Sustainable Business

Reduce, re-use, recycle, reverse?

1st March 2013 by John Drummond

Don’t you love joining the dots?

Am I wrong in putting these three things together:

Tobacco company helping people stop smoking?
• British America Tobacco have made a strategic acquisition of a company called CN Creative which makes electronic cigarettes; the New Scientist says that a tobacco giant helping you quit smoking is a welcome change.

BitC AGM: UK business ups the game

5th December 2012 by John Drummond

There are refreshing winds of change blowing through UK PLC as the business community step up their leadership of the sustainability agenda.

At the Business in the Community AGM in London last night (December 4, 2012), there was real momentum behind new thinking on sustainable business.

New paradigm: the birth of long-term marketing

29th November 2012 by John Drummond

"Marketing is about creating the future" was a key line used in the summary of this year's Chartered Institute of Marketing conference.

Barclays, company beliefs and sustainable business success

2nd July 2012 by John Drummond

On the back of the news that Barclays has been fined £291m by regulators, do we think big companies have genuinely learned from the recession and are exploring new business models?

Beyond shared value – building the business case for long-term sustainability?

18th May 2012 by Amanda Long

The concept of 'shared value', as set out by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer in Harvard Business Review last year, is a strong starting point for building the business case for sustainability: that long-term sustainability relates to business creating economic value in a way that also adds value for society by addressing its needs and challenges. The list of high or worthwhile achievers in this area is growing annually, which is good news.

Sustainability and a national treasure

27th April 2012 by Amanda Long

Placing sustainability alongside a 'national treasure' is a timely initiative.

If our society is going to achieve the full-blown paradigm-shift needed to address the challenges we all face then mainstreaming sustainability and grand-scale awareness raising as part of behaviour change programs are essential. Whilst we are all still so committed to what we do as a society today the momentum for change isn't there. Hats off to Marks and Spencer - it's a good start and let's hope Joanna can be as successful on sustainability as she has been on the Gurkhas.

The new business as usual?

24th April 2012 by Amanda Long

I had the pleasure of attending Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan – One Year On report back session this morning.

It is really good to hear of the progress so far. I should say upfront, the Sustainable Living Plan definitely isn't perfect. There are a whole host of questions and issues that remain, from reviewing the choices of some of the initiatives underpinning the key goals to the speed of progress. Then there's the balance of trade-offs faced in so many sustainability initiatives between apparently solving one problem and possibly creating others, not to mention the fundamental questions around the social value of some brands.

Getting off the back foot...

8th March 2012 by Amanda Long

The KPMG study, Expect the Unexpected: Building Business Value in a Changing World, explores issues such as climate change, energy and fuel volatility, water availability and cost and resource availability, as well as population growth spawning new urban centres. The analysis examines how these global forces may impact business and industry, calculates the environmental costs to business, and calls for business and policymakers to work more closely to mitigate future business risk and act on opportunities.

17 predictions on the future of the planet

26th May 2011 by John Drummond


There are more people. 

The population will grow to 9 billion by 2050.

They are living longer. 

The percentage of the global population over the age of 60 will double from 11% in 2000 to 22% in 2050.

Wealth will increase. 

The middle class is likely to double from around 1.7 billion to 3.6 billion by 2030, with most of this growth in emerging economies.  

There will be an increasing pension and savings gap.

Only around half of people in the UK are actively saving for the future.

The economic focus of power will change.

China, India, Brazil and the USA will be the major economies in 2050 by GDP

More and more people will be living in cities.

McKinsey finds that population in the City 600 will grow an estimated 1.6 times faster than the population of the world as a whole. By 2025, the City 600 will be home to an estimated 310 million more people of working age—and account for almost 35 percent of the expansion of the potential global workforce.

Health will continue to be a major issue.

There will be 290m undernourished people by 2050 (but in the UK up to 60% of men and 50% of women could be clinically obese).

We face energy scarcity.

Demand for energy could double by 2050.  There is a risk of an energy gap equivalent to the whole of the energy sector in 2000.  As oil producing nations pass their peak, the amount they can extract decreases daily. This means prices will rise at an increasing rate.

We face water scarcity.

Up to 7 billion people will face water scarcity by 2050. On current economic and population growth trajectories, by 2030 global water supplies will satisfy only 60% of demand (source; Baccaletti, Grobbel, Stuchtey, The business opportunity in water conservation, McKinsey Quarterly, 2010). The price of water could increase by 300% over the next 20 years. 

We face food scarcity.

Increasing population, together with increased appetite for meat coupled with degraded land and soil erosion, will inevitably lead to food scarcity and increased food prices. One futurist believes we will have to produce as much food in the next 40 years as in the whole of history.

We face resource scarcity.

By 2050 we would need 2.5 times the natural resources of earth. We currently take 20% more than the earth can naturally replenish.

We face unexpected costs.

Economic losses from climate-related disasters are already substantial, and they are on the rise. Insured losses alone have jumped from an annual US$5 billion to 27 billion over the last 40 years. 

Economic volatility is highly likely to continue.

The cyclical nature of the economy and the fact that many businesses are still not managing for long term success increase the likelihood of continued economic volatility.

Growth will be constrained by literacy.

One in six young people leave school unable to read, write and add up properly (source; Leitch Review on Skills, 2008, UKCES).

Growth will be constrained by poverty.

29 authorities across the UK have more than one in five children living in severe poverty (source; Save the Children, February 2011).  A fifth of the world’s population earns just 2% of global income (source; UN Global Compact, 2010).

We face an increasingly diverse world.

200m people may be migrating each year to escape environmental degradation, hunger or poverty.

Business will increasingly lead social change.

Of the world’s 100 largest economic entities, 43 are companies (source; D. Steven White, September, 2010).


*These insights are from a variety of sources from the World Economic Forum to Shell’s Signals and Signposts.

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