Human rights - is business the problem or the solution?

October 25, 2016

According to a recent report by the Charities Aid Foundation, businesses have been a helpful presence in a number of countries where human rights problems have needed to be solved. But on launch, the report was denounced by some other campaign groups that argued that businesses were in fact the problem.

So what's the story behind the claims?

Additional reading:


Elon Musk’s project to accelerate the future - master plan or pipe dream?

July 25, 2016

Elon Musk recently published his updated master plan for Tesla. Some say it is a joined-up vision to usher in a more sustainable age. Others say it's a grandiose fantasy that has no chance of being executed. Who's right? 


What does it take to persuade people to behave sustainably?

June 17, 2016

The role of the media is changing in the face of new technology. Not only does it act as a mirror reflecting back the nature of society to itself, but it is also a mover, changing the way we are and, potentially, acting as an instrument for more sustainable behaviour. That's the principle. But it's not easy.


Companies taking campaigners to court – reckless or reasonable?

May 27, 2016

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is being sued by one of its founding companies. Greenpeace Canada is being sued by Resolute Forest Products. Is this a case of companies trying to silence dissent, or the final recourse to law to achieve accountability for a sector that is used to acting with impunity?

This episode references an article by Toby Webb on the topic, which you can find at:

Also, Toby and Scott Poynton discuss it further on the Earthworm podcast


Will Tuna and Krill be the next dominoes to fall in the collapse of the oceans?

May 6, 2016

As we try to digest the news that the Great Barrier Reef seems soon to be consigned to the history books, we look at a couple of the most pressing issues relating to the sustainability of the oceans. In particular, what's been happening with tuna, and one of the companies that's been the target of criticism from all sides. 

And also the new shrimp on the block, krill. Krill is emerging onto the supermarket shelves in the form of a replacement for standard fish oil as a source of omega 3. And in principle that should be okay, because krill is massively abundant across the world. Shouldn't it?

You can find the John West can tracker mentioned in the podcast here (It has been updated to include other countries, including Thailand although I'm not aware if campaigners have repeated their tests).

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Will Millennials be the first sustainable generation?

April 22, 2016

The Millennials are the digital natives, and it seems possible that this generation of always-on, widely-connected youngsters might be the harbingers of more change than we thought possible just a few years ago.


Does Andrew Witty’s exit from GlaxoSmithKline signal the end for socially responsible drug pricing?

April 8, 2016

On March 31st, GlaxoSmithKline announced that it would give poorer countries cheap access to cancer drugs. It was the latest initiative from a company that, under CEO, Andrew Witty, had been ready to ask some of the hard questions of the pharmaceutical industry business model. But it seems that some of the defenders of the status quo may have won, for Witty is to step down from the top job next year. So is it back to business as usual from now on?

The short quote from Andrew Witty included in this episode comes from the longer interview by Bloomberg at

A failure to persuade: Why CSR is still a minority sport

April 1, 2016

Does a recent survey that shows the difficulty of persuading the centre-right of energy efficiency and renewable energy provide clues as to why the mainstream business voices have yet to see the light on corporate sustainability?

The Climate Outreach report referenced in this podcast can be downloaded here.

Was Nike right to ditch Sharapova – and is sport now too tainted for ethical companies?

March 18, 2016

The world of sport has been rocked by scandal after scandal recently, with corruption, doping and top athletes expressing abhorrent views. This is obviously a dilemma for sponsors, and we're seeing a trend of increasing activism by companies in defence of ethics in sport, and of their own reputations. But does it go wider than that? What role can sport play in companies' CSR programmes? And have recent events made that a more difficult proposition?


The Body Shop - Master of sustainability, or hyperbole?

February 26, 2016

The Body Shop is reputed across the world for being a company that lives its values and is more to be trusted on sustainability than most. It's now just launched a new commitment that it says will place it as "the world's most sustainable global business." But does the programme match the scale of the ambition?