Environmental Consulting Projects Are On The Rise As Firms Realign Sustainability Goals During The Pandemic
The month of September brings with it the 18-month anniversary of widespread COVID lockdowns across the world. The resulting shockwave of national lockdowns, isolations, vaccinations and transmission management has resulted in a complete evolution of corporate priorities. The recent Verdantix EHS Services Survey looked to assess how the turbulence of the pandemic has influenced spending on EHS consulting projects. Surprisingly, when asked how COVID-19 had impacted EHS services spend, respondents indicated the pandemic had induced a noticeable increase in environmental project spending, with 50% of respondents citing between an increase in budgets. This raises the question: In the height of the global pandemic, what factors influenced environmental ventures to take precedence over health and safety projects?
A prominent driver for the increase in environmental projects is that the pandemic has offered firms the opportunity to step back and realign environmental goals. This sustainability focused endeavour is part of a wider corporate effort to build business resilience and de-risk operations. A prominent risk that firms face is the tightening of environmental regulations. Witness Flybe, which was fined £51.9 million for failing to surrender allowances to cover emissions from its planes. Compounding the risk of regulation is the threat of brand degradation, especially with the large shift in customer preference towards sustainable products and services. This factor influenced Nestlé CEO, Mark Schneider, to announce an improved focus on regenerative farming practices within the firm, citing sustainability concerns in the younger customer base as the prominent driver. To facilitate such large-scale change towards more eco-friendly operations, firms are increasingly turning to the expertise environment and sustainability service firms provide.
The increasing investor scrutiny of environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives has forced an extreme shift to focus on sustainability. The first quarter of 2021 saw the global issuance of a huge $231bn of sustainable bonds, this a key indicator growing demand for green opportunities. Firms have looked to transform their ESG credentials, with a heavy focus on the environmental consulting endeavours into air emission, impact assessments, waste management and natural environment protection. To cater for growing corporate appetite for environmental projects, EHS services have moved swiftly to bolster their environmental capabilities, take ERM which has acquired multiple boutique sustainability consultancies within 2021 including RCG, Element Energy, E4tech and Sustainalize.
If you’re interested in learning more about EHS service market trends, read Verdantix’s latest Global Survey: EHS Services Budgets, Preferences And Priorities.