JP Priorities

A summary of those aspects of the Forum’s work that I’m most closely involved in:

M&S

M&S launched its ‘Plan A’ initiative in 2007. It's now in it's third generation! Forum for the Future has been involved in Plan A right from the start, working both with the Plan A team (Mike Barry, Adam Elman, Rowland Hill & Carmel McQuaid) and the Senior Managers. I have regular meetings with Marc Bolland to discuss progress (as I did with Sir Stuart Rose before he stepped down in 2010), and take on a number of supporting engagements to help promote Plan A.

For me, the Plan A story is one of the most inspiring I know. It’s had a huge impact both internally and externally – indeed, Plan A has become a global brand in its own right. See my commentary in the latest M&S ‘How We Do Business Report'.

M&S’s ambitions in this area are impressive. In 2011, Marc Bolland asked me to Co-Chair with him a group of global experts to help M&S deliver on its commitment to becoming ‘The World’s Most Sustainable Retailer’ by 2015 – that’s the kind of challenge I love!

Unilever

I’ve worked with Unilever over a longer period of time and on a wider range of issues than with any other company! I’ve been a member of the Unilever Sustainable Development Group (formally the Unilever Environment Group) since 1996, and the Forum has had a formal partnership with Unilever since 1998.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been acting as a Special Advisor on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which was launched in Nov 2010. I meet regularly with Unilever’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul Polman, and other members of the Unilever Executive Team. My key contacts are Gail Klintworth (Chief Sustainability Officer) and Karen Hamilton (Vice President Sustainability).  My work with Unilever takes me to India, China, Indonesia, Brazil and the USA.

I bang on about the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan in almost every presentation I give. It’s the most wide-ranging, imaginative and ambitious corporate sustainability initiative that I know of – and the decision to base its metrics, indicators and targets not just on Unilever’s own direct impacts, but on the impacts arising from the use by consumers of its products is a real differentiator.

Aviva Investors

I’ve been a member of Aviva’s Socially Responsible Investment Advisory Committee for a very long time, providing me with fascinating insights into mainstream capital markets and just how difficult it is to get the basics of sustainability and social responsibility established within this critical part of the economy.

The SRI team is just one small part of Aviva Investors, and Aviva Investors is just one part of the Aviva Group.

Forum for the Future also co-developed with Aviva Investors an ambitious project tracking out sustainable investment options in four key sectors of the economy through to 2040 – providing a ‘Vision for a Sustainable Economy’.

Carillion Plc

Carillion set up a Board-level Sustainability Committee many years ago. I’ve been involved from the start, first under Neville Simms and now under CEO Richard Howson. (The other external Advisor is Julia Cleverdon, former CEO of Business in the Community).

Three years ago, they agreed on a new Strategy, which has brought some much-needed focus to what had become a somewhat baggy and process-driven old Strategy, with much more demanding targets and performance measures.

At more or less the same time, Carillion acquired Eaga, to create a new unit inside Carillion (Carillion Energy Services). This is a big deal for the company, with an eye on the huge retrofit market here in the UK as and when ‘the Green Deal’ eventually lands.
 
Carillion has confirmed its intention of being the leader in all the sectors it operates in, and is now gearing up to be exactly that.

The Cooperative Group

I first got involved with the Co-operative Bank many years ago, working closely with Paul Monaghan.  Then with the Co-operative Insurance Services, then with all the rest of the burgeoning Group (Food, Travel, Funerals) as it has grown and grown over the last few years.

I love what the Co-op does.  It’s a much more in-your-face Corporate Sustainability story (as in the “Join the Revolution” campaign) than most, and the campaigning activities of the group have been as impressive as that of many NGOs.

My principal role is to provide the independent commentary on their Annual Report.  This is not just any old report – it’s the most comprehensive, data-rich and even slightly clunky report that I have to engage with every year.  But no other report does quite the same job, which probably explains why it keeps on winning Awards.

Igloo

Odd name – but a great initiative! This is a regeneration Fund set up by Aviva Investors to take on tricky, mixed-use sustainable regeneration projects in cities across the UK.
There are five Advisors on the SRI Advisory Committee: myself, Paul King (CEO UK Green Building Council), Anne Power (LSE Housing and Communities guru, and a former colleague of mine on the Sustainable Development Commission), Charles Seaford (of the new economics foundation), and Sunard Prasad (of Penoyre and Prasad Architects and a former president of the RIBA). It’s a good group.

Our colleagues on Igloo (and the two sister funds, ISIS and Blueprint) have adopted the Footprint Policy that allows them to assess both the design and the delivery of projects against four main themes:

1. Health, Happiness & Wellbeing
2. Regeneration
3. Environmental Sustainability
4. Urban Design

We don’t do the actual appraisals of all the different projects (that’s done by the consultancy URBED), but we assess the robustness of the Footprint Policy and the way it’s being implemented.

O2 Telefonica

As part and parcel of Forum for the Future’s very successful partnership with O2, I have regular discussions with Ronan Dunne, it’s CEO, to discuss the leadership challenges he faces in keeping O2 ‘out there’ at what is a challenging time for the company in terms of the state of the UK economy.

The great thing in O2 is the level of traction at Board level – the Forum team engages with the full Board twice a year, covering the whole gamut of challenges and opportunities.  The emphasis on innovation is critical – and the success of O2’s eco-rating tool for all hand-held devices has been hugely important in that regard.

Since 2012 I've also chaired O2's high-level Advisory Committee, which is now getting into it's stride.

TSB

Forum for the Future has had a really interesting relationship with the Technology Strategy Board for a number of years – working on a number of different initiatives to embed sustainability in everything the TSB does – which covers a very wide terrain.

There are a lot of organisations for whom the meaning of sustainability doesn’t really matter that much: doing more of the good things and fewer of the bad things sort of covers it.  For the TSB, understanding what sustainability really means is critical.  Technological breakthroughs will be the principal driver of the kind of sustainable prosperity our future depends on, but being clear about the constraints within which we have to achieve those breakthroughs is truly fundamental.  Our shared “Sustainable Economy Framework” will be published later in the year.