Break-out: Sustainability as a driver of innovation – trend watching

The diversity of information and initiatives presented to us in this panel discussion was really interesting. It was not until I looked again at the title that I realised what each of the four topics – smart cities, crowdfunding, eco innovation and forest sustainability corporation (FSC) had in common. The answer, of course is that all these ‘innovations’ had the unavoidable need for sustainability as the key driver for their existence.

The question posed to Cisco by the Clinton Global Initiative was curious and exciting. ‘How do you use broadband to reduce carbon emissions?’ The story told was one of big data and ‘connected cities’ or citizens tapped into the beating heart of information of the city to create a more sustainable living experience for all citizens. Throughout the conference we heard a lot about urbanisation and the growing burden on local city councils to maintain quality of life. Here we saw something that came out of the open innovation culture at Cisco and was subsequently donated to the Clinton Initiative. We only hope that more big companies follow suit to empower their employees to tackle sustainability initiatives in a concerted manner.

There were a few more points at the talk that really resounded with the audience. On crowdfunding, it was brought out that the way it had evolved (out of donation platforms), the ‘crowd’ was actually a community, an ecosystem of people you could draw on for help, support and evangelisation.

The final take home thinking point regarded the concept of education. It is true that society today has built a generation of young kids that are tech-savvy. How easy was it, or how hard? And why can’t our goal for the future be to create a society that teaches children to be eco-savvy? This is a major step into ensuring sustainability of the future direction of business. And this links very well to Quiero’s summer caravan mission – asking young people the question they refuse to ask themselves ¿Que quieres hacer con tu vida?



By Avinash Bhavnani



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