Nearly two thirds of business leaders see sustainability as a low priority

See also: Engage with sustainability risks: HSBC

Fewer than one in three (29%) business leaders in a new poll believe that firms are making a significant contribution to sustainability.

Nearly two in three of them (63%) think that sustainability is a low or non-priority for business - and close to half (47%) believe that businesses will do even less in the current economic climate.

These are the results of research conducted by Echo Research.

While pressure groups and non-governmental organisations are recognised as the biggest contributors to sustainability, the media is seen to be fanning the flames of panic, according to the research.

Sandra Macleod, chief executive of Echo, said: ‘Sustainability is about good business practices benefiting all, and this fundamental concept is in danger of being set aside in the face of the credit crunch.’

One respondent to Echo's poll said: ‘The least sustainable companies are those that don't value people as assets, that don't understand the effect of their organisation on the environment and community that they operate in, and that don't practice conservative financial management.’

Macleod said: ‘Sustainability is about driving economic success, particularly in the current crisis. Business must learn to value it in financial terms. Sustainability is not a bolt-on when times are good; it’s an important way of thinking, working and transforming business.’