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.

Crystal Award by Tim Boswell, University of Wolverhampton.

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