Navigant joins World Business Council for Sustainable Development

03 January 2018

Navigant has become a member of The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a global CEO organisation. The firm will work with the companies in the domains of, among others, city and urban energy development, grid modernization, corporate sustainability, and the circular economy.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led organisation, focused on dealing with some of the increasingly pressing problems resulting from the current economic models and practices used to feed the desires of society. The threats are broad, from widespread pollution and resource overexploitation to biodiversity destruction and ecosystem collapse. Climate change also remains a major concern among scientists, citizens, businesses and most governments.

The 200 strong WBCSD is one of the world’s largest bodies of CEOs looking to mitigate their, and wider industries’ impact on the environment. The body accounts for $8.5 trillion in revenues across global supply chains, and around 19 million employees.

Navigant, a management consultancy firm with 40 offices across it global footprint, recently announced that is has become a member of the WBCSD. The firm has been active in the sustainability space for some time, acquiring sustainability focused Ecofys in 2016. The firm is active in the sustainability transformation space, with more than 600 expert consultants working in the energy segment as advisors to, among others, 50 of the world’s largest electric and gas utilities and the 20 largest independent power generators. In 2016, this commitment to environmental solutions saw Navigant purchase sustainability consultancy Ecofys.

WBCSD, Navigant

By becoming a member, the consulting firm joins the professional services’ world’s Big Four – Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC – as well as other high profile consulting industry names such as TATA, Infosys and Salesforce, to play a broad role in the organisation. Also among the new intake of members for the WBCSD were international law firm Baker McKenzie and Bloomberg, who recently launched their own consulting outfit. Navigant specifically brings in expertise in the areas of city and urban energy development, grid modernisation, corporate sustainability, and the circular economy.

Commenting on the addition, Jan Vrins, Managing Director and leader of Navigant’s global Energy practice, stated, “We are proud to be a part of WBCSD and look forward to sharing our expertise and ideas as we work together to create sustainable development solutions. Our insights across industry, government, and society are well-informed by a broad, global perspective and an intimate understanding of the profound changes occurring across today’s energy value chain as well as those that affect all industries.”

WBCSD CEO and President Peter Bakker said, “Consultancy firms like Navigant are the perfect partner for promoting the business opportunities in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With expertise in healthcare, energy, financial services and other areas, Navigant can assist the entire SDG framework, through both their own business and the many global firms that they work with. I look forward to working with Navigant to deliver added value to WBCSD initiatives in these and other areas.”

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Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019

In line with business leaders across the industrial gamut, private equity firms are increasingly on board with sustainability projects. According to a new study, the investment arms for major funds are implementing a number of strategies aimed at supporting sustainable economic development in line with global goals.

While the business world has finally begun to acknowledge the danger of climate change, effective action plans remain difficult to achieve. The Paris Agreement has stipulated a clear target for the decades leading up to 2100, although massively reducing emissions while not crashing the economy could be a tall order.

Businesses that are able to acquire capital can use it to boost productivity and output, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of development. However, some businesses are better able to utilise resources than others, both in terms of their relative productivity, as well as the value of the respective outcomes relative to costs (including environmental harms). Financing can therefore provide an avenue to select businesses that are aligned with various global sustainability goals, while shunning those that drive little or unsustainable social value creation.

Top moves made by investment arms towards responsible investment

Profit has for the longest time been the central criterion for investment decisions. Yet profit at any cost is increasingly seen as creating considerable social harms, while often delivering only marginal value. As a result, the private equity sector, which was initially sluggish to change its ways with regards to sustainability, has started to see the topic as an opportunity as much as a challenge.

A new study from PwC has explored how far sustainability goals have become part of the wider investment strategy for private equity (PE) firms. The report is based on analysis of a survey of 162 firms and includes responses from 145 general partners and 38 limited partners.

Maturing sustainability

Top-line results show that responsible investment has become an issue for 91% of respondents. For 81% of respondents, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) was a board matter at least once a year, while 60% said that they already have implemented measures to address human rights issues. Two-thirds have identified and prioritised Sustainable Development goals that are relevant to their investment segments.

Change in concern and action on climate-related topics over time

While there is increasing concern around key issues, from human rights protections to environmental and biodiversity protection, the study finds there are mismatches between concern and action. For instance, concern among investment vehicles around climate change has increased since 2016.

In terms of risks to the PE firm itself, concern has increased from 46% of respondents in 2016 to 58% in the latest survey. However, the number who have taken action remains far below those concerned, at 9% in 2016 and 20% in 2019. Given the relatively broader scope of investment opportunities, portfolio companies face higher risks – and more concern – from PE professionals, at 83% in the latest survey. However, action is less than half of those concerned, at 31%.

Changing climate

In terms of the climate footprint of the portfolio companies, 77% of respondents state concern in the latest survey. 28% of respondents are taking action through the implementation of measures to mitigate their concerns.

Concern and action taken on ESG issues

In terms of the more pressing issues for emerging responsible investment or ESG issues, governance concern of portfolio companies comes in at number one (92% of respondents), while 60% have taken action on it. Firms have focused on improving awareness – setting up policies and a range of training modules for their professionals around responsible investment decision making. Cybersecurity takes the number two spot, with 89% concerned and 41% implementing strategies to mitigate risks.

Climate risks take the number three spot in terms of concern for portfolio companies (83%), but falls behind in terms of action (31%). Health and safety track records are a key concern at 80% of businesses, with 49% implementing action. Gender imbalance within PE firms themselves ranks at 78%, which is being dealt with by 31%. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman showed that there is gender balance at 13% of GP teams in developed countries.

Biodiversity is also an increasingly pertinent topic, with risks from pollution and chemical use increasingly driving wider systematic risks around environmental outcomes. It featured at number eight on the ranking of most likely global risks for the coming decade, with its impact at number six. As it stands, biodiversity is noted as an issue at 57% of firms, with 15% implementing action.