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Insights 21 Nov 2017

In Conversation with Our Founders, John Elkington & Julia Hailes

By Rob Cameron and Denise Delaney

Three videos in which co-founders John Elkington and Julia Hailes discuss the start of SustainAbility, the notion of constructive discomfort, intergenerational equity, the Sustainable Development Goals and the challenges and change ahead.

The Genesis of SustainAbility

Co-founders John Elkington and Julia Hailes discuss how SustainAbility was established following the success of Green Pages and the Green Consumer Guide.

“The Green Consumerism movement hit retailers as hard as it hit manufacturers and growers, and we saw then a growing appetite for life cycle analysis, environmental auditing, that in turn led to early environmental reporting and then sustainability reporting. There was a catalytic effect that was enormously powerful.” John Elkington

Constructive Discomfort

Co-founder Julia Hailes talks to Chief Executive Rob Cameron about the unique space that SustainAbility has occupied working commercially with corporates, but also campaigning against them and how business remains key to creating the future we want.

“Some of the other consultancies were taking on board environmental issues…but they weren’t campaigning in the way that we were, and we were very much looking to challenge the corporates. We would say: Look if you are not interested in changing don’t come to us.” Julia Hailes

Old Economic Order to New

Co-founder John Elkington tells Director Denise Delaney about how SustainAbility, against a backdrop of growing challenges and problems, has always looked to the positive changes that can be made and how optimism and pragmatism will be even more important as we shift to a new economic order.

“What is happening in the US with Trump, what is happening in the UK with Brexit, what is happening in Germany with the recent elections, they are all early signals of an unravelling, but actually that is the best time to come in to that space and lead and create a positive, optimistic and practical voice for change in our world.” John Elkington

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