In today's world, firms are increasingly beginning to integrate environmental issues into core business strategies. This only strengthens the rationale for ENDS and MT, with our different but complementary audiences, to produce the Green Business Awards in co-operation.
In a challenging year for the whole British economy, we introduced new categories for Green Product and Green Service of the year. The fantastic response that these inspired from entrants showed that there is no shortage of solid business ideas out there that can create jobs and growth and help address critical environmental challenges.
Effective management of carbon emissions has become a pressing concern for all businesses. Thousands are still starting to feel their way towards sensible strategies. This year's winners include inspiring examples of how much can be achieved.
If the best practice shown by these leaders could be spread across UK business, real progress would start to be made towards the Government's target for Britain to achieve an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050. It is also vital to keep in mind how often carbon reduction also means cost reduction.
Though they have been somewhat overshadowed by the necessary current focus on carbon management, other environmental issues remain as important as ever for businesses to manage. Once again, this year's winners stand out for their commitment and achievements in key areas, including waste reduction and biodiversity protection.
In any case, environmental issues are profoundly interconnected. When businesses attack problems such as waste and pollution, they very often cut their carbon emissions at the same time. Likewise, efforts to cut carbon or to improve resource efficiency can have multiple additional environmental benefits.
Our ambition is for the Green Business Awards to help spread these messages, and to make a significant positive contribution to the greening of Britain. We are committed to taking measures to ensure that the lessons are heard as widely as possible.
As usual, we are profoundly grateful to the talented and experienced group of independent judges who agreed to give their time to the Green Business Awards. Like us, they want the Awards to make a practical difference, for the winners and for the environment.
Again this year, we express thanks to our principal sponsor, eaga, for its generous support. And we are delighted to welcome as new sponsors of the Green Business Awards the Environment Agency of England and Wales, Natural England and RPS.
ENDS led the development of the Awards' entry and judging procedures, bringing to bear its skills developed in 30 years as a leading information provider on the environment, sustainability and climate change. We were privileged this year to have the contribution of ENDS Carbon, a new affiliate of ENDS, with specialist expertise in benchmarking of corporate carbon management and reporting.
We confidently expect the Awards to continue growing in stature and quality. As a first step, we are submitting the scheme for accreditation by the Royal Society of Arts. We hope to launch the Green Business Awards 2010 as a fully accredited environmental awards scheme, thus gaining external validation of our internal procedures.
Britain faces an uncertain year ahead, both economically and politically. One thing that is clear is that the country needs to make further significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 and in every subsequent year to keep on track for the 2050 target.
The recession has helped, but at the price of people being laid off and factories left idle. A key mission for the Green Business Awards in 2010 will be to recognise the ideas, the techniques and the practical action that can deliver instead economic and environmental progress simultaneously.