Sustainability Visions: Time for action, not words

For business, sustainability should be about enlightened self-interest, not CSR puff, says Jonathon Porritt.

by Emma De Vita
Last Updated: 23 Sep 2010
The days of glib CSR speak by corporates are well and truly over, according to Jonathon Porritt, the founder-director of Forum for the Future. Speaking exclusively to MT on the last day of the Start summit on sustainability, the veteran campaigner outlined his views on what UK plc can do to become more sustainable, and the benefits this could bring.

What matters now, he believes, is not CSR puff, but the enlightened self-interest that sustainability brings – and its positive effect on the bottom line. ‘I can’t imagine any successful business today that had a vision of success that didn’t include sustainability in one form or another – whether that’s environmental, social, governance or ethical issues,’ says Porritt. ‘If you ever meet a business leader who thinks that success is done in a way without any reference to sustainability, then forget them, he warns. ‘They’re irrelevant; they’re history'.

So, what does he believe the role of the leader should be when it comes to sustainability? ‘There is no company that has made a success of this agenda without very strong senior management and chief executive leadership. And that’s because a chief exec not only sets the tone of an organisation but they determine strategic priorities, they enable people within the organisation to thrive in particular ways – it’s the whole context setting that’s going on.’ Watch our exclusive video interview with Porritt – who helped mastermind M&S’s Plan A campaign - above.

Tomorrow: Why smarter businesses will endure; IBM’s Caroline Taylor gives her views on why sustainability matters to the triple bottom line.

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