Sustainability Strategy
The sustainability strategy sets the framework and priorities for responsible business activity.

Challenge – what is the sustainability strategy for?

Businesses become increasingly measured for their contribution to sustainable development. Sustainability therefore needs to be a priority of the corporate management, formulated as part of the company strategy and anchored in the core business along the value chain. The sustainability strategy sets the guidelines and priorities for responsible business activity, and creates the framework parameter for sustainable products, sustainable value creation and the interaction with the different stakeholder groups.

Solution – how to formulate the sustainability strategy?

SustainNet Consulting supports you in formulating your individual sustainability strategy, in alignment with your company strategy, your organization and the expectations and needs of your most important stakeholder groups. The defined corporate sustainability strategy can also be broken down in functional sustainability strategies, for example a sustainable procurement strategy. The fields of action should be described clearly and the respectively goals should be defined in a SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Reasonable Time Bound) way, to realize the internal and external communicative impact, and to generate sustainable value for your business, for the environment and society.

Approach – Steps to formulate the sustainability strategy

Formulating a (functional) sustainability strategy includes primarily the following elements, Those should be documented and detailed in context of sustainability reporting and used as instrument for managing the business.
Mission & Vision
The sustainability mission and vision describe the company’s aspiration for sustainability. The mission outlines, to what extend sustainability is part of the corporate purpose. The vision describes the company’s guiding principles and values with regard to sustainability. Both elements should be defined in alignment with the corporate strategy. Leading companies thereby don’t need a separate sustainability strategy, as sustainability is integral part of their corporate strategy.
Fields of Action & Goals
A successful sustainability strategy is characterized by the selection of material fields of action. But which fields of action are material? To answer this question, SustainNet Consulting supports organizations to conduct a materiality analysis. This analysis is aimed at setting the right thematic emphases for your sustainability respectively CSR activities. To identify the materiality of topics, a combination of internal (impact on the business) and external (importance to stakeholders) factors is incorporated, inquired and evaluated jointly with the organization and its different stakeholder groups. To initially derive relevant fields of action, SustainNet Consulting considers internationally recognized guidelines and standards such as the UN Global Compact and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The materiality analysis can be supported by further analysis and information sources, such as stakeholder analysis, SWOT analysis, spend data, lifecycle assessments (LCA), competitor benchmarks and case studies, sector-based initiatives and scientific studies.

The identified and prioritized fields of action are to be interlinked with measurable goals, targeting at realizing the sustainability strategy. Based on these fields of action, concrete actions and related performance indicators can be derived along the value chain in a next step.

Governance & Responsibilities
A strategy can only be sustainable if lived by the organization. While the detailed description of roles and responsibilities is part of the operating model design phase, the principles and governance mechanisms of the sustainability organization should be outlined in context of the sustainability strategy description. This relates to the central sustainability management by the board, as well as to potential sustainability committees and campaign teams. Also recognized guidelines, standards and certifications, which the organization is committed to, can be documented here, as well as related reviews in form of internal and external audits.
Stakeholder Dialogue & Communication
A company’s products of services make an impact on humans and the environment in different ways. At the same time, the company’s success and reputation are influences by the aspirations and needs of its stakeholders. A continuous stakeholder dialogue contributes to early detecting important trends and new developments, to identifying risks and chances and to jointly realizing sustainability goals. The findings of this dialogue represent valuable input factors for future materiality analysis, and ensure that the sustainability strategy is constantly lived and updated. Sustainability reports are a useful way to regularly inform the stakeholders about the organization’s sustainability efforts.