The Problem with Growth

the problem with growth martin parkerTuesday 14th January saw The Future Economy Network run their first event of 2020, at their member’s central offices, Metro Bank. The business breakfast, titled The Problem With Growth, was well attended by a diverse range of businesses all looking to discuss growth and sustainability.
The seminar was kindly sponsored by network members ETS, an award-winning energy management consultancy. The network supplied sustainable pastries from their own eco-café, Future Leap.

Katherine Piper, Director of The Future Economy Network welcomed attendees, highlighting the benefits of subscribing to the Network and also sharing exciting updates about The Future Economy Network’s Carbon Neutrality Hub in Bristol, Future Leap. Katherine also briefly ran through the plans for The Festival of Sustainable Business, where you can check out the video here:

Martin Parker, from Network members The University of Bristol, kicked off by explaining the “three wicked problems”: carbon emissions, social division and democracy. He emphasised the importance of realising that “the economy” doesn’t just ‘happen’ – it is within our democratic power. He ran through a list of solutions to the wicked problems, highlighting the barriers and difficulties with each solution. Overall, he stressed that it is about rethinking what we call “growth” and how we define success. He ran through the list of social economy solutions from macro to micro, from big policies and large companies to small-scale communities and co operative structures. Martin explained what the Bristol University’s Inclusive Economy initiative do, and he finished his talk by outlining the projects they have supported, emphasizing if not Bristol, then where?

school of management bristol university

Neil Wilkins, Director of The Mindful Collective, introduced his company’s remit around helping other businesses develop their vision of a different economy. He stressed that this year is the tipping point and for companies, it no longer matters why we need to change (this is a given), rather they need to be thinking about how to bring about that change. The Mindful Consultants are a non-profit CIC, looking for a positive vision for what is in it for the collective “us” and the planet. His organisation do this by creating value through purpose. Neil highlighted how all companies are now seeing their customers have an increased interest in sustainability and ethics at all stages, which in turn means companies need to rethink and respond. He ran the group through his six principles of the evolved value framework, and his new marketing mix: product, people, process and profit. He then invited the audience to collaborate and comment on their new open source business model, putting the higher purpose at the centre.

See slides here.

Finally, our sponsors and network members ETS discussed sustainable growth within the built environment. David Eynon introduced his talk by going through how growth and development works alongside Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Traditionally, development has been founded on exploitation of the natural environment without recognition of its intrinsic value. The built environment account for over 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. David emphasized the need for businesses not only to become net zero, but to push into becoming net positive (and positively benefit the environment the industry has been degrading). To do this, we must understand what net positive means – where the boundaries are, when to baseline, what the focus is, how to measure and verify, and the methodology used. He then ran the group through the opportunities available at each stage of the building life cycle – finding sites, community consultations, design opportunities, construction, operation & end-of-life prospects. David used Hammerson as an exceptional example of truly net positive building developments across carbon, water, resource use and socio-economic impacts.

See slides here.

the problem with growth

The seminar finished with some insightful questions to the panel and 60 second pitches from Bristol Pound, Triodos Bank, AMH Project, The Travel Foundation, Sustainable Results Lab and City to Sea. The event concluded with some valuable networking and finishing up the delicious selection of pastries, fruit and refreshments. A huge thank you to Metro Bank for hosting the event, and for ETS for sponsoring the event. Without this support we would not be able to do these wonderful inspiring events.

The Future Economy Network look forward to seeing you at another event soon! Details of our upcoming events.