In an impassioned speech at the global summit of the Consumer Goods Forum this week, the prince attempted to rally the troops – senior executives from the world’s leading consumer goods companies – into embracing more sustainable sourcing policies.
He began with a rousing call to arms, telling delegates, “you represent a formidable force for good. Few organisations are better-placed to play a central role [in tackling] the environmental challenges facing our planet.”
But he also rebuked them for failing to move quickly enough, accusing them of “collective hubris” and "complacency", adding: “If we are to protect the future you will, I’m afraid, just have to change your way of working.”
While consumer-facing organisations had to listen to and engage with their customers, they also needed to drive the debate, he said: “You are the gatekeepers and as such you have a vital role to play as advocators and educators.
"If the consumer wants more information in order to make better choices, you’re surely the ones that can supply it.
“You have a unique opportunity and responsibility to make sense of complex issues for consumers who are struggling to work out what is the right thing to do.”
Dwindling fish stocks
Much of his speech was devoted to issuing a grim warning of impending apocalypse for marine ecosystems unless the industry took “urgent action to put in place a more precautionary approach to the way that we manage commercial fishing”.
While manufacturers such as Young’s, Birds Eye and Findus had been “particularly progressive”, more action was needed to protect dwindling fish stocks and to help people in developing countries “build the capacity to comply with international regulations”, he said.
“Many of you are doing remarkable things. But, dare I say, it isn’t enough.”