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Voice of the Industry: Sustainability in the Coronavirus Era

September 2020

This report captures the views of over 1,000 professionals working across different industries and geographies, on how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is reshaping sustainability. The survey explores how companies define sustainability and engage with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while also identifying key barriers and drivers of sustainable investing, showcasing the hottest investment opportunities over the next five years.

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Key Findings

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an enhanced sense of social responsibility, with 51.9% of companies currently prioritising social over environmental issues.

However, increased social awareness is highly unlikely to cast a shadow over pre-COVID-19 environmental concerns such as climate change, as demonstrated by the June 2020 Sustainability survey results, with 60.8% of businesses expecting to balance social and environmental issues as the crisis evolves.

The outbreak has accelerated the purpose-driven movement, with half of surveyed businesses defining sustainability as being purpose-driven in June 2020.

As businesses are now embarking on a path for recovery, there is an opportunity to build back better, with more corporate investments planned across all sustainability related areas, with the development of sustainable products and sustainable sourcing being the two areas benefiting the most.

Introduction

Scope
Voice of the Industry: sustainability snapshot

Sustainability in Times of COVID-19

Pandemic redefines sustainability with new social awareness
Businesses forced to rethink on social issues
Case study: businesses showing social leadership/purpose
Saving the planet remains a corporate priority
Case study: Aspiration Bank helping consumers to save the planet
Case study: companies sticking to their environmental commitments

Leadership Insights

COVID-19 is a call to board leadership
Case study: Leaders on Purpose (LOP)
Cost remains the top barrier to sustainability
Golden age for CEO activism
Case study: CEOs under investor pressures

Pandemic Impact on the 2030 Agenda

17 goals to achieve sustainable development
SDGs remain key to corporate sustainability…
… but the pandemic is affecting sustainable development
Climate action remains strong post-COVID-19
Case study: business strategies to fight climate change
Case study: climate activism is not going away
Green recovery gains momentum across the world

Sustainable Investing

Brand reputation keeps driving sustainable investments
The pandemic is shifting investment priorities
Case study: adapting to the new normal
Sustainable investing key to unlocking a sustainable recovery
Case study: Google’s parent company investing in sustainability

Future Outlook

Sustainability efforts to remain largely intact
Case study: Aldi sees the pandemic as an opportunity not a threat
COVID-19 has lessened barriers to sustainability
M ore companies are leading the way
More corporate sustainability investment is expected by 2025
Building resilience is key in the recovery phase
Case study: Manufy digital apparel sustainable sourcing platform

Conclusion

COVID-19 business lessons
2019 and 2020 sustainability surveys comparison
Key takeaways for businesses

About Voice of the Industry

About Euromonitor’s Voice of the Industry series
Focus within sustainability of Voice of the Industry respondents
Job title of Voice of the Industry respondents
Sustainability/Geographic focus of Voice of the Industry respondents
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