Plastic bag pollution in water

Environment: ‘Business Risk’ in The Sunday Times

New writing… Pleased to say I have had another article published in The Sunday Times newspaper, as part of a special Raconteur report on Business Risk.

Plastic bag pollution in waterThe piece explores how, as the effects of climate change increasingly make themselves felt, successful companies are striving both to futureproof their business and to limit further environmental damage. At present, when it comes to the planet, the news never seems good: From Hurricane Katrina to bee-colony collapse, or city smog to ocean plastic, the environment keeps making the wrong kind of headlines. The impact is sometimes sadly fatal, often irreparably harmful, but always bad for business.

Stats on UK corporates' attitudes to reporting as reputation driverSo, for business, it truly is becoming a case of adapt or die; and there will be winners, as well as losers, in this battle against climate breakdown. Where there is business risk, there is also market opportunity and innovators are increasingly changing the game – whether it is dynamic young startups or enlightened established players, examples of companies and brands responding to the challenge are not just out there, but everywhere.

To read the article in full, complete with expert insights, comment and analysis, please click the following link:

‘Why caring for the planet is good for business’.

The full 12-page Business Risk report is available to view/download here.

Politics & Crisis: ‘Future of Water’ in The Times 2016

water-smallNew writing… Pleased to say I have had a couple of pieces – the opening Overview and centrespread article – published in The Times newspaper by Raconteur, exploring water issues and innovation worldwide, from scarcity, security and stress, through to resilience and sustainability:

 ‘Why water politics matters’;

‘Worldwide water crisis is looming’.

The full 16-page Future of Water report is available to view/download here.

The Future in 5 Words… #5: ‘Sustainable’

Why Life should be… ‘Sustainable’

#5Sustainability means very different things to different people – and I am not talking about debating the definition, as most of us are long past that point. For some in the more developed regions of the world and relatively affluent strata of society, it might mean investing in eco tech, CSR and social good – everything from waterless washing machines, to wellbeing and workplace diversity – which is, of course, important. However, for others less fortunate, the meaning can be something entirely different. For victims driven to climate migration fleeing flooding or drought, facing hunger due to crop failure, battling disease through lack of clean drinking water, suffering abuses under oppressive regimes, or exploitation in modern slavery, Sustainability is not just a word, not some abstract concept: It is about survival.

Sustainability is a fact of life; a reality to be proven (or not) every second of every day, on an ongoing basis. It is not a luxury; it is a basic human right.

This is why, in future, life should be sustainable, for everyone.

The Future in 5 Words:

  1. Cities will be… ‘Sensorsational’;
  2. Business will be… ‘Sociable’;
  3. Innovation will be… ‘Loopy’;
  4. Work will be… ‘Inclusive’; and
  5. Life should be… ‘Sustainable’.

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‘Sustainability: Say the Words!’ is a series of aphoristic ‘thoughts and shorts’ appearing regularly throughout 2016 – feedback welcome via Email, or Twitter: @SustMeme.

Community Resilience: From Sandy to Sustainability

A version of this article first appeared on the Sustainability Talk & News website, published 18 December, 2012.

Another PlaceAt every level, Hurricane Sandy represents a wake-up call for the sleeping giant of community resilience that is the built-environment sector. It is time for Construction to engage both with the (inter)national debate on climate-change risk and global-warming impacts, plus local discussions about resource mobilisation, security provision and preparedness.

In order for Construction to be cast a lead rôle in climate-change adaptation, it must be able to see both the Big Picture and the Local View: The Big Picture provides the backdrop to the global stage on which nation states perform, populated by protagonists in politics and pressure groups; the Local View is characterised by community scenes, where dialogue is more about resilience and resource.

At the macro level, the business community is becoming increasingly concerned about climate risk and the urgent need to be proactive. Ahead of the UN COP18 talks in Doha, over 200 of the largest investment fund managers and institutions – with more than £13tn in assets and including the likes of Scottish Widows, Aviva and HSBC – issued an open letter to the UK government and other administrations, advocating an escalation in action on climate change. Take heed: These signatories petitioning are establishment and mainstream money men and women, not greens, or alternative-energy geeks.

With The City worried and vocal, the onus is on leading market sectors such as Construction to listen and respond, not least because much of the investment involved carries core-business implications for the built environment: Infrastructure, property and climate defences are the physical building blocks of the (re)insurance industry assets and liabilities, portfolio and policies. In short, Construction is in the climate business, whether it likes it or not.

Zooming in to focus on the Local View, the Strategic National Framework on Community Resilience for the UK outlines how public, private and third sector organisations, plus individuals, might work together with responders and service providers in the event of an emergency, such as Sandy. Part of the Big Society commitment, the programme seeks to promote confidence and preparedness at community level, creating a degree of embedded self-sufficiency, security and, ultimately, sustainability. The framework provides direct assistance in the form of Emergency Plans and Toolkits, plus a library of illustrative case studies tackling scenarios ranging from flu pandemics to snow clearing. Of paramount importance is the pooling of knowledge and resources to enable swift effective response.

Here again, there can be seen a clear opportunity for Construction to engage and, arguably, an obligation to do so. The industry boasts a unique and highly valuable bank of relevant knowledge and resource ideally suited to localised emergency response: Plant and equipment, from caterpillar-track off-roaders to high-vis safetywear; raw or manufactured materials, from walling and piping, to boards and sand; plus human resource with appropriate skills and trades. Whilst perhaps no flashing blue light is expected atop every white van, the sector fit is perfect for the part of the fourth emergency service.

Maybe the moment has finally come, therefore, for the industry to get up on its hind legs and demand the attention it craves by engaging actively in the debates around climate change in general and resilience planning in particular. Historically, Construction has been proud to quote the statistics for its significant contribution to GDP (even when markets are tough), but often bemoans the perceived lack of recognition and appreciation for its efforts. Today, with influence to be won, if the sector has a mind to move the agenda forward, it certainly has the muscle.

Now is the time for Construction to play its true part in the communities it serves: Stand up; speak up. An audience awaits…

Author: Jim McClelland