Looking back at the first Sustainability LIVE event

By Kavita Cooper, Managing Director Novo-K Procurement Solutions. 

The team at Novo-K and I attended Sustainability Live organised by Sustainability Magazine and BizClik Media on 23rd and 24th February. The global team attended virtually, whilst I and a few of the UK team  had the opportunity to attend in person. We have offset all our rail travel by planting 25 trees with our partners Ecologi in our fast-growing forest, check it out here. 

The event boasted a packed agenda with insightful talks from global experts, pioneers, and leaders. Two days of impactful conversations later, it is safe to say they delivered on their promise. Listed below are some brilliant speakers and my key takeaways from their sessions.  


Operationalising Sustainability: Stop Talking and Start Taking Action. 

Jim Bralsford from Kinaxis discussed building awareness, opportunity, and action in operationalising sustainability.  

Key Takeaways:  

  • KPMG 2021 CEO outlook confirmed their top priorities which are revenue impacting included:
    #1 Cyber security risk
    #2 Environmental / climate change risk
    #3 Supply Chain Risk
  • Less than half of the companies claiming to address emissions in supply chain are considering scope 3 emissions and only 20% of procurement teams are involved in planning sustainability in their supply chain (according to CIPS survey).
  • Jim advised using a 3-step method to hack sustainability:

    Step 1: Build Awareness
    Encourage supply chain transparency and think beyond emissions! Corporate Sustainability Strategy must be integrated into corporate strategic objectives.

    Step 2: Opportunity 
    Sustainability must be at the core of supply chain planning. RFP processes should consider trade-offs between cost, quality, and emissions. Technology is an enabler and organisations should consider a holistic approach.

    Step 3: Action 
    Define your organisational goals for the environmental performance of your supply-chain. Understand your scope 3 emissions and evaluate areas for opportunity. Start with decisions you control and learn from others.


Sustainability of space activities.

Andrea Vena, Chief Climate and Sustainability Officer of the European Space Agency gives her take on the role of ESA in the European space ecosystem.      

Key Takeaways:  

  • A quick overview of ESA: 22 member states, over 80 satellites launched since 1975, 7 launches performed in 2021, an annual budget £649 billion.  
  • Key sustainability objectives include how space activities can contribute to fight climate change, sustainability of outer space and supporting Europe’s carbon neutral target for 2050.  Fight Climate Change
    Space activities and imagery can save lives (for example, connected cars preventing road accidents saving 11,000 lives a year), protect properties (for example, tracking forest fires), increase climate change resilience and contribute to decarbonisation (for example, supporting food production and water management through imagery).  Sustainability of outer space
    Space junk is threatening the use of space tech by future generations. The cost of no action could impact 1 million jobs and have far wider consequences. This can be prevented, removed, and controlled by establishing a commercial leadership in orbit servicing programme.

    Net Zero 2050
    This includes estimating the environmental impact of ESA, minimising negative impacts (GHG, Emissions, biodiversity) and focusing on scope 3 emissions through procurement and supply chain activities.  


The Future of procurement and getting to Net Zero.

This insightful presentation about the ambitions of the NHS left us optimistic and eager to see how NHS will influence other public and private sector organisations to build ambitious plans to achieve sustainability commitments and targets.

Key Takeaways:

  • NHS sees its 80k suppliers with £30bn annual spending as an opportunity to make positive impact. NHS currently contributes 5 – 6% of the UK’s CO2 emissions with 62% of it coming from their supply chain.
  • There are 4000 procurement staff in the NHS, all able to influence the supply chain and support the NHS in getting to net zero by 2045.
  • The NHS team has developed 13 interventions to get to net zero through proactive procurement activities covering everything from plastic and food waste to electrified transport.
  • 3 notable commitments from NHS in the future were:
  • From 2030, the NHS will no longer purchase from suppliers that do not meet or exceed the NHS’ commitment to net zero.
  • From April 2022, all NHS tenders will include a minimum of 10% net zero and weighting for social value.
  • By April 2024, every procurement tender will have a 10% weighting and every supplier will require a published carbon reduction plan.
  • The NHS recognises the challenge for SMEs (risk perspective) and will be liberal in giving them time to achieve the targets. They showed a great understanding of supplier diversity challenges.
  • The NHS Evergreen platform creates a single centralised source of information, recording how suppliers are aligning with their net zero trajectory (note: suppliers can self – certify).


Panel Discussion: Sustainable Finance & Ethical Investment. 

The panellists mutually agreed every company can be relevant and raise the bar with a solid ESG strategy. The discussion centred around transparency and metrics.  

Key Takeaways: 

  • You are only as sustainable as your supply chain and will only be able to address risks by making them visible.
  • Currently, there is a lack of transparency. But with ‘bold action early’, this is set to change (learnings from the global and systemic fiscal crisis).
  • Visibility from Tier 1 all the way down the supply chain is a necessity where specific tangible and objective based KPIs should put be in place. You will see emerging tech supporting this. The financial world can create products and mechanisms to allow companies to innovate and achieve said KPIs.
  • Businesses must go beyond standard ESG ratings (for example, measuring green revenues). They must also align their strategy with the metrics.

Accelerating a Circular Economy.

Stephen Jamieson, the global head of Circular Economy Solutions SAP gave a thought-provoking session while raising interesting data points.    

Key Takeaways:  

  • While highlighting crucial data, he informed 8.6% of the world is circular, 61% of world’s population do not have access to waste management structure and 45% of the Co2 emissions are due to products.  
  • Linear economy challenges include the difficulty in the design stage of gaining end to end visibility and unpredictable supply of raw materials to consumers shifting to alternatives solutions.  
  • To drive ‘alternative’ circular solutions we need critical interventions in the form of waste elimination (to prevent destroying nature), material circulation (promote their use for as long as possible), regeneration of natural systems and incentivising new consumer behaviours.  
  • To deliver a circular economy you need to be able to measure it, however this is not easy and can be complex. The key is DATA. He proposes to collate reliable data from all areas, standardise the data while increasing collaboration across different sectors and organisations and use the data to drive business decisions to build better circular business models.


Realising sustainability goals through digital transformation. 

The Team from Intelligent Enterprises spoke to us “from the future.” 

Key Takeaways:  

  • 70% of business transformations fail. To avoid this, businesses should be encouraged to become intelligent enterprises.
  • Infuse AI into business processes where it is possible. Utilise tech to gather insights about customers, partners, and suppliers to highlight risks. Utilise Cloud tech to manage value chains.
  •  ‘Reporting;’ understanding what is happening across the organisation as well as externally and ‘collaboration;’ building flexible value chains and going beyond supply chain are important.


Panel discussion: Supply Chain Sustainability. 

“𝙸𝚏 𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚙𝚊𝚗𝚢 𝚊𝚍𝚍𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚜𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚒𝚛 𝚂𝚌𝚘𝚙𝚎 𝟷 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝟸 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚗 𝚂𝚌𝚘𝚙𝚎 𝟹 𝚠𝚒𝚕𝚕 𝚋𝚎 𝚊𝚍𝚍𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚜𝚎𝚍️” – Mauricio Cointreau  

Key Takeaways:  

  • The pandemic exposed how vulnerable the supply chains across the world are and to what extend global issues from drought to oil impact us. The pandemic also highlighted the importance of supply chain resilience and the need to collaborate across sectors to find solutions (like adopting circular business models).  
  • There needs to be more education and conversation around Scope 3, again focusing on collaboration.
  • Setting standards and benchmarks are key. This can only be achieved by transparency and obtaining data directly from the supply chain.
  • A big trend for the future is disruption. Disruption will become the norm so focus on delivering commitments and using sustainability as a competitive advantage. 



Kavita Cooper

Kavita Cooper

Managing Director, Novo-K Procurement Solutions.



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