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ESG: an illusion of change

Why the distinction between sustainability and ESG really matters — and what it means for business.

Black and white graphic featuring the letters 'ESG'

ESG. News headlines are awash with the term. In just a few short years it has risen to become part of the daily lexicon of business and, for many, synonymous with sustainability.

But while the terms ‘sustainability’ and ‘ESG’ are often used interchangeably, they don’t mean the same thing.

Differentiating between the two may appear like a matter of semantics, but there’s a crucial distinction – a distinction that, unmade, threatens to derail ESG and, more importantly, stymie real progress on sustainability.

So, as the pressure turns up on ESG, we bring that distinction into sharper focus, post a rallying cry to stop conflating the two concepts and offer practical steps to ensure genuine sustainability progress in a disclosure-focused world.


Download our report to understand:

  • The real difference between ESG and sustainability, and what this looks like in practice
  • Why ESG has snowballed
  • How the concept of ESG has been twisted out of shape, and the challenges this brings
  • How to strike a balance between ESG and sustainability, and drive real, credible change


To find out more about how we can help you differentiate between ESG and sustainability, conduct a Double Materiality assessment, drive lasting sustainable change, or report more meaningfully, drop us a line.  

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ESG: An illusion of change

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