Sustainability Event Review

On the 12th February, the members of the Eco Society were lucky enough to attend the Marlburian Club Sustainability Conference, where we listened to a discussion from a panel of OMs whose work promotes more conscious corporate activity. Between the six speakers there was a wide range of specialisms, from renewable energy provision to communications, and it was particularly thought-provoking to be reminded that sustainability-focused work is not necessarily confined to STEM-based jobs: it can be applied to almost any field of work.

The discussion was not contained to the specifics of the climate crisis and its basic causes; instead, it was inspiring to see a truly interdisciplinary approach that addressed many of the mitigating factors and issues that arise from our relationship with the planet, including (but not limited to) politics, colonialism, the failures of traditional economic models, national attitudes and the unfair global distribution of climate change’s effects.

One of the most positive aspects of the event was to hear about the many initiatives that are actively trying to combat climate change, which really seemed to slice through the general sense of helplessness in the face of such a large issue, which can often lead to inaction. A particular personal highlight was Electric Forecourts, a new project by Gridserve CEO Toddington Harper (C1 1992 – 96) aiming to create charging stations that will make driving an electric vehicle easy and affordable, as well as running off 100% renewable energy. Another was Renewi CFO Toby Woolrych (C2 1980 – 84) on waste management, who described the overwhelming progression of Benelux countries in this sector, as well as showing the improvements Britain could make in aspiring towards a circular supply chain of discarded rubbish.

Whilst aware of the degrading environment we find ourselves in, many do not yet recognise that we are on the brink of an overwhelming crisis. Much of our modern awareness stems from two individuals on either end of the age scale: Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough. Attending this forum broadened the discussion for Marlburians on environmental ideas and principles, and reminded both OMs and current pupils that we can use our platform to develop and strengthen our influence on businesses and their attitudes towards sustainability.

The conference seemed a real confirmation of the possibility for action in the face of a terrifying possibility, and more than anything, highlighted the capability and the responsibility of businesses to be leading the change for a more sustainable future. Frances Scott-Buckingham (B1 1987 – 89) summed it up well with this quotation from the British Academy: “the role of business is to profitably solve problems of people and planet, and not profit from causing problems.”

Peps Haydn Taylor (NC U6) and Holly Smith (EL U6)

Photograph: Perry Hayden Taylor (SU 1979-84), Pippa Blunden (PR 2010-12), Peps Hayden Taylor

More photographs from the evening can be found on MC Global Connect

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