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Sustainability Leadership in Practice


  • Picture of Professor Wendy Purcell
    Professor Wendy Purcell
  • Sustainability
  • Environment
  • Fellowship in Action
  • Leadership

Ahead of the RSA Sustainability Network’s October event in London, steering group member Professor Wendy Purcell FRSA explains why it will focus on sustainability leadership in practice.

The results of unsustainable human development are evident worldwide – climate change, species extinction, pollution, poverty and inequality are reducing our capacity to sustain our ways of life.  Humans are on a collision course with the natural world.  Global megatrends, from urbanization to a polarization of wealth, and societal trends relating to trust and simplicity are all making sustainability the way forward.  Sustainability is the ‘new normal’ in organizational strategy, and an innovation frontier.  The task then is to reframe the agenda as ‘strategic sustainability’, fundamental to long-term value creation given the disruptive forces at play in this transformative age. 


Leadership is situated at the critical interface between the social and natural worlds:

 Sustainability leadership relies upon activating social networks, communities of practice and ecosystems based on multiple stakeholder groups to deliver over the long-term.  Operating at a systems-level, aligning an organizations’ practices with its goals, mission and values, success is measured across financial, social and environmental domains.  Rather than leadership that paralyses people and destroys value, sustainability leadership is deliberate about maximising positive impact while minimising harm or becoming restorative. 

 Exploring sustainability leadership practice, the RSA Sustainability Network event on 29 October will invite speakers to engage in a wider global café discussion on being future-facing leaders and change agents and how they support the sustainable development of society in a way that strengthens their own organization.  Add your voice to the conversation by booking a place here.

 Sign up to the RSA Fellow-led Sustainability Network here to receive further updates on the 29 October event, including our speakers, as well as other Network news and opportunities.

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