20FIFTY Partners take on Impact Ambassador role at the Green Awards 2024 to empower businesses to achieve a sustainable future

Going green has never been more important. Ahead of the COP28 Climate summit in Dubai, the UN Environment Programme warned that the world was heading for a temperature rise of up to 2.9ºC above pre-industrial levels, even if countries stick to their Paris agreement climate pledges. The world now only has a 14 per cent chance of limiting warming to the 1.5ºC goal, the UN said.

With an increasing onus on forward-thinking businesses to go green faster and build sustainability into everything they do, it is no longer enough to just recognise the leaders in this area, best practice has to be shared, promoted and continuously improved.

With that aim in mind, business-to-business networking expert BusinessRiver has introduced a top-level category of supporter for its annual Green Awards. The impact ambassador will use the awards not just to highlight the great and the good but to drive the transformation of businesses for sustainability.

The first company to take up the challenge is 20FIFTY Partners, who will become the 2024 Impact Ambassadors for ‘Green Transformation’.

Image from Green Awards 2023 of award being presented
Ken Stockil, CEO, 20FIFTY Partners, presents the Sustainable Energy Achievement 2023 Award to Nicola Woods and John Smith, An Post

20FIFTY Partners specialise in designing and delivering programmes of scale and impact at a national and international level. They bridge the gap between the development of national strategic programmes and the delivery of operational impact at the corporate or SME level through their research projects and peer-to-peer communities of practice. Working collaboratively with stakeholders, they empower change by helping organisations build the skills and competencies to drive transformation and achieve long-term social, economic and environmental balance in their operations.

To find out more about 20FIFTY Partners and its ambition as impact ambassador for the Green Awards 2024, BusinessRiver asked chief executive Ken Stockil some questions.

What are the biggest drivers for organisations considering a green transformation?

Embracing sustainability and integrating it into how they operate is increasingly becoming a key imperative for businesses that not only want to survive but thrive in a rapidly changing environment. Driven by internal and external stakeholder pressure, these businesses understand that traditional financial and economic objectives must be balanced with people and planet. They also understand that successfully integrating people, planet and profit into how they operate will help them find competitive advantage and new pathways to growth and opportunities.

How can investing in sustainability be a benefit and not just a cost?

The choice is between a future that is resilient and innovative or one with escalating risks, uncertainty and natural disasters. Businesses need to understand the size of the climate challenge but also the scale of the opportunity it can present. The Carbon Disclosure Project (a not-for-profit that runs the global disclosure system) found that the potential value of climate-related business opportunities was seven times higher than the cost of realising these opportunities. Businesses that engage early will be better prepared for regulatory changes and will be more attractive to investors and environmentally conscious customers and employees.

What are the key considerations for businesses?

Transparency and openness are key to demonstrating a company is serious about transitioning their business. Setting clear evidence-based targets that are measured and reported on is critical. Sustainability also needs to be embedded in the organisation’s strategy and business model and not treated as a stand-alone project. If there is companywide engagement with sustainability and an understanding of how everyone can play their part, then it becomes part of the culture of the organisation. This will ensure that an organisation’s transition is authentic and impactful.

For an organisation just starting its green journey, what are the first small steps it can take?

When a company is at the start of their sustainability journey ensuring their employees have the skills and competencies to adapt to new ways of working is crucial. The transition will require specific skills at all levels of an organisation and a good place to start is the Skillnet Climate Ready Academy and accessing the suite of programmes we have developed in close collaboration with our Partners in Skillnet Ireland, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland. These programmes help organisations build their knowledge and develop the skills and competencies needed to meet climate action targets and grow the leadership skills required to drive change in their organisations.

Which technologies will grow in importance in the coming years?

Since our foundation twenty years ago, 20FIFTY Partners has been deeply committed to helping clients leverage technology to transition to more sustainable practices at their facilities and across their supply chains. This is an area of rapid growth now as firms seek to optimise data collection and analysis in order to meet ever evolving reporting and regulatory changes. As regulatory standards tighten, companies will wrestle with a significant data challenge, driving the adoption of advanced systems for data management.

Tell us about the range of projects 20FIFTY Partners has worked on?

20FIFTY Partners has worked with hundreds of public and private organisations across multiple sectors. We are the team behind innovative sustainability programmes such as the Skillnet Climate Ready Academy, Sustainable Enterprise Skillnet, Uisce Éireann Water Stewardship programme, the newly launched Origin Green Academy and long-standing HSE Lean Academy. We have gained international recognition for our flagship Water Stewardship Ireland initiative and last year alone, we worked with over 700 Irish companies, helping to upskill over 1,700 professionals in the areas of sustainability, water stewardship and resource conservation.

What do you hope will be the result of 20FIFTY Partners becoming Impact Ambassador for the Green Awards?

The time for talking is long past and the dual climate and biodiversity crisis requires real leadership and impactful action. Businesses can play a critical role in leading the change that is required, and it is our hope that these awards will inspire as many businesses as possible to step up and take action. The collective impact of all our actions is how we will bring about change and deliver a healthier, more prosperous and fairer future for us all.

Of their new bigger role with the Green Awards for 2024, Ken Stockil, chief executive of 20FIFTY Partners, said: “20FIFTY Partners are proud to be the Impact Ambassador for The Green Awards 2024. Businesses must play a leading role in driving the transformative change that is required and these awards help to showcase best practice in sustainability leadership and inspire others to take similar action. This is how we build momentum and generate impact. We look forward to celebrating businesses commitment to creating a more sustainable future at the awards in February.”

Awards organiser Kevin O’Driscoll, director, Partner Programme, at BusinessRiver, welcomed the new intensive level of support. “It’s a privilege to have 20FIFTY Partners commit in such a significant way to the Green Awards for 2024. Our awards have never been only about showcasing the best, but they inspire, educate and connect people to secure further improvements over the coming years, at this critical time. Becoming an impact ambassador provides an opportunity for 20FIFTY Partners to not only showcase their support and expertise but to encourage and influence the entire green business community in ways that act as a springboard to a greener future, not only in business circles but in every part of our lives.”