It found that 70% of business executives identify sustainability as a key growth driver with the majority willing to invest in internal teams to manage and deliver sustainability.

Of the 150 executives surveyed, 81% said that they have more than five staff members dedicated to sustainability at a programme management level.

The survey, commissioned by business standards company BSI and carried out by sustainability analysts Verdantix, found that sustainable development is still high on business agendas regardless of size and sector, with many organisations already using ISO 14001 Environmental Management and ISO 50001 Energy Management system standards.

However, although businesses are connecting sustainability to performance, the survey found that only 51% believe that sustainability issues will impact their firm’s financial performance over the next two years.

On spending, the survey found that 37% of respondents said that sustainability spend will remain flat in the next financial year, with the remainder confident of budget increases.

Of those surveyed, 31% said they expect an increase of up to 5%; 23% predict an increase of 5-10%; and 1% believe there will be an increase of 10-30%.

Sustainability performance reporting is also rising up business agendas, the survey finds, with most firms allocating resources to enable more comprehensive and accurate analysis.

According to Verdantix, this is now common practice for large UK firms and 100% of those surveyed plan to publish a sustainability report in 2014, with 91% integrating financial and sustainability data into their annual report.

The most commonly reported sustainability data will be carbon emissions (99%), energy (98%), and social responsibility (93%). A large majority will report on waste (77%), water (77%) and other greenhouse emissions (77%).

BSI head of market development for sustainability David Fatscher said: “Although the results show broad acceptance amongst organisations that sustainability is a relevant issue, British industry still has plenty more to do before sustainability becomes business as usual.

“But we are encouraged that reporting performance on sustainability metrics such as energy, carbon and social responsibility, is moving up the agenda,” added Fatscher.

Responses were gathered from executives from 20 industry sectors including retail and consumer products, consumer services, manufacturing, business and financial services, oil and gas, utilities and mining.

Leigh Stringer

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