International update: Developing a sustainable strategy

Published: Wednesday 5 January 2022

Over the last century, humankind has made unthinkable technological progress. However, the digital world cannot prosper unless we address the problems previously created.

Five thousand years of farming has left the earth’s soils degraded and natural biodiversity disrupted. Wildlife populations have decreased by 60% since the 1970s due to growing consumption of food and natural resources.

The Industrial Revolution further disrupted many ecosystems, triggering global temperature rises as a result of large amounts of carbon dioxide being expelled.

There is no doubt that reliance on polluting energy sources and unrestrained emissions to the atmosphere, waterways and soils have cast a severe toll on our planet and the call for sustainability has been loud and clear. Governments, stakeholders and customers alike are pressing businesses to make their operations greener.

Sustainable businesses are better positioned for thriving in the new economic reality.

Hazlewoods is an independent member of HLB, a global network of independent professional accounting firms and business advisers, ready to assist you no matter where you want to do business. HLB, has developed a three-step roadmap aimed at helping businesses reroute their strategy towards sustainability.

Step 1: Baselining

Before you begin to make any changes, you must understand your starting point, what imprint does your business leave today and how will it contribute to your future operations.

Once you understand this, you can re-assess what is required to reach new milestones:

  • Carry out a materiality assessment
  • Use a carbon calculator to find your business imprint
  • Perform risk mapping and review of the risk register
  • Set target outcomes and milestones

Many businesses already have some of the information they need for understanding their carbon footprint but lack the technology needed for consolidating these insights. New technologies such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data analytics will assist companies with generating more advanced operational measurements.

Step 2: Realigning your business model

Once you have established your baseline, your next step is to create a roadmap that will allow you to create a more sustainable long-term business model designed for a net-zero economy. Every business will need a unique pathway to reach this, but there are some universal business areas that should be addressed in most cases:

  • Supply chain management
  • Logistics and distribution
  • Manufacturing
  • Product development
  • Circular economy

Technologies, such as cloud, electrification, alternative fuels, e-commerce and payment digitisation can help to accelerate your transition.

Step 3: Monitoring and reporting

Twenty-five countries, including the UK, have made environmental social and governance (ESG) disclosures and reporting mandatory for larger companies. Even if the legislature does not yet apply to you, stakeholders may enquire about your plans, meaning that monitoring progress will be essential to deliver your vision:

  • Consolidate and collect CSR data
  • Select the optimal tools and reporting frameworks
  • Review government incentives to accelerate change
  • Monitor the regulatory changes

Automating data input, AI and data analytics solutions can help you with with collecting, analysing and reporting your metrics.

Neutrality in your actions will not allow you to profit from carbon neutral initiatives, and those who are not proactive risk losing market share to more sustainable players. You can read the complete HLB 2021 sustainability report here.

For international business enquiries, please contact Scott Lawrence on or 01242 680000.


Content image: /uploads/team/unknown.jpg Scott Lawrence
Scott Lawrence
Partner, Audit and Assurance
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