Author: Sandra Pina, partner of Quiero and director of Sustainable Brands® Madrid 2018
More than 2200 people have met in Vancouver (Canada), between the 4th and 7th of June, to discuss how to redesign our economic, social and environmental model: «Redesigning the Good Life: Brands Serving Humanity». The perception is that we all, in some way, have a need to dig deep into what really makes us happy and fulfilled, avoiding the inconsistencies and contradictions that we often feel. This desire to redesign the concept of «the good life» has begun to become a reality in Vancouver.
Vancouver is the third largest city in Canada, with more than 600,000 inhabitants, behind Toronto and Montreal. It is integrated into nature and bathed by the Fraser River. Sadhu Johnston, City Manager of Vancouver, presented the report «State of Vancouver’s Green Economy 2018» and the data presented is a reflection of the city’s commitment to Sustainability. One in every 15 inhabitants works in a job linked to the Green Economy, at the same time increasing the city’s GDP. In total, 24,714 green jobs were generated between 2010 and 2016, which has meant an increase of 35%, and seven companies in the city are in the Global Cleanteach 100 ranking. Can anything be more optimistic?
Vancouver wants to be the first green and 100% renewable city in Canada and become the greenest city in the world by 2020. Of course, not everything is perfect, and the City Council proclaimed loud and clear that it has another priority objective: to reduce the number of people who live on the streets and give them back a chance in society.
«Activating Purpose» was the central theme of last year at Sustainable Brands Madrid, and the purpose of companies to transform society has also been present at # SB18Vancouver. John Izzo reminded us that if purpose and Sustainability are at the centre of business, they have to be the motivation for change, the centre of questions (what is the first thing we ask as leaders when we arrive at the office?… The first question one usually asks is the most important in the perception of people) and be very present in each of the decisions we make.
After much demand from the community, at Sustainable Brands we have started our own roadmap to help engage in conversations relevant to all people. There are 5 levels to become a Sustainable Brand, and this is our definition of a Sustainable Brand:
-Purpose ahead of profit.
-A systemic transformative power in the brand
-Products and services with Net Positive Impact
-Transparency and good governance.
And so, a deep dive begun into the idea that to generate change we have to move from corporate culture, the Sustainability plan and the company’s purpose, which is the basis of a transforming leadership, to a scalable phase in which the transformation of the systems is what generates impact, through the leadership and the influence capacity of the brand / organization.
At # SB18Vancouver, the book «All In Leadership Framework» was presented, where conversations of 50 world leaders are collected, giving us the keys to achieve such transforming leadership. The book has a luxury of speaker-authors: Prof. David Grayson, Mark Lee and Chris Coulter. Purpose, plan, culture and collaboration are no longer enough for that transformative leadership … the dimension of «Advocacy» is added to look for systemic changes.
One realizes that the desire to achieve a sustainable society is still greater than reality and the commitments are not yet at the level desired, but we are on the right track. Then we find those activist brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia that are always an inspiration for everyone. And new activits? One brand that has stood out is Rei Co-op, a US textile and adventure products company, which seeks to reconnect us with nature and our origins, to enjoy the environment and balance our lives in which, on average, we spend 95% of our time inside offices, houses, etc. Rei-Corp invites us to always go big, but never to go alone, and to face those «brutal realities» we never speak about.
There are other inspirational examples of brands on the right track such as National Geographic, which in its latest June edition presents the report, «A sea of plastic» to raise awareness of the abusive use of plastic. A white plastic bag simulating an iceberg is on its way to becoming iconic, and National Geographic has committed to sending the monthly magazine to subscribers in recycled cardboard and not in single-use plastic.
The circular economy also played a leading role at #SBVancouver18 and reminded us that the key to its impulse is that it is necessary to re-circulate products that have a second life, not those that do not. An example of a key commitment: Evian committed to being a circular brand in 2025.
Over the four days, different speakers such as Tristan Harris, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, encouraged us to make technology available to everyone because it helps us to become known, but it still does not help us, in general, to be truly connected between us. The 5 conflicts that are at the root of our problematic relations with technology are: Identity, Autonomy, Community, Novelty, Speed … does that sound familiar?
We look forward to seeing you from the 7th to 9th of October at Sustainable Brands Madrid 2018 where we will follow the conversation in Vancouver.