Rate the Raters 2012: Polling the Experts

In this fifth phase of SustainAbility’s Rate the Raters initiative, GlobeScan contributes to a survey of 850 sustainability experts across 70 countries, on issues such as whether particular ratings are credible and why.

Experts rate activist tactics focused on key business value drivers as most effective

The last year has seen an increased profile for activism of all types. Sometimes this has manifested against the practices of corporations (such as the ongoing Occupy movement) while at others the targets are governments, as with the Arab Spring and Wikipedia’s online protest against proposed US anti-piracy legislation.

GlobeScan and SustainAbility recently polled an international panel of experts in sustainability on what they considered the most effective activist tactics to be. As the chart above shows, the panel (drawn from businesses, NGOs, government and academia) rated tactics that focus on key business value drivers as the most effective in influencing corporate behaviour: product boycotts (or on the flip-side, preferential purchasing) for their impact on sales and shareholder activism for its effect on access to capital. The most confrontational tactic – civil disobedience – is seen as the least effective by some distance, while the more collaborative method of dialogue with companies is rated the second-least effective.

With experts also rating socially responsible investors – a group in a particularly strong position to shape companies’ business value drivers – as the most important audience for businesses and government to pay attention to, the pressure on companies to respond to different agendas as they move towards sustainability looks likely to increase.

 

Finding from The 2011 GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey 

For more information on this finding, please contact Sam Mountford (Read Bio)

Sustainability experts back ‘choice editing’ to hasten transition to sustainable consumption

Sustainability experts strongly believe that companies have a duty to practice “choice editing” for consumers, the lastest GlobeScan/SustainAbility tracking reveals.

GlobeScan and SustainAbility regularly poll a panel of experts in sustainability issues across businesses, NGOs, government, and academia on emerging trends in sustainability. The panel was polled during September about their perspective on sustainable consumption, and the results reveal that while experts feel strongly that sustainable consumption is achievable, they have doubts about the degree to which it is compatible with economic growth, and also feel that companies have a duty to hasten the transition by restricting the choices available to consumers. Nearly four in five (78%) think that businesses have a duty to offer sustainable product lines instead of, rather than as well as, unsustainable ones.

With sustainable options still associated with premium pricing in many sectors, this perspective is likely to be challenging for companies, particularly during hard economic times, but it reflects how the terms of the debate are shifting. Another challenge is that GlobeScan consumer tracking also reveals that many people are skeptical about the claims that companies make for the responsible credentials of their products, citing “greenwash” as a major barrier to adopting more responsible consumer behavior. Sustainability champions within businesses will need to address both these issues if “choice editing” is to become a reality.

 

Finding from The 2011 GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey 

For more information on this finding, please contact Sam Mountford (Read Bio)

Ahead of Rio+20, governments on back foot

Government leaders have fallen well behind leaders of NGOs, corporations, and multilateral organizations in advancing the sustainability agenda ahead of the Rio+20 Summit, according to GlobeScan and SustainAbility’s recent survey of experts in the field. GlobeScan and SustainAbility surveyed over 500 sustainability experts from across 60+ countries on the sustainability performance of key players at the Rio+20 Summit. With experts giving high marks to NGO leaders on advancing the sustainability agenda, middling ratings to corporate leaders and leaders of multilateral … “Ahead of Rio+20, governments on back foot”

Sustainability Experts’ Views: Resource Agenda Will Continue to Dominate

Energy issues are seen by sustainability experts as the most important sustainable development challenge facing their country, the latest findings from the SustainAbility Survey reveal. But the findings also highlight some significant differences from region to region in perceptions of what the pressing issues are, and confirm that use of resources of all kinds is likely to dominate the agenda as emerging economies continue to develop.

Several times a year, GlobeScan and SustainAbility interview a panel of experts from around the world who work on sustainability issues within corporations, NGOs, academia, government departments, and scientific institutions. They are regularly asked to predict what the most critical sustainability issues will be over the months and years to come.

Energy is mentioned as the most urgent issue in North America, Europe, and emerging markets. While climate change emerges as the second most important issue in North America, in emerging markets water issues are seen to be nearly as critical as energy. Emerging markets are also more concerned than their industrialized-world peers about poverty and inequity, as well as deforestation and land use issues.

The results also show that European experts are more likely to be concerned about economic issues in the context of the ongoing Eurozone debt crisis, while awareness of sustainable development challenges is more frequently seen as an urgent issue by North Americans.

 

Finding from The 2011 GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey (read the press release / read the full report)

For more information on this finding, please contact Sam Mountford (Read Bio)

Sustainability experts view nuclear power as ‘not essential’ to low-carbon future

A majority of sustainability experts believe society can achieve a sustainable, low-carbon energy future without nuclear power, according to the latest findings from The Sustainability Survey Research Program released Monday by international consultancies, GlobeScan and SustainAbility. Also, most experts view nuclear technology less favourably after the crises at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, although nearly half say their view of the technology has not changed as a result of the crises.

Experts perceive a significant gap between how governments SHOULD and how governments WILL proceed with respect to various other energy options. Four in five experts think their government should subsidize solar and energy efficiency initiatives, but only half think their government actually will do so.

More than 500 experts were surveyed in May 2011 on topics relating to the future of energy. The Sustainability Survey is the largest global poll of the views of sustainability experts.

 

Finding from The 2011 GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey (read the press release / read the full report)

For more information on this finding, please contact Sam Mountford (Read Bio)