The world stands at the threshold of a new technological age – one that is radically transforming all aspects of business and society. This Fourth Industrial Revolution, builds on the three previous revolutions which harnessed, respectively, the power of water and steam, then electricity, then information technology to mechanise, scale and automate industrial production.

The new Fourth Industrial Revolution we have entered, moves from linear to exponential transformation, wielding the connected and disruptive power of emerging, highly advanced technologies such as robotics, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, IoT, nano and biotechnology, renewable energy generation and storage, and quantum computing to connect and empower billions of people, devices, businesses and societies.

And increasingly, behind it all, lies Artificial Intelligence – its algorithmic genius bringing order, clarity and meaning to the vast and accumulating mountains of data generated by these innovations. AI is helping us navigate the astounding complexity of this new world order, making sense of a hyper-connected world far beyond the capacity of the human mind to comprehend.

Yes, we have all heard the dire warnings that smarter-than-human machines could enslave us, make us obsolete, take our jobs or destroy us all.

But what about the positive impacts it could unleash?

Over the near horizon, AI has the potential to tackle some of the most difficult sustainability challenges of all – from climate change to energy management, education, women’s empowerment, waste minimisation and ecosystem regeneration. Far from being an agent of destruction, AI could well be the instrument of our salvation, helping us find answers to some of the world’s most difficult, complex and intractable problems.

Our 01 May Crowd Forum on “AI for Sustainability” explored the potential of Artificial Intelligence to make a profoundly better and more sustainable world.

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Event for: Directors / Heads of: Sustainability / Innovation / CSR


  • Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh

    Executive Director, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER)
  • Catalina Butnaru

    City AI Ambassador
  • David Ferguson

    Head of Digital Innovation, EDF Energy
  • Celine Herweijer

    Partner, Sustainability & Climate Change, PwC
  • Martin Wright

    Speaker, Author and Advisor

Round Tables

Download Roundtable Write-up
  • AI & digital transformation for the SDGs
    Artificial intelligence (AI) is empowering the fourth industrial revolution, with intelligent machines tackling new cognitive tasks at scale, leading to enormous economic efficiency gains and disruption across the labour market. But what will be the net impact of AI on society and the environment? Can AI be harnessed to help deliver the SDGs? Which SDGs are ripe for AI and automation-empowered disruptive innovation? And what does it mean for business? What part can AI play in corporate sustainability to support and accelerate the SDGs?
  • Artificial Intelligence in the Supply Chain
    Supply chain management has traditionally been a fundamentally human discipline, but that is rapidly changing. The use of automation, robotics, AI, IoT and distributed manufacturing are radically disrupting traditional supply chain practices. This session will consider how companies can optimise their supply chains with these technologies. How do you determine costs vs benefits? What is the business case for supply chain automation? What are the implications for sustainable supply chain management?
  • Catalysing low-carbon transitions with AI & science-based targets
    The past few years have demonstrated compellingly that business can be a powerful catalyst for exponential change. A growing number of companies are setting science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions and are increasingly wielding the power of AI digital technology to help make smarter, real-time decisions for reducing resource consumption in areas from buildings to transportation to manufacturing to agriculture to the production and distribution of electricity. This roundtable will discuss how business can use the combined power of science-based targets and AI to catalyse their low-carbon energy transition.
  • Empowering the circular economy with AI
    Awareness is growing that our traditional industrial and economic models, characterised by a linear “take-make-waste” paradigm that privatises gains and socialises the cost of externalities, have had a devastating impact on the global commons. The rise of circular economic thinking and business practices reflect this changing awareness. True circularity is hard enough within a single organisation, let alone an infinitely complex and interconnected web of industry, society and humanity. Perhaps we need the exponential processing power of AI to move to a truly circular global economy?
  • Navigating the tricky ethics of AI
    Artificial intelligence raises some tricky ethical questions. There have already been warnings flagged about the risk of AI inheriting bias from analysing data that reflects human biases. There are questions also about privacy, agency, equity and value-based judgment. What does AI say about who we are as a species? What impact will it have on our empathy and charitable endeavours? Is it ethical to replace your workforce entirely with machines? What happens after the end of jobs? Can AI be a force for tackling inequality?
  • Societal Impacts
    Much has been made of the looming impact of automation, AI and robotics on employment, and the projected number of job losses clearly pose a major challenge for the economy. If half the population can't find jobs, what impact will this have on society? Will it give us more free time for leisure, creativity and helping others? Or will it be a recipe for massive social upheaval and unrest? Will it drive unprecedented levels of inequality and obscene wealth disparity between the owners of the machines and everyone else? Can Universal Basic Income counter this effect? Or can smart machines actually support and enhance job satisfaction creating a better work/life balance and ensuring a fairer society?
  • Utopia vs Dystopia
    Leading thinkers from Professor Stephen Hawking to Elon Musk, have flagged the possible existential threat that AI presents – and it has been a staple of science fiction for decades from Terminator’s Skynet to Deus Ex Machina’s deadly yet alluring and sympathetic protagonist, Ava. So, what will it be? AI-powered dystopia or dystopia? How can we ensure that AI creates positive outcomes for society? How do we minimise the risks and avoid making machines which simply amplify the follies, flaws and foibles of humanity? Can we control AI and wield it for making a better world…or will it inevitably control us?
  • Wielding AI for optimal energy and resource management
    Many of the early phase successes and corporate use cases for AI have been in the energy and resource management space. There is little doubt that these technologies can be applied effectively to minimise resource and energy waste, improve efficiencies, reduce costs and manage complexity. But which strategic approaches have been shown already to work? How can companies get smart about using AI for energy and resource management? Where are the quick wins and business case drivers for investment? Which sectors will benefit the most?
  • None


  • 16:00
    Doors open
  • 16:30
    Welcome from Luke Clarkson, MD, The Crowd
  • 16:35
    Opening Keynote by Celine Herweijer, PwC
  • 16:55
    Panel discussion begins
  • 18:00
    Roundtable discussions (moderated discussions in groups of 10-12)
  • 18:45
    Networking and drinks
  • 20:00

Venue Details

The Great Hall, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), One Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA

Who's Attending

Director Accenture Sustainability Strategy
Executive Chairman Accounting for Sustainability Project
Principal Consultant Acre
Advisor ACT sustainability
Environmental Sustainability Manager Adnams
Senior Programme Manager & Diversity & Inclusion Chair Anglian Water
Head of Sustainability Anglian Water
Director Anthesis
Senior Digital and IoT Consultant Arup
Sustainability Consultant Arup
Group Corporate Responsibility Manager Aviva
Community Manager B Lab UK
Lead R&D Engineer for Sustainability BBC R&D
Senior Project Officer Bioregional
Sustainability Manager Bloomsbury Colleges Group, University of London
Senior Sustainability Advisor Bouygues UK
Head of Sustainability BT Group Plc
Director, BRE Digital Building Research Establishment (BRE)
Senior CRS Manager Bupa
Senior Corporate Client Manager CAF
ASE’s Sustainability Lead Capgemini
CR&S Reporting & Communications Capgemini UK
Senior Commercial Development Manager Charities Aid Foundation
Head of Corproate Clients Charities Aid Foundations
Head of Research CIPD
Head of Brand & Communications CIPD
Manager CoGen
Associate Director – Sustainability Colliers International
Emeritus Professor Cranfield University
Director CSR Connect
Product Integrity Manager De Beers Group of Companies
Chairman Demand Logic
Global CSR Manager Dentsu Aegis Network
Data Innovation Lead Department for International Development
Sustainable Agriculture Manager Diageo
Head of Sustainable Sourcing Diageo
Founder and CEO Ditto Sustainability
 Chief Executive Officer Ditto Sustainability
Group Business Development Director Domino Printing UK Plc
Market Sector Manager Edie.Net
Managing Director Elementaly
Sustainability Manager EY
Client Services Leader, EY Beacon Institute EY
Director, Corporate Responsibility Team EY
Head of Sustainability Great Portland Estates
Sustainability Manager Grosvenor Group
CSR Specialist Hitachi
Senior Environmental Advisor Hochtief UK Construction
Head of IT Faculty ICAEW
Sustainability Intern ICAEW
Sustainability Executive ICAEW
Programme Manager, AuditFutures ICAEW
CSR Executive Informa Plc
Head of Sustainability Institute of Chartered Accountants
Policy & Engagement Lead Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA)
Future Leader Institution of Civil Engineers
Senior Consultant Integrated Environmental Solutions
Assistant Project Manager International Maritime Organization
Responsible Investment Analyst Investment Manager
Innovations Manager ISEAL Alliance
Head of Energy ISS
National BMS Controls Manager ISS Technical Services
Sustainability Manager Jones Lang Lasalle
Operations Sustainability Manager King’s College London
Industrial Designer & Sustainability Advocate Kingfisher plc
Director Legal Sustainability Alliance
Global CR Manager Linklaters LLP
Partner Lux Nova Partners
Director, Responsible Property Investment M&G
SRI Analyst Morgan Stanley
Head of Customer Success Neighbourly
Founder Neighbourly
ESG Data Research Neudata
Quant analyst Newton Investment
Portfolio Manager Newton Investment Management Ltd
Sustainability Project Manager O2
Risk Manager Orsted
Head of EHS Prudential plc
Director PwC
Director PwC
Director Qualis Flow
Community Manager RELX Group
Director Responsible 100
Director, EMEA Responsible Investing Russell Investments
Sustainability Director RY
ESG Model & Valuation Manager, Trucost S&P Dow Jones Indices
Group CSR & Sustainability Santander UK
Director, Corporate Social Responsibility SITA
Environmental Advisor Skanska
Director Sustainability Taylor Wimpey
Senior Manager, Net Zero by 2050 The B Team
Associate Vice President The Carlyle Group
CEO The Future Academy
Head of Sustainability The Royal Parks
Research & Operations Officer The Sustainable Shipping Initiative
Senior Manager Three Hands
Integrated Social Sustainability Programme Coordinator Unilever
Global Senior Manager Social Impact Unilever
VP Sustainable Business Unilever
Information & Analytics Sustainable Business Specialist Unilever
Postdoctoral AI Policy Researcher University of Cambridge, Centre for the Future of Intelligence
IoT Deployment Manager Veolia
Strategy Manager Veolia Water
Environmental Reporting Analyst Verco
Software Director Verco
Technical Director Verco
Manager – Earth Challenge | Business Innovation Virgin Management
Advocacy Executive Virgin Management Limited
Net Zero Manager Virgin Management Limited
Sustainability Panel Member Walgreens Boots Alliance
Editor We Mean Business
Partner – Head of Researcch WHEB Asset Management LLP
Sustainable development Manager Willmott Dixon Rethinking
Stewardship Engagement Manager WWF
Global Supply Chain Product Leader Zurich Insurance plc