Insights from the Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summit

The path towards a greener future

On 28th June 2023, I was lucky enough to attend in person the gathering of sustainability leaders at the Bloomberg office in London for the Sustainable Business Summit. The event was opened by Michael Bloomberg and brought together experts from various sectors to discuss the pressing risks and opportunities surrounding sustainable business practices. Throughout the day, notable speakers such as Hanneke Faber, Business Group President, Nutrition, Unilever and Paul Polman, Business Leader, Campaigner & Co-Author of Net Positive, along with distinguished panels, shared their insights on topics ranging from sustainable food to ESG benchmarks. Here are my main takeaways.

Future of food

Hanneke Faber emphasised the pressing need for progress in the food industry. While electric vehicles and cleantech advanced remarkably over the past decade, we cannot say the same for sustainable practices in food production. Solutions to correct the situation include regenerative agriculture (an approach to food and farming systems that focuses on topsoil regeneration, biodiversity increase, and water cycle improvement). Sustainable food practices are essential for achieving global sustainability goals and securing a healthier future for our planet.

Evolution of corporate sustainability

Paul Polman, a prominent advocate for sustainable business practices, highlighted the significance of sustainability in attracting young talent. He urged businesses to adopt a circular economy mindset, focusing on use rather than consumption. By prioritising sustainability, businesses can differentiate themselves and align with the values of younger generations. Polman stressed that companies need to set ambitious zero-targets by 2030. Rather than waiting until 2050. He also pointed out that the EU leads the way in setting sustainability standards.

Technology & data

The Harnessing the Power of Technology & Data panel emphasised the need for collaboration and sharing of sustainable solutions among technology firms. Instead of developing proprietary systems, companies must work together to address specific green needs. The panel stressed the importance of regenerative projects and emphasised that simply reducing impact is not enough. They advocated for working with local communities and empowering them to develop sustainable solutions. And harnessing technologies like quantum computing, IoT, and blockchain to significantly reduce energy consumption and advance sustainability efforts.

Ethical supply chain

The Building an Ethical Supply Chain panel discussed building ethical supply chains. The panel stressed the need for legislation to support sustainable businesses and penalise unsustainable ones. Legislative actions, along with a demand from clients, were identified as key drivers for change. Tracking progress and data-driven approaches were emphasised, with the involvement of all departments in data collection. Standardisation of tech platforms and a focus on outcomes, defining the desired change, were also highlighted.


The Defining Greenwashing panel emphasised the need for firms to support their claims with evidence. Instances of large corporations retracting previous claims served as a reminder of the importance of transparency. Participants discussed cases where airlines asked customers to pay for offsetting carbon emissions, raising concerns about the genuineness of such initiatives. The panel expressed that fossil fuel companies will face difficulties in an era prioritising sustainability and urged sustainable businesses to educate consumers about greenwashing practices.

ESG benchmarks

The final panel, Shades of Green: Benchmarking ESG Assets, focused on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) benchmarks, highlighting the importance of key areas such as hydrogen, residential solar energy, and energy storage for the next three years. These sectors were identified as crucial for sustainable development. By investing in and promoting these areas, businesses can actively contribute to reducing carbon emissions and advancing the adoption of renewable.

EV outlook

Andrew Grant, Head of Intelligent Mobility, BloombergNEF introduced the Electric Vehicle Outlook 2023, a report looking at how electrification, shared mobility and other factors will impact road transport in the coming decades. Key findings include:

  • EV adoption to soar, expect over 100 million passenger EVs on  roads by 2026
  • The peak combustion engine is behind us
  • Net zero is still possible but much faster progress is needed
  • The shift to electrification creates major economic opportunities
  • More investment is needed in upstream areas of the battery supply chain

Final thoughts

The Sustainable Business Summit provided valuable insights into the path towards a greener future. From the urgency to make progress in sustainable food practices to the importance of attracting young talent through sustainability initiatives, the discussions shed light on the pivotal role businesses play in driving change. Collaboration, technology, and ethical supply chains emerged as key pillars for sustainable success. While the fight against greenwashing and the focus on ESG benchmarks showcased the commitment to prioritising the planet over profit (there will be no profits without a planet). As the summit highlighted, by embracing sustainability and working together, businesses can shape a more sustainable and prosperous future for generations to come.


One topic missing was geopolitics – see my recent article:

Sustainability and geopolitics: considerations for businesses and investors


Mauro Tortone

View posts by Mauro Tortone
Mauro helps financial services, technology and mobility businesses manage change and leads the Strategy & Finance practice. His expertise is in strategic change, capital markets and more. Mauro has over 25 years of experience working with banks such as UBS and Deutsche Bank, smaller financials, fintechs and others across Europe, the US and Asia. He sat on the CISI Corporate Finance Forum Committee for ten years and is passionate about sustainability.
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