Sustainable business needs global focus from CEOs

CEOs must view sustainable business as a global challenge in order to make a significant impact on the environment and resources, says an industry expert.

European stakeholder and sustainability manager at Asia Pulp and Paper, Dr Liz Wilks, said the biggest challenge for sustainable business is making CEOs consider and understand sustainability in a global context rather than just a strategy to improve profits.

Dr Wilks added: “Currently, most CEOs who have a vested interest in emerging markets from a business point of view – usually from the west – are not necessarily looking at how to do business sustainably with those markets”.

“To do business sustainably requires reciprocal trading. Preserving the resources for the future is going to come from allowing developing countries to grow and those countries can only grow if there is reciprocal trading”.

According to Wilks, many CEOs are making the most of the opportunities available in the emerging markets but are not necessarily looking at how those opportunities can be shared.

She also explained that doing business sustainably is an important consideration wherever a business sits in the supply chain.

“We all have a part in sustainable growth and sustainable business – it’s not just about the producer it’s the whole supply chain”.

Legislation and policy around sustainability varies widely across regions and this is proving a challenge for businesses looking to develop sustainable practices.

“If you are a big retailer and big brand owner you cannot have a different sourcing policy in Europe as you would do in Asia. You can’t say I’m going to source Asian products in Asia but I’m not going to source Asian products in Europe – that’s not sustainable business”.

Leigh Stringer

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