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Future sustainability leaders: Kate Beattie



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.

Kate Beattie has turned her concern for the environment, which she picked up while on a gap year in Fiji, into a passion about making society more sustainable. Here, she tells us about some of the key lessons she has learnt over the past year.

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

I picked the Forum for the Future master’s for the work experience element, to help kickstart my career and try working in different sectors and organisations. My placements at the Fairtrade Foundation, Ecover, Kirklees council and FTSE have been varied and interesting, and I have learnt a huge amount about sustainability in the real world, as well as gaining some invaluable skills and meeting some great people along the way.

Though the work experience has been an amazing opportunity, the best bit about the course has been my time at Old Street with the other scholars. Being part of such a close knit group, all passionate about sustainability, though often with slightly different views, has been highly rewarding. The sheer variety of lectures, workshops, debates and field trips has opened my eyes to new ideas and I have learnt a lot about myself and my abilities, too. Overall, it’s been a highly enjoyable, if slightly crazy, 10 months and I feel ready to tackle the next adventure.

Where does your interest in sustainability come from?

My sustainability interest stems from volunteering on a coral conservation project in Fiji on my gap year. I fell in love with the ocean and couldn’t believe that island communities would use dynamite and chemicals to fish, even though it meant destroying what they relied on for food. I have always had a love of nature, but this was the first time I really thought about the impact we are having on the planet.

More recently, whilst learning about sustainability focused businesses at university and the power they have to make a difference, the concern turned into a passion to do something about it.

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

The best advice I’ve had from the course has been from my fellow scholars during our time with the Leadership Trust. Three hundred and sixty-degree feedback on our strengths and weaknesses, along with discussion and reflection time, gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about myself and how I interact with others.

The best specific bit of learning from that process was that if you can have an open, honest working relationship with others, things will get done quicker and you’ll all be happier.

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

That’s a tricky one… Maybe that being able to talk the talk and make a good, confident first impression can be vital when working with corporates.

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

I would really like to say teleportation, but I suppose I should be more realistic. The next best thing for me would be an alternative way to measure national output that drives us towards a happier, healthier global society. If we can work out a way to use happiness economics instead of GDP, I think that would be a really positive step for mankind and would mean policy aimed at what is really important in life for people to be happy, rather than trying to achieve continued growth, which we know cannot continue long-term.

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

The future will have to be sustainable because we won’t have a choice.  Businesses are already starting to live up to this and realise that they need to change to survive and even the financial sector is showing signs of taking sustainability much more seriously. This positive change gives me hope for a future whereby business works in harmony with nature and people, and even aims to make a positive impact to improve our planet. However, there is still a long way to go and I hope this shift happens fast enough to prevent huge loss of life and natural habitats.

Where will you be in 10 years’ time?

I’m really passionate about creating sustainable and ethical supply chains so I would like to be doing something on that. I’m also equally keen to help clean up the oceans somehow or get involved in a community farming project.

I guess I’m not really sure where I’ll be in 10 years, as there is so much of interest to me, but overall I hope to be working to create a more sustainable world in a job I love because I feel like I’m making a difference. On top of that, though maybe a little quaint, I hope to have a house and family in the country to enjoy the great outdoors and grow my own food.

Further reading:

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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