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Anthesis hosted the first-ever Activator Summit on 12th October in central London. The Activator Summit brought together Anthesis sustainability experts and our closest clients, partners and contacts from across many sectors. The agenda and conversations were co-created with attendees to form solution-oriented discussions on sustainability and related business challenges. Here is a summary of the Activator Summit Whitepaper.
Brad Blundell, Managing Director, Europe, Middle East and Latin America (EMELA), shared his thoughts on the current sustainability challenges and what 2023 will mean for the sustainability agenda.
As COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh and COP15, the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, appear on the horizon, it is clear there is a continuing need for accelerating towards Net Zero as well as making more focused efforts on biodiversity improvement. However, whilst these key international conferences are eagerly awaited, the current geopolitical and resultant macroeconomic factors cannot be ignored. The energy crisis is creating an existential threat to businesses and livelihoods, and like the pandemic, is one that few of us could imagine. However, the compressed timeframes for returns on investment brought about by the escalation in operating cost are creating an opportunity to meet the current trilemma of energy security, decarbonisation – and of course, improved cost certainty. Similarly, as global supply chains were struggling to recover from the pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine has re-emphasised the need for resource efficiency and the flex to more circular business models. Furthermore, the rising tide of regulation – and near legislation – is creating new requirements for transparency and non-financial reporting in the UK as well as in Europe and the US.
What will next year mean for the sustainability agenda given the uncertainties we currently face? Nobody has a crystal ball, but here are some thoughts on the outlook:
- The energy crisis is clearly challenging but could be seized as an opportunity to accelerate change.
- Business can no longer be passive – customers, employees, investors, and NGOs are all demanding better sustainability performance – even in the face of challenging circumstances.
- Business, governments and citizens are all realising that now is not a time to procrastinate and efforts need to be made to strive for change and avoid delays due to exhaustive planning – we need to go for good, not perfect.
- With immediate challenges on the horizon; we need to shift our thinking to long-term success, not short-term result.
- And with the Qatar 2022 World Cup being just over a month away – it is perhaps useful context that we are only two World Cups away from keeping the planet on track to stay within 1.5oC; time is short…
Maintaining forward momentum in meeting the challenges of the certainties associated with the climate and biodiversity emergency is something that we are going to have to continue working on together, whilst navigating the short-term uncertainties associated with the geopolitical and macroeconomic landscape of 2023.
The Activator Summit was framed around six solution-oriented discussion topics, including:
- Most Net Zero plans will fail. Will yours?
- Reporting and the changing face of disclosure
- Embedding nature to enable a resilient business
- Building resilience through resource efficiency
- Double materiality and the future of strategy
- The energy crisis: existential threat or an opportunity for radical change?
Key takeaways from the Activator Summit discussions included:
- Organisations are facing the challenge of collecting and processing large amounts of data, particularly data needed from suppliers. The desire for perfect data shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of progress.
- Regulation is a consistent driver for change within organisations.
- The shift to a circular economy can help to lessen a businesses exposure to material scarcity, volatile material costs and regulation and to build business efficiency.
- There is a need for transformative and circular solutions and industry-wide collaboration to meet the scale of solutions required.
- Volatile energy markets will continue to cause problems, therefore now is the time to act on energy efficiency. There is a need for a mix of energy sources so that organisations don’t need to rely on one source.
- Disclosures on nature could become mandatory and this fear is driving action. It is important to integrate nature with carbon and climate plans and for organisations to fully understand what nature means to their organisation.
- Education is a clear focus area as many organisations are scaling sustainability initiatives across their organisations. E-learning courses are a good option for rolling out sustainability education schemes to the whole organisation quickly and flexibly.
- Consumers, employees, investors, and society are increasingly demanding that organisations take responsibility for their social impact. Identifying where key human rights and salient risks are located within an organisation’s value chain is critical to ensure long-term viability.
- Stakeholder engagement is a key focus for organisations across topics, from engaging the C-suite to educating suppliers and getting other departments on board.
To find out more about the Activator Summit and to register for future events, read more here.