Sustainable Business 2011

Special Report cover: Sustainable Business 2011, September 2011
How sustainable is UK business? Our indicator-based assessment, produced in association with Forum for the Future, paints a mixed picture. Though business is making progress in many areas it is moving backwards in some.

Sustainable Business 2011 is the first independent indicator-based assessment ofUKbusiness sustainability performance. The report tracks 16 indicators to capture a snapshot of the state ofUKbusiness. Each indicator represents an important aspect of environmental, social or economic sustainability.

The report finds that business rapidly increased its capacity to engage with sustainability in the latest year for which data is available – mostly 2010.

More companies are gaining environmental management certification and publishing sustainability reports.  The number of workers and graduates with sustainability skills and knowledge is rising.

Care of the environment is generally improving. Industrial pollution incidents are falling and the amount of hazardous waste being produced and sent to landfill is falling.

The latest trends are less promising when it comes to business engagement with climate change. In the latest reported year industrial carbon emissions rose, as did industrial energy intensity, and the carbon intensity ofUKgrid electricity and of road haulage.

The report also finds a move away from sustainability in indicators looking at wider economic and social issues. Spending on research and development, pay inequality, and social performance (on human rights and labour and supply chain standards) have all fallen over the past year.

The report also finds a clear imprint of the Great Recession of the 2000s on business sustainability. Recession can reduce certain environmental impacts in the short-term but disrupts longer-term progress towards sustainability, it concludes.



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