Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations

Results of the III Sustainability Observatory in Ibero-America


Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations

Results of the III Sustainability Observatory in Ibero-America

IThe III Observatory of Sustainability in Ibero-America, published in the context of an economic, social and environmental crisis, analyzes in detail the integration of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) policies in the region. Focusing on sustainability strategies aligned with the 2030 Agenda, this report compiles the opinions of nearly 800 organizations, both business and associative, assessing sustainability risks and trends.

The observatory's sample includes 774 companies and associations from 21 Ibero-American countries, distributed geographically with 63.2% in the Americas and 36.8% in Europe. The majority participation comes from the business sector, representing 72.2% of the organizations surveyed, compared to 27.8% from the associative sector.

The organizations surveyed vary significantly in size and turnover. One third of the companies report a turnover of less than 1 million US dollars (MUSD), while approximately one in ten exceeds 1,000 MUSD. In terms of employees, the classification includes micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) with less than 10 employees, SMEs with 10-250 employees, and large companies with more than 250 employees, maintaining an equal proportion of around 30% for each category.

The perception of CSR among organizations in Ibero-America has evolved notably. The environmental approach dominates with 47%, followed by contribution to society with 42% and business ethics with 39%. This approach has intensified with respect to the previous year, reflecting a growing prioritization of good governance, which rose from twelfth to fifth position in terms of relevance.

The commitment to sustainability is reflected in the implementation of specific programs that address environmental, social and governance challenges. Companies are integrating CSR practices into their corporate strategies, demonstrating a holistic approach to achieving sustainable prosperity.

Within companies and associations, the CSR function shows an evolution in its structuring and allocation of responsibilities. The surveys reveal that the positions interviewed include mainly chairmen, controlling shareholders and board members, followed by sustainability/CSR directors and other managerial profiles such as legal and human resources advisors. This ensures that the opinions gathered come from individuals with strategic vision and relevant experience.

The incorporation of CSR into the organizational structure implies a commitment at the strategic level, ensuring that sustainability policies are integrated at all levels of the company. This cross-cutting approach allows CSR initiatives to be not just isolated projects, but essential components of corporate strategy.

Participating companies implement a variety of specific CSR and sustainability programs, encompassing environmental, social and governance initiatives. These programs are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and seek to address global challenges through innovative and sustainable solutions.

Andrés Allamand, May López, Antonio Garamendi and Antonio Rodríguez

Among the initiatives highlighted are programs for reducing carbon emissions, sustainable management of natural resources, promoting diversity and inclusion, and strengthening transparency and business ethics. These programs reflect a commitment to sustainability that goes beyond regulatory compliance, seeking to generate a positive impact on society and the environment.

The report underscores the importance of global movements in promoting CSR. The responsibility for achieving sustainability is shared between governments, business, private finance and consumers. Clear and defined economic, social and climate policies by governments, together with investments aligned with ESG criteria, are essential to drive meaningful change.

International collaboration and multi-stakeholder partnerships are key to addressing global sustainability challenges. Movements such as the UN Global Compact and the Principles for Responsible Investment initiative are playing a crucial role in promoting sustainable business practices and mobilizing resources towards responsible investments.

CSR and sustainability strategies are expected to continue to gain importance in the coming years. Companies and associations must irreversibly integrate these practices into their operations to contribute to economic, social and environmental recovery. Promoting new regenerative models that foster real global prosperity is an emerging priority.

The evolution towards a more sustainable economy will require an innovative approach and the adoption of new technologies. Companies must be prepared to adapt to an ever-changing regulatory environment and to respond to the growing expectations of consumers and other stakeholders regarding sustainability.

The III Observatory of Sustainability in Ibero-America paints an encouraging picture of the adoption and evolution of CSR practices in the region. The growing involvement of companies and associations in the implementation of ESG policies, together with a more integrated and strategic approach, suggests a firm commitment to sustainability. Collaboration among all stakeholders will be crucial to overcome the current crisis and promote sustainable and equitable development in the future.

The impact of CSR on Ibero-American society is significant and multifaceted. Companies are not only contributing to the reduction of their environmental footprint, but are also improving working conditions and promoting social inclusion. Corporate social responsibility programs have proven to be effective in improving the quality of life of local communities, creating a fairer and more equitable environment.

Sustainability initiatives are also driving business innovation, enabling companies to develop new products and services that meet the demands of conscious and responsible consumers. This, in turn, is generating new business opportunities and fostering sustainable economic growth.

Despite progress, companies in Ibero-America face several challenges in implementing their CSR strategies. 

Lack of financial resources, the absence of a clear regulatory framework and cultural barriers are some of the most common obstacles. However, these challenges also present opportunities for innovation and the development of creative solutions that can overcome these barriers.

Digitalization and the use of new technologies are emerging as key tools for sustainability. Companies are using technologies such as Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to improve the efficiency of their operations, reduce resource consumption and minimize their environmental impact. These technologies are also enabling greater transparency and traceability in supply chains, which is crucial to ensure sustainable and responsible practices.

Looking ahead, sustainability is expected to become a central component of business strategy in Ibero-America. Companies will need to take a proactive and collaborative approach, working closely with governments, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to address global sustainability challenges.

Raquel González Zamarreño, director of EAE Business School Madrid; Narciso Casado, permanent secretary of CEIB and director of CEOE's Department of Relations with Ibero-America; and Antonio Magraner, secretary general of FIJE.

The transition to a green and circular economy will be essential to ensure the long-term viability of companies. This will imply a significant change in traditional business models, with a greater emphasis on reusing resources, reducing waste and promoting responsible production and consumption practices.

The report of the III Observatory of Sustainability in Ibero-America also highlights several success stories of companies that have successfully implemented CSR strategies. These examples illustrate how companies can integrate sustainability into their business model and generate a positive impact on both their financial performance and society.

One notable example is that of a company in the energy sector that has managed to significantly reduce its carbon emissions by adopting clean and renewable technologies. This company has not only improved its reputation and relationship with stakeholders, but has also realized economic benefits through energy efficiency and reduced operating costs.

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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