Business In The Workplace

Monday 19 March 2018

Four reasons why your business may not survive if they are not sustainable

Dr Eoin Syron of OxyMem, SNI Chairman John Mullins, CEO of UrbanVolt Kevin Maughan, Rachel Waite of FinestraPRo and CEO of Sustainable Nation Ireland Stephen Nolan.
Dr Eoin Syron of OxyMem, SNI Chairman John Mullins, CEO of UrbanVolt Kevin Maughan, Rachel Waite of FinestraPRo and CEO of Sustainable Nation Ireland Stephen Nolan. Business Desk

Donald Trump has signed an executive order to change the US administration’s approach to climate change

But there's many reasons why financiers, governments, including Ireland’s and the large corporates should disagree with the Donald.

Irish businesses of all sizes will not survive if they are not sustainable, argues Ron Immink, entrepreneur in residence of Sustainable Nation Ireland.

When the world is transitioning to a low-carbon economy, he believes "it's a little odd to hear the leader of the free world espousing a return to dirty old habits such as a ramping up of fossil fuel production".

2° Bootcamp
2° Bootcamp

"Back in the real world, climate change remains one of the biggest existential threats to humanity. It’s also as one of the largest opportunities we have ever seen.

"Despite what Donald Trump says, climate change really matters. It is also a fantastic lever within organisations, big and small, to unleash potential and positive impact.

"History will show that it makes business sense too. For Irish businesses, I think the opportunity is so hot, it sizzles".

Just because Donald Trump does not believe in climate change does not mean it is going to go away, said Immink, who helps run Sustainable Nation Ireland's free 2°Camps to educate Irish businesses about sustainability.

Forming part of the Irish Government’s IFS 2020 strategy, Sustainable Nation Ireland's role is support and develop ideas, innovations and strategies to respond to global challenges such as urbanisation and rising consumption of scarce resources such as food, water and energy.

2° refers to the stated ambition of global leaders to limit global warming to 2° or less.

Ron Immink
Ron Immink


So is YOUR business ready?

There are FOUR key reasons Irish businesses will not survive if they do not become sustainable.

1. Sustainability will be a policy hotspot for years to come. Particularly when the effects of climate change become more prominent (super storms, flooding, food prices, migration) and voters will demand more action. The impact of COP21 — the talks in Paris two years ago to set climate change targets — has begun to drive government regulations. Ireland’s National Mitigation Plan (a series of steps to enable our transition to a low carbon economy by 2050) is an example. Also, from 2018 on Irish firms with plus 500 employees will, within their annual reports, have to disclose their environmental impact, making it even easier for buyers of products or services to gauge sustainable credentials.

2. Not being sustainable will lead to heavy penalties. All the waste streams in Ireland’s businesses will have to be monitored and accounted for. The more waste, the more you will be charged or taxed. The polluter will pay. It will make perfect business and economic sense to take waste and inefficiencies out of the business.

3. Soon, when an Irish firm of any size is looking for finance from an Irish bank or are looking for investment from an angel or venture capitalist, how sustainable and circular you are, will become part of the assessment. The less sustainable the business is, the less attractive it will be for a bank or financier. That is because the ‘capital stack’ has shifted. In simple terms, this means that being non-sustainable is deemed riskier and will make it more difficult to get access to finance.

4. Most SMEs in Ireland are part of a value chain. The management the companies at the top of the value chain are fully aware of the pressures coming their way. Unilever, Tesco, Marks and Spencer are some of the giants operating in Ireland that have embraced sustainability. Other are following. For the large companies to be sustainable, their suppliers in the value chain will have to be sustainable. Which is why they are now making it part of the supplier guidelines. If you are not sustainable, you will not be a supplier. That’s massive for Irish small, medium and large business.


It is not going to go away, says Immink. "That is why Irish companies – whether they be corporate, SME or startup - should take note," he said.

"Ireland already has the brand (Green). We have the skillset. We have the creativity. We have the startup and business ecosystems. We have innovative brands such as Airtricity, Urban Volt, Oxymem, MagGrow and Dawn Meats leading the way.

"We have a lot of work to do yet, in meeting our pledged climate change targets and playing a full part.

"But as Ireland has shown many times before, when acting together, we can move gears very quickly. If we don’t, other businesses and countries will eat our green cake".

You can book your free place at a 2° Camp in Dublin, Limerick, Athlone, Galway, Castlebar, Drogheda or Sligo here:

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