6th October


Future Customers




There were 4 key objectives for this session:-

  • To understand what sustainability means to young people.
  • Identify what future customers would expect a company to be doing when it comes to being sustainable.
  • To identify if our sustainability strategy meets Young People s expectations – specifically :
    • Does it cover everything that’s important to young people?
    • Is it ambitious enough?
    • What’s missing, or anything included that is unnecessary?
    • Is the language right, i.e., does net-zero mean something to you? Are the targets clear and understandable?
  • Identify the commitments we should prioritise delivery of
Your comments & our responses

Through a word cloud exercise it was clear that “Future”, “future generations”, “renewable” and green” were the key meaningful terms young people associated with sustainability that we need to consider and reflect in our strategy.

These key phrases have been really helpful in framing our strategy and informing the rational behind it, using the ‘future’ focus to develop a mission statement of what our strategy is about and what it means for the business when we talk to colleagues:

Sustainability at NGN means being able to tackle the challenges facing our business, our society and our planet, today and in the future. 

During discussion about what your expectations were for a sustainable business you identified 27 initiatives or approaches that you felt embodied good behaviours and practice across both areas of people and planet.

We will review these expectations and map them against our own strategy to understand where we are meeting those expectation, where we have a commitment to meet them and where we might need to consider further input. Once we have undertaken this exercise we are keen to continue this conversation further with this group and have another session to explore some of these areas in more depth.

You said you were largely comfortable that our commitments covered everything that was important to young people however, you were keen to see more targets against the commitments and also raised the challenge of how we would be accountable for delivery and communicate progress and performance.

We have put targets in place against most of our planet commitments but recognise and welcome the feedback that we need to be more specific with these and build out clear detail and targets behind each commitment. This is something we are keen to work with the council on further and hope to hold another session in 2022 to develop our targets together. We also appreciate the benefit and importance of regularly sharing our progress against our commitments with our communities so will make sure this is something we do.

During conversation about the 2050 net zero target it was clear that that timescale was too far in the future for council members, and many felt we should have a bigger sense of urgency.

Whilst we appreciate the sense of urgency to bring our targets forwards, in reality we will not be able to achieve net zero as a business before then, until there is a policy decision  and we can replace natural gas with hydrogen. We could however be net zero operationally much sooner so will look to set ourselves a stringent net zero operational target as part of the commitments.

There were a number of areas in relation to the language we’d used that you felt might act as blockers or barriers. These included personalising our strategy to reflect the people, communities and society we work in, being more specific in the language we used and removing jargon and corporate phrasing.  In particular you raised a clear challenge on being clearer about what we meant by ethical.

This was really helpful feedback and we’ve made a number of changes as a result including renaming it to be our people and planet strategy. The corporate language has been reduced and reworded so our commitment to delivering net zero gain on our sites has been changed to a commitment to mange our land to benefit the environment. The challenge about what we meant by ethical was also really help and we have reworded the commitment to be clearer that we will spend and invest responsibly.

You told us your top five areas we should prioritise delivery against were to:

  1. eliminate emissions -netzero by2050
  2. access to affordable energy
  3. decarbonised heat, power and transport
  4. Producing less waste
  5. Spending and investing responsibly

The top four are all areas that we are fairly well developed in our thinking around with clear targets and delivery plans in place. Our focus over the coming months is on developing a sustainable finance framework to support us spending and investing responsibly.