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Bain & Company reveals challenges in achieving sustainability goals in the MENA region

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A recent study by Bain & Company has highlighted a significant gap between the sustainability intentions and actions of organizations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. While 70 percent of MENA organizations have set ambitious sustainability targets, only a fraction are on track to meet them, according to Bain & Company’s latest insights shared by Samer Bohsali, head of the social and public sector practice in the Middle East. 

The report underscores the critical challenges hindering these organizations from reaching their sustainability goals. Notably, 40 percent of organizations do not integrate sustainability into their strategic frameworks, and 80 percent suffer from inadequate cross-departmental collaboration, treating sustainability as a peripheral issue rather than a core operational strategy. 

Further complicating matters is the disconnect between setting high-level sustainability goals and implementing them at the operational level. Less than 20 percent of companies ensure that the sustainability goals set by their leadership are actionable and feasible for the teams responsible for their execution. Additionally, organizational inertia and an excessive caution towards changing operational practices to incorporate sustainability measures are prevalent, with only 55 percent of organizations considering themselves adaptable enough to implement significant sustainable practices. 

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Despite these challenges, the push towards sustainability is gaining momentum due to shifting consumer preferences and investor priorities. Consumers increasingly favor companies with strong sustainability credentials, and nearly two-thirds of investors consider a company’s sustainability performance when making investment decisions. 

Bohsali emphasizes that addressing these hurdles requires a holistic approach to embedding sustainability within organizational operations. This involves aligning sustainability with the organization’s overall strategy, enhancing cross-functional collaboration, ensuring the feasibility of sustainability initiatives, and fostering a culture of innovation to continually advance sustainable practices. 

The Bain & Company report also touches on broader implications for global sustainability efforts, particularly in relation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With only 15 percent of SDGs currently on track globally, and many regressing, the need for concerted effort and strategic alignment in sustainability practices is more urgent than ever. 

Bain & Company’s findings and recommendations offer a roadmap for organizations not only in the MENA region but globally, to recalibrate their strategies and operations in line with sustainable development principles. This alignment is not only crucial for environmental and social welfare but also positions companies competitively in an increasingly conscientious market. As the world races against time to meet the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement targets, the insights from Bain & Company serve as both a warning and a guide on the path to a sustainable future. 

Dr. Edward Mungai
Dr. Edward Mungaihttp://www.edwardmungai.com/
The writer, Dr. Edward Mungai, is a global sustainability expert. He is the Lead Consultant and Partner at Impact Africa Consulting Ltd (IACL), a leading sustainability and strategy advisory in Africa. He is also the Chief Editor at Africa Sustainability Matters. He can be contacted via mailto:edward@edwardmungai.com

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