ViewPoint Sustainability

Are companies committed to sustainability?

It is eight years since the UN launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Has anything happened since? DNV’s recent ViewPoint survey reveals a genuine commitment to sustainability among many companies. Moreover, when companies started their journey is not decisive to derive sustainable benefits. Anyone can succeed. It is all about priority and commitment, ideally aided by a structured approach.

Sustainability seems to have become a must-have rather than nice-to-have for many companies. The survey reveals that over half (56%) of the respondents say sustainability has a “very high” or “high” priority in their company’s business strategy. As many as 69.9% already have or plan to commit to one or more of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Large companies (>500 employees) are the early starters, but small companies (<100) are catching up as sustainability demands are widening their reach and suppliers in particular are pressured to move.

Fortunately for the late starters, when you launched your first sustainability action does not decide the value generated. Instead, the survey indicates, positive outcomes depend much more on how you approach sustainability, i.e. the priority given in the business strategy, structured approach applied and broader view taken across the ESG dimensions and topics.

Pressure from stakeholders to move on sustainability is not the only one companies face. They are increasingly prompted to go wider. Up until now, there has been a predominant focus on the environmental dimension. Going green and reducing emissions has been a long-time focus for many and this has probably been reinforced by the energy crisis. However, the new risk reality demanding that companies tackle a range of risks – from information security, anti-bribery and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to mention a few – is forcing them to broaden into the social and especially the governance dimension.

This may seem a daunting task for many. But companies already relying on a certified management system to meet business goals and deliver on their strategy may have an advantage. As many as 83.5% believe that a management system helps them deliver on ESG commitments or SDG ambitions. A management system compliant to an ISO standard, for example, can also be certified by an independent third party. Survey results clearly reveals the need to build trust, especially toward external stakeholders who are also the primary drivers behind the companies’ sustainability initiatives.


The survey was conducted May 2023 using the CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interviewing) methodology. It involved 893 customers of Business Assurance in DNV across different industries in Europe, North America, Central & South America and Asia. Companies not undertaking nor planning to take sustainability actions (7%) were screened out of the survey.

The sample does not claim to be statistically representative of companies worldwide.

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