Friday, May 23, 2014

Business Success in a Changing Climate

Yesterday I went to EcoFair14, an exhibition and conference with six parallel presentation streams. It was great to meet friends and make new contacts; to see established products and find out what has been developing over the last year.

My first session was Business Success in a Changing Climate by John Chubb of  Rather than business success, he was talking about business resilience which of course is equally important. He started with the statistic that 80% of organisations without emergency continuity plans never fully recover from a disaster. And he reminded us that there had been severe weather incidents every year since 2000 in the UK. We've seen freezes, floods, water shortages and heatwaves. In that time the Great Yorkshire Show had to be abandoned and there was the East Coast surge; ice and snow closed roads, schools and businesses and some agricultural crops were wiped out. What is certain is that extreme weather events will be more frequent in the future and a move to a low carbon economy won’t change it. We can expect warmer, wetter winters; hotter, drier summers and it’s far cheaper to prepare than to react. (Didn’t Lord Stern say something like that back in 2006?)

John gave us case studies: the chemicals firm that moved its IT to the first floor and its electrics to the roof, bolted down its bulk tanks to stop them floating away and built a bund to keep all but the worst of the water out. He told us about the plant hire company that was unable to hire out pumps in a flood because its own premises were under water. A firm that survived - but only just.


John gave us all his excellent guide to Weathering the Storm. If you contact him via maybe he’ll send you one. He pointed us to the Association of British Insurers, which publishes advice on flood prevention and also looks at the future from an insurance point of view If you want to know if you’re in a flood risk area the Environment Agency has the answer: . Sometimes we get a heatwave which can be dangerous for the elderly and very young and can cause problems at work. More advice from the NHS: and from the Health and Safety Executive:  You can assess your business resilience at from Business in the Community. There are Local Resilience Forums, where businesses can get together to assess risks and work together to meet them. This is the one on the Humber: 

John’s final points were that customers increasingly need to know that their suppliers are secure. (See my Green Supply Chain workshop!) The impacts of extreme weather are neither equal nor fair.

A great start to the event. More about other presentations to follow.