SustainabilityLive! off to a flying start

The crowds were flooding in as Sir John Harman, chairman of the Environment Agency, launched the inaugural SustainabilityLive!, the UK's biggest event for environmental industries.

The amalgamation of several well-established trade shows serving the environmental sector, SustainablilityLive! brings them all under one banner and runs at Birmingham's NEC from May 1 to May 3.

"By replacing several previous events, there are a number of positives," Sir John told edie.

"Getting all these things under one umbrella and calling it SustainabilityLive! helps these different trades make the connections they should have perhaps already been making and also makes it more comprehensive."

The branding might also open the potential to get more environmentally-aware members of the public through the door in future years, he said, rather than solely attracting those with a professional involvement.

"The new name carries a lot of messages and makes it more comprehensible which should allow it to reach a wide audience," said Sir John.

"That's why we're keen to support it."

He told edie that the event also demonstrates that industry is taking an active role in addressing the environmental concerns facing all of us.

"It's fundamentally wrong to see industry and good environmental quality in opposition," he said.

"It's always been an oversimplification and while some industries have made a mess of the environment but the businesses represented here show there is a real effort to control the impact of economic activity on ecology."

He added that in recent years we had witnessed leading corporations begin to shift away from the environment as a publicity stunt to a genuine understanding that long term success depends on steering a sustainable course.

"We're moving away from the era when it was all about CSR and appearing to be a good moral neighbour was the main reason for being more environmentally sensitive as a company," he said.

"We're now getting to the point where for large companies in particular, environmental performance has been recognised as having an effect on their economic performance."

Investors too are waking up to the importance of sustainability, and the specialised manufacturers, service providers and consultants who make that possible, he added.

"In the next few years we'll see a big switch and investors will be looking at environmental performance as an indicator of long-term success. This is already becoming a much more common view within the financial community."

But what does all this mean in the context of a trade show?

"I believe this event will become a centrepiece for environmental technologies," he said.

"It will be much more than the sum of its parts and the Environment Agency is very proud to be associated with this."

SustainabilityLive! brings together ET & ES, NEMEX, IWEX and ICU.

Sam Bond

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