Nordic countries are world-renowned sustainability leaders, both when it comes to exceeding other regions’ sustainability regulations and in the aggressive targets they set for themselves.
It’s no wonder, then, that many businesses in the region are progressive when it comes to incorporating sustainability as part of their growth strategy. Many are pushing the boundaries to become sustainability pioneers by transforming their business models and developing new products and services.
According to our recent study of 3,000 executives globally, including 311 from the Nordics region (83 from Sweden, 81 from Denmark, 76 from Norway and 71 from Finland), Nordic businesses are also very open to the use of technology to reach their sustainability goals. In the study, conducted with Oxford Economics, more than half of respondents said they’d deployed an array of core digital technologies to improve their sustainability performance (I.e., cloud, IoT and artificial intelligence and analytics), and more than eight in 10 respondents said they were using digital tools to make their operations more energy-efficient.
This use of technology includes both designing solutions that support the sustainability agenda (such as using AI for reporting, and blockchain for traceability) and using sustainable technology itself. For example, many businesses have strict requirements in place to buy data center services from highly green providers and buy energy through power purchase agreements or through 24x7 carbon-free energy providers.
A key next step for the region will be focusing on sustainability governance. While C-level executives are more involved than ever in these strategies, our study reveals a need for more accountability for success at the top corporate levels. More businesses are hiring chief sustainability officers (CSO), but there’s still work to be done to create the right KPIs and ensure people are incentivized to achieve them across the organization.
Already, Nordic businesses are making this shift as they gain more clarity on what an effective chief sustainability officer role looks like, how accountability should be allocated and how to design a governance structure that matches the sustainability strategy. The new breed of business leaders sees sustainability as intertwined with value creation, which calls for measurable KPIs connected to the sustainability agenda. Increasingly, it will be irresistible for the C-suite to embrace this change and be part of the value creation as well.
Through our analysis of the study findings, we devised five recommendations for how businesses in the Nordics can outperform their markets by embedding sustainability at their core.
#1: Boost sustainability investments to realize full business value