The Thought Leader's Voice Podcast
Sustainability: Paving the Way for People and Planet Alongside Profits
As part of our Thought Leaders Voice podcast series, we are thrilled to be in a conversation with Chris Hines on ‘Sustainability: Paving the Way for People and Planet Alongside Profits’.
In the Thought Leaders Voice podcast series, we explore the world of how independent thought leaders bring their ideas to scale within the business world and share powerful, thought-provoking insights with our listeners.
Our objective from this podcast series remains to educate senior-level marketers & thought leaders to help them solve some of the most quizzing marketing questions propping up right now.
This is an independent and self-sponsored series aimed towards enhancing the profiles & importance of thought leaders amongst CXOs.
Chris is the core of ‘A Grain of Sand’, an organization dedicated to delivering positive change. He is a highly respected communicator and driver of positive change. He was co-founder and Director of Surfers Against Sewage for ten years.
Described as “Some of the government’s most sophisticated environmental critics” by BBC News and Current Affairs and “Britain’s coolest pressure group” by The Independent.
With a strong focus on “solution to problems”, Chris has helped deliver £5 billion in the UK coastline.
Chris sees effective communication as a key driver to change and has appeared on everything from Panorama to BBC Newsnight live, BBC Children’s TV and the BBC World Service and CNN Skewed View.
Join the conversation to access actionable advice shared in an incredibly insightful way.
- How can sustainable finance be used as a force to address the environmental and social challenges we face? Can sustainable finance help us transition to a sustainable planet?
- Have we reached a tipping point where it is no longer acceptable to make any profit without considering its impact on the planet and the people who live on it?
- Just how possible is it to eradicate greenwashing?
- In our global survey, 45% of financial services professionals say cost is the most significant barrier to adopting more sustainable strategies. What are some ways in which companies can overcome this barrier?
- While responsibility lies with us all, who should be doing more to create a more sustainable financial services ecosystem? Organizations themselves, policymakers, governments…?
- What is the role of an individual in advancing sustainable developments and how can an individual make a difference?
- How committed are businesses and governments globally to continuing the momentum that has gathered to date on sustainability?
Full Transcript of Podcast with Chris Hines
Kevin Anthony: So, I’d like to welcome Chris and I would like to invite him and start by telling us a little bit more about yourself and how you embarked upon this journey. Just for the record, Chris is the core of the Grain of sand, an organization dedicated to delivering positive change. Chris is a highly respected communicator and driver of positive change. So, he was founder and director of surfers against sewage for 10 years described as some of the government’s most sophisticated environmental critics by BBC news and current affairs and Britain’s coolest pressure group by the independent with a strong focus on solutions to problems he helped deliver 5 billion pounds in the UK coastline. So, I’d like to welcome you very warmly, to regress and invite people start by telling us a little bit more about yourself and how you embarked upon this journey.
Chris Hines: Yeah, good morning. Good afternoon, I think with you, it’s lovely to be here. Thanks for inviting me. And I guess I started my journey growing up in and being connected to the natural environment. So, you know, my, even from a young age, my parents would take me to the beach, and upon to the mall and near us and be at a national park. So, I kind of have that connection with the natural environment. And I think in life, if you love something, then you look after it. And I love the natural environment. So, when I saw that it was being polluted; we, you know, myself and a bunch of friends set out to do something about it. And that’s how we co-founded and I was a co-founder of surfers against sewage in 1990. And we literally set off almost with no knowledge whatsoever. You know, we were incredibly naive. When we set off to do this, we were just a little bunch of concerned citizens. But we went on, our beaches are contaminated with sewage, and I’ll quote Margaret Thatcher. So, in 1989, the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher stated, and I quote on BBC nature, all sewage is treated for discharge. Now that was a downright lie, because there were 400 million gallons of completely crude sewage being discharged around our coastal waters every day when she said that, from UK to Newcastle, Brighton to Blackpool, literally what you flushed down the toilet went straight into the sea. And we would surf and bathe in this. And you know, tourists would have to go and paddle when these panty liners and condoms will get wrapped around their ankles. You know, I’ve had them stuck in my hair. But we set out to turn our seas back into the wonderful recreational playground that it is that thing that we loved. And we did that over a 10-year period, we use the law we judicially reviewed one of our local council took them to the Royal Courts of Justice in London, we bought shares in every single Water Company. That was one of the first things we did, because then we could go to their annual general meetings. And we would influence in effect their share price by you know, sometimes the financial commentators from the national media would ask us which water companies would pursuing good technologies and which ones were wedded to old technologies. So, we could affect the share prices. And we would go to the European Parliament brief, even briefed the President of the European Parliament once on what we saw is wrong with things but also importantly, what the solution was. And we found our solution. Interesting, our solution was a cheaper option. Sometimes people will say that, you know, it’s more expensive to do the right, the sustainable thing. But with sewage, they were all the water companies were planning to build long sea outfalls and literally take the sewage and discharge it further out to sea. Now we found because we went and did research, that little island of Jersey, a little independent island is still UK owned, but governed but it has its own autonomy is an autonomous little island. And they had put in this thing called ultraviolet light disinfection and the bacterial count in their outfall pipe was 50 times cleaner than the standard on our beaches. So, and it was 9 million pounds cheaper than building alongside out for. So, we found our solution. And that was something I was called to give evidence in front of the UK Parliament in front of a house of commons Select Committee, and they quizzed me about that. And they said, how confident are you in this technology? And I said, based on the bacterial count, I feel 50 times safer sticking my head up Jersey’s outfall pipe than I would bathing on a UK beach such as the one that we’re finding dominated. And I actually the Island, New Jersey asked me to go out, and I did I duct dived into the mouth of 100,000 people’s sewage discharge, to promote the technology that they were using. So, I think that’s kind of how we got going. But it was always fired with this, that that kind of passion to make that you know, to do the right thing. And I think when you love something as well, you know, it’s like if someone were to attack your family, you would do anything to protect it, you would do anything, to try to make sure that the right thing happened. And irrespective of how often people said, No, you’re wrong, go back, get back in your box, be quiet, you’re not going to. So, I think that’s kind of been my journey in life. And, and I still see that now I’m passionate about the environment 31 years on.
Kevin Anthony: I mean, that’s been a brilliant journey, you know. So, Chris as we are aware, you know, humanity is confronting enormous challenges. I mean, climate change, population growth, technological innovations alongside growing inequality, geopolitical shifts, and more. So, what is the role of the financial industry in addressing these monumental issues?
Chris Hines: Well, I think the financial industry is probably one of the most powerful sectors in effecting this. And because, you know, they can make decisions and steer the companies, even though a company will say that they want to continue doing the old polluting technologies. The financial institutions own them. And there was a classic situation once where we were, I’ve been invited to go and talk to all the shareholders in London, who owned Southwest water. And it was in I was on the train station in Cornwall, where I live and we are based. And I had The Independent newspaper, and it said sewage to be raised in the city, in the city of London. And it was on the financial pages of The Independent newspaper. And I then got on the train, and the person who would organize this, this dinner, and I was, so it was a lunch in London, and I then was the after-dinner speaker to these people who own the water company. And the water company, Southwest water had phoned up and said, How dare you? you can’t invite him. And the people who were organizing it said, Well, actually, we can do what we like, because we own you. So, if we want to hear from the environmental campaigners, we will hear from them. And we will then come and talk to you, and ask you to explain why you’re not doing what the environmental campaigners are. So in fact, that’s the power of the financial institutions, you know, you can have the biggest influence. And sometimes I look at the kind of the role of government. And sometimes governments will follow, because they’re a little bit cowardly sometimes. Sometimes they’ll look around, and they’ll watch what good businesses doing. And the other thing that financial institutions is, and I guess, the longer term, one of the biggest challenges is to have long term and not be completely focused on, you know, quarterly returns, because some of the things that we need to happen are over a 10-year period, or a five-year period, they’re not literally going to turn around. We need investment in new technologies. We need the support for it coming through. But when, when the financial institutions say we’re backing this, governments will also see that the financial institutions are backing it. So, I think that role is massive. And ultimately, as well, you know, it’s a lot of it is the people’s money. And therefore, people have a responsibility as well to ask where their investments are. And we’re seeing an ever-increasing shift from you know, the normal population, putting their money into green investment accounts. That’s becoming more and more of a desire, and that’s people spending their money. So, I think financial institutions are really important but also the power of the individual. And just before the COVID lockdown, I was at a youth summit, the United Nations in Geneva. And there were 200 students present. And I said to all of them, you for the first time in your life are about to have a significant financial power in your pocket, because each one of those students will spend 9000 pounds a year on their university of choice for that their tuition fees. So 27,000 pounds each 200 people in that room, that’s 5.4 million pounds they have collectively. Now it’s not that they should just solely on the basis of the environmental performance of their university, choose, they still want to go to the best university. But absolutely, they should ask that question. You know, when you go for the interview for which University you go to, it’s a two way interview. And students have the power to say, you know, are you sourcing your electricity from renewable sources? What are you doing with your waste? What is your policy towards, you know, development? How are you complying with the United Nations sustainable development goals?
Kevin Anthony: Absolutely. I mean, so what do you say, Can sustainable finance help us transition to a sustainable planet?
Chris Hines: I think it’s, yeah, it’s crucial. The role of sustainable finance will accelerate it without it, we probably won’t get there quick enough. When we have to have that. We, when I look at the game, if you look, if you were to say this is, you know, the challenges of all those challenges that you said out climate change, population growth, and they’re all like creating the perfect storm. And, you know, we do all want a better quality of life. So that means that we’ve all got to lift up slightly as well. And I think there’s a pressure and I think it will correct pressure that the top comes down, we need a better redistribution of wealth on the planet. It’s not right that you know, 100 individuals, own you know, whatever it is, I can’t remember the statistic. But it’s, and that’s actually, you know, I think that’s obscene to people. And I think it’s not that there shouldn’t be, you know, profit isn’t a dirty word. Because profit if you make profit, you can plough it back into do good things. So I’m all in favour of, you know, really well functioning companies, but also companies that look after the people and the planet. And you know, that the sustainable finance is essential, all of us essential. We need everybody playing this game. I mean, even, you know, earlier this week, the European football championships, Cristiano Ronaldo did that amazing move, where he was at a press conference, and he took the two bottles of Coca Cola and removed them and held up a bottle of water.
Kevin Anthony: Yes, I saw it.
Chris Hines: And that damage, 1.6% drop in the Share Value of Coca Cola.
Kevin Anthony: That’s an impact.
Chris Hines: And but I know I do work with I Advisor, a staff owned community interest, dental company. And they were just going, yes, because in Carmel, the single reason, the most the most common reason for children to be sedated and put under general anaesthetic is removal of teeth, due to sugar contamination. And my partner Katie, she’s a doctor, she’s a Pediatrician, looking after children specializing in diabetes. So, you know, all of these medics of all these people, professionals are just going, Ronaldo, we love you because he has that power. So he has that power. The financial institutions have a power, you know, we all as customers, everybody has businesses, universities, and politicians as well need to listen to us and understand. And they are our politicians, not the other way around.
Kevin Anthony: Absolutely. So, do you say, you know, have we reached a tipping point where it is no longer acceptable to make any profit without considering its impact on the planet and the people who live in it?
Chris Hines: Yeah, I think we’re, we’re at that point. And if we’re not, then then I would urge anybody who doesn’t understand that, to take a week off and go and experience go to the front line. Go and you know, just immerse yourself in the trouble where they go and spend a week looking and experiencing and talking to people on the front line of climate change and poverty and all of that, you know, when you have people like, you know, I’ve got the book here, you know, Mark Carney values and in there he says, Part of our problem is that there’s a poverty of perspective amongst people who are setting the values. You know, if you think you can buy a T shirt, or two t shirts for 10 pounds, and not understand that someone, and something, i.e., the environment is suffering, for you to have that, then it’s time to, you know, wake up, have a coffee, smell the coffee, and realize that you’re living in cloud cuckoo land. And, you know, companies who do get it will perform better. I think, you know, again, and there’s research that’s showing that, you know, that companies that care will attract the best minds, because the young population, you know, and the best graduates are going to go and work for the best companies. So, we are at that tipping point, and those people are going that way. But we’ve known this for a long time. So you know, and other people will want to partner with you as a company. So you attract the best and you won’t get fined and you won’t get, you know, public derision or damage of your brand. You know, if Cristiano Ronaldo can do that in one press conference, you think what they can do if they really set their mind to it? And, you know, are we a tipping point? I’m sure we are, I saw something only earlier this week, a friend put a little post up on social media. And he said, he suddenly had this, this moment of clarity in a car park where he went, I think we’re past the point, the tipping point of peak combustion engines. Because if you think how many cars they will probably never be more combustion engine driven cars, and there have just been, because now everything’s the electrics are really kicking in. And the combustion engine is starting to drop off. If you’d gone back 10 years ago, you would have you would have said no, that’s not going to happen.
Kevin Anthony: Well, for generations, humanity has taken more from the oceans than you know, it puts back in. Today, man’s contribution to the seas is significant, but damaging. I mean, increased carbon emissions have increased sea temperatures, melting polar regions, and corals worldwide by 2030 90% of coral reefs will be threatened with extinction. So can the crisis be averted? And can the blue bond follow his older sibling, the green bond in drawing investment into the ocean conservation? What do you think, Chris?
Chris Hines: I mean, I think we all have to accept that we’re in the crisis, you know, the crisis isn’t over the horizon anymore. We are in it right now. And what we’re trying to do now is to make the crisis less serious. And that means that we have to bring our best game to the table, we have to invest in our marine environment, we have to get the blue bond has to do its work, it has to invest in, you know, not only the environment, but the communities that live around the ocean’s edge. And, you know, the back in early 2000s, when the tsunami happened, you know, I think probably everybody on the face of the planet probably saw or heard of this amazing tsunami, maybe if you’re in the middle of Mongolia, you might not have or deep inland. But that, you know, we saw the violence of that. And we saw that kind of, you know, in 1000s of people died. Climate change is like a slow tsunami, but it’s coming and it is unstoppable. So we are going to have to develop and change and invest in, you know, looking after the people. And ironically, it’s a lot of the people with the lowest carbon footprints, the smallest who some of them probably hardly have any carbon footprint at all, who are on that front line. And in terms of political stability around the world, as well. You know, it’s no good for countries to build kind of like, you know, fortress nations where they keep consuming and keep taking in and forget about and think that they aren’t connected to those people on the other side of the planet, who are suffering. Because if you do that you make yourself a target. And, you know, we need all of us to be involved. Or, you know, all seven, 8 billion of us and it’s going to be that number. And we all need to bring our best game, but we need to understand everybody’s challenges. And to see it as a good thing if you can bring that kind of, you know, the blue bond and is looking after those communities, helping them, you know, develop technologies and livings and, you know, protecting the reefs, mangrove swamps, I mean, we should be replanting mangroves and seagrass because they can, you know, these things can absorb lots and lots of carbon. So there’s lots of solutions out there. And one of the roles of the financial sector is to help bring the best of those technologies forward. And to seek, you know, absolute rapid deployment. Because, and not to get too, over complicated about it.
Kevin Anthony: I mean, I do remember something, you know, which I read a documentary, which mentioned about, we are so consciously making an effort on the net zero in the automotive industry, but whilst we don’t understand the sustainable fishing, or, you know, kind of damaging the coral reefs is far more harmful, compared to what the automotive industry would do. What’s your take there?
Chris Hines: Yeah, I mean, I think is like the aviation, everybody says, Oh, you know, flying is the worst thing. I mean, concrete and steel, the carbon footprint of concrete and steel is, and the construction sector is one of the biggest in the world. And, you know, the energy consumption of the buildings that we build, we make, but absolutely the oceans, you know, if the reefs go, if, you know, if sea level rise happens, the cost of that will be astronomical. And, you know, you can’t, you can try and hold the sea back, but the amount of money that you’re going to put into that, and, you know, we need that biodiversity, it’s ironic that we kind of go up into space, we put all that money into, you know, space tourism, and yet, we don’t actually understand what’s in the sea. And, yeah, we have to understand our oceans better, and we have to give them more priority. You know, it’s only because we’ve named the planet that it’s called Earth. It would be planet water. It will be Aqua. It’s blue, seven tenths blue, we are seven tenths water.
Kevin Anthony: I think the sharks should start walking now, on the land.
Chris Hines: Yeah, yeah. Well, occasionally you did. There was a, there was a classic case, Wasn’t there a couple of years ago, where a whale swam up the Thames past the Houses of Parliament. Now, it was quite, you know, I know why that whale was there.
Kevin Anthony: Maybe runs for elections!
Chris Hines: Yeah, it was that, like, just, and we need to see that and understand that, you know, we are disturbing the oceans. And yet, we’re still thinking that, you know, maybe we can mine them. And, you know, we have to understand that we are part of it, there’s a UN report that says up to a million species will become extinct. And yet, we all too often as humans, with we’re so arrogant that we haven’t quite clicked that if 1 million species are going to go extinct, we’re going to be one of them. We think that they’re, we don’t understand that we’re part of nature. And actually, nature will probably more for round, and go Yep, let’s exit the humans and a certain other set of species will continue. But yeah, to not understand that we, if a million species are going to become extinct, what are the chances that we will be one of them?
Kevin Anthony: Well, this is a I mean, I have another very interesting topic on greenwashing. So this comes out of some statistics that we did about a survey that was conducted by iResearch with 550 financial service professionals that believe at least some competitors deliberately greenwashed customers about their ethical practices. So just how possible is it to eradicate this greenwashing.
Chris Hines: If people want to do it, they’ll keep doing it. So there’s two things here. One is your moral value. Who are you kidding? You know, when you go to sleep at night, who are you cheating? You’re cheating your fellow human beings. You’re cheating the planet. And if you don’t think that karma is going to catch up with you at some point or other, or that shark is going to come munching when you’re on holiday, you know, maybe that’s what needs to happen. So, you know, when people, we have to have a moral understanding of our connection to nature, and we have to have moral values. We, if we don’t understand that, that we have that connection, and a responsibility, and I don’t mean necessarily like in a religious form, but in a spiritual way, we are just a species, and we have a moral obligation to look after each other. And the planet, you know, there’s the famous quote from David Brower, you know, no business on a dead planet. So even if you’re just interested in making money, you’re not going to keep making money, if you’re cheating, because there won’t be anybody to buy your product. And, if but if you don’t get it on a moral basis, then the laws will have to come in But also your competitors will blow you out. Because when you’re cheating, you’re telling lies. And if you’re telling lies, you’re always having to cover your back. And remember, which lie You told to who. And eventually, you will be outed, you will be caught, what a waste of energy. You’ll do better business, by be doing the right thing and not cheating. Because people will want to work for you. People want to partner with you, governments, university, other businesses, you know, developers, inventors, and the public will want to buy your product. So, it’s the right thing to do for all those reasons.
Kevin Anthony: Absolutely. I completely agree with the you. Well, apparently the same global survey says 45% of financial services professionals, say cost is the most important or significant barrier to adopting more sustainable strategies. So, what are some ways in which companies can overcome this barrier? I mean, I rightly understand, you know, the, how the packaged bottle water really works. And that comes to my point, you know, I mean, this is something that’s quite harmful the oceans and to the nature, but it’s just replacing it from plastic to glass, there’s a cost involved to it. So, what’s your take on that? What are some ways in which companies can overcome this particular barrier?
Chris Hines: So, I mean, using the example of bottled water, plastic bottle of water, I mean, I grew up in a time when there was no bottled water, it’s an invention, to sell mass product to everybody, whether it be glass or water, or whatever, you know, we live in a country. So, in some places, you know, you might need it and you might need it in special situations, but you don’t need it. In the way, you know, in the UK, we have the best some of the best tap water in the world. Why would I go and spend one pound 50 to buy something when you know, this cost me probably about two pence, this pint of water here if that. And I can fill up my water jug. So those kinds of things are a bit of a con. And, you know, does doing the right thing environmentally cost more? It does, maybe in the short term when you’re developing a product, but if you think about the mobile phone as a classic example, the first mobile phones would have cost 1000s of pounds. And yet, as they get developed, as they get better, as more people buy them, they become cheaper to produce them the environmental understanding of production and the people who are producing them, you know, those systems get set up. And if you amortize those costs over a longer period of time, you can do the right thing. And again, going back to the example of the lungs, the outfall, it was, you know, it was 11 million pounds to build the lungs, the outfall, 2 million pounds to do the UV treatment. 9 million pounds saves on one sewage treatment plant. And I think that’s the case with you know, as we see new technologies come through, they’re always more expensive when they first come through. But as they are, you know, as they’re replicated in mass numbers, the technology becomes cheaper. So, short term might be more expensive, long term, and especially if you take in the value. And again, this is some of what Mark Carney’s talking about and it’s about triple bottom line thinking and big corporation. You can’t just take the financial value; you have to take into consideration the social value of something and the environmental value of something. And that’s sometimes hard to do. But, you know, I worked at a place called the Eden Project, which is, you know, massive great greenhouses and I was the sustainability director. And when I first was there with the, every single cup plate, spoon fork, we’re all single-use on all went to landfill. And we looked at the triple bottom line, the environmental, social and financial impact of getting rid of those and putting in, you know, proper crockery and cutlery and plates and things and putting in a dishwasher. And environmentally, we reduced our landfill by eight tonnes a year, we reduce the carbon and material impact of the manufacture and transportation of all of those to us. Socially, we created two jobs, people got a nicer cup of tea, because they could have it in a cup. And they could have salad on their plate, because it wasn’t a wobbly cardboard plate. And financially, we sold more tea, we sold more salad, and we saved ourselves 159,000 pounds over a five-year period. So it, it’s that digging in and saying there is a social value, there is also an environmental value and cost. It’s not just about money. Because also when you go when I get into a little wicker basket at the end of my life, and I’m not taking anything with me.
Kevin Anthony: Well, Chris, you know, as you rightly mentioned in your previous comments, about responsibility lies with us all. So, who do you think should be doing more to create more sustainable financial services ecosystem? Would it be organizations themselves, policymakers, governments, who would take the bigger chunk here?
Chris Hines: It has to be everybody. This is a team effort. So everybody who has any investment into a financial service, whether it be through the bank that you choose, or your mortgage company, or insurance or anything like that, wherever you spend your money, everything that you buy, but also the financial institutions need to take that on board as well, and understand that they serve the customer, they’re part of the world, the financial sector isn’t operating on another planet. It’s here, it’s us. We were all involved. And it’s a tool. And government, absolutely. But I also think, you know, there is a role for our culture here to do this for our musicians and our sports players and our, you know
Kevin Anthony: Influencers.
Chris Hines: Absolutely. And we you know, when you can see everybody doing that the right thing. And those examples, so I have this little phrase that use every tool and use them better. So we live in a world where what all these tools are used to make and sell everything to us. We just need to flip all of those, we need to own those, we need to tell the best stories, we have to have the best adverts, we have to be positive about our future. And use all the technologies and every tool that has got us to where we are now and tune them up, turn the volume up. And you know, make it all work. We can do this, but we’ve got to bring our best game to the table. Everyone.
Kevin Anthony: Do you think the policymakers make a little bit of more impact compared to your organizations or governments?
Chris Hines: Yeah, I think policy, when you say policymakers? Do you mean government or?
Kevin Anthony: Yeah, I mean, there are governments involved and there are policymakers, the decision makers, I would say no will basically write the policies for.
Chris Hines: So yes, and I think, you know, we need to understand and help them make the right policies. And again, if they’re not understanding the ramifications of their policies, and what those policies really mean. Then somehow or other, they need to be open to that and we need to influence those policy making decisions. And they need to be open. You know, and I think open, transparent and engaging government is an important issue. You know, we as the citizens and business, everybody, we need to be able to understand what people are doing and have dialogue. You know, even when things are tough, you have to go and sit down. And we used to do that with the water companies. You know, we would be doing a big demonstration outside there on the beach. You know, when we had our wet suits were gas masks on we had a 10 foot inflatable pool and we would do a press call in the morning. But [inaudible] water used to then always go call, that hurt a bit, you know, and we will get loads of we’ve been on the television and everything. But they will say Come and have lunch with us. And then we will sit down and have dialogue. And then when they just made the decision to do the right thing, and apply out this UV treatment, to all of their, their discharge is all their sewage treatment works. We were asked to open their first UV treatment we cut the ribbon; it was our names on the plaque. And that was because we’d had the dialogue, because they go, Well, what do you want? We’ve got this policy of building long, z outfalls. Why don’t you like it? And we had to explain, and we had to find the answer. And then they looked at the answer. And they went, yep, that’s okay. We like that, we’ll do that. And we would go, we’ll support, you know, we’ll support you. So we were as strong advocates of the right is we were critics of the wrong. And I think we need to do that we need to celebrate the good. And we need to help policymakers. So when we were trying to influence that policymaker in London, who was at the Department of the Environment, they you know, they’re kind of watching this game going on, but we were going you can make this policy, you can change your policy to do the right thing. So policymakers don’t exist in a vacuum. And good policymakers absolutely go out of their way to go and gather as much evidence as possible to have as broader vision and understanding and knowledge of their subject matter. From all aspects. You know, I have a Houses of Parliament Select Committee, down there. And it was, you know, the people who are listed were, you know, the Secretary of State for the environment, the financial regulator, the environmental regulator for the UK, the water company, scientists, and there was us surfers against sewage. And we were that wildcard, we were the people who would say what actually, that’s all very well, but you really thought about this over here. And I think, you know, if you’re writing a policy go and find the person who makes that real difference. There was a classic one I saw. I think it was Jamaica, where this person in Jamaica was trying to get his head around, it was a Caribbean Island, and the government, were trying to understand how IT worked. And this was in the 1990s. And they got this young guy came in, who is an absolute wizard on IT. But what actually happened was, the Minister just went so interesting, but he lives in a completely different world. I don’t know anything about what it’s like to be 1617 years old anymore. So he got the information about the IT. But he also kept this young man coming to see him, because he would tell him about all the other aspects of life on that Caribbean Island, from the perspective of a young person. And I think that’s what you know, if you’re making a policy, make sure you get all those perspectives.
Kevin Anthony: Absolutely, it does make sense, you know, well, Chris, Could you just tell us a more a bit more about a Grain of Sand initiative and how it helps drive positive change?
Chris Hines: Okay, so a Grain of Sand, it’s basically me and anybody else I’ll kind of want to be working with but the initiative that the idea of it is that, you know, a little tiny grain of sand, when it gets into an oyster, you know, that’s what makes a pearl. So it can be an irritation. It can be provocative, but it causes the oyster to make that pearl. So it’s about being a little bit irritating, but then creating something beautiful and wonderful. And so, you know, I might go in with an organization and I do with several and I do lots of public speaking. And I’ll be provocative, I might ask the questions that people don’t want to hear. And I’ll say, but why are you doing that, you know, move change, believe that you can make a difference. And I do all kinds of things from public speaking. You know, one day workshops, all that kind of thing. So, yep, I’m here.
Kevin Anthony: So, so how committed are businesses and governments globally to continuing the momentum that has gathered to date on sustainability?
Chris Hines: I swing between extreme despair and extreme optimism. And funnily enough, I was saying that, just a minute ago that, you know, our government in the UK have just a saying the way the leaders in, you know, addressing climate change. But a bunch of MPs Members of Parliament have just come out and said, Well, yeah, but your plan isn’t really up to march. And actually, you’re just saying a lot, but you’re not actually doing a lot. I think we need to see that shift; we need to see that actual shift to real committed action. We have to see that now.
Kevin Anthony: So that’s an example of greenwashing here.
Chris Hines: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s absolute greenwashing. And our government, you know, the UK government was called out on it by some of our own members of parliament. And, you know, we have to care about that. If that’s what if that’s what they’re doing? You know, we’ve known I went to I went to a conference 30 years ago, or 28 years ago, where we were talking about, you know, the country, you know, climate change, coming, smashing into places like Africa, and in a mass migration coming from that, but as you know, that the there was a UN report, the link the Syrian war, to climate change. It was one of the influencing factors that caused the Syrian war, and that’s caused mass migration, and political instability in Europe. So, what you know, if politicians aren’t understanding this, then they need again, to wake up they, you know, they don’t. And we, I often have this kind of debate people, some people say, Yeah, but the politicians, you know, they’re all the same. They’re not all the same. And the Houses of Parliament are ours, that’s our Houses of Parliament, and we have as much right to be there. You know, service against us. We went to the Houses of Parliament, within 9 months, 10 months of forming. And the day we got there, and we pulled the Secretary of State for the environment, because we went with TV cameras and the documentary and everything, we drove that agenda. And the day we got there, the government announced 2 million pounds spend on research into the health effects of bathing in sewage contaminated seawater, because they want, they had they knew we were coming, they had to do something.
Kevin Anthony: Well, Chris, you know. Here I come to the conclusion part of the podcast where there are a few points and all that we come across, which says, you know, globally, sustainability has caught on in a big way. Financial services companies may not be leading the charge, but they are more than big, bringing up the rare. I’d say global initiatives, such as the UN’s zero carbon campaign can only go so far. And while customers are driving change, regulation will need to evolve. Governments too, will have to offer more support. The industry has adopted the mantra people planet profit, but it will continue to take considerable work and diligence before sustainability is no longer a buzzword, but a way of life. Well, Chris, on this note, I would like to thank you so much to be a part of this podcast.
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