Sustainability Needs Competitive Business

Mark Wilson explains what it will take to make boardrooms talk more about sustainability

Mark Wilson, the CEO of Aviva, a multinational insurance company, delivered a few uncomfortable truths during his 2018 EAT Food Forum talk. The first is that sustainability isn’t as widely discussed in boardrooms as we might like to think. The second is that competitive business and capitalism, despite all their flaws, must be part of any sustainability transformation. How to get there? Wilson presents three key points. The first and second are connected: align economics, specifically the investor market, a 300 trillion dollar business, with sustainability. Investors’ interest in sustainability is still limited and remains largely unaware of the opportunities that exist. Investors must be “forced” to become more well-informed about the risks and costs of environmental degradation. This includes awareness of all the opportunities that exist with a more environmentally focused investment strategy. Then boardrooms will start buzzing with talk about sustainability.

During 14 years in Asia, culminating in a role as CEO of Asian insurance giant, AIA in 2009, Wilson successfully led the company through the financial crisis. He later joined Aviva as Group Chief Executive Officer at the start of 2013. He is also a member of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission and sits on the Advisory Board of the EAT Foundation.

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