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Future sustainability leaders: Adam Lewthwaite



What will business look like in the future and who are our future leaders?

This is the next instalment in our series speaking with a group of young people who are making waves in sustainability. All 12 are scholars on Forum for the Future’s renowned master’s course in leadership for sustainable development.

Adam Lewthwaite’s initial interest in climate change developed into a wider interest in sustainability and sustainable leadership as he learnt more about the problems we face. Here, he tells us about some of the key lessons he has picked up over the past year.

Tell us about your experience on the Forum for the Future master’s course. What have your placements involved?

I decided upon the Forum for the Future course because of it’s mix between placements and lectures, and I have not been disappointed. The opportunity to apply learning into real-life situations has been invaluable, ranging from: practical applications such as Forum’s innovation labs, to looking at the application of theoretical studies around leadership.

During my placements I have been based at Sainsbury’s working on food waste, Interface looking at staff engagement, Brighton and Hove city council to research potential renewable energy projects, and finally Ethex to work on a quarterly financial reporting framework. This wide spread of projects within different organisation types provides a great insight into different company cultures, their approaches as well as ways of working.

Where does your interest in sustainability come from?

During my geography degree, I concentrated my studies on climate change and modelling future climates. Through these classes I discovered the true severity that humans’ impacts were having on climate change, and the current and potential impacts that this change is creating on the planet and therefore human society. Since this initial realisation, my interest has grown from climate change to the need for sustainability in all areas of our lives.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your course? 

It is hard to pinpoint one piece of advice. The course is a learning curve, taking you through a journey of understanding from very different angles and approaches to hopefully produce a well-rounded sustainability leader. However, for me the key concept that I will take from the course is to take the time to reflect on what you are doing, why things are going well or not, and to make sure that you take those thoughts and learning forward.

What’s most important business lesson you’ve learnt? 

The importance of leadership within any team to unite people and help them to strive towards a unified goal. Until this course, I understood leadership was important but did not appreciate variations of leaders and leadership from traditional top-down to multilateral leadership.

I have also come to understand the importance of leadership within sustainability in a business context, where we often have to deal with difficult problems with no clear-cut answers, working across business from a matrix point of view bringing everyone together from a variety of disciplines to find solutions and implement ideas.

What one idea do you think could change the world for the better? 

Sustainability being taught comprehensively through the education system. A greater understanding of the positives and negatives of our actions from a young age, evidence of successful business models both private, public and charitable/NGO sector, so that it is seen as pivotal in all business, not just a secondary thought.

What do you see of the future in terms of sustainability, business and the environment? 

Sustainability in business is currently mostly seen as viable only when there is a financial business case to make it so. I see in a future of increased resource scarcity, and consumer-driven want for change, that the business case for sustainability becomes easier and easier to make, until the sustainable option is seen as an attractive option, not just financially but also due to the multiple external factors that it will include.

Where will you be in 10 years’ time? 

I will be working for a company that is pushing the cutting edge of sustainable innovation. There are many companies who are driving sustainability issues forward, being vanguards for best practice and encouraging the rest of the business world to follow them or be left behind. I want to be a leader within sustainability in my place of work, and in order to do this have to engage with and motivate those I work with internally within the business and bring together an understanding of sustainability principles in the context of the workplace I am in, driving everyone forward towards goals in this area.

Success to me will be achieving the goals I have helped to put in place and making a really positive impact on the business and wider social, economic or environmental impacts it has, also having an engaged work force all fighting for these same goals and who are ‘bought in’ to the sustainability goals.

Further reading:

Future sustainability leaders: Kate Beattie

Future sustainability leaders: Maia Tarling-Hunter

Future sustainability leaders: Ruth Shave

Future sustainability leaders: Angela Green

Future sustainability leaders: Andrew Adam

Future sustainability leaders: Zoe Draisey

Future sustainability leaders: Rebecca Trevalyan

Future sustainability leaders: Sam Gillick

Future sustainability leaders: Patrick Elf


New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart /

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.


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How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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