“We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet,” General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador) warned the gathering in her opening remarks at the UN General Assembly on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in March 2019.

Time is running out for creating a sustainable future, and as a result the 2020s may be the most crucial decade in human history - but there is hope.

Businesses now recognise that sustainability is more than a nice-to-have – it’s a must-have. Several years ago, executives would have needed to explain to Boards why they need to be more environmentally conscious, and even then, there would have been no guarantee they would be listened to. Today, many Boards recognise that sustainable business strategies and practices not only help us to protect the environment, but they are essential for growth.

Businesses across the globe are now developing sustainable business practices driven by:

  • Younger generations joining the workforce.
  • Investors making decisions based on environmental, social and governance criteria.
  • Customers and consumers choosing to purchase from businesses committed to sustainability.

There is a massive challenge ahead of us, and we can’t tackle it in isolation. No one organisation can solve the problem, so we need to work together. Collectively we have the will and the power to address the challenges, learn from the mistakes, and consequences, of the past, and forge a new way forward.

The time to act is now, and science, technology and innovation will play a vital role in tackling the challenges we face – shaping the trajectory of how organisations deliver more sustainable products and services, and how we find ways to mitigate climate change.

In response to the Government’s Ten-Point Plan released in November 2020, Professor Leon A. Terry, Director of Environment and Agrifood, said: "A vital component in achieving Net Zero is changing consumer behaviour and business practices such as reducing waste and reusing materials. Decarbonisation is part of the solution. Reducing demand for imported emissions is also key.

“There is a huge opportunity for the introduction of innovative technologies and business operations that will lower emissions, and reduce waste.”

It is because of these challenges, opportunities and momentum that in this issue of Alumni Matters we ask, “Can business save the planet?”

Included in this issue:

We hope you enjoy this eNewsletter.