Welcome to RSK live from COP26
Greening the Blue Chips
Welcome to our event from the most critical climate conference yet. This all-day sustainability event was NOT your typical environmental, social and governance (ESG) seminar. We brought business leaders from across multiple sectors together to work out how we could “finalise the Paris rulebook” and cut emissions in line with 1.5°C while protecting and restoring the natural resources on which humanity, and businesses, depend.
Even though the event is over, you can still catch up by checking out the livestream of the event. You can also look back at the reports, insights and webinars that we have released as part of our #GreenDialogues series – all right here on this page.
We need to work harder to tackle the climate crisis and restore and protect our vital natural resources, so we are delighted to welcome you to this important and solutions-focused conversation.
Event schedule and speakers
Welcome, Alan Ryder, Chief Executive Officer, RSK
Opening comments from broadcaster Caroline Frost
Beyond net zero? The scale of change facing business
Poetry by Normal Bissell, Scottish Centre for Geopoetics
The FTSE Environment Report Card, Dr Stephanie Wray, Managing Director, Nature Positive
Expert viewpoint, Jo Gilroy, Head of Sustainability, Kier Group
Investor viewpoint, Adam Heltzer, Head of Environmental, Social and Governance, Ares Management
How can businesses across varied sectors respond to the latest climate science and lead the UK’s transition to net zero?
Poetry by Leela Soma, Scottish Centre for Geopoetics
Panel discussion hosted by Caroline Frost
→ Ian McAulay, CEO, Southern Water.
→ Dr Julia Baker, Biodiversity Technical Specialist, Balfour Beatty
→ Ian Heasman, Director of Sustainability, Taylor Wimpey
→ Anna Cameron, Head of Legal & ESG, Ventient Energy
Lunch and entertainment by musicians Ada Francis and Rory McLeod
Film premiere: How to deliver on COP commitments: Gearing up governments, businesses and people to work with nature
The premiere of a short documentary film examining climate and environmental challenges and their solutions.
Poetry by Patrick Corbett, Scottish Centre for Geopoetics
Following the film screening, we sat down to hear more about the opportunities ahead from some of those integral to its creation:
→ Justin Davey, filmmaker
→ Natasha Warren, presenter and writer
→ Topher White, Founder of Rainforest Connection
→ Dr Emily Taylor, General Manager at the Crichton Carbon Centre.
The way forward
Poetry by Elizabeth Rimmer, Scottish Centre for Geopoetics
The art and science of transformational change, presented by Prof. Patricia Rogers, Consultant and visiting professor, University of Witswatersrand, South Africa.
Working with complexity: Applying the SDGs to business, presented by Prof. Ian Thomson, Professor of Accounting and Sustainability, Birmingham Business School, UK.
Changing behaviour to make change stick, Luke Ravenscroft, Director, The Behavioural Insights Team.
Closing comments from Alan Ryder, Chief Executive Officer, RSK
Reception and networking, broadcaster Caroline Frost
Alan has a technical background in the environmental engineering and economic and social impact assessment of major energy projects. He founded RSK in 1989 after completing his PhD. From its humble beginnings with just two people, Alan has transformed RSK into a global success story and, through this, fulfilled his passion to create a sustainable business with people at its heart. Going forward, Alan intends to grow RSK as a global leader in environmental, engineering and technical services that will help clients across all sectors to build environmentally and socially sustainable futures.
Caroline is the TV Nominations Chair of the Broadcasting Press Guild and, as a regular news commentator, speaks on media, politics and culture. She trained as a producer with BBC News in London, UK, before being headhunted to help launch the digital arm of News Limited in Australia. Once she returned to London, Caroline became the founding entertainment editor of HuffPost UK before going freelance in 2017. Caroline has written three bestselling books; her fourth will be published in April 2022. While in Australia, Caroline completed a master’s degree in applied ethics and global justice at the University of Melbourne.
Steph, an expert in sustainability and environmental, social and governance, is the managing director of RSK company Nature Positive, which specialises in supporting companies to make the transition to a net-zero and biodiversity-positive operating model. Before joining RSK, Steph held executive, non-executive and consulting roles at National Grid, Atkins, Hyder and ERM. Her clients have spanned sectors including transport, housing, energy and manufacturing. Steph is the Chair of The Mammal Society, a UK-based charity promoting science-backed conservation, and a past President of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.
Jo is responsible for the Kier Group’s strategic environmental, social and governance direction and for leading the company’s new sustainable framework: Building for a Sustainable World. Previously, she created and led the Bunzl Group’s Sustainable Future Programme and has worked closely with government and key customers in the hospitality and retail sectors to address ocean pollution from single-use plastics. Jo was ‘Highly Commended’ at the 2021 BusinessGreen Leaders Awards and won the BusinessGreen Sustainability Executive of the Year Award in 2017, and the UK Packaging Awards Rising Star Award in 2016.
Adam leads Ares’ environmental, social and governance efforts. Prior to joining Ares, he was the Head of ESG and Sustainability at Partners Group, where he focused on ESG integration across the investment platform, including developing sustainable investment products. Adam has also been a Global Leadership Fellow at the World Economic Forum, where he focused on facilitating partnerships among the forum’s agribusiness members and public and non-profit-sector counterparts. Adam holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan in Political Science and U.S. History, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and an M.P.A. from Harvard Kennedy School.
Ian has 35 years of global water and environmental experience, holds an honours degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, is a Fellow of the ICE and a Chartered Member of the CIWEM and the Institute of Water, where he sits on the Board. He has been CEO of Southern Water since January 2017 and prior to this was Chief Executive of Viridor, one of the largest renewable energy and recycling companies in the UK.
In a non-executive capacity, he served as an independently appointed member of Greater Manchester Authorities Low Carbon Hub Board and Scottish Government’s 2020 Climate Change Board.
While living in Asia working for high street chains, Frankie saw the devastating effects fast fashion has on the planet first-hand. She became passionate about transparency and worked with suppliers to become more ethically responsible. She launched TOBEFRANK in 2019, creating a unique framework to track and improve the impact fashion has on people and the environment, and the TOBEFRANK Foundation, focusing on closing the gender gap in the fashion supply chain. Frankie is also the founder of responsible manufacturing hub The Rubbish Fashion Company. She produces garments for other brands and retailers, helping to further reduce fashion’s negative impact.
Dr Julia Baker is the Biodiversity Technical Specialist at Balfour Beatty; a major infrastructure contractor in the UK. Julia has designed and delivered Biodiversity Net Gain on a variety of infrastructure projects including housing, railway, highways, and energy transmission. Julia is the lead author of the UK’s Biodiversity Net Gain Good Practice Principles, and a co-author of the associated practical guidance. Julia runs professional training courses on Biodiversity Net Gain and is a Visiting Researcher at Oxford University where she focuses on the use of integrated conservation and development (ICD) to achieve protected area conservation through poverty alleviation.
Ian has been the Director of Sustainability for nine years for Taylor Wimpey UK Ltd, one of the UK’s largest home builders. He leads on many aspects of the development and delivery of Taylor Wimpey’s sustainability policy and strategy. He is responsible for the new environment strategy launched in March this year. This focusses on the major challenges of climate change, nature and the circular economy. It includes ambitious Science Based Targets, which have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. It also embeds regulation such as the Future Homes Standard and Biodiversity Net Gain.
Anna has headed up the legal department of Ventient Energy, one of the largest independent generators of onshore wind energy in Europe since July 2018, taking on responsibility for the company’s ESG strategy since January 2021. As well as providing governance and company secretarial services and advice to internal stakeholders on all legal, risk, compliance, ESG and regulatory matters, Anna’s team provides legal support for the ongoing management and development of Ventient’s portfolio of operational wind farms. The team has a significant focus on the acquisition and subsequent integration work and provides substantial support to the Board.
Justin Davey is an award-winning British American filmmaker. His films explore the myriad of ways humans impact the environment and have seen him document marine conservation efforts in the Philippine Sea, climate denialism at the face of melting glaciers in Montana and community-based Animal Protection Units in Nepal. His clients include Sun Run, The Wave Project, The Royal Marines Charity and UN Climate Change.
Justin started learning how to make films in LA in 2014. His first short films, Adulting and The Long Wet Grass won awards and screened at around 20 film festivals, including the Galway Film Fleadh 2016.
Natasha is an actress, writer, and presenter with a background in nature conservation. Growing up in the countryside in a house full of ecologists, and unusual pets, she also spent time on the sets of wildlife documentaries that her parents were making. However, this developed her interest in acting and presenting rather than following in her parents footsteps. Natasha studied zoology at university but the call to the stage and screen was too strong and she left to pursue acting as a career, studying in London.
Topher’s background is primarily in physics, software development and communications. He has worked at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in the USA and on fusion power at the ITER Organization in France. Topher also served as chief technical officer for two start-ups in San Francisco, USA. In 2011, his love of nature took him to Borneo, Indonesia, where he came face to face with rampant tree poaching in reserves protected by paid guards. This became the foundation of the Rainforest Connection platform. Topher has a degree in physics from Kenyon College, USA.
Dr Emily Taylor is General Manager of the Crichton Carbon Centre, an environmental charity established in 2007 to help people and government learn about and adapt to climate change. She studied terrestrial ecology and carbon management, and then worked as countryside ranger and farm conservation advisor. Following her PhD in peatlands and carbon, Emily joined the Centre where she worked on national research projects developing carbon metrics and accounts for peatlands. Emily currently manages a nationwide peatland restoration project, delivers a national training programme, and works with key stakeholders to integrate peatlands into wider land management planning.
Patricia has over 30 years’ experience in managing monitoring and evaluation systems with government departments, UN agencies and non-government organisations, including the Climate Investment Funds, the World Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation, UNICEF and the Asian Development Bank. She was formerly Professor of Public Sector Evaluation at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia and founded BetterEvaluation. She is co-founder of the footprint evaluation initiative, which considers environmental impacts in evaluations. Co-author of the book Purposeful Program Theory, Patricia is one of the leading experts on using theories of change to plan, manage, and evaluate projects and strategies.
Luke is a Director of the Behavioural Insights Team’s London office. He joined BIT in 2014 and has worked on a wide range of policy issues including procurement, obesity and diabetes, business growth, financial inclusion, road safety, maternal health, tax, and corruption.
Luke was previously Director of BIT’s Singapore office, and before that head of International Programmes. Prior to this, Luke worked for Ideas42 in India on two large public health trials, one on nutrition and one on alcohol. Luke holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from University College London and a Master’s from the University of Cambridge.
Ian Thomson is Professor of Accounting and Sustainability at Birmingham Business School and Director of the Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business. He has been researching topics relating to responsibility, sustainability, and accountability for over 25 years, focusing on topics from implementation of cleaner technology to risk governance in water and salmon farming. He is the author of forthcoming book “Urgent Business” and worked with Business in The Community to develop their Responsible Business Tracker. He was an expert reviewer for the latest IPCC report, and supported the UN World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organisation.