It’s time for emerging Europe to strengthen its commitment to sustainability

A major new report highlights the commendable progress emerging Europe has made on implementing ESG principles, but suggests much more still needs to be done. 

Businesses, governments and civil society across emerging Europe increasingly understand and support the need for a more sustainable approach to growth, but the principles of ESG (environmental, social, governance) need to be reinforced, measured and standardised in order to facilitate significant change. 

This is one of the key findings of a significant new study, the Future of Emerging Europe Sustainability Report, published this week by Emerging Europe as part of the Future of Emerging Europe programme. 

This year’s report, the second edition, is a thorough analysis of national and regional developments and trends related to sustainable, entrepreneurship- and innovation-driven progress in the emerging Europe region, which presents a multilayered approach to the concept of sustainability and maps its current state in the region, focusing on five critical dimensions: people, prosperity, planet, partnership and peace.   

Alongside original research, case studies and data analysis it features the opinions of more than 100 thought leaders from across the globe, who offer their own views on the current state of play and offer insights into how the region can boost its sustainability. 

“Having previously had to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, stakeholders in the emerging Europe region now have to deal with the economic uncertainty caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” says Andrew Wrobel, co-founder of Emerging Europe. “All this while tackling the wider challenge of climate change, which has yet to be properly addressed. 

“This report does not offer all the answers to these pressing challenges, but it does offer anyone with an interest in ensuring that the region can make further progress a guide as to how that can be not just achieved, but achieved sustainably.” 

Key recommendations 

The report makes several key recommendations. It calls for an integrated approach to ESG, suggesting that the region and its individual countries develop new practices that will lead to an increase in sustainability, transparency, and resilience.   

Education must also be given a boost, as there is still not enough knowledge and experience in the field of sustainability to fully engage in the necessary societal process of change.  

“Sustainable and digital education must be part of the continuous learning process for all stakeholders,” the report says. 

Partnerships are also fundamental. Understanding and sharing best practices is crucial: not only with global organisations but also, and more importantly, through regional collaboration and successful sector-based networking initiatives that can offer the region additional competitiveness.

Effective standards, innovative leadership 

Additionally, the report underlines the importance of creating a people-driven economy. Sustainability strategies should focus on the added value of people and how they can boost organisational performance.  

Organisations must adopt effective standards to value human capital as part of their ESG efforts. People rely on financial incentives, but also on purpose – a holistic approach to wellbeing that should come from clear ESG policies, stronger diversity and inclusion, and flexibility.  

Finally, innovative leadership will be needed to implement best practices or efficient regulation. These improvements can lead to sustainable investment, digitalisation, education and social cohesion, all crucial elements when facing uncertainty in the global economy and protecting the region from future potential crises.  

“The next generation of leaders must go beyond political or economic imperatives to become ESG facilitators, as they will be assessed by different criteria than those used in the past,” the report says. 

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