Sustainability isn’t just the right thing to do for the good of the planet, it is the right thing to do for the financial performance of your business.

A recent SAP study revealed that 70% of Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) businesses see a moderate to strong relationship between sustainability and their organisation’s competitiveness.

Introducing the APJ Sustainability Champions

These businesses, called APJ Sustainability Champions, are more likely than their counterparts to achieve both environmental and financial outcomes.

The study, which surveyed 1,300 respondents across APJ, found APJ Sustainability Champions are almost twice as likely as companies who don’t see a strong relationship between sustainability and competitiveness to have achieved significant revenue and profit results in the past year.

Over half (58%) of the APJ Sustainability Champions saw revenue growth of more than 6% compared to just 37% of other businesses. Similarly, while 62% of APJ Sustainability Champions experienced profit of over 6% in the past year, just 35% of companies who don’t link sustainability and competitiveness could say the same.

That success is expected to continue. Significantly higher numbers of APJ Sustainability Champions are predicting more than 10% growth in revenue (36%) and profit (41%) in 2024 compared to other companies (16% and 17% respectively).

How are APJ Sustainability Champions driving financial outcomes from sustainability?

There are three key ways APJ Sustainability Champions behave differently to other organisations that help them unlock sustainability as tangible profit drivers.

  1. APJ Sustainability Champions measure in actuals not averages

APJ Sustainability Champions are significantly more likely to use real sustainability data rather than averages and estimates.

Nine in ten (89%) APJ Sustainability Champions collect energy and emissions data by direct measurement compared to 72% of other businesses. By using actual data instead of averages, businesses can utilise accurate numbers when it comes to making core decisions for the business.

This is an area when more businesses in APJ businesses can improve. Based on our survey, the Asia Pacific and Japan region trails the rest of the world when it comes to directly measuring energy consumption and emissions (79% in APJ vs. 83% globally), resource availability (76% vs. 79%), and materials use (71% vs. 76%).

  1. APJ Sustainability Champions integrate sustainability into decision-making

Almost six in ten (59%) APJ Sustainability Champions use sustainability data to inform strategic and operational decision-making to a strong degree, compared to just 25% of other businesses. Just one per cent do not use sustainability data in decision-making at all.

This requires conscious effort to make sustainability fundamental to organisational processes. Integrating sustainability into accounting and ERP systems into the business at every level of operations creates a ‘green ledger’.

This allows businesses to understand and view exactly where emissions are occurring in order to set achievable targets and to identify areas which would benefit most from decarbonisation.

  1. APJ Sustainability Champions record broadly and share sustainability data across their ecosystem

APJ Sustainability Champions are experienced collecting sustainability data, with 65% of APJ Sustainability Champions collecting data for more than five years.

But they also cast their nets wide, measuring data for energy consumption and emissions (79%), air pollution (66%), and resource availability (60%). Almost half (49%) of APJ Sustainability Champions expressed complete satisfaction with the data quality they collect, compared to just 8% of other businesses.

But, more than that, they know sustainability isn’t an issue for their organisation alone. Scope 3 emissions are accrued across your entire supply chain, and require proactive, transparent action to monitor and manage.

APJ Sustainability Champions expect to exchange sustainability data across their ecosystem. Almost half (48%) of APJ Sustainability Champions require sustainability data from suppliers, compared to just 22% of other businesses.

It’s time to harness sustainability data for the health of our planet and our businesses

APJ is the world’s largest carbon emitter, and also home to many fast-growing economies. The region not only has the most to lose from the effects of climate change, but also the biggest opportunity for businesses who link sustainability to their organisational performance.

The example of the APJ Sustainability Champions should act as a clear call to action for businesses across APJ to measure real sustainability data, integrate it into their core businesses via a green ledger, and share sustainability data across their ecosystem.

Sustainability and business growth isn’t an either-or challenge. It’s a win-win.

Gina McNamara is Regional Chief Financial Officer, SAP Asia Pacific & Japan

Find out more about SAP’s APJ sustainability solutions here, or get further reading about our SAP Sustainability Study here.