Prince of Wales’ Business Sustainability Programme nears 20th anniversary

The Business Sustainability Programme (BSP), established by HRH Prince of Wales and the University of Cambridge, will mark its 20th anniversary in April this year, making it one of the world's longest running business and sustainability executive education forums.

Launched shortly after the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992 as the Business and Environment Programme, the initiative recognised that the “contribution from the business community to the sustainability debate was critical”.

According to the University of Cambridge, the programme has influenced more than 2,200 leaders representing some 1,000 organisations from more than 75 countries.

The programme trains approximately 150 leaders each year on the business interface with major environmental and socioeconomic issues, helping to translate the latest science, thinking and innovative practice for senior decision makers.

Fellow at the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL) David Rice said: “Leaders in business can drive great change in how society develops. Through the BSP I have seen how leaders can bring a broader scan of the horizon into their strategic thinking and everyday operations, affecting people’s lives and the natural world”.

CPSL’s patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, added: “It was CPSL’s inspiring ability to combine breadth and depth of understanding of sustainability issues in a way that makes the whole subject come alive to business leaders and policy makers that persuaded me to ask them to run my Business and Sustainability Programme. I must say I am pleased that I did.”

The programme is used by major companies, such as Anglo American, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Petronas, Sainsbury’s, Tata and SABMiller, as well as government agencies and development banks.

SABMiller’s senior vice president sustainable development said the programme “helps shape the understanding of our leaders around how sustainability risks and opportunities relate to the corporate world, as well as demonstrating the role senior executives play within the organisation to drive change”.

In December 2013, the Prince of Wales launched a chief financial officer sustainability network aimed at embedding environmental and social issues into company strategy and finances.

Leigh Stringer

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