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March 6, 2012

E&Y: CFOs more involved in sustainability

Two thirds of the chief financial officers are directly involved in company sustainability efforts, according to a recent study by Ernst & Young (E&Y) media company GreenBiz Group.

The study is based on a survey of 272 sustainability executives from 24 industries, 85% of whom are based in the United States.

The research found six growing trends in corporate responsibility including an increase in sustainability reporting and in the CFOs involvement in sustainability initiatives.

According to the study, 80% of the respondents see revenue opportunities in sustainability and 92% expect sustainability funding to stay the same or increase over the next three years.

Three quarters of the sustainability executives said a natural resources shortage, including water, will directly affect their core business objectives over the next 3-5 years. A similar amount noted they had seen an increase in inquiries about sustainability issues from investors and shareholders.

“These findings suggest sustainability efforts are becoming integrated into the corporate fabric of most large companies,” said Steve Starbuck, E&Y Americas climate change and sustainability services leader.

“However, sustainability projects may be challenged by the fact that two-thirds of companies require them to meet the same financial payback requirements as other investments.

“While sustainability initiatives can provide financial returns, their intangible benefits, such as employee retention and reputational advantages should also be factored into the return on investment.”

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