Why sustainability is an important component of an organization’s strategy
Across the globe, many governments and corporations are seeking cleaner and greener alternatives. It is becoming clear that sustainability should be an integral part of any organization’s strategic plan. Samirkumar Pathak, head of sustainability and ESG for Almarai, explains why this is the case and how this can be achieved.
- What has changed in sustainability practices in the past 10 years? Any trends you can mention?
There have been several major conflicts, pandemics, natural disasters, supply chain disruptions, and instances of civil unrest in the last few years that have not only affected but also shaped humanity’s approach and efforts for sustainability. Most of these have also emphasized the importance of sustainable food security. Climate change, waste management, and sustainable finance have emerged as clear trends.
- What are, in your opinion, technological innovations that are shaping/will be shaping the sustainability agenda?
A rapid evolution of technologies to cost-effectively harness renewable energy, many nations’ aspirations of energy transitions and self-sufficiency, and the drive away from fossil fuels are aiding the climate change crusade. Sustainability-linked investment instruments and financial market management systems have also been playing leading roles.
- Why is sustainability becoming an important component of the strategic thinking of an organization?
Anthropogenic emissions and wastes have been accumulating in the atmosphere, land, water bodies, and oceans. This accumulation and resource consumption are evidently disrupting the planet’s usual patterns and resulting in unprecedented natural events and increasing presence of waste byproducts in human and oceanic systems. These challenges now constitute major risks for every organization, increasingly becoming integral parts of risk management frameworks, and, therefore, are important components of strategic thinking.
- Will organizations expose themselves to higher risks if they chose to follow sustainable practices as opposed to their competitors?
Sustainable practices not only address the risks but also offer competitive advantages. Sustainability makes business sense, through reduced borrowing costs, reduced resources cost, improved employee, customer, and consumer retention, improved productivity, enhanced brand reputation, etc. Instead of higher risks, following sustainable practices will expose the organizations to higher profitability, productivity, and brand reputation.
- How are the customers reacting to your commitment to sustainability?
There are no company-specific studies on customers’ reactions. However, we understand from recent regional studies, conducted by others, that over 70% of consumers/customers are aware of planetary sustainability challenges, make sustainable choices, and are willing to pay more for products with enhanced sustainability benefits. One of our sustainability commitments of “Quality you can trust” has resonated extremely well with our consumers/customers.
Governments and big corporations can demonstrate an example, influence systemic change, and promote the global effort to build a more sustainable and resilient future by incorporating sustainability into their practices, policies, and decision-making procedures. To know more about how Almarai aligns its sustainable practices and strategies to contribute to the targets of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the National Transformation Program, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, dive into Samirkumar Pathak’s full interview in the latest issue of PERFORMANCE Magazine Issue No. 25, 2023 – Sustainability Edition.