SUSTAINABILITY, and the opportunities it provides for Hampshire businesses, was the topic of discussion at a special event.

The Solent Sustainability Summit took place in The Hub at City College yesterday and featured an array of different talks on how to make businesses greener and more sustainable.

Business South organised the event alongside Trethowans and Copyrite, which featured a keynote speech by leading environmentalist Sir Jonathan Porritt.

Dozens of delegates from across Hampshire and the south attended the event to hear him talk about the potential opportunities the shift to sustainable technologies offered them.

Other speakers at the event included Steve Russell, from the Rapanui Print Shop, Arqiva CSP’s Paul Warminger, the technical director at Mouchel’s carbon management centre Martin Kerslake, and British Gas Solar’s head of microgeneration, Colin MacDonald.

Local organisations such as the Southampton Wood Recycling Project, Energy My Way and the Green Knowledge Network also had stands to talk to members of the business community.

Sir Jonathan is a longterm Green Party activist, and helped to co-found the sustainability charity Forum for the Future.

During his speech he argued that businesses had now stepped into the leading role on sustainability ahead of politicians, and that by developing energyefficient and renewable technologies companies could help to ward against the effects of climate change.

He said: “We will end up living sustainably on this planet, of that there is no doubt.

“We either do it by using our brains, or we do it the painful way.”

He said developing sustainable ways of working and living, to replace the current “throwaway” system using fossil fuels, could make trillions of pounds for business worldwide, including small and medium- sized firms in Hampshire.

Everything from wind turbine-powered factories to smart metering and solar panels were discussed at the summit.

Southampton City Council’s housing and sustainability chief Warwick Payne was at the event, and he said: “There was a time when the environment was only something that was discussed by Brighton Lane trendies driving Citroen 2CVs.

“The fact that some of the most important businesses in the Solent region have come together to discuss how to make business greener shows that’s no longer the case and rather than it costing money to be green, companies are now asking themselves can I afford not to be green?

“We talk of green collar jobs and it could be a huge growth area for businesses in the Solent region.”