More CEOs are prioritising sustainability

May 10th, 2024

The majority of CEOs are prioritising delivering on their sustainability journey but face challenges from the broader economic market.

EY’s CEO Outlook survey found 77% of CEOs surveyed said that delivering on broader societal demand to accelerate their sustainability journey is a priority.

Additionally, more than half of the respondents (55%) said they see sustainability issues as a higher priority today than they did 12 months ago.

However, against the backdrop of a challenging economic environment, nearly one in four (23%) responded that they have deprioritised sustainability, with 18% stating that this was due to financial circumstances and a further 5% looking to focus on other boardroom priorities.

The survey also found investors are pulling back from ESG issues, as 35% of institutional investors said that sustainability is a lower priority for their investment portfolios than it was 12 months ago.

Andrea Guerzoni, EY global vice chair – strategy and transactions, said: “A misalignment in priorities between short-term financial returns at the expense of achieving sustainability targets more swiftly may be shortsighted.

“Although it’s reassuring to see that CEOs remain positive about their business outlook with many remaining committed to accelerating or delivering on their decarbonization targets, the fact that nearly one in four CEOs are moving sustainability down their business agenda is disappointing for those who look to companies to set the tone of this topic.”

The survey also found investment in technology, including artificial intelligence (AI) to improve growth and productivity, is a top priority for nearly half (47%) of CEOs over the next 12 months.

Last year, the UN Global Compact-Accenture (UNGC) CEO study found CEOs needed to accelerate their work in sustainability in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Last Updated: 10 May 2024