'Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity': Business giants vow to build back better post-Covid-19

More than 200 business leaders will tune into a virtual meeting today (29 June), in which they will outline their plans to deliver a green coronavirus recovery and make last-minute recommendations on key policies which would help them align with net-zero.

The CSB was created to advise Defra on the delivery of the 25-Year Environment Plan

The CSB was created to advise Defra on the delivery of the 25-Year Environment Plan

At least half of FTSE100 firms will be represented at the meeting, coordinated by the Council for Sustainable Business and the Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra). Among them are Unilever, Sainsbury’s, Severn Trent, Standard Chartered and Barratt Developments.

COP26 President and Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Environment Secretary George Eustice will also be on the call, as will CSB member and Environment Agency Chair Emma Howard Boyd.

By signing up to attend, businesses have committed themselves to working with the Government, other businesses and other key stakeholders to accelerate progress on issues like decarbonisation, resource efficiency, energy efficiency and nature restoration in the run-up to COP26. The event was recently postponed to November 2021 due to the pandemic, prompting concerns that momentum may be lost.

Several of the businesses represented will also present case-studies, demonstrating how they have been able to align sustainability and profitability and encouraging others to follow suit.

The CSB is hoping that the meeting will form a “key moment” in the delivery of the UK’s post-Covid-19 recovery plans. The Government’s official plan is due to be announced on Tuesday (30 June) by Boris Johnson, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak set to provide more details in the first half of July.

“Business leaders have faced unprecedented challenges these past months and planning a sustainable future has slipped out of focus for many,” CSB chief executive Liv Garfield said. “It is more important than ever that we stay committed to make Britain a world leader when it comes to sustainable business operations which protect the environment for our future generations.”

“As we bounce back and get the economy thriving again, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to recover and grow in the right way – a cleaner and greener way,” Garfield, also Severn Trent chief executive, added.

“Every business in the UK has a role to play in delivering this. That is why today we are challenging ourselves and others to kickstart this new approach and commit to rapid and real transformations, proving that Britain can rise to the green recovery challenge.”

The meeting comes less than a week after the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) submitted its recommendations for creating a net-zero-aligned recovery package to Ministers and on the same day that the Environmental Audit Committee and BEIS Committee launched new inquiries into the impact of the UK Government’s recovery plans.

Sarah George



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