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Sustainability Remains A Challenge For U.S. Businesses

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson


Two new reports recently released by EIRIS and CERES suggest that U.S. businesses are making progress on sustainability initiatives but may lag behind European companies. On May 1st, EIRIS released On Track for Rio+20: How are Global Companies Responding to Sustainability? On April 25th, Ceres released The Road to 2020: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap to Sustainability.

EIRIS looked at the sustainability performance of more than 2,000 global companies and rated the 50 largest, by market capitalization, using a scale of "A" through "E." The researchers looked at the extent to which a company has social, environmental, or governance impacts or risks and then looked at how well the company manages those impacts, using more than 300 sustainability indicators. European companies generally rated higher due to stricter sustainability laws as well as greater public awareness there, according to Mark Robertson, the report's author and spokesman for EIRIS.

The Ceres report conducted a detailed evaluation of how well 600 major U.S. corporations are meeting key sustainability expectations. The good news is that there are pockets of corporate sustainability leadership; companies that are making significant strides towards becoming truly sustainable enterprises. In the process they're not only laying the groundwork for their own success, they're making a real contribution to building a sustainable global economy for all. The bad news is that most companies have barely begun the journey towards sustainability and remain stuck in outmoded ways of doing business. The pace of change must accelerate because our major sustainability threats such as climate change and water scarcity are coming at us faster and harder than projected just a few years ago.

These reports are being issued in advance of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June.

EIRIS is a leading global provider of independent research into the environmental, social, governance (ESG) and ethical performance of companies. An independent, not-for-profit organization, EIRIS works to help our clients develop the market in ways that benefit investors, asset managers and the wider world. Its mission is to empower responsible investors with independent assessments of companies and advice on integrating them with investment decisions.

Ceres is an advocate for sustainability leadership. Ceres mobilizes a powerful network of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Its mission is to mobolize investors and business leadership to build a thriving, sustainable global economy.

More information about sustainability research and these reports are available at http://www.eiris.org/ and http://www.ceres.org/.