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Future sustainability leaders: Patrick Elf



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

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be speaking with a group of young people making waves in sustainability. All 12 are scholars on Forum for the Future’s renowned master’s course in leadership for sustainable development.

First up is Patrick Elf, who is currently on a six-week finance placement with Blue & Green Tomorrow.

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

My experience can be described as both diverse and amazing. After I finished my undergraduate studies in international culture and management in Cologne, Germany, I made the big step to come to London and dive into a completely different sector. I had to commit myself to sustainability.

During the past year, I have been exposed to such a wide range of challenges and companies. I started with the Food & Drink Federation (FDF), where I learned lots about how a trade association works and how it can help its members to be more sustainable.

I then moved on to TUI Travel (better known under the name Thomson and FirstChoice here in the UK). Since my studies in Germany had a focus on tourism, it was personally very interesting to see how such a huge company was dealing with sustainability issues and, in particular, how it communicated sustainability to its employees and customers.

After that, I was at the Crown Estate doing a research project around the energy-water nexus. I was based in the energy team, and able to work together with the sustainability team – an amazing experience.

At the moment I am working for Blue & Green Tomorrow and getting to know about how to successfully communicate sustainable investment to both investors and the wider public.

Where does your interest in sustainability come from?

During my studies, I spent half a year in Chile where I had the chance to visit some amazing places. One of them was Patagonia, where I got to know a lot about glaciers. Seeing actively what kind of impact we have on Pachamama, or Mother Earth, made me think. I then decided to focus my studies on sustainable tourism and finally came across the Forum for the Future course, which provides me with the unique chance to gain a broad knowledge about different sustainability issues and let me eventually connect the dots.

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

During my placement at the Crown Estate, I learned from the head of sustainability just how important it is to empower people so everybody can be a leader and contribute his or her bit to a better future. Unfortunately, most people surrender and go with the flow.  Therefore, it is important to reflect on one’s own performance and to learn from it in the future.

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

Oh, tricky question. There are a number of important business lessons I’ve learned. One is probably that a large number of businesses still focus on the fast money instead of shifting their focus on more healthy, long-term strategies. Another is that it is crucial to have a good, resilient and sustainable corporate culture in which everybody is engaged.

To achieve this, but also generally, you have to speak their language. This is perhaps the most important lesson. If you don’t speak their language (and I don’t mean Spanish, Mandarin, etc) you won’t be able to change anything.

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

The internet (or technology more generally). It already transformed our lives and will do so even more n the future. I was very sceptical and still oppose the opinion that it is the solution to all our problems. But my hope is that it can encourage people to share their knowledge across sectors and, even more importantly and fascinatingly, across nations and continents. If we use it for the right purposes, it is definitely the invention that could transform our world for the better.

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

I hope that so-called corporate social responsibility or sustainability departments vanish. The ones who want to contribute to sustainable development have a common goal, which is integrating sustainability in every aspect of our lives for a better future.

The business case for sustainability has been made repeatedly. That it can be profit generating is clear. However, most people consider business as the only effective contributor to improving our lives. For decades, consuming stuff and over-consuming resources trumped nature and philanthropy. Today, I see a shift towards more sustainable thinking emerging which will eventually result in a conglomerate of sustainability, business and the environment.

Where will you be in 10 years’ time?

Another tricky question! Especially because I just finished Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book Black Swan. This book taught me not to predict the future. But my dearest hope is to have a job that allows me to work for a future in which my children and their children and their children’s children find their place – one where it is normal to live within your needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. We need to achieve that without exploiting our own race and nature.

Further reading:

21st century leadership: from business as usual to business as a force for good

Success means seeing ourselves as part of the bigger system

Has CSR reached its sell-by date?

The business case for sustainability – an exceptional Forum for the Future event

The Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility 2013


Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance



“The level of influence that ethical considerations have over consumer selection of financial services products and services is minimal, however, this is beginning to change. Younger consumers are more willing to pay extra for products provided by socially responsible companies.” Jessica Morley, Mintel’s Financial Services Analyst.

Consumer awareness of the impact consumerism has on society and the planet is increasing. In addition, the link between doing good and feeling good has never been clearer. Just 19% of people claim to not participate in any socially responsible activities.

As a result, the level of attention that people pay to the green and ethical claims made by products and providers is also increasing, meaning that such considerations play a greater role in the purchasing decision making process.

However, this is less true in the context of financial services, where people are much more concerned about the performance of a product rather than green and ethical factors. This is not to say, however, that they are not interested in the behaviour of financial service providers or in gaining more information about how firms behave responsibly.

This report focuses on why these consumer attitudes towards financial services providers exist and how they are changing. This includes examination of the wider economy and the current structure of the financial services sector.

Mintel’s exclusive consumer research looks at consumer participation in socially responsible activities, trust in the behaviour of financial services companies and attitudes towards green, ethical and socially responsible financial services products and providers. The report also considers consumer attitudes towards the social responsibilities of financial services firms and the green, ethical and socially responsible nature of new entrants.

There are some elements missing from this report, such as conducting socially responsible finance with OTC trading. We will cover these other topics in more detail in the future. You can research about Ameritrade if you want to know more ..

By this report today: call: 0203 416 4502 | email: iainooson[at]

Report contents:

What you need to know
Report definition
The market
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
The consumer
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Competition from technology companies
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
What we think
Creating a more inclusive economy
The facts
The implications
Payments innovation helps fundraising go digital
The facts
The implications
The social debt of the financial crisis
The facts
The implications
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
An ethical economy
An ethical financial sector
Ethical financial services providers
The role of investing
The change potential of pensions
The role of trust
Greater transparency informs decisions
Learning from past mistakes
The role of innovation
Payments innovation: Improving financial inclusion
Competition from new entrants
The power of new money
The role of the consumer
Consumers empowered to make a change
Aligning products with self
For financial products, performance is more important than ethics
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Competition from technology companies
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
Overall trust levels are high
Payments innovation can boost charitable donations
Consumer engagement in socially responsible activities is high
Healthier finances make it easier to go green
37% unable to identify socially responsible companies
Building societies seen to be more responsible than banks….
….whilst short-term loan companies are at the bottom of the pile
Overall trust levels are high
Tax avoidance remains a major concern
The divestment movement
Nationwide significantly more trusted
Trust levels remain high
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Socially conscious consumers are more concerned
Strategy reports provide little insight for consumers
Lack of clarity regarding corporate culture causes concern
Consumers want more information
The social debt of the financial crisis
For consumers, financial services firms play larger economic role
Promoting financial responsibility
Consumer trust is built on evidence
The alternative opportunity
The target customer

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A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon




energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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