The FT awards impactful SDA research

Financial Times’ Responsible Business Education

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SDA Bocconi School of Management has been playing a pioneering role in assessing the effects of corporate activities on oceans’ health and in outlining possible mitigation strategies. The Financial Times has now acknowledged this groundbreaking contribution by presenting one of SDA Bocconi's ongoing research projects with one of its Responsible Business Education Awards.

 

The Financial Times wrote that the award-winning Business for Ocean Sustainability (BfOS) project “was commended by judges as comprehensive and a nice blend of [being] academically grounded but also practical, raising awareness on a woefully understudied topic.”

 

The oceans are our planet’s largest life-support system and the future health of human populations depends on their healthy state, which is the topic of one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG-14 “Life Below Water”).

 

Researchers from SDA Bocconi, the National Research Council of Spain CSIC, and McKinsey & Company, all of them fully supported by One Ocean Foundation, analyzed the sustainability reports of 2,500 corporations were investigated through a GenAI tool and explored their awareness and activation regarding direct and indirect pressures on the ocean, their responses to these pressures, and the disclosure tools used.

 

Since 90% of the pressure on oceans comes from land-based activities with limited awareness of their downstream impact, the study confirmed that SDG-14 is one of the most neglected, with just 9% of the companies disclosing on it. However, 51% of the companies demonstrate awareness of the pressures their industries place on the oceans, 44% deploy mitigating activities, and 26% are aware and actively lead business responses to ocean challenges.

 

“We’ve noticed that, despite the delay in acknowledging this major challenge, once companies are informed, there is a large interest and willingness to actively engage,” said Stefano Pogutz (Professor of Practice of Corporate Sustainability at SDA Bocconi and Director of the full-time MBA program) to the Financial Times.

 

Next steps necessary to guarantee a working blue economy (i.e., a sustainable ocean economy) include:

 

  • Raising awareness among non-blue economy industries, responsible for the bulk of the pressure on oceans (e.g., plastics producers, agriculture, hydrocarbons users);

 

  • Early engagement of businesses and finance in the search for innovative solutions. Neglecting such actors led to a 20-year delay in the fight against climate change;

 

  • Promoting business transparency via a shared system of disclosure and, possibly, of rating (the Ocean Disclosure Initiative).

 

The study “Business for Ocean Sustainability: Early Responses of Ocean Governance in the Private Sector,” includes among its authors four scholars from SDA Bocconi—Stefano Pogutz, Manlio de Silvio, Aristea Saputo, and Francesco Perrini — and is part of the BfOS project.

 

 

SDA Bocconi School of Management

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