Business as UNusual

In this month alone, the world has experienced hurricanes that have ravaged the Caribbean coast, earthquakes flattening entire towns in Mexico and floods causing devastation in Florida, Texas, India, Bangladesh and Nepal (to name a few). According to NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration), since 1980, the US has experienced five and a half “weather and climate disasters” per year, each costing $1 billion or more.

Climate change is not a new phenomenon, yet rather than being a catalyst for action humanity has systematically ignored the signs. Paul Polman (CEO of Unilever) recently stated “we are more focused on the next quarter than the next generation”. The actions of President Donald Trump and his recent withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord illustrate this worldview and a mentality more interested in short-term gains than in the wellbeing of the planet.

Climate change had been described as a problem that is both too near our consumption driven lifestyles and too far from our everyday experience for us to take seriously. Leading activist, George Marshall describes climate change as “a perfect and undetectable crime everyone contributes to but for which no one has a motive”. When confronted with the awful reality of rising sea levels, desertification and mass migration we tend to look away rather than take action.

Yet climate change also offers a massive opportunity for innovation and positive advancements. Environmental instability calls for an overhaul of ‘business as usual’. We have to dramatically rethink our consumption-driven business models and carbon hungry industries. This gives us the occasion to change our priorities and advance policies that better serve people and the planet. Access to renewable energy promises independence for developing nations, a fresh perspective on service design and a shift towards a sharing economy that promotes community and social engagement. While carbon tax offers a way of holding big business accountable for resource usage. Equality, sustainability and social responsibility are not just essential for lowering emissions; they are also good for business.

However, as Naomi Klein writes in her book This Changes Everything ‘before any of these changes can happen- before we can believe that climate change can change us –we first have to stop looking away.’ The uncomfortable reality of climate change is upon us and now is the time to take action.






UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2017

Bringing together an international community of business leaders, academics and Government to accelerate action towards the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.

“We are ready…to make Global Goals local business”– Lise Kingo, CEO United Nations Global Compact.


Marking three years since the launch of the SDGS, the summit focused on empowering leaders to embed the Global Goals into the spirit and everyday practice of their businesses. Lise Kingo called for deeper integration of all the goals and reminded the audience of the importance of the ‘5 P’s’ “people, planet, partnerships, prosperity and peace” in meeting the 2030 targets.

We met the ten SDG Pioneers for 2017, nominated for their bold action for the Global Goals and as part of the ‘Break Through’ Section my colleague Ricardo Garay presented our resolution on sustainable fashion on behalf of the Youth Fashion Summit, Copenhagen (read our full resolution here). Finally, the SDG Reporting Handbook was launched in partnership with the Global Reporting Initiative which offers participants a new set of guidelines designed to unify and simplify business reporting on the SDGS.

“The timing is right, right now” Lise Kingo, CEO UNGC.

After a day filled with optimistic examples of innovation towards the 2030 Goals, Lise Kingo’s closing speech centred on the theme of collective action. She urged business leaders to promote and live the Global Goals starting by finding ways to transform every employee into an SDG ambassador. She stressed the importance of seizing the present moment to mobilise businesses, to pool ideas and actions and to create momentum for a future we all want.

“Leaps of innovation require a bravery that borders on absurdity” Lise Kingo quoting Astro Teller.