WPP climate change

Taking on climate change

The time to harness momentum is now

David Attenborough issued a call to action when taking the “People’s Seat” at the UN climate conference held in the Polish city of Katowice in December 2018: "Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of our civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend, is in your hands." As industry leaders, we must be the clarion call. We must harness our convening power. We must act now.

The Climate Spring is upon us

In recent months, climate activism has become mainstream. Citizens are increasingly active on the streets and online, and generations and geographies are united in their demand for world leaders to act.

Extinction Rebellion’s London takeover resulted in the UK declaring a Climate Emergency, with Ireland quickly following suit. School children across the planet are striking and Swedish schoolgirl and climate activist Greta Thunberg has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. The EU Elections this past May resulted in a Green Wave and the first ever Global Climate Strike will take place on 20 September, on the eve of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit, supported by WPP. There is a building momentum for climate action and the time to act is now.

Sustainable transformation is a moral and business imperative

At a recent World Economic Forum Strategy Meeting, business leaders debated the role and responsibility of business to create sustainable impact in their sector and society. Sustainable transformation at scale can only be achieved through partnership between corporations, governments and civil society. Consumers, citizens and employees want business to lead the charge.

Investors demand it too

Sustainability is now a key performance driver. Titans of investment such as Larry Fink, the Chairman and CEO of multinational investment management firm BlackRock, are insisting that companies prove their positive contribution to society. Why? Because it pays. Companies that outperform in key social and environmental metrics achieve higher gains. A failure to act impacts on more than just their growth, it impacts on society as a whole.

Our industry is one of the world’s most powerful changemakers 

While power may lie with our clients – the world’s largest and most influential companies – responsibility also lies with us to help lead sustainable transformation.

WPP companies are already advisors to many leading businesses: clients that engaged with WPP on sustainability issues were worth £2.11 billion in revenues in 2017, up from £1.64 billion in 2016. Together with our clients, we're able to help with this transformation, using our creativity, skills and expertise to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.

Defining sustainability

While environmental issues are clearly critical, we also consider the inter-dependency of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors (the central elements used to measure the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a company). Using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as our framework, we help clients to positively navigate human and social consequences. Sustainable transformation also means supporting an inclusive economy, championing diversity and responsible business.

Purpose is pointless without impact

The Corporate Practice, specialising in corporate strategy and advocating responsible business, puts Sustainable Transformation at the core of our offering. Purpose should result in impact within a sector and society. Impact is accelerated by partnership between corporates, government and civil society, and is why we work with these stakeholders individually and collectively.

Our Sustainable Transformation Framework

Sustainability Framework

Partnership is paramount

Creativity is essential to capture hearts and minds, build movements and create change. There is no doubt that we will go faster and further together. Our relationships stretch from working with the UN, WEF, governments and the world’s largest corporations to NGOs and sustainable VCs.   

Each of us individually has the power to create change – collectively, we can truly be agitators for positive impact.


Read more about WPP's approach to Sustainability

Aisling Ryan and Jonathan Hall

The Corporate Practice, Ogilvy Consulting

published on

19 February 2019



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