The UN Global Compact and Accenture (NYSE: ACN) have today released a series of new reports, Sustainable Energy for All: The Business Opportunity. Outlining business action across 19 industry sectors, the reports highlight how businesses can create value by supporting the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which aims to expand energy access worldwide, improve energy efficiency and increase the share of renewables.
The body of work features 19 “Industry Opportunity” reports focusing on individual sectors, including retail; food and agriculture; automotive; information and communications technology (ICT); chemicals; mining; utilities; transportation; healthcare; financial services; travel and leisure; and renewable energy. The reports aim to provide guidance and inspire companies across all industries to take action in pursuit of sustainable energy.
Based on research and interviews with more than 70 companies, the reports recommend several industry priority actions designed to advance the goals of Sustainable Energy for All.
Fifty percent of the recommended actions within the reports focus on energy efficiency, 38 percent on renewable energy use and 12 percent on access to energy. The five most common priority actions identified across all sectors were driving energy efficiency in operations as well as through energy efficient products and services; the use of renewable energy in operations; reusing waste streams; and engaging in stakeholder engagement and advocacy.
Highlighting that all industry sectors have a role to play in advancing the sustainable energy agenda, the reports point to four ways in which businesses can derive value from supporting the initiative: reducing cost, mitigating risks, generating new revenues and enhancing brand reputation. For example, the reports estimate that the mining industry could reduce costs by up to 10 to 15 percent; retail by up to 20 percent; utilities by up to 25 percent; and public building portfolios by up to 35 percent.
The new reports also identify two major challenges: the lack of global policy and regulatory solutions, and the subsequent need for sectors to introduce industry-wide standards that provide governments with a framework to support. Meanwhile, the high level of risk associated with the recommended actions is also identified, and incorporates suggestions that the creation of new financing mechanisms and instruments will be required by both the public and private sectors.
“The business community is well-positioned to lead the effort to advance the goals of Sustainable Energy for All, and to generate new revenue streams and reduce costs as they do so,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “While government incentives are critical, sector-wide initiatives will be key to make progress without compromising healthy competition. The business case for action is compelling.”
“It is clear that real progress in delivering sustainable energy to the 1.3 billion people who don’t have it today will be achieved within industry sectors,” said Dave Abood, managing director, Sustainability Services North America at Accenture. “Leading companies will compete and collaborate to drive affordable innovations at scale, but policy and financial innovation will play a part too. These industry reports will help all stakeholders agree joint steps forward.”
About Sustainable Energy for All
Launched by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Sustainable Energy for All brings together governments, businesses and civil society groups in an unprecedented effort to transform the world's energy systems by 2030. The Secretary-General has set three complimentary objectives for the initiative, all to be achieved by 2030: ensure universal access to modern energy services; double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. www.sustainableenergyforall.org
About the UN Global Compact
Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is a both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With 7,000 corporate signatories in 135 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative. www.unglobalcompact.org
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with 257,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$27.9 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2012. Its home page is www.accenture.com