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Julia Hailes MBE

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Advocate and expert on sustainability and green business helping organizations improve their sustainability efforts

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About Julia

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Our keynote speaker Julia Hailes is an advocate and expert on sustainability and green business. She has years of experience working with large organizations to improve their strategy, supply chain, and overall sustainability efforts. Julia has been awarded with the UN Global 500 Roll of Honour for her environmental achievements and she is bound to impress and educate at your event.

Julia Hailes is a leading opinion former, consultant and speaker on social, consumer and ethical issues. She advises the UK’s leading businesses on policy and communications.  Her work also includes management briefings and advising companies on policy strategy and communications.  Banks, retailers and fast food companies have benefited from Julia’s briefings on everything from food strategy and supply chain issues to cleantech investments.

In collaboration with John Elkington, Julia Hailes founded SustainAbility Ltd in 1987, where she was Director and Company Secretary until 1995.  SustainAbility is a leading edge consultancy with an international profile.  Between 1994 and 2000 she was a non-executive director of Out of this World, a small chain of ‘alternative supermarkets’ and between 2001 and 2006 a non-executive director of Jupiter Global Green Investment Trust.

In 2003, she helped set up the Haller Foundation, and is still a Trustee.  This charity supports environmental conservation through grass route initiatives such as farmer training and community education.  She has also sat on the a number boards or advisory panels including:  the Food Ethics Council, which promotes more sustainable food and farming practices;  M&S Expert Advisory Panel on packaging;  P&G Expert Advisory Panels on detergents and baby products; and she was Patron of the Ecos Trust, which promotes green building practices.  In 2010 she joined the board of Wastewatch, a charity aiming to change the way we use resources – and moved to the board of Keep Britain Tidy, when the organisations merged.

She has written nine books, including, the international best-selling Green Consumer Guide, which sold over one million copies worldwide – and she’s a regular contributor to various newspapers and magazines, including The Telegraph and The Financial Times.

A recognised expert on eco-labelling, Julia sat on the UK Eco-labelling Board since its inception and was appointed as Deputy Chair of the Advisory Committee on Consumer Products and the Environment.  In 1992, she was awarded a place on the UN Global 500 Roll of Honour for her ‘outstanding environmental achievements’ and she was elected as the European representative to the Global 500 Forum Council.

Much of Julia’s speaking work is with companies or specific industry sectors. She targets her presentation at the decision-makers and explains how environmental and ecological issues affect every business (even funeral directors). Her practical solutions are derived from research, experience and strongly-held beliefs – as well as a sense of humour.

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    Speaker Julia Hailes Keynote Topics

    • Sustainability and the environment
    • Eco-labelling
    • Green consumerism & green business
    • Over-consumption
    • Waste
    • E-waste
    • Energy
    • Renewables
    • Green tech
    • Eco-building
    • Food
    • Anaerobic digestion
    • Rainforests
    • Tourism & its impact on the environment
    • Green death

Interview with Julia Hailes MBE

What does the audience take away from your keynotes?

My speeches are generally, challenging, informative and entertaining. I can be provocative and am not afraid to give a different perspective.

How did you decide to focus on sustainability?

I started working for a campaigning organisation, when I returned from travelling in 1986. I was initially motivated by a desire to preserve the rainforests. But, I became interested in showing people how they could make a positive difference to the environment everyday. I co-authored the Green Consumer Guide, which went on to sell over 1 million copies worldwide – and have written eight other books, many of them with John Elkington (www.johnelkington.com).

He and I set up the campaigning consultancy SustainAbility  (www.sustainability.com) in 1987. Although, I sold out of the company in 1995, I still work on Sustainability issues, from my home in Dorset – and most recently have set up an organisation, E for Good (www.eforgood.org), campaigning on e-waste (electrical waste). I’ve also co-founded a charity – Haller (www.haller.org.uk), which promotes sustainability living and agriculture in Kenya.

What is the most unique experience you have had as a result of your job?

I made the key note speech at the Green Funeral Exhibition.  I’ve challenged a Japanese audience on destroying the rainforests and whaling.  And, I was invited by McDonalds to speak to their senior managers in Chicago and to be ‘challenging and provocative’ – they concluded that I’d ‘sure as hell fulfilled my brief’!

Other things include visiting paper forests in Sweden, corn mills in Nebraska, tilapia & crocodile farms near Mombasa, game parks near Nairobi, as well as attending an all night conference in Norway, speaking at the Earth Summin in Rio in 1992 and carrying out an environmental audit of an African cement factory.

What are some of the simple steps which companies can take to become more green?

Increasingly companies want to become ‘more green’. But for almost all of them, this essentially means ‘business as usual but a bit greener’. I think that companies need to be bolder. They need to create a green vision, of what sort of world they want to live in, and then use their business expertise to make this happen. This may entail dropping some product lines and starting new ones, it may mean offering services rather products – but it doesn’t need to mean compromising on profits. Actually, this approach can help companies lead their sector, not just in relation to sustainability issues, but in business terms too.

What type of audience benefits most from your talks?

The best audiences are those that want to hear something a bit different – and want to be engaged. If I use slides, they’re generally pictorial – and I don’t just read my notes. If you’re looking for lots of dry statistics, details on government policy or academic texts, I’m not what you’re looking for. If you want to genuinely understand the environmental perspective and get an expert view, then I’d be a good choice.

What types of projects are you currently working on?

I’ve recently set up E for Good, campaigning on e-waste – and I have a big interest in most waste issues. I’ve also been eco-renovating my London flat, and written about it for the Financial Times and I’ve recently moved house in the country, so I’m working on eco-renovating again and plan to write about it. I’m going to Turkey next month to talk about Green Business to an audience of over 500 delegates. And I’ve been invited to a select dinner at Sainsburys to give my views on their sustainability performance.

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Keynote topics with Julia Hailes MBE