Home » Sandro Orneli, Accenture: “Whoever invests in sustainability wins twice: reduces impact and increases competitiveness”

Sandro Orneli, Accenture: “Whoever invests in sustainability wins twice: reduces impact and increases competitiveness”

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Sandro Orneli, Accenture: “Whoever invests in sustainability wins twice: reduces impact and increases competitiveness”

«We find ourselves in a period with several positive convergences. Regulations, obligations, green pushes from customers”, explains Sandro Orneli, Europe Sustainability Strategy Lead at Accenture. The consultancy firm has drawn up a report on the green transition, “Destination Zero”. The study shows that the share of large companies in Italy that have set net zero emissions targets has increased by 18% in the last year, reaching 48% in 2023. Of these, only 19% are on track to reach the ‘objective; 50% are reducing emissions but not fast enough; 31%, however, saw their emissions grow in the last year. Taking global data into account, however, only 18% (less than a fifth) of companies in the world are currently on track to achieve net zero emissions in their operations by 2050.

Slow transition: one in two companies promises zero emissions, but 8 out of 10 are far from the objectives Fabrizio Goria, Nicolas Lozito 24 March 2024

Have companies understood sustainability and are they putting it into practice?

«Today investors, especially in Europe, understand that there is no financial sustainability in the medium to long term without sustainability. The return on investment is therefore understood: those who invest in sustainability obtain the dual result of growing and decreasing the impact.”

Yet the data seems to indicate a slowdown. Especially in the United States there seems to be a lack of commitment to investments and attention towards green issues. Is there a rift?

«I don’t see a rift. Today there have been several fronts that have stolen attention regarding the green transition. There may be a slowdown in some geographies in moving from strategy to action, but it is now clear to all large companies that there is a clear return on investment in this field.”

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Does the economic interest outweigh the environmental one?

«Until a few years ago, only companies with values ​​historically more devoted to sustainability, leaders, moved. Today the “follower” realities have arrived, which follow the trend and thus make the transition even more widespread”.

What role do consumers play?

«They are another decisive push: it is clear that the end user, all of us, pay much more attention to sustainability and energy saving when we purchase products. This encourages companies to align.”

Is there anything a company can do to improve its approach to sustainability?

«To achieve the medium-term objectives of impact reduction it is necessary to change the approach, moving from a “silo” mentality to an “ecosystem” strategy. Large companies aiming for zero emissions must work 360 degrees, involving all company departments. The sustainability office is not separate from the rest, but acts as a conductor. Sustainability is the core business, it is not a side issue.”

Should the relationship with suppliers also change?

“Absolutely yes. To date, for many the main emissions derive precisely from the supplier chain. Large companies therefore must collaborate with the supply chain. The digital transition, which goes hand in hand with the green one, helps in this: information and digitalization are fundamental. The whole world of public and private financing goes in these two directions: go green and go digital».

A future of “green jobs” awaits us, jobs in the world of the green transition. What advice do you have for companies that want to attract the best talent?

«Companies must be transparent, not fall into the traps of greenwashing, i.e. the practices of describing a product or operation as “green” when it instead hides an unsustainable reality. Companies must win talent by showing results and concrete examples. For many young people, the sustainability of a company is now among the most sought-after aspects when choosing employment, together with the working environment and salary.”

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