations. With substantial variance across different territories, regulations are continually evolving and multiplying everywhere. It is very difficult to keep up, and failure to comply has expensive consequences - loss of trust, as well as fines.

But in the bigger picture, the real threats are to the reputation, continuing relevance, and even long-term viability of businesses. Within this context, organizations must consider the needs of three core audiences:

  1. Shareholders - Above all, they need to feel absolutely confident that their investment is protected in a business that is taking responsibility for the impact of its activities, and is fit and proper for the sustainable future.  e
     
  2. Customers – The overwhelming trend is towards products and services that have a less harmful impact on people and planet. But increasingly, customers choices are also based on their perception of a brand’s or organization’s ethical stance. 
     
  3. People and talent – Unquestionably, corporate values, ethics, and purpose are among the decisive factors for any prospective employee or partner. It is important for people to feel that they are fully aligned with the businesses they work with. 

Helping clients stay ahead of what’s coming

Sustainability is a transformational challenge of huge scale and complexity. It involves all aspects of the organization including the value chain, operations, governance, people, and strategy. And as such, a fully integrated approach is required.

BearingPoint offers the expertise of a ‘pure player’ sustainability consultancy together with advanced transformation capability. 

Our approach is already providing success for organizations in many different sectors

Within the firm, we have 200 professionals entirely focused on sustainability. And crucially, we are able to combine this specialist technical ability with considerable experience within specific industry verticals – which means that we understand the key stakeholders, how things work, and the levers to pull to influence change.   

BearingPoint is unique in the breadth and depth of this combined know-how – which is essential to effect lasting transformation for clients, and to set them on a truly sustainable course. 

Our approach is already providing success for organizations in many different sectors. For example, in government, public services, and transportation – where the link with sustainability and community is fundamental. And also for leading financial institutions, vital for channeling investment towards sustainable projects, and where highly specialist knowledge is fundamental to enable the structuring of solutions such as green funds.

Over many years at the forefront of green topics we have developed highly specialized IP, software, and tools to support clients with sustainable transformation. For example, our emissions calculator enables organizations to accurately measure their CO2 emissions across all of their operations, providing them with the data and insight required - not simply to comply with regulations, but to understand where they can drive significant improvement. We are continually innovating, and many of our solutions can be adapted to support clients with the emerging issues such as biodiversity and nature-positivity.

As our understanding grows and the impact of climate change becomes real, the sustainability challenge for organizations is increasingly urgent, and ever-more complex. BearingPoint has the knowledge and expertise required to help clients stay ahead of what’s coming.      

The sustainability challenge: making it happen together

The sustainability challenge: making it happen together

We share our latest thinking, client stories and products to help you on your sustainability journey.

More from our sustainability teams

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