Six growing trends in corporate sustainability

Increased risk and proximity of natural resource shortages

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Company concern about resource shortages is nothing new, but only recently have companies started connecting the dots to sustainability-related issues.

The inability of governments and transnational institutions to effectively broker international agreements to limited global environmental decline has exacerbated this concern. These issues are left to market forces, which often omit or underprice external costs to the environment and society for the resources’ exploration, extraction and use.

Do you anticipate your company’s core business objectives to be affected by natural resource shortages (e.g., water, energy, forest products, rare earth minerals/metals) in the next three to five years?

EY - Business objectives

As extreme weather combines with environmental realities, companies are recognizing that corporate sustainability and access to natural resources are inextricably linked.

Water is an issue of particular concern. Climate change will affect global water resources at varying levels, as described within our recent publication.

The world’s water problems and the looming water-security crisis were ranked high by the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2013 Global Risk Survey. WEF calls water one of the most tangible and fastest-growing social, political and economic challenges faced today.

WEF also rated “failure of climate change adaptation” and “rising greenhouse gas emissions” as among those global risks considered to be the most likely to materialize within a decade.

This concern was echoed by our survey participants, who ranked water as the number-one cause for concern among resources “most at risk,” followed by oil and “metals and other materials.” About half (51%) said they anticipate their company’s core business objectives to be affected by natural resource shortages in the next three to five years.


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