A new study from UPS (NYSE:UPS) and GreenBiz Group reveals nearly all companies (95 percent) surveyed are concerned about how urbanization will impact business growth and sustainability. However, according to The Road to Sustainable Urban Logistics survey, only 47 percent feel prepared to address the associated business challenges. Further, respondents cite air quality (58 percent) and traffic congestion (53 percent) as top concerns over other urban challenges. And 65 percent of respondents believe insufficient collaboration across sectors, including government, is a key barrier to well-managed logistic operations in urban areas.
The full research findings will be explored in depth at the GreenBiz VERGE conference in Santa Clara, California, beginning next Tuesday, September 19th.
“This research clearly highlights the complexity of logistics operations in urban environments,” said Mark Wallace, senior vice president, global engineering and sustainability. “Increased urbanization and congestion make logistics far less predictable and harder to manage. Without implementing innovative solutions supported by technology and logistics ingenuity, we run the risk of increasing congestion and emissions – we need solutions, and collaboration is the key.”
The movement of goods is an essential function to support businesses and residents, and a fundamental source of economic growth in cities. Access to e-commerce is part of what makes alternative transportation modes and walkable urbanism a viable choice. At the same time, transportation and delivery can contribute to pollution and gridlock, and can be challenging for companies both large and small to manage sustainably. When asked how the rise in e-commerce, increased urbanization and congestion have affected how they conduct business in urban areas, 81 percent of survey respondents noted some form of impact on their business, such as the ability to meet e-commerce customer expectations (33 percent), make deliveries to retail locations (32 percent), and meet city requirement for emission levels (31 percent).
According to UN projections, continuing population growth and urbanization are projected to add 2.5 billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050. The study offers insights on strategies and pilot projects being explored to better manage the movement of goods in cities, now and in the future. The results point toward data-driven technologies that increase efficiencies and reduce traffic, renewable and alternative energy and fuels that help address air quality issues, the accurate measurement and management of carbon emissions, and supply chain optimization – all strategies being deployed by UPS worldwide. The real difference-maker, though, isn’t any single piece of technology. It’s the commitment to partner with cities, academics, and other business leaders to develop solutions together.
“While progress is certainly underway, no one entity can tackle the challenge of building and implementing the future needs of sustainable cities,” said John Davies, GreenBiz Group’s vice president and senior analyst. “Smart collaborations, continued research and investments in infrastructure will remain critical to meet the logistical and environmental demands cities face. Driving policy discussions and decisions based on data is essential to ensuring operational efficiencies for companies and preserving a desirable quality of life for city dwellers.”
The majority of survey respondents (63 percent) believe businesses’ role is critical to accelerating, piloting and adopting innovative approaches to creating more sustainable urban environments. And an overwhelming 72 percent want to work closely with city officials to do so.
“No two cities are alike,” concluded Wallace. ”Yet, we’ve found that there’s common ground. We’re able to take the knowledge we’re gathering as we work with cities across the globe and apply it to each new city that joins us in partnership to address this issue.”
For full research study results and to download the white paper, visit ups.com/sustainability.
About the Research Study
The 2017 UPS/GreenBiz The Road to Sustainable Urban Logistics Research Study provides insights into the business challenges associated with logistics in an urban environment and the opportunties to contribute to a more environmentally sustainable city center.
The 2017 UPS and GreenBiz Sustainable Urban Logistics Research Study presents the findings of qualitative research, along with an online survey conducted by GreenBiz Group in June 2017 among a sample of 612 respondents within the GreenBiz Intelligence Panel. The margin of error is ± 4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.