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Is your company leading the way in sustainability?

Sustainable Business


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Is your company leading the way in sustainability?” was written by Jo Confino for the Guardian Professional Network, for guardian.co.uk on Wednesday 11th January 2012 16.58 UTC

It is becoming increasingly clear that there is no holy grail that will lead to businesses moving to a more sustainable footing.

Our world is so complex and the issues we face so large in number and scale that there is no single action, however impressive, that will solve the problem. Nor can companies concentrate only on improving one aspect of their operations.

What globalisation has taught us is that everything is connected and issues such as carbon, water, biodiversity, waste, supply chain management and social impacts cannot be seen in isolation.

The reason why talk of collaboration is so common these days is because there is a recognition that no single company can on its own find all the answers.

This is the key reason behind the creation of the Guardian Sustainable Business awards.

By showcasing examples of best practice that tackle the most pressing environmental and social challenges companies face, we are able to give other businesses the opportunity to learn and quicken the development of their own programmes.

We also want to celebrate success because it can often take courage for businesses to reject the status quo and take the road less travelled, especially when there is no obvious pressure to act from either investors or customers.

By showcasing examples of excellence, we hope to give confidence to other sustainability professionals to go to their directors with innovative ideas and to be able to present effective case and back them up with evidence.

Our awards process, unlike others, does not finish with the winner walking away with a trophy and their moment of glory.

More importantly, the programmes of all the winners and runners-up are profiled on our Best Practice Exchange, so that the details are available for others to study and replicate. Many thousands of people have visited this part of the Guardian Sustainable Business website over the past year.

Last year’s case studies ranged from British Land offering urban shelter and habitats for insects and rare birds to Sainsbury’s developing innovative geothermal technology for its superstores.

Sony showed how to effectively use crowd sourcing and Levi Strauss & Co was able to demonstrate how it cut water use in one of its lines of jeans by 96%.

What we also feel is important about the awards is that they are open to multinationals as well as small businesses.

Last year, for example, Chest of Drawers, a small, independent furniture shop in Islington, beat both Unilever and Lend Lease to win the supply chain award.

In 2012 we have expanded the categories to include awards for both innovation and collaboration as it has become increasingly clear that they are at the root of many of the advances being made in the world of corporate sustainability.

We are delighted by the seniority of the judges, ranging from John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK and David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK to David Kennedy, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change and Peter Bakker, president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The awards are accredited by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and winners will be automatically eligible for entry to the prestigious European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE).

And lastly, we can promise you a dynamic and fun awards party. You will not sit there for hours hearing endless speeches mainly for the reason that there are no chairs and no long-winded speeches.

So with only three weeks to go before the closure date for entries, what are you waiting for?

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