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Sustainable Leadership: Answering Why? What? Who & How?. Steve Downing PhD, BSc. Context: The Leadership/ Change Challenge. Sustainability requires leadership and radical change 70\% of managers fail to become effective leaders

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Sustainable Leadership:


Why? What? Who & How?

Steve Downing PhD, BSc

context the leadership change challenge
Context:The Leadership/ Change Challenge
  • Sustainability requires leadership and radical change
  • 70% of managers fail to become effective leaders
  • 70% of major organisational change initiatives fail to achieve goals
what are sustainability principles
What are sustainability principles?
  • A better integration of economy, ecology and society
  • Living within the biophysical parameters of the earth
  • Living in harmony with all other life forms (biodiversity)
  • Living to allow future generations to do so also
  • Living with greater equity
The Triple Bottom Line


Social Responsibility




Natural Capitalism

Stakeholder Capitalism



Raise the Bottom

Community Development




a sustainable business
A Sustainable Business?

Sustainable development

  • “Meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”

Brundtland Commission 1987

  • Encompasses three general policy areas: economic development, social development and environmental protection

Commercial sustainability

  • The ability of the business to generate continued long term profit growth

Sustainable business

  • Addressing key business-related social, environmental and economic impacts in a way that builds stakeholder and shareholder value, thereby improving commercial sustainability
are we in denial about sustainability
Are we in Denial about Sustainability?
  • A 90% chance humans are the main cause of global warming

- 2500 scientists in the IPCC – 4th report 2007

  • `People are broadly concerned but not entirely convinced`

- Phil Downing Ipsos MORI June 2008 (Observer Newspaper, n.1039)

  • 6 out of 10 adults agreed `many scientific experts still question if humans are contributing to climate change.
  • More than half did not have confidence in international or British politicians to tackle climate change
  • Over a quarter think it is too late to stop it
or just stuck or slow to change behaviour
Or just `stuck` or slow to change behaviour
  • 91% say Sustainable Development should be accelerated
  • 84% reject the idea that left to itself the market will sort it out before any major issues occur
  • 71% take Sustainable Development very seriously
  • 56% think Governments will fail to enforce a sustainable future
  • 55% think big business commitment to sustainability is not
  • 74% Agreed Sustainability needs a shift of consciousness away from individualism and materialism
  • 77% Agreed Quality of Life Indicators should be more important than measures of GDP

Source UGovStone, Sample of 1066 Influentials, September 2008

reasons to be sustainable
Reasons to be Sustainable
  • We will have to (un-sustainability of the status quo)
  • We will want to (business case & personal benefits)
  • (We ought to) (environmental & social progress)
climate change committee recommendations accepted by uk government
Climate Change CommitteeRecommendations Accepted by UK Government
  • 80% GHG emissions reduction (1990-2050)
  • Eventually to include aviation and shipping
  • Energy efficiency in homes and new buildings
  • Increase in renewable energy, nuclear & CCS
  • Hybrid engines, bio fuels, and electric cars
  • Heating efficiency, combined heat and power ground source heat pumps biomass boilers
  • New technology for steel and concrete

October 6th 2008

population in billions

Less developed countries:

Africa, Asia (excluding Japan), Latin America, The Pacific Islands and The Carribean

More developed Countries:

Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan





More developed countries











Population (in billions)

Source: UN Population Division

technology fossil fuels greenhouse gas emissions
Technology (fossil fuels) = Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • 6 GHGs including CO2, Methane and Nitrous Oxide
  • 50% of emissions are man made
  • CO2 at highest level for 800,000 years (375 ppm CO2 equiv.)
  • 0.74 degrees C increase in surface temperature
  • 66% of the world population will face water scarcity by 2025 (UN)
  • UK emissions 2% up between 1997-2007 (500m tonnes pa)
  • Globally approx 30 bn tonnes CO2 pa from fossil fuels in 07
  • Sustainability = 5 – 6 billion tonnes
  • It will cost 1% of GDP to reduce now, 20% of GDP later
  • 20% ignores the intrinsic value of lives and ecosystems
environmental burden
Environmental Burden
  • Climate Change
  • Loss of glaciers
  • Loss of water
  • Loss of forests and fertile soil
  • Loss of soil productivity
  • Loss of fish stocks
  • Loss of species
  • Extreme weather
  • Rising Sea Levels
  • Mass migration
an environmental budget deficit
An environmental budget deficit
  • In 1961 world population of 3 billion was using half the resources the global ecosystem could provide sustainably.
  • In 1985 5 billion were using all of Earth’s sustainable production.
  • In 2001 6 billion were using 20% more than we could sustain – ie overexploiting fisheries, pasture, forests and polluting oceans and atmosphere.
  • Between now and 2050 population grows by 90 mill. Per year

Tim Flannery: 2005 `The weather makers`

  • Increasing Awareness and Understanding
    • Of sustainability and the business case
    • Using multi-stakeholder dialogue
  • Building Commitment and Action
    • Encouraging Innovation and Entrepreneurship
    • Role models, Rewards and Culture
elements of the business case for sustainable development
Elements of the Business Case for Sustainable Development
  • Stakeholder expectations
  • Risk management
  • Reputation/ brand/ loyalty building
  • Cost / energy savings
  • Demand for sustainable/ ethical products, investments
  • Innovation of new products and business models
  • Recruitment and retention of high quality employees
  • Greater influence on government and media
  • Share price performance in long term
  • Triple bottom line reporting and governance
  • Avoiding future taxes/ costs from internalisation of externalities

Ray BC

re interpreting corporate responsibilities
Re Interpreting Corporate Responsibilities
  • Wealth Creation
  • Shareholders and Stakeholders
  • Legal, decent and honest
  • Strategy (SWOT)
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership
  • All of the above = Sustainability
  • Sustainability practices increase gross margins, ROS, ROA increase case flow and shareholder return (PWC May 08)
  • The sustainability yearbook 2008
Building Shareholder Value Over Time

Building tomorrow’s opportunity

Eco Products

and Services

Eco Advocacy

and Leadership









Eco Efficiency

Managing today’s business

Source: Developed from Hart (2005)

building shareholder value over time
Building Shareholder Value Over-Time


Strategy: Clean technology Develop the sustainable competencies of the future

Corporate payoff: Innovation & repositioning

Strategy: Sustainability vision Create a shared road map for meeting unmet needs

Corporate payoff: Growth & trajectory

  • Drivers
  • Disruption
  • Clean tech
  • Footprint





Sustainable Value



Strategy: Pollution prevention Minimise waste and emissions from operations

Corporate payoff: Cost & risk reduction

Strategy: Product stewardship Integrate stakeholder views into business processes

Corporate payoff: Reputation & legitimacy


Civil society•



  • Drivers
  • Pollution
  • Consumption
  • Waste


Source: Hart (2005)

six steps on the csr journey
Six steps on the CSR Journey
  • Freeloaders and

Stealthy Saboteurs

  • Bunker Wombats
  • Reactive Minimalists
  • Industrious Stewards
  • Proactive Strategists
  • Transformative Futurists

Source Dexter Dunphy, 2008, EABIS Conference

The Journey Towards Sustainable Development

1st Wave Organisation

2nd Wave Organisation

The 3rd Wave

Competitive Advantage













The Sustaining


Elite seeks profit max. & treat all resources as means to that end.

H & S lip service.

Opposition to government and green activists

Community claims seen as illegitimate

More ignorant than oppositional.

Seek business as usual, compliant workforce.

Ignores any negative environmental impacts

Focus on reducing risk of sanctions for failing to meet minimum standards.

Reactive to community and legal requirements.

Compliance plus proactive measures to maintain good citizen image.

Human and environmental policies to reduce costs and increase efficiency

Seek to be employer of choice.

Stakeholder engagement to innovate safe environmental friendly products and processes.

Good citizenship to maximise profits.

Reinterpreted the nature of the corporation to an integral self renewing element of the whole of society in its ecological context – and tries to renew this.


Source: Dunphy et al 2003


& How?


`Corporations dilute their soul for some reason, and we need leaders who can get it back`

Robin Blass, VP of Global Learning, Unilever (EABIS conference 12/9/08)

GE- Ecoimagination
  • Jeff Immelt led commitment:
  • Eco Imagination products annual revenue $25billion by 2010
  • R&D in cleaner technology to double 2005-2010 to $1.5 billion
  • Reduce water use by 20% by 2012
  • Reduce GHG emissions by 1-30-30 by 2012 against 2004 levels
  • Inform the public
  • GE Ecoimagination
sustainability must read books
Sustainability Must-Read Books
  • James Lovelock- (06) The revenge of Gaia
  • Jonathon Porritt (06) Capitalism as if the world mattered
  • Stuart Hart (05) Capitalism at the crossroads
  • Tim Flannery (05) The weather makers
  • Nattrass and Altomare(02) Dancing with the tiger
  • Winsemius and Guntran (02) A thousand shades of green
  • McDonnough and Braungart (02) Cradle to cradle
  • John Elkington (01) The chrysalis economy
  • Hawken, Lovins and Lovins (99) Natural capitalism
  • Dunphy,Griffiths and Benn (03) Organizational change for corporate sustainability
  • Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes from a Catastrophe (06)
  • (Bjorn Lomburg (98) The sceptical environmentalist)
winning websites
Winning Websites
  • www.sustit-net
good guides to personal growth and leadership
Good guides to personal growthand leadership
  • Peter Senge et al (05) Presence, exploring profound change
  • Robert Greenleaf (77) Servant Leadership
  • Joseph Jaworski (96) Synchronicity: the inner path of leadership
  • Lama Surya Das (97) Awakening the Buddha within
  • Charlotte Joko Beck (89) Everyday Zen
  • Dalia Lama (02) How to practise the way to a meaningful life
  • Sharon Janis (00) Spirituality for dummies
  • Mike George (03) The 7 AHAs of highly enlightened souls
  • Erich Fromm (76) To have or to be
  • Ken Wilber (01) A theory of everything
  • Eckhart Tolle (99) The power of now, & A new Earth (05)
  • Toni Packer (02) The wonder of presence
What can we do ?Det Store KlimaårSå er Det Store Klimaår gået i luften. Det Store Klimaårer et tilbud til danske virksomheder, der ønsker at sætte fokus på klimaet op til det store klimatopmøde i København i slutningen af 2009. Udgangspunktet for Det Store Klimaårer at give deltagerne en række redskaber til, hvordan man på en enkel og nem måde kan engagere virksomheden - og ikke mindst medarbejderne - i klimadebatten.Du kan se påår, hvilke virksomheder der har tilmeldt sig, og hvad de gør for klimaet.Foghs grønne takterI sin tale på Venstres landsmøde i søndags sagde Statsminister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, at Regeringen har taget fejl i sin klimapolitik, og at Danmark nu skal være fri for fossile brændstoffer (kul, olie og gas). Det er Burning Panda og WWF Verdensnaturfonden naturligvis glade for, men problemet ved Foghs udmelding er, at han endnu ikke har præsenteret en konkret handlingsplan, der bakker udtalelserne op.Ved at lave et klimastatement på viser du politikerne, at du bakker op om, at de skal sætte handling bag ordene. Klimatopmøde i Poznan1. december starter klimatopmødet COP14 i Poznan, Polen. Klimatopmødet skal være med til at bane vejen for en global aftale til COP15 næste år i København. Under topmødet vil Earth Hour, som Sluk lyset Danmark 2009 er en del af, blive præsenteret for pressen. Over 60 lande har nu meldt sig til Earth Hour og målet er, at 1 milliard mennesker skal slukke lyset i en time den 28. marts 2009, som en symbolsk handling i forhold til klimaet. Du kan vise dit engagement i klimasagen og tilmelde dig Sluk lyset Danmark 2009 herFrameld nyhedsbrevWWF VerdensnaturfondenRyesgade 3F2200 København NTlf: +45 35 36 36 35Fax: +45 35 24 78 68E-mail: [email protected]