Friday, 18 February 2011

Return to BASE

Sustainability professionals converged on The Brewery this Wednesday for BASE (Business and A Sustainable Environment) 2011. Sub-titled “where business meets sustainability”, the conference featured a plenary programme with high profile speakers, interspersed with a varied selection of interactive workshop sessions.

Keynotes were delivered by Tom Burke CBE, the government’s advisor on sustainability, and Dame Ellen MacArthur, whose Foundation works with education and business to inspire people to re-think, re-design and build a positive future. Inspiration was provided by the CEOs of Cisco, GE, Coca-Cola, BSkyB and notably InterflaceFLOR, whose founder Ray Anderson pioneered floor coverings that are recycled and recyclable, as well as introducing the concept of flooring as a service. In keeping with the sustainable ethos of the event, Ray joined by videoconference from the States and Coca-Cola streamed the proceedings via the internet to its staff around the World.

From inspiration to perspiration, and the struggle to choose between the numerous workshop sessions: such a wide range of highly credible organisations, all offering valuable insights and know-how. To single out just a couple, there was a useful model for developing a business case for sustainability from Forum for the Future and Global Action Plan introducing a helpful tool called EMS Easy to help SMEs plan towards ISO14001 accreditation. BASE also hosted the launch of the ET UK 100 Carbon Rating scheme, which aims to highlight the leaders and laggards in the fight against climate change.

Events like these are invaluable for providing time out from the nitty gritty of daily business to ponder the bigger issues of how to combine commercial success with respect for people and planet. Plenty of food for thought here, but as always it’s putting ideas into action that will make the difference.

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