A new online course which allows businesses to educate staff on the importance of climate issues coincides with a recalibration of values which has birthed the new aphorism 'sustainability is the new digital', writes Paul Hainey of Window Origins 


THE events of the last 15 months or so have prompted many people across the globe to re-calibrate their values and the purpose that they bring to the various roles that they occupy.

This applies to individual citizens, governments, and businesses large, small, and everywhere in-between, in almost every conceivable business sector.

For the last 10 years, the main service offering of my Perth-based management consultancy has been that of business strategy development and execution. For my business, this re-calibration is represented by a shift in values and purpose to have Sustainable Business Strategy consulting at its heart.

In the consulting industry, the aphorism “sustainability is the new digital” has recently emerged. If this is true, then the implications of this are: 

  • Businesses that are not able to adapt to the meteoric rise of  sustainability in the new global business agenda will be left behind in terms of competitive advantage, customer revenue, and investment capital
  • The ability to strategise and execute against sustainability drivers in the business environment will be of paramount importance

I have learned several pragmatic lessons in the field of strategy from engagements with several clients in a wide and diverse range of sectors over the years.

Probably the most poignant and universally applicable lessons boil down to two things. Firstly, strategies which cannot be executed to a reasonable degree of success only serve to generate competitive advantage for the competition. 

Secondly, any strategy has a far greater chance of being executable if it is based on credible knowledge and wisdom, has awareness of existing robust solutions and, allows flexibility for innovation. 

Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance, has collectively referred to issues in Climate Change and Financial Stability as the “Tragedy of the Horizon”. 

Clearly then, the size and scale of these issues dictate that addressing climate change will need to play a pivotal part in every sustainable business strategy across numerous sectors, if such a tragedy is to be avoided. 

To allow me to provide sustainable strategy consulting to clients within the scope of climate change, I chose the Climate Solutions Professional course to provide my business with the necessary knowledge, wisdom, and awareness of robust existing solutions in this area.

In comparing the course to alternative options, the kudos provided by The Royal Scottish Geographical Society, The Institute of Directors and the Universities of Edinburgh and Stirling provided a compelling level of credibility in the academic, scientific, and commercial spheres alike.

I quickly found the course content to be very engaging and exceeded my requirements. 

A bonus came from an activity in one of the workshops – to create a Climate Solutions-based plan for my own organisation.

I had been contemplating a strategic pivot towards sustainability consulting for my business for a while, and this Climate Solutions activity provided an appropriate vehicle in creating the plan to take action.

If sustainability is indeed “the new digital”, then we cannot afford to replicate mistakes of the past. In my view, one of the big mistakes that digital transformation has made in its execution within many business contexts is that it has often been assumed to be “a thing for IT experts”.

If the world is to own a successful relationship with sustainability, then every entity, large and small, has a part to play, alongside sustainability experts. Governments, businesses, citizens – we are all what Prof. Rebecca Henderson from Harvard Business School might refer to as “pebbles in an avalanche of change”. 

I envisage the catalyst for this avalanche as being the hugely inspiring growth in the economic lever of ESG in attempting to motivate companies to become more sustainable.

The buzz in the consulting industry is that the massive growth in Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) is causing a huge amount of angst in boardrooms across the globe. 

Personally, I see little need for this level of concern because ESG disclosure is a fantastic opportunity for companies to bring their sustainability journey and vision stories to life. 

Granted, if done without recourse to greenwashing this will likely generate an avalanche of change. However, with a growing number of multi-disciplined, sustainability-savvy climate solutions professionals, I am confident that the future of business is in safe and prosperous hands.


Click with lessons on sustainability

THE Herald is determined to play its full part in the climate change debate, having recently launched a pioneering new initiative in conjunction with Climate Solutions Network.

This unique online programme has been developed by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) in association with the universities of Stirling and Edinburgh and the Institute of Directors (IoD).

Climate Solutions Accelerator provides a quick, simple and rounded introduction to the fundamentals of climate change, helping to explain how everyone and every organisation can play a role to reduce their emissions, and informing businesses and organisations so they can better plan and predict future trends, legislation, and change. 

It focuses on the need-to-know information and most importantly outlines the key solutions managers can implement to respond to climate change and is already being used by forward-thinking major organisations.