Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Working for a Sustainable Future

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Working for a Sustainable Future

Article excerpt

It's starting to come through as clearly as the water they flush through our pipes. The 2,333-strong workforce at Northumbrian Water are now company-led converts to the work ethic of Jonathon Porritt & Co. Porritt & Co's creed? "Sustainable development enables everyone to realise their potential and increase their quality of life - protecting and enhancing the earth's life support systems at the same time."

A mouthful that, admittedly, but a transformation too, if you can bring it off. Northumbrian Water (NWL) the North-East's newest company on the full London Stock Exchange list, has been working towards sustainability for some time and says benefits are evident.

Jonathon Porritt & Co - real organisation title, Forum for the Future - is a charity founded in 1996 by Porritt and two other leading UK advocates of sustainable development, Sarah Parkin and Paul Ekins.

Northumbrian Water, and other followers, accept that many solutions to defuse environmental crises, and to build a more sustainable society, are attainable in our daily work.

Hence Northumbrian Water's commitment to sustainability as it continues to seek ongoing improvement in its business of providing clean and waste water services, international water management, and supporting technical and consulting services.

NWL's chairman, Professor Sir Frederick Holliday, says neither the demands of price setting and maintenance made on it by Ofwat, the water regulator, nor directives from other quarters requiring extra energy expense, will halt sustainable attitudes towards its enhancement of stakeholder value and growing the business.

With its new ethic, NWL is reinforcing corporate values, strategy and policies not only to benefit the environment, and the company's own competitiveness and reputation, but also to benefit customers, employees and communities.

Dr Kathryn Jones, a key figure here, says: "You need to consider the impacts of your decisions on the environment, society and the economy.

"It's like a three-legged stool. The legs must be equal if the balance is to be right. So we are going about things in an holistic and integrated way.

Dr Jones, a PhD from Sunderland University who has been three years with the company and is NWL's sustainable development manager, goes on: "Our attitude is both long term and inclusive as we work towards a vision of a sustainable economy by 2020 - no short-term gains to be attempted to the detriment of the longer term. Nor are we going to do anything off the cuff now and tell about it only afterwards."

Sustainable policies developed through regular meetings with the management team, an internal sustainability steering group and other employees, are being endorsed by Forum for the Future.

NWL has been working not only with the Forum, but also with the British Standards Institute and AccountAbility, the not-for-profit professional institution driving for social, ethical and overall organisational accountability. …

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