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Lloyds Bank hosted a celebratory dinner at St Paul’s Cathedral as part of our partnership with the Platinum Jubilee Pageant.

The Pageant embodies transforming communities that includes a sustainable and inclusive society, now and for many generations to come. To celebrate this, we asked, if we were to similarly celebrate the legacy of our businesses and financial institutions, what would good look like? In the face of challenging times, what makes business and finance a force for good in driving sustainable outcomes? The evening was filled with rich discussions with a range of businesses, large and small from around the UK.

Colleagues from our Sustainability & ESG Finance team picked out some of the key themes that they heard.

Alphabet soup is still on the menu

Two years on from the FT’s Gillian Tett’s call for a new recipe for the alphabet soup of green standards - the landscape remains dense. The plethora of events, initiatives and standards is building a risk of overload for people and their companies. Not only is this leading to corporate confusion and burn out but, in extremis, malaise and/or a message of ‘enough is enough’. To mitigate this overload there is a clear need to keep building capability and have clear and coherent messaging and strategy both internally and externally.

We are at a pivotal moment when net zero will be tested to the core

The competing stresses in the system (energy, cost of living, Ukraine) may delay the transition to net zero but on the other hand could it also be a trigger for change? Time will tell how resilient businesses are in dealing with these current pressures and to what extent this will drive innovative, more climate friendly approaches. Companies continue to grapple with the TCFD – the taskforce on climate related financial disclosures – that was mandated for many companies in the UK from April this year.

Don’t forget your supply chains

With an increasing number of large companies using the Science Based Targets Initiative there was discussion on the extensive time it takes for companies to baseline their Scope 3 emissions and to set targets. This is a huge undertaking for companies with large supply chains and attempting to align suppliers to the business' sustainability strategy is hard.

Whilst it is all good to push suppliers, you must recognise that they will need help to transition, and so early engagement is a must. Not only does this help tackle the issue, but it also builds equity and innovation with those involved across the supply chain.

Have we left room for nature and people?

Hot on the heels of TCFD the TNFD – taskforce on nature related financial disclosures – has launched its draft framework and the extent to which this will impact the business communities behaviour is unclear. In addition, companies are also wrangling the challenges of measuring social impact - typically reporting inputs vs outputs adding further to the challenges for sustainable business. The complexity of climate change pales in comparison to that of building a nature and people positive approach into business.

There is enormous amount of positive outlook and desire to collaborate

Many businesses demonstrated that they are clearly prioritising actions within their own context. There were some great examples of innovation shared, such as gyms set up to gamify energy generation and a marina company working to improve its biodiversity by engaging on non-native species risk mitigation and native species replenishment. What is also clear is that sectors are wanting to come together to solve some of the bigger challenges – collaborating for more radical solutions. After all – as the saying goes, 'it is difficult to solve problems using the same thinking that caused them'.

From the businesses that we heard from, their commitment stands strong to address their sustainability and ESG performance as a priority in 2022.

Team contributors:

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