A turbulent decade ahead for the environment, sustainability and governance (ESG) Bowen Watt 1 March 2023

A turbulent decade ahead for the environment, sustainability and governance (ESG)

WEF risks

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has set out the most-severe global risks we face over the next 10 years. But can UK organisations mitigate the risk of climate change and damage to the environment by balancing the needs of nature and the economy?

The 2023 Global Risk Report from the World Economic Forum is a sobering read for anyone responsible for the ESG in a big organisation. The Global Risk Report identifies the major risks to economies and societies over a two-year and 10-year period. It’s based on a survey of more than 1,200 risk experts from academia, business and government.

Most-severe global risk

For the next two years, they perceive that the top-10 global risks ranked by severity will be heavily influenced by socio-economic factors such as the aftermath of the pandemic, the global cost-of-living crisis and war in Europe (see figure 1).

Fast forward 10 years, however, and five out of the top six risks will relate to climate change and damage caused to the environment by human activity, including a new category of ‘biodiversity loss and eco-system collapse’.

According to the WEF, ‘together, these [environmental risks] are converging to shape a unique, uncertain and turbulent decade to come’.

Turbulent risk profile

For UK organisations, this turbulent risk profile will create a default state of churn surrounding their ESG action plans.

What’s more, national governments are more likely to seek change within business and local authorities through legislation, penalties and incentives.

For example, the UK Government is already pushing ahead with the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. By the end of 2023, this seeks to remove, revise or retain the body of EU-derived law currently in force, which forms the basis for most environmental regulation in this country.

“In our experience, most organisations are sincere when it comes to their ESG aspirations.”
Bowen Watt
Senior Contracts Manager, Middlemarch

Aspirations for ESG

In our experience, most organisations are sincere when it comes to their ESG aspirations.

But with the Global Risk Report in mind, they might find that identifying the right pathway towards a more responsible future will prove increasingly difficult.

Responsible approach

At Middlemarch, we work with a number of Tier 1 construction contractors on major infrastructure projects such as highways maintenance and new build, helping them to meet their commitments to the ESG.

The good news for nature is that most of these companies embrace the need to make changes well before this becomes mandatory. For example, they’ve had measures in place for some time to reduce their carbon footprint.

These contractors typically work to standard, embedded processes that allow them to operate efficiently and consistently across the whole of the business.

They’re also using the same, responsible methodology for the ESG as they would typically use for operational factors such as recruitment, quality and health and safety.

Part of a Wildlife Trust

Middlemarch is the largest environment consultancy in the country that’s owned by a Wildlife Trust. This means we’re ideally positioned to work with integrity on balancing the needs of nature with the needs of an organisation’s stakeholders and shareholders.

We can help organisations deploy ecological best practice to maximise the commercial opportunities within their schemes, while limiting the risk to the environment and their reputation.

In an increasingly turbulent world, that has to be a sound approach, not only for the UK and global economies, but also for the ESG.

Find out more

(i) World Economic Forum
(ii) Retained EU Law Revocation and reform Bill

Download the World Economic Form Global Risk Report.

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