Follow Us:

Home MCA Committees and Working Groups MCA Sustainability Working Group

MCA Sustainability Working Group

MCA Sustainability Working Group

The MCA’s members work together with clients across the public and private sector to drive greater progress on sustainability goals and are undertaking major projects with clients as climate change drives some of the most profound changes to businesses in our lifetime. The MCA’s Sustainability Working group brings together experts from across the sector to share best practice and the latest emerging trends. The group is chaired by Phil Spring from IBM Consulting.


What we mean by sustainability

In 1987, the United Nations defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Today, there are almost 140 developing countries in the world seeking ways of meeting their development needs, but with the increasing threat of climate change, concrete efforts must be made to ensure development today does not negatively affect future generations.

Sustainable development requires an integrated approach that takes into consideration environmental concerns along with economic development.  The Sustainable Development Goals form the framework for improving the lives of populations around the world and mitigating the hazardous man-made effects of climate change.

Key Messages

  • Companies and organisations are increasingly asking management consultants to help them tackle some of the greatest challenges they are facing on sustainability as it drives some of the most profound changes to businesses in our lifetime.
  • Businesses need to consider a range of new sustainability targets, as well as forthcoming regulation, and we are seeing a step-change by companies in the use of management consultancies to bring in technical expertise, multi-disciplinary capabilities and to challenge traditional thinking.
  • Consultants are assisting organisations in making major changes to the way they are functioning to help the environment and rewriting authentic business sustainability. The range of activities that are taking place highlights the different stages that businesses are at on the journey.
  • Our MCA Annual Industry Report 2022 showed 81% of our firms have made commitments around sustainability including reducing and offsetting carbon emissions, reducing the use of single-use plastics and paper and signatories and investing in R&D and innovation to improve the sustainability of the firm. Like other businesses, our firms are at differing maturities on their sustainability journey, and we are expecting their commitments on this topic to continually increase.
  • The MCA represents some of the largest and most renowned management consultancies in the world including many medium-sized and leading small specialist consultancies. Firms operate in a variety of sectors and offer a huge diversity of services to clients ranging from government departments to FTSE 350 companies, SMEs and local businesses. The range of work done on sustainability highlights this diversity and the variety of solutions to deal with global problems.

To find out more about the sustainability working group please email:

What are consultants doing with clients on sustainability?

Impacts on products and services, supply chains, loss of asset values and market changes are already being caused by more frequent and severe climate-related events. These are in addition to increasing policy and regulatory change in the UK as more recognition is given to the challenge faced and the drastic and rapid actions businesses and individuals must all take in order to protect both the planet and livelihoods.

Examples of work being undertaken in this sector include:

  • Identifying risks. This includes physical risks, in terms of liability and asset risks as well as climate change risks that impact on financial stability
  • Finding solutions to mitigate climate change both internally and externally
  • Helping companies and cities develop resilient solutions for freeze/thaw, flooding and water shortage events
  • Working with companies to review business models to ensure sustainability has been factored in
  • Helping companies understand the complex landscape of new green regulations and incentives
  • Reviewing international and national developments in green initiatives
  • Identifying revenue generation opportunities, helping to enter new markets with the development of green products
  • Identifying investment opportunities in relation to both sustainable business and projects
  • Researching how the future will change due to climate change initiatives and the impact on businesses
  • Focussing on how companies generate, distribute and consume energy and how it can be improved
  • Helping organisations to quantify, measure and set targets around particular areas of sustainability

Examples of work MCA members are involved in are:

  1. Working with the fashion industry to enable retailers to track raw materials used in their products through the supply chain back to source (IBM Consulting)
  2. Developing a pioneering Global Road Map for Health Care Decarbonisation with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) and establishing the first-ever global estimate of healthcare’s climate footprint at over 4.4% of global net emissions (Arup)
  3. Project managing UCL’s creation of a sustainability finance framework, setting out UCL’s plans to support a wide array of green and social projects as part of the debut of a long-term public bond issued in support of their £1.4 billion 10-year estates capital investment programme (KPMG)
  4. Leading a consortium appointed by Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to deliver the International 2050 Calculator programme energy and emissions model (Mott MacDonald)
  5. Developing the UK Government Property Agency’s Net Zero Programme, including Net Zero retrofit intervention solutions across the government estate to demonstrate UK’s commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2050 (Atkins)

Which regulations should businesses be ready for?

Competition Law and Sustainability Agreements

In January 2021, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) released guidelines to help businesses understand how to navigate sustainability agreements and achieve green goals without breaching competition law. Competition law serves to protect consumers and businesses from behaviour that hinders or weakens competition which can cause inflated prices, poor quality or scarcity of products, and imbalances in market power.

Energy Use and Carbon Emissions

As part of the Ten Point Plan, the U.K. has pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This is enshrined in law and the Government is expected to release an Energy White Paper by the end of 2021. The Plan includes advancing offshore wind and nuclear power, phasing out the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, creating 250,000 green jobs by 2030 and mobilising potentially three times more investment from the private sector, among several other ambitious goals.

Businesses will be most impacted by the Ten Point Plan in regard to their offices and workplaces, the products they purchase, and the business models and technology they use. Point 7 “Green Buildings” will increase building standards to improve energy efficiency and low carbon heating, as well as launch a green purchasing policy framework. Point 10 “Green Finance and Innovation” looks to raise R&D investment and commercialise green technology such as disruptive artificial intelligence for energy.

As the standard to hold companies accountable for their environmental impact increases, more companies will have to report on their energy usage and carbon emissions. In 2019, the U.K. launched its new Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) framework that enforces mandatory energy and emissions reporting from quoted companies as well as large unquoted companies and limited liability partnerships.

Waste Management

Whether a business is run from home or in a shop or warehouse, business waste is inevitable and is defined as any waste generated from commercial activities. Companies have various responsibilities for properly disposing of waste such as keeping waste to a minimum, sorting and storing waste securely, separating recyclable materials from general waste, completing waste transfer notes and not allowing your waste to be disposed of illegally.

In the U.K., specific regulations apply to businesses that produce packaging or sell packaged goods, including completing a recovery and recycling obligation and submitting a certificate of compliance. Businesses also pay a landfill tax for any waste disposed of by landfills but have the opportunity to receive tax credits for recovering and recycling efforts.

Energy Taxes and Incentives

The Climate Change Levy (CCL) is one of several environmental taxes and relief schemes in the U.K. In the effort to encourage energy efficiency, the CCL taxes energy (electricity, gas and solid fuels) delivered to non-domestic users with the exception of small businesses that use very little energy and charity organisations operating in non-commercial activities. Energy-intensive industries can either pay reduced rates by entering into a climate change agreement or pay Carbon Price Support rates through onsite power generation or operating combined heat and power stations.

Public Procurement regulation

For suppliers to Government, a number of regulations apply to organisations working in this sector.

How do I find out which management consulting firms can help my business become more sustainable?

MCA member firms are well equipped to help businesses whichever stage of the journey they are on to become more sustainable and to meet some of the regulatory targets they have. Information on different firms can be found in the MCA members directory.

What our firms are doing about making their own organisations sustainable?


It is important to note that our member firms not only advise clients on sustainability but also are actively looking at applying these to themselves. This can include:

  • Setting sustainability commitments
  • Signing up to race to zero or EP100 global challenges
  • Healthy workplace schemes
  • Reducing usage of single-use plastics and paper
  • Reducing air travel
  • Reducing and offsetting carbon emissions
  • Monitoring supply chain and suppliers’ adherence to sustainable best practice
  • Investing in R&D and innovation to improve the sustainability of the firm
  • A public commitment to carbon neutrality
  • Signatory of the UN Global Compact on Corporate Sustainability
  • Signatory of the Social mobility pledge

To find out more about the sustainability working group please email: