70% of Asia-Pacific businesses see sustainability as important

Only 24% of APAC businesses agree that they have a well-developed plan to tackle climate change. 74% of APAC businesses reporting higher profits have a formal ESG program in place. 

Vodafone Business today released the APAC edition of its annual global  study, revealing that APAC businesses see a strong case for sustainability. Additionally, the study also  highlights that more needs to be done to account for climate change in business planning to meet net  zero targets with technology and collaboration playing a key role. 

The annual global study, commissioned by Vodafone Business and conducted by B2B International – Fit  for the Future1 – surveyed 3,101 businesses across 15 countries, including 748 businesses across the  APAC region. The study found a gap between businesses’ view of sustainability and actual action being  taken: 

• 70% of APAC businesses view sustainability as a necessary or important strategic goal. • 1 in 2 businesses in APAC (52%) agree that businesses should focus on preventing climate  change.  

• However, less than a quarter (24%) of APAC businesses agree that they have a well-developed  plan in place to tackle climate change. 

• Additionally, less than half (41%) say they are committed to moving towards net zero emissions,  and only a third (35%) say they are taking action to offset their carbon impact.  

Business case for environmentally sustainable practices driven by strong customer and investor  demand in APAC 

APAC businesses implementing sustainability practices into their business planning are realising  significant business benefits from doing so. The study found 74% of businesses reporting higher profits this year, have a formal ESG program in place. This is significantly higher compared to firms that reported lower profits, where less than half (47%) said they have such programs in place.  

This is largely due to increased customer and investor interest. Customer demand (50%) emerged as the  top factor driving APAC businesses to view ESG as a key competitive differentiator.  

More than half (58%) also say that customers and clients are becoming more demanding of the  companies they buy from to practise environmental sustainability.  

Whilst majority of APAC businesses believe that there is a strong customer demand for sustainability, only  about a third (34%) say customers are willing to pay more for environmentally sustainable products and  services. This points to how customers expect companies to adopt sustainable practices, without translating into higher costs for them.  

Investor demand is also a key driver, with 58% of large enterprises in APAC reporting that their investors  are focusing on sustainable businesses.  

Tech skills and innovation needed to overcome barriers to sustainability  

The report also found that the top three top barriers to sustainability in APAC are: 

● The lack of maturity of key technologies that will enable sustainability (31%). ● Lack of skills in green technologies (30%). 

● Lack of understanding on how to improve sustainability in their organisations (29%).  

More collaboration (78%) and breakthroughs in technology are needed to drive progress towards  sustainability goals in the region.  

In particular, the top three areas where technology innovation is needed are adoption of renewable  energy (41%), improving data connectivity (41%), improving traceability (e.g., using data analytics and  blockchain) to make better supply chain decisions (41%). “While there is recognition across APAC on the importance of environmental sustainability, there is a clear  opportunity for businesses to take more concrete actions, particularly driven by customers and investor  demand. Technology plays a key role in helping businesses overcome the barriers and move towards  sustainability goals, with over 70% of businesses in APAC agreeing that technology breakthroughs are  needed to enable progress,” said Bhupinder Singh, President, Asia Pacific & Middle East, at Vodafone  Business, “Fit for the Future businesses recognise the importance of creating a sustainable future, and  Vodafone Business is ready to collaborate on innovative solutions to support businesses on both their  sustainability and digital transformation journeys.”

Read the Fit for the Future APAC report here.