Leading on Sustainability Series - Reviews
Our discussion series on the opportunities, challenges and practices of taking leadership for sustainability is now underway.
The first of these events took place on:
Tuesday 1st March 2011: Leadership and Organizational Change for Sustainability
We heard interesting, stirring and challenging presentations from two speakers who have received Business in the Community North West Awards for Leadership for Sustainability, sponsored by Lancaster University Management School, in 2009 and 2010:-
Chris Matthews, Head of Sustainability, United Utilities...
who told the story of the development of awareness, commitment and action for brining about 'responsible business performance' at United Utilities - acclaimed by many as a corporate leader when it comes to sustainability [click here to go to UU's website]. Chris, who had experienced a number of different roles at UU before becoming Head of Sustainability, led us through the unfolding of the sustainability issues and events as well as the leadership challenges that defined United Utilities practice and brought about the BITC award in 2009. Click here to see more about UU's approach to staff engagement.
Chris then invited participants, who worked in small groups, to suggest ways in which the sustainability policy, practice and change initiatives might be developed to bring the story up-to-date. There ensued a stimulating exchange as Chris & participants shared the suggestions and compared them with the achievements of Chris and his team in the 2 years leading up to the present day. Here are some examples of issues arising:-
Garry Charnock, Co-CEO, Carbon Leapfrog...
presented a fascinating story as the instigator of the Ashton Hayes Going Carbon Neutral Project, a community-led initiative that is making very good progress in helping this Cheshire village to become England's first carbon neutral community [click here to go to the project's website]. Garry explained how the idea for initiative began in his local pub which led to an adventurous and democratic agreement with the Parish Council. He drew attention to the spirited initiatives of individuals and groups as they began see that they could make a difference and a serious contribution to the village's carbon producing activities and the quest for sustainability.
Chester University helped, through student research work, to provide feedback information on the use of household energy and the effect of action to reduce consumption.
Gary highlighted the 'connectedness' between activities, the ways in which people began to think and act creatively and to take responsibility as individuals and groups and how, in particular, the continuity of the whole initiative had strengthened the community and the sense of active citizenship.
The project has been closely followed by the media - worldwide - and even led to brief TV celebrity status for the local pub landlord. Garry was acutely aware of how the village had made use of media interest to facilitate relationships and access to funding. The project received a grant of £75,000 to help build a carbon neutral community centre and is currently planning the development of a village power plant.
Finally Garry challenged us all to seek out ways, as the residents of Ashton Hayes are doing, to make a contribution towards carbon reducing activities, however big or small, in our own communities - work, home or on-line.
More about the speakers...
Chris Matthews, Head of Sustainability, United Utilities
Chris became Head of Sustainability at United Utilities in May 2009. Prior to that, he was UU’s Carbon Manager, the first dedicated carbon manager in the UK water industry.
Chris’ prime focus is to embed responsible business performance and behaviour across UU. His remit includes developing environmental and social strategies to help deliver business objectives. This covers areas such as community partnerships, charitable giving, biodiversity, waste and carbon. He believes that embracing the sustainability agenda will add real value to UU’s business activities.
He remains responsible for the overall delivery of UU’s carbon strategy and plan, the first to publicly declare a short term reduction in carbon emissions.
Chris, who holds a degree in history and politics and an MBA, joined the business in 1994 and has held a variety of roles including responsibility for the management of the water distribution network in East Cheshire and, as Business Design Manager, responsibility for designing and planning for a major business change programme. He has also programme managed the preparations of the wastewater business for the price review process.
Garry Charnock, Co-CEO, Carbon Leapfrog
Garry Charnock is the Co-CEO of Carbon Leapfrog – a city based charity that galvanises pro bono professional support from various sectors to help carbon reducing initiatives overcome hurdles to growth. He is also the instigator of the Ashton Hayes Going Carbon Neutral Project, a community-led initiative that is trying to help this small Cheshire community to become England's first carbon neutral village. Since its launch in 2006 the village has cut its carbon footprint by 23% and inspired communities around the world to follow its lead. It has also secured almost £1M in grants and the community is now building a renewable energy microgrid and installing one the UK's first community owned electric vehicles.
Garry is a chartered engineer and an experienced technical journalist. He is currently on sabbatical leave from the RSK Group plc where he is an Executive Director and Board member.