Finland has, for the first time, been ranked number one in the annual international comparison of sustainable development ranking published by the UN and the Bertelsmann Foundation. The comparison assesses countries’ progress on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals. But what does this mean for Finland and business in Finland?
Sustainability is a word which can be interpreted in different ways. For some, sustainability reflects challenges like climate change, deforestation, biodiversity, and the depletion of wildlife. This definition of sustainability as the future of human beings within nature has become the dominant use of the terminology in recent years. In a business context, sustainability has also been a concept with a somewhat different meaning: how do you create a successful business, product, or service, that is has a long-term value for clients and shareholders, with a sufficient cost structure to provide enough profit for owners. This way of viewing sustainability is linked to long-term business value that can withstand short term market fluctuations.
In recent years, these different interpretations of sustainability have started to merge: business sustainability are including more elements from wider societal and ecological sustainability. Investors are rewarding companies that prepare for climate change and take also societal sustainability seriously with higher stock prices. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) sustainability is seen as a healthy risk management strategy, while bringing additional value to clients and bringing more competitiveness in the marketplace. And this where Cognizant comes in.
According to the ranking, Finland has achieved, or is close to achieving, the UN Sustainable Development Goals related to poverty alleviation, health, education, water, energy, reducing inequality, peace, and the rule of law.
But Finland’s greatest challenges are related to the fight against climate change, the need for more sustainable consumption and production patterns and halting the loss of biodiversity.
Cognizant Center for Future Work conducted a study on how sustainability is already impacting investments (Green Rush: The Economic Imperative for Sustainability (cognizant.com)). An important finding is that the companies have already started to change their investment patterns to suit the new realities of sustainability. Green is indicative of both money and the environment. One thing remains constant, though: investments need to pass the test of profitability and charity is still a separate domain.
In the Nordics, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark have been leading in the inclusion of the ESG sustainability as part of conducting business especially in the manufacturing industries. Finland is now following suit, driven by technology companies. Cognizant has just signed an agreement with Microsoft in Finland; a partner pledge to ensure responsible and sustainable use of technology. With Google, Cognizant has partnered to reduce climate impact on the use of technology in Finland as well. Globally, Cognizant has committed to achieving zero emissions by 2030, becoming one of the first companies of its kind to give a positive commitment to include different aspects of sustainability in its operations.
After all, sustainability is about thinking value in the long term, in all its definitions.
We are well positioned to help our clients achieve their Environment Sustainability goals within UN’s Sustainable Development Goal framework.