This week, I had the pleasure of attending a fascinating event by the UN Global Compact UK, hosted by Aviva. The event was a mixture of keynote speeches and genuinely inspiring panel debates covering the wide-ranging challenges and opportunities around the SDG’s, with great insight from sustainability leaders including Andy Wales (BT), Anna Turrell (Nestlé) and Márcia Balisciano (RELX)
Amongst all the conversation, were some over-arching themes which stood out, reflecting growing, global public interest in the environmental agenda.
A number of the speakers expressed frustration at the persistent question: Is sustainability and responsible business at odds with profit, growth and success? Some speakers said the business case was clear, having seen considerable growth from sustainability-focused system change across the board. There was a strong feeling that at a commercial level, the opportunity within sustainability is enormous, valued in the trillions of dollars, and with public support and interest.
All of the speakers spoke highly of the impact that the SDG’s can offer them at a strategic level, allowing them go beyond addressing issues and imbalances and highlighting the potential for growth and success. One panel discussion centred on gender equality, outlining that a diverse workforce has a direct positive effect on business and is a key driver in accommodating less conventional ways of working for a better work-life balance. A great practical example of the SDG’s in action.
John Elkington’s (Volans) closing speech celebrated the work of those who have had huge success in engaging the wider-world in the urgency of climate action. Greta Thunberg, XR, and the student climate strikes have all helped build the momentum needed to drive significant societal change which is now being recognised at a government and commercial level. With this momentum, there is scope for a huge opportunity and a step-change in the pace and scale of sustainability action.
Acre has worked closely with a significant number of the individuals and organisations sharing their input at the event, and we are excited to continue our close collaboration and support to challenges and opportunities in the coming, critical years.
A huge thank you for the inspiring event to the UNGC team and to the panellists for their fantastic insight on the challenges ahead.