‘Sustainability’ has become a multi trillion dollar global industry, so whilst attending a CBI lunch last week, it was no surprise to see Jonathon Porritt as keynote speaker,…just goes to show sustainability is so mainstream now!
Mr Porritt’s view on how we move to a more sustainable way of living, places most emphasis on businesses and communities, but not politicians, which in some ways is no surprise given recent experience. I agree public pressure can have huge impact, for example the rise in fair trade food wasn’t lead by legislative change and the rise in companies taking Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) more seriously, under the watchful eye of new social media, hasn’t been influenced by politicians.
The trouble is that most significant changes in the built environment have been brought about not by market leading businesses but by legislation, which under our current regulatory framework does involve politicians. For example introducing greater levels of insulation and better performing windows through upgrading the Building Regulations has involved legislative change. Regrettably not all businesses want to save the planet, or even cynically use sustainability as a marketing tool, most are focused on making money and barely complying with legislation, e.g. some of the big house builders & developers, so under our current socio economic structure, politicians are a necessary evil (or maybe just necessary). We do need to make sure they hear our side of the story and not just the business as usual/mainstream version, so education and lobbying is an important part of greening our economy, especially if we want to influence the legislators so they Act Green!
I’m certainly not defending the current government’s track record on Sustainability, which has been diabolical, I’m just highlighting the importance of understanding the need to influence politicians from all parties, to up the pressure.