Crystal Lecture 2016 – The Sustainable Development Goals – Why should Business bother?

30 October 2016
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Malcolm PrestonHosted by the Chartered Managers Institute (CMI) and the University of Wolverhampton Business School (UWBS) this year’s prestigious Crystal Lecture was given by Malcolm Preston, Head of Sustainability at PricewaterhouseCoopers. The lecture was introduced by Miceal Barden Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Andrea Pisoni, CMI West Midlands Chair.

Speaking to a packed lecture theatre Malcolm opened his lecture with some riveting images of planet earth representing the finite resources which are air and water on the planet. Suddenly, seen this way, our planet looks very fragile. There is not one country today where people are living within the ‘planetary boundary’ in using an equitable share of these and other natural resources.

Secondly Malcolm introduced the audience to the global vision of “A thriving Society living in a thriving Environment” that is underpinned by the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Signed up to by 193 member states the SDGs now provide a real focus  for businesses to move from simply thinking about profit for Shareholders to thinking about  more variable returns for a wider group of Stakeholders including  employees, consumers, communities etc.) Malcom advocated that both Government and Business must do their utmost through policy and strategic interventions to help create thriving societies living in thriving environments and contribute to meeting the global SDGs.

Through an interactive case study game Malcolm then introduced us to TIMM – Total Impact Measurement Management system which attempts to measure not only Economic but also Social Environmental and Tax impacts of Business Activities. The TIMM system quantifies these and thus can aid business development decision making.  These are not simplistic issues, but as Malcolm reminded us, in the words of Christine Lagarde: “Complexity is not an excuse for complacency.”

The SDGs were examined in a little more detail after the screening of the great video Why Stop Half Way.

Crystal Glass by Tim Boswell, University of Wolverhampton. http://www.timboswellglass.com

Crystal Award by Tim Boswell, University of Wolverhampton. http://www.timboswellglass.com

A lively Question and Answer session was hosted by CIDT’s Phil Dearden before Andrea Pisoni presented Malcolm with the 2016 Crystal Award.

Some feedback from participants after the lecture:

“A refreshing and stimulating talk that offers practical tools for engaging business and governments with the international SDGs. The speaker created opportunities for engaging with the audience- and this demonstrated the complex context within which decisions that impact on SDGs are met”

“It was a real privilege and a pleasure to attend Malcolm’s  presentation at the Crystal Lecture last night.  Not only was the subject matter something that is very close to my heart but the manner in which it was delivered was extremely engaging.  I was in the fortunate position to be seated at the back of lecture theatre so could see the reaction of the audience and how it got them thinking about the issues that Malcolm outlined.   I think he really captured the essence of the real life decisions that are considered and will continually need to be considered in the future. I would hope that the University could work with Malcolm in the future and that his experience and enthusiasm could be used in some way to inspire our students and staff.”

Click here to watch the full Crystal Lecture online. 

Images from the event

Malcolm Preston is Global Head of Sustainability Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and leads a global team of some 700 sustainability and climate change experts, with over 100 based in the UK. A graduate in Oceanography, Malcolm decided the world of research would be tedious. In 1983 he joined Coopers & Lybrand and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1986. After spells working in the US, Australia and Zambia, he was admitted to the partnership in 1996. During his career he has advised large multinationals, entrepreneurial start-ups and co-led the firm’s dot.com team through the turn of the century. He has led the Sustainability & Climate Change team since 2008.

Malcolm specialises in the measurement and valuation of environmental, social and economic impacts. He leads PwC’s Total Impact Measurement and Management (TIMM) team, delivering projects for numerous clients including SSE plc, TUI Group plc, TomKat Ranch and a number of large Fortune 100 corporates.

He also leads PwC’s thought leadership on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and, in particular the role of the private sector in their achievement. He is actively engaged with numerous UN agencies and other bodies on this subject and is responsible for the development of PwC’s bespoke tool, the SDG Business Navigator.

He has spoken at numerous events including the BASD and B4E events at Rio +20, at the UN’s Post 2015 MDG Forum, the inaugural Global Business of Biodiversity conference, the Economist Global Ocean Summits, the Shared Value Initiative, the World Economic Forum and, most recently, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Business Forum in Malta.

Malcolm says he was born to travel, not so much to see the sights, but to meet the people and learn the difference of culture. He has driven across every continent in the world – except Antarctica. His mantra is twofold – never fly over somewhere if you have the time to do it by land – and leave the places you visit as you find them.