Sharon Darcy, the Director of Sustainability First, gave this speech to the Competition Markets Authority on competition and consumer policy for a sustainable future. Her remarks were in a personal capacity because after 5 years she is stepping down as Director. In her speech she draws on her wider experience including as a former Council Member of Which?, Board member of the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Consumer Futures and Expert Panel member of the UK Regulators Network. 

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The new Defra Strategic Policy Statement (SPS) to Ofwat is to be welcomed.  But there are caveats.  The real test will be how much it changes things in practice. This briefing examines the SPS in more detail following a roundtable we held in February, and in particular the role of the aquatic environment, a new priority in this key document

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The Ukraine crisis is a humanitarian tragedy. Without distracting from this, it also has huge cross border implications for essential services we rely on; the UK energy, water and comms sectors are all impacted. In this pack, we aim to support senior decision makers in companies, but also regulators, to be bold and make the best decisions for sustainability and the public interest during this crisis.

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It is tempting in the light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to think we must focus on short term energy security. But the need to address the climate crisis and ensure a fair transition to net zero have not gone away. In fact it is more urgent than ever that we stick to our net zero targets. Accelerating action on climate change is the best way to improve our energy security.

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Why is a principles-based approach to change important in essential services, and how can principles be used to support the change in behaviours and cultures and embed a more sustainable approach in public utilities? In February 2022 we held a high-level roundtable exploring these two questions. This document summarises the key findings from the event, held under Chatham House Rules

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How can we ensure that Defra’s Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat is translated into practice to support the ambitions of the 25 Year Environment Plan and a more sustainable water sector? We held a roundtable in February to discuss the topic and this document summarises some of the key themes raised during the event, held under Chatham House rules.

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The National Infrastructure Commission’s Baseline Assessment Report identifies the key challenges that will shape our infrastructure and quality of life for decades to come. Infrastructure has a significant impact on net zero ambitions, biodiversity, affordability and the levelling-up agenda. Identifying and addressing the associated risks and opportunities is crucial for a sustainable and resilient future.

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The changes taking place within much of the energy, water and communications sectors are profound and companies, regulators and policy makers are all impacted. Arguably there needs to be a similarly profound cultural change within these sectors if they are to deliver economic, social and environmental wellbeing. This report analyses how organisational culture, especially within these essential services, can support this much-needed transformation. 

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This briefing summarises a short literature review of culture and organisational change in private firms and public bodies (government departments and regulators), and in public utilities.  This research is part of our Sustainability Principles Project, which is looking at how a principles-based approach to change can support public utilities, and potentially actors in other sectors, in the move to a more sustainable future. 

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