C21 is a consultancy with a difference. The 13-strong London group is killing two birds with one stone, carving a niche in an area it believes in, which just happens to be growing substantially. On top of that, it is led by words rather than visuals.

Spawned just over a year ago from communications and management consultancy Edit, C21 is a stand-alone environmental consultancy with a mission. To bring clarity to the field of environmental reporting.

“Environmental reporting has traditionally been appalling and, although it is improving, in the majority of cases there is still a long way to go. In a lot of cases, the reporting has been deliberately vague to mask the actual lack of environmental action groups are taking,” says C21 communications advisor Adam Garfunkel.

C21 works with clients to improve their environmental communication programmes – to staff, shareholders, investment analysts, pressure groups and the public at large – using language they understand. It is currently working with British Airways on its environmental communications strategy (DW 27 March). It is also working with SmithKline Beecham and the infamous Yorkshire Water to communicate their environmental policies more clearly. It has previously worked with the Tidy Britain group and the University of Brighton.

After a prolonged bout of publicity and consumer pressure, clients are finally beginning to wake up to the environment as an important part of company and marketing policy. “We are in the third age of environmental policy. The first paid lip-service to the issue, and although clients did publish environmental information, they put little effort into it,” says Garfunkel.

“The second ‘greenwash’ approach was totally patronising and showed nice lakes with ducks swimming on them. Nobody believed these reports and they annoyed people. Now clients are starting to commission reports that explain things as they really are,” he continues.

C21 offers a wide range of services, including strategy, audits and reviews, research and reports, press and media relations, exhibitions and conferences, publications production, management consultancy, consensus building, training programmes and materials, and new media strategy and design.

In its brief life the group has already built an impressive client list which looks set to grow as environmental concerns continue to move up clients’ list of priorities. Parent group Edit’s blue-chip client base is also likely to put a few projects in its direction. And Edit will no doubt benefit from C21’s client list in the longer term.

C21 might turn its approach to other disciplines which would benefit from greater clarity, although it has made no plans as yet. Instruction manuals could be a good place to start.

For now, though, the consultancy has enough on its plate. In June Britain will relinquish its EU presidency by holding Natura 2000, a high-profile conference on the subject of bio-diversity. C21 is writing and designing a book and exhibition materials for the event.

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