HSBC and Foot Anstey sustainability roundtable: What does it mean to be a sustainable corporate?

On Monday the 16th of July, HSBC and Foot Anstey hosted a group at the forefront of the sustainability movement to discuss the key topics facing modern corporates and to share the activities their organisations are undertaking to challenge the status quo and encourage real, lasting change.

During a productive and-wide ranging conversation, the session covered a number of the topics currently dominating the sustainability agenda including:

  • The rise of sustainable finance and the role of green bonds in driving sustainable activity
  • The influence of the next generation and their involvement in driving behavioural change through proactive engagement
  • The increase in electric vehicle ownership and the associated domestic and commercial infrastructure requirements and developments
  • The impact of Brexit on EU funding for the South West as a region and broader sustainable initiatives
  • The unique role of cities and city jurisdictions in driving a sustainability agenda
  • Water levels, reserves and the worldwide risks arising from increasing scarcity
  • Power bandwidth considerations for infrastructure development
  • Technology enablement – the adoption of smart meters and other integrated technology as a driver for sustainable behaviours and value creation
  • Personal responsibility – acknowledging that responsibility for embedding change lies with the individual at all levels of corporate and social life
  • Global responsibility and adherence to the carbon emission levels set by the Paris Accord and Climate Change Committee

Through the discussion we identified that all of these topics can be linked back to four key themes that business leaders need to consider:

  1. Response to demand: The younger generation expects corporations to behave in an ethical way
  2. Business Resilience: Those embracing the sustainable agenda will be the most likely to survive and thrive as the world changes
  3. Tone from the Top: The need for strong business leadership is a necessity in driving change
  4. Engaged Government: Politicians and Regulators need to take an active role in ensuring sustainability targets are on the agenda of all businesses.

Going Forward:

Practical encouragement to adopt sustainable practices and goals is the best way to continue to ensure a place on the top table agendas of modern corporates and our conversation identified a few key actions that can be taken by organisations and policy makes in the short term to ensure this happens:

  • Lenders can provide prioritised finance for sustainability-driven businesses and projects and embed clear green loan metrics
  • Business can take leadership from the small SMEs that are developing a strong brand by capitalising on their sustainability story
  • Government and Businesses can work together to change the brand and make the city of London, and the UK in general, an attractive environment for green investment
  • Provision of ESG training for deal executives and investors
  • Preparation for the embedding of EPBD (Energy Performance of Buildings Directive) EU legislation into UK law

The group intend to reconvene later this year to discuss these topics in more detail and develop a number of suggestions for corporations to achieve their sustainability goals.


  • Gus Grand, Head of Policy at the Eden Project
  • Jeremy Yapp, Flexible Energy Systems Manager at BEAMA
  • Helen Taylor, CEO of Forest Green Rovers and Ecotricity Ambassador
  • Jim Longhurst, Assistant Vice-Chancellor: Environment & Sustainability at UWE


  • James Shepherd, Head of Corporate Banking, Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire
  • Rob King, Director, Sustainability and Energy, HSBC Equipment Finance
  • Henry Moore, Relationship Director, HSBC Corporate Banking

Foot Anstey:

  • Chris Pritchett (Chair), Partner, Head of Energy
  • Begonia Filgueira, Legal Director
  • Will Whitt, Partner, Head of Banking