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Taking some time to reflect

24 February, 2020

We’ve been immersed in the sustainability world for over 20 years now and it’s easy to forget how much has changed in that time. A new guide from our friends at Baillie Gifford is a handy reminder of this journey, and where we may be headed.

Using the lens of responsible investment to guide the story, ‘From Universal Rights to Global Goals‘ takes a look at how the responsible investment and corporate responsibility landscape has developed in the last 75 years. Setting the scene with the creation of the UN in 1945, and its 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this guide tells the story of how pressure from consumers and NGOs, research, technological advances, and corporate scandals have all played a part in changing the way we think about social and environmental issues. From Unilever’s Port Sunlight workers’ village to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 and the creation of myriad reporting standards, the story is a detailed and interesting one, told in this great primer in a concise and easy to digest way. 

We’ve come a long way, but the gap between where we are and where we need to be can seem greater than ever before. Inequality continues to grow, and the climate continues on a trajectory towards catastrophic destruction. There is a clear need for bigger, bolder and more urgent action from businesses as well as governments.

The good news is that, as this report reminds us, the sustainability movement has helped get us to a point where most big businesses have solid foundations in place – which is the necessary prerequisite to the truly transformative change that is now demanded of them, and which we hope the future holds.

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