Sustainability is increasingly recognised as a fundamental and critical business practice. More and more businesses are setting targets and taking action to maximise sustainability. For example, over a third (34%) of the world’s largest companies have set public net zero targets, Accenture research shows. Meanwhile, over 4,000 companies have joined the Science Based Targets initiative supporting corporate climate action. What many businesses are discovering on their sustainability journey, is that real growth and progress requires partnerships and collaboration.
Many businesses are now striving to improve sustainability. However, there are many challenges these businesses can encounter, such as:
- Lacking required competencies and knowledge in-house.
- Significant financial investment and higher risk taking when solutions are not readily available and require innovation and additional cost.
- No industry standards and common playing field to help align expectations and requirements with end-customers.
In other words, no one business can solve every single challenge that emerges. Sustainability partnerships and collaboration enable businesses to work with supply chain partners and suppliers to pinpoint issues, develop solutions and drive shared agendas. These collectives can start with one partner and extend to include more businesses, startups, research organisations as well as non-government organisations (NGOs). They can happen at different levels, starting with a common vision and going all the way to shared roadmaps and industry standards. They can also stretch across industries and beyond. Examples of initiatives working to achieve change through sustainability partnerships and collaboration include the First Movers Coalition to decarbonise the heavy industry and long-distance transport sectors, the World Economic Forum’s Alliance for Clean Air bringing business leaders together to measure and reduce air pollution, and the Getting to Zero Coalition between the Global Maritime Forum and the World Economic Forum. There are also partnerships focussed on business commitments such as the United carrier’s sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) program.
Why are partnerships important for sustainability?
For many businesses around the world, sustainability has become a corporate imperative. An EY survey found 90% of global institutional investors consider environment, social and governance (EGS) criteria when investing, while IPSOS found 75% of global customers said they feel better about businesses that make changes to improve sustainability. However, achieving real progress with sustainability requires navigating issues that are often complex and multifaceted. The benefits of working with other businesses, sectors, and organisations are wide-ranging and include:
- Combined strengths – partnerships can allow businesses to bring together diverse expertise, resources, and perspectives. The Getting to Zero Coalition, for example, unites more than 200 organisations, including 160 businesses, and is supported by key governments and Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs). It plans to use the collective strengths of the group to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping. Currently, shipping transports close to 80% of global trade and accounts for 2-3% of global emissions. Through close collaboration and collective active, the coalition wants to reduce these emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2050. To do this, the coalition is bringing together the knowledge and resources from the maritime industry, energy sector, financial sector, and governments and IGOs. Working together, they are better equipped to support each other to think outside the box and identify opportunities to improve sustainability.
- Risk sharing – improving sustainability requires businesses to reframe their strategic perspective. It may also require changing ways of working and a financial investment, plus time and resources, all of which carries risk for businesses. Entering a partnership or collaboration allows a business to risk-share. For example, Road Freight Zero was born out of the realisation that urgent action is required to meet targets to decarbonise the sector. It brings together industry leaders with the goal of developing solutions together and ‘de-risking the decarbonisation pathway.’ The stakeholders agree on a shared goal, but also to shouldering the risks that emerge together. The First Movers Coalition is also helping business share the risk of developing and adopting new technologies and mobilising collective demand.
- 推动创新与增长 — 合作关系是创造价值、发掘可持续创新和增长新机遇的关键。企业可以与合作伙伴携手，开发更加可持续、更具灵活性的全新技术、产品和商业模式。他们还可以克服企业治理和监管方面的障碍。为此，不同企业之间建立了多项合作关系，推动甲醇燃料的生产，进而降低货运过程中的温室气体排放量。MODI 项目是一项跨境计划，旨在加速开发网联协作式自动驾驶出行 (CCAM) 解决方案，以改善欧洲的物流和供应链。同时，瑞典货运公司 Einride 正在与多家企业和初创公司合作，以推进实现其货物运输电气化的使命。共同携手，各企业将加快发展进程。
- 促进知识共享与学习 — 通过合作关系，各企业可以分享最佳实践、经验教训和深刻见解。这些信息可用于制定符合当地背景和需求的有效解决方案。如果没有这些，每家企业都必须从零开始制定解决方案。LG Energy Solutions 就是一个很好的例子。该公司专门生产和供应电动汽车 (EV) 和储能系统 (ESS) 电池。该企业设定了到 2050 年实现净零排放的目标，并正在利用可再生能源实现其目标。它加入了 RE100 全球企业可再生能源倡议，分享了其在可再生能源利用方面的经验。