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Collaboration is the key to business success and a more sustainable future

World Congress learns from Peterborough – the UK’s Environment City

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PRLog (Press Release) - Jul. 9, 2011 - “Business leaders and corporate boards need to move on from individual efforts to meet regulatory requirements and reduce negative impacts on the environment,” according to Prof Colin Coulson-Thomas who delivered a special address to business leaders and policy makers attending the world congress on environment management in New Delhi, India, “they also need to collaborate with other enterprises and public bodies to create a more sustainable future for cities, towns and villages.”

In Peterborough, the Professor’s local city, public and private organisations work together to build a healthier and more sustainable city. He explained that with much of the city only a few feet above the high water mark: “For us environment management is not a fashion or a fad. It is not just an interesting subject for a conference. For us environment management is an urgent necessity. Working together enables companies to achieve much more than they could have done on their own.”

The Professor’s research looks at what top performing people and boards do differently. His findings suggest that many less effective boards may just look for quick fixes: “Some insecure boards see environmental and social concerns as a threat. When challenged, they try to ‘pass the buck’ and avoid responsibility. Otherwise, they keep their heads down. They work in isolation to protect their interests.”

In comparison, Coulson-Thomas finds: “Confident boards are proactive and more likely to collaborate. The more effective boards respond positively. They assume responsibility for making a positive contribution to the environment. They also work with public bodies to achieve both corporate and social objectives.”

Collaboration in Peterborough has led to a variety of initiatives from the building of a 3D model of a sustainable city, through sustainable and integrated transport, education, health and planning policies, to a new live healthy, live green drive that builds on synergies and linkages between the environmental, health, welfare and business agendas. The city now hosts the UK’s largest cluster of UK environmental goods and services businesses, and aims to become the UK’s environment capital.

For Coulson-Thomas “Thinking of others and working with them is the key to business success and a sustainable world”. He warned delegates that “Savvy entrepreneurs succeed by helping other people to achieve their dreams. If you only think of yourself profits can elude you. Some directors just consider how environmental developments will affect their businesses. For example, how will Government regulations impact on us?”

In contrast Coulson-Thomas finds, “Smart directors consider how environmental developments will impact upon others. For example, how might they affect our customers and prospects? More importantly, how could we help them to cope? Smart directors also think about the impact of their companies’ activities upon others. They look for imaginative and cost-effective ways of reducing any negative impacts. For example, recycling waste can save disposal costs.”

Coulson-Thomas believes there is much the world can learn from Peterborough’s experience: “Around the globe many people are not benefiting from the rapid growth of cities. The wealthy live behind razor wire in exclusive enclaves while rural farmers struggle to scratch a living from arid or poisoned land. In Peterborough the live healthy, live green campaign encourages people to eat locally grown and seasonal food in place of packaged products brought to the city at great environmental cost. The city is linked to its rural hinterland and local farmers and agri-businesses benefit.”

The 13th World Congress on Environment Management was organised by the World Environment Foundation and India’s Institute of Directors. It was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Leela Palace in New Delhi, India. Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas gave a presentation on collaboration to create more sustainable cities based upon Peterborough’s experience on the first day of the congress, and he gave the special address during the valedictory session on the final day of the congress.

Dr. Colin Coulson-Thomas, an experienced board chairman of award winning companies and academic at the University of Greenwich, has helped over 100 boards to improve director, board and corporate performance. His 40 books and reports include “Shaping Things to Come”, “The Knowledge Entrepreneur”, “Developing Directors” and “Winning Companies; Winning People”, and he has spoken at over 200 national and international events in 40 countries.   He can be contacted via http://www.coulson-thomas.com and details of his most recent publications can be found on http://www.policypublications.com.

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Adaptation is a specialist director, board and development consultancy that provides a range of support services based upon continuing investigations into what the most successful people and organisations do differently. www.adaptation.ltd.uk

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