We’re talking the talk, but might not be walking the walk as there is still some way to go before sustainability is fully integrated into business.
Dr. Sally Uren, deputy chief executive of Forum for the future, raised her opinion on sustainability at the ‘Sustainable Business in Practice’ conference in London on the 26th of April, organised by edie sister publication Sustainable Business (SB).
Sustainable Business aims to consider how to integrate sustainability into mainstream business.
The conference brought together business leaders, sustainability professional and financial decision makers to share best practice and effective implementation strategies.
Delegates heard from a range of speakers including, Aldersgate Group chairman, Peter Young, Eurostar CEO Richard Brown and BT chief sustainability officer Niall Dunne.
Dr. Uren opened the session by saying that, whilst the “sustainability language” has hit the mainstream, she wasn’t sure whether it was fully embedded in business because “if it was we would be much closer to a sustainable economy.”
However, she said that sustainability is in its “teenage years as it has had a growth spurt and got us to where we are now.” It has also left the toddler stage where people didn’t really understand it”, she added saying it is “coming of age”.
Aldersgate Group chairman, Peter Young, discussing how UK business can drive the development of a sustainable green economy said that he believed that “business is better placed to move the sustainability dialogue than government” as they have “got the message about the value benefit of energy efficiency but government hasn’t.”
He continued to say that there has been a massive change in attitude from global companies, which now understand that they must act against climate change as it threatens their survival. A better partnership between business and government is needed as “business can’t do it all.”
The fact that the UK has the largest consumption versus emissions was noted by Mr Young, he called on the government to close the loop in the UK and reduce imports to help cut carbon by manufacturing more in Britain.
Richard Brown, CEO of Eurostar, said that consumers are also responsible for driving changes as they see sustainability as “more than carbon emissions”, as a result sustainability in business should be led by customer and market needs.
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