12 Days of SUSTxmas

Nicole Lummis
July 8, 2024

Welcome to the first ever 12 days of SUSTxmas! This year, we're giving the count down to Christmas and New Year a sustainability twist, by sharing what our favourite expert speakers are most looking forward to in the sustainability space for 2023.

As we are set to hear experts from organisations including UKRI, World Economic Forum, BlackRock and more, stay tuned each day to hear vital nuggets of information from all of our sustainability specialists!

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For Day 1 of 12 Days of SUSTxmas, we asked David Carlin, Program Lead at United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative what he is most looking forward to for sustainability in 2023. Here's what he said:

"As we head towards 2023, the risks posed by climate change and nature loss have never been greater. Science tells us that we have a rapidly closing window in which to take decisive action. Fortunately, the world has never been more motivated to engage with these environmental challenges. If you had asked in 2019 if net-zero commitments would be mainstream or if global governments would agree to create a loss and damage fund, few would have believed it. Despite this progress, emissions remain stubbornly high and countless acres of wild land is destroyed every day. Now is the time for cashing in the commitments we have made to the planet. In the new year, I am eager to see how firms that have announced plans to decarbonise will operationalise these plans. I am looking forward to seeing more details from governments on their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and their pledges to scale up climate finance for the most vulnerable. The range of nature-based solutions and sustainable development projects has never been larger. Leaders who step boldly into this new world will reap the benefits for their organisations and society overall."

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For day 2 of 12 days of SUSTxmas, we spoke to Dr Bryony Livesey, Director of the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge at UKRI, and here's what she had to say:

"In the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge, we seek to deliver substantially decarbonised industrial clusters by the end of this decade.  Our programme of work will enter its final year in 2023, and we are already seeing projects moving to the next stages of investment so that they can deliver the carbon capture and storage infrastructure which is so vital to achieving Net Zero.  My main hope is that the pace of change continues, building on the significant progress made over the past 2-3 years. Early in 2023, we will deliver a plan for decarbonising industrial clusters, building on the great work already being done in the 6 clusters which we support.  For the first time, we will be able to compare actions with ambition and recommend what more can be done to achieve efficient decarbonisation.  We expect to share this work across the UK and to use it to support global engagement, bringing our experience of what does and does not work well to a wider community."

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On day 3, we asked Penilla Bergmark, Principal Researcher ICT Sustainability Impacts what she was most looking forward to, in general sustainability and within her area of expertise, here's what she said:

"I hope that 2023 will be the year where we focus increasingly on implementation, and the year when we start to integrate the nature deeply into our climate efforts. COP27 confirmed the importance of non-state actors and we should make sure to act on that. We also saw two great steps in further anchoring net zero in reductions, permanent removals of residual emissions and halving of global emissions by 2030 during COP27 with the ISO Net Zero Guidelines and the High-level expert group report – I hope this will help moving the needle and also that we see raised ambitions and a broader set of actors join in.

I see the interest in avoided emissions booming with new guidelines from ITU (L.1480) and WBCSD expected to be available early 2023, and continued work by the European Green Digital Coalition. I hope these will help in balancing the need to understand and scale emission reduction opportunities while conteracting greenwishing and greenwashing. I also hope to find opportunities to engage further in finding ways to integrate planetary boundaries thinking into companies´ strategies, not least in my role as a research fellow for the Exponential Roadmap Initiative."

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We asked Peter Sharoff, Chief Procurement Officer at AXA XL what he was most looking forward to in sustainability as a whole in 2023 as well as within procurement, here's what he said:

"There are so many options to consider – but for me, we must intensify our action and investment on two things most urgently: transition to green electricity generation & usage and investment in green infrastructure materials (notably cement and steel).  I note “usage” because in the US for example there is abundant solar and wind power that can be accessed, but the electricity transportation and storage limits the “usage” to proximate areas – investment is needed to address this as well.  We need governmental action on a) emissions reporting requirements, b) combined taxation structures to encourage adoption of green energy, and c) financial incentives (tax, etc) to level the playing field between low carbon steel/cement and alternatives.  Each of these will take years to fully play through the economies so I am looking forward to seeing how far we can push in 2023.

Speaking from an AXA XL sourcing perspective, there are some macro and micro things we are focused on.  First – the recent IRA in the US included a provision for more responsible jet fuel; as air travel is one of our greatest emission sources, I am eager to see how this is implemented to drive progress.  Second – as we ramp up our vendor sustainability program, I’d like to see more cross-company collaboration emerge.  While as part of AXA Group, we have a reasonable spend base from which to push our supply chain, the scale of many players is such that we will need improved collaboration on the consumption side to get real traction.  Finally – I am looking forward to seeing what our Green Committees come up with next.  Work sites within AXA XL have these local committees which are often quite innovative – personally, I always appreciate the creative solutions they create."

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On day 5, we hear from SUSTx Procurement speaker Joe Tilley, who is Sustainability and Strategic Portfolio Director at the Crown Commercial Service.

“I am most excited about the passion I see across the public and private sector to collaborate and embed Sustainability and Carbon Net Zero strategies into business as usual. The time is now to overcome organisational barriers and deliver scalable solutions that deliver positive results for our citizens and our planet.

Sustainability and Net Zero strategies are vital to delivering effective public services. From Health and Transport to Infrastructure we have the tools to affect change affordably when considering whole life cost and risk. Immediately in Commercial, we have to continue to innovate our agreements to deliver Net Zero, apply PPN06/21 and start meaningful work to decarbonise electricity generation, heat, and build using greener Steel and Concrete. Let’s work together”.

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We asked Virginia Cinquemani, Director at Green Gorilla and SUSTx Training Expert, what she was most looking forward to in 2023. Here's her answer:

"It's hard to keep the motivation high when, one climate change conference after another,  Governments' commitments are still lukewarm, and when the first coal mine in three decades receives approval to go ahead!... but I have faith in people and humanity and the fact that many, many people now want real change. So I suppose I'm looking forward to businesses stepping up and taking the lead, and starting the sustainability revolution we all need! 

I'm looking forward to people embracing new ways of thinking, new paradigms, and new action... my purpose in business is on ensuring sustainability becomes a no-brainer, an inherent part of every company's culture. So I'm looking forward to seeing more sustainability businesses thrive and becoming more influential until I make myself redundant because my job is done!"

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For day 7, Clare Bottle, SUSTx 2022 speaker and Chief Executive of UKWA shared what she was most looking forward to and she gave some great insights around energy and freight management!

"Sustainability has long been an important topic for UKWA, but the conflict in Ukraine has brought into sharper focus the importance of sustainable energy supply. In 2023, I’d like to see UK achieving independence of electricity supply, at an affordable cost.

At UKWA we are promoting the benefits of solar energy on warehouse rooftops. We commissioned a major study in 2022 that showed rooftop solar power could transform the UK warehousing sector into a net producer of renewable energy, reducing carbon by 2 million tonnes a year, doubling the UK’s solar energy capacity, and accelerating the transition to net-zero.

Currently only 5% of the UK’s warehouses have solar PV. In 2023, our aim is to drive this figure up.

As the warehousing and logistics industry transitions away from diesel to battery and electric power for vehicles and MHE (Mechanical Handling Equipment), and simultaneously warehouses become more automated, electricity requirements will continue to increase. Therefore, a more sustainable, reliable and affordable source of electricity is essential.

According to the Future of Freight Plan, in 2023 we can expect the third National Adaptation Programme, which will report on government policies to help prepare us for climate change.

We believe government should prepare detailed assessments of the infrastructure required to enable the uptake of battery, electric or hydrogen HGVs and work with Ofgem, as part of the next energy distribution price review (RIIO ED2) starting in 2023, to include clear requirement for distribution network operators (in partnership with the freight industry) to map out infrastructure upgrades and opportunities.

UKWA has contributed to various consultations on this issue, in which we have stressed the potential benefits of warehouse rooftop solar. We will continue to amplify this message during 2023."

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Arnab Dutt, CEO of Social Value Experts at the Federation of Small Business spoke to us on day 8 about what he's most looking forward to in 2023.

“2023 must be the year when the jungle of proposed mandatory non-financial reporting becomes a clear and concise body of regulation that is universally applicable and understood. It must come with clear direction, so organisations understand what they need to do to comply, clear measures for benchmarking and proper assurance and verification to avoid greenwashing. 2023 must be the year where learning and knowledge can be easily accessed by organisations of any size to engage with climate justice and social justice. For someone who represents small businesses to the UK government and as a chair of the UK's largest small business organisation, 2023 must be the year the public and private sector supply chains onboard as many small and medium sized businesses as possible because they are more impactful in their local communities and there is a great deal of data available to evidence this”

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James Chamberlayne, Senior Manager, Supply Chains, UK & WW chatted to us for day 9 about what he's looking forward to in 2023!

"2022 has made it clear that companies will be increasingly mandated to report on their supply chains and engage with their suppliers to take action.  Moving into 2023,  I am looking forward to seeing more companies cascade impact throughout their supply chains, not only in tackling scope 3 emissions, but also in demonstrating greater ambition on water, forests and biodiversity."


For Day 10 of SUSTxmas, we spoke to Dr Sebastian Moritz, Managing Director at TWS Partners about what he's looking forward to next year - read on to find out what he said!

"As we move into 2023, it's clear that the past year saw a significant shift towards prioritising sustainability in the business world. Many companies made public commitments to sustainability targets, driven in part by stricter regulations and the expectations of the public and investors. However, the real challenge will be in addressing the often conflicting objectives of sustainability with other business goals such as cost, time, and quality. It's not enough to simply make token gestures towards sustainability - real progress will require companies to make difficult choices and invest in more sustainable and diverse supply chains. My hope is that 2023 will be a success from a sustainability perspective, with companies truly walking the talk, showing a willingness to pay for sustainability even with a looming recession.

As a game theorist and economist, I'm excited to see what 2023 brings in terms of sustainability progress in the business world. To truly make a difference, it's crucial that companies have a solid foundation of data and understanding of the strategic challenges they face. In order to achieve sustainability targets, however, it is imperative that all stakeholders work together and pull into the same direction. And this requires clear goals, commitment, and well-designed incentive structures. Let's hope that 2023 is the year we see real progress towards sustainability, with companies truly pulling together and taking the necessary steps to create a better future for all."

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For Day 11 we looked upon ourselves for what we as a team can't wait for in 2023! Check out what the SUSTx team think about what's to come.

"At SUSTx, we are very excited about the recent agreement reached at COP15 on biodiversity and very interested in further developments and its implementation process. Also, on more specific issues, we are looking forward to talking more about the social aspects of sustainability, which in 2022 were one of the most interesting talking points in our events portfolio. Of course, sustainable finance and investing play a significant role in all this, so stay tuned. 

Specifically in our sector, we'd like to see more and faster changes and new strategies to continue developing a more sustainable events' industry, producing events that connect people but also raise awareness, identify solutions and advocate change."

Stay tuned for tomorrow for more sustainability insights for 2023!