Sustainability has definitely become a driving force of the global economy although the Circularity Gap Report, annually drafted since 2018 within the World Annual Forum in Davos, states that circular economy covers only 8.6% of the global market. It is certainly a fact that the power of the eco-change passes through innovation and technology fueled by the enthusiasm of those who have been able to create new markets and businesses totally respectful of the environment. A recent event, held in New York on the 20th September 2022, gathered some of the most brilliant business leaders who are leaving a mark in the wake of the sustainable growth. The Forbes Sustainability Summit conveyed some inspiring inputs based on life experiences. MONACŒCOART® attended the meeting and collected the most meaningful feedbacks from some of the key speakers.
Photo >> Forbes Sustainability Summit live from New York (20th September 2022) - © Forbes
Diane Braby, assistant managing editor at Forbes, pointed out: “what I like most of this rendezvous is that it is focused on leadership and innovation, or better the transformation that is a present opportunity without diminishing the problems we all face. We cannot forget that Sustainability includes ‘e’, ‘s’ and ‘g’, notably environmental, social and governance”. Through various round tables, the power of entrepreneurship aroused talking about different topics: food, technology, energy and sustainable communities.
Photo >> Alexandra Palt and Gaurab Chakrabarti (Forbes Sustainability Summit, 20th September 2022) - © Forbes
Alexandra Palt, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer at L’Oréal, highlighted: “Sustainability as well as responsibility are not a metaphysical space; it is an integral part of your business and of the hundreds of micro-decisions you make every day. Today, sustainability means that you need to transform what you sell. In other words you have to reinvent the core of your business. That is not easy since the consumer behaviours are not changing rapidly in some cases”. What is essential for companies is to create the desire to choose sustainable products and services and in order to achieve this goal they have to put related matters on the table to be discussed and become gradually natural to think different.
Environmentally friendly Technologies and manufacturing are definitely main pillars of the ‘green revolution’. Gaurab Chakrabarti, Co-Founder and CEO of Solugen, underlined: “When you talk about bio-engineering products in many markets you are considered as a pioneer but in order to gain importance in terms of production you must be competitive in costs”. Natural ecosystems must continue to play their role alongside human progress and long-term forest-restoration actions have become pivotal as stressed by Maddie Hall, Co-Founder and CEO of Living Carbon: “I do believe that biology has to do with it being also able to work for industries with infrastructure at scale which has already allowed to plant 1,6 billion trees in the United States”. Todd Brady, Vice President, Global Public Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer · Intel Corporationstated: “Consumers are requesting to perform more sustainable solutions, notably being energy-efficient and reducing our footprint is what they are asking us to do”.
Photo >> Maddie Hall and Todd Brady (Forbes Sustainability Summit, 20th September 2022) - © Forbes
As for marketing, more than 70% of sustainability-oriented consumers do not really believe in the real effect of environmentally friendly products or services, despite the fact that their number has increased sharply, including the so called Millennials.
Vivek Bapat, SVP Marketing, Purpose and Sustainability SAP: “Generally speaking, we live for sure in an age of distrusts as a consequence of geopolitical turmoil and issues but if you look at some of the researches that have been done recently business is still a favourable institution in terms of taking leadership and trying to offer solutions. (…) The common element we find out among our international customers is that all of them put Sustainability on the top of their agenda”. According to the panellists, for the first time most companies are taking concrete measures to support the environmental cause, regardless of their stage of development. Seeking for eco-actions seem to be essential to foster any core business, keeping away all forms of greenwashing. “It is crucial to put transparency first, inform consumers when something is not working or went wrong; we do not have to be those brands who are always promising without delivering”, reaffirmed Beatriz Perez, SVP & Chief Communication, Sustainability & Strategic Partnerships Officer at The Coca-Cola Company.
Photo >> Vivek Bapat and Beatriz Perez (Forbes Sustainability Summit, 20th September 2022) - © Forbes
The concept itself of being sustainable is not that new and it has already accumulated a long history behind. What has evolved is the point of view. Now we are more focused on preventing risks and therefore damages. Basically, we went from how earning through our shareholders to how growing through our stakeholders trying to put people first before anything else. Sondra Sutton Phung, Marketing General Manager, Electric Vehicles, Ford Motor Company, underlined: “We must understand that climate change and air pollution of disproportionated burdens marginalize communities and if we do not offer equitable and affordable solutions we do not have the chance to put them on the front of the line to get economic and mobility benefits of electric vehicles”. Community involvement must be part of the sustainable shift. The same accessibility must be granted financially as stressed by Shanté Williams, CEO at Black Pearl Global Investments: “I do believe that deploying capital intentionally is the key in order to be sure that pool of money is getting the place it is supposed to; deployment is where the change happens”.
Photo >> Sondra Sutton Phung and Shanté Williams (Forbes Sustainability Summit, 20th September 2022) - © Forbes
Energy sector and its decarbonization are therefore the cornerstones of the current eco-transition. Major companies as well as the smaller ones and a few startups are increasingly investing in carbon dioxide capture and clean technologies. The attendees agreed upon a common thread. If we are not innovating, we are not progressing, we are not moving forward. So, you have to act to achieve the result.
Photo >> Kyle Bridgeforth and Dr. Lisa Dyson (Forbes Sustainability Summit, 20th September 2022) - © Forbes
But innovation is also involving ‘non-conventional’ sectors like agriculture and food chain. Kyle Bridgeforth, Owner and Operating Partner, Bridgeforth Farms, pointed out: “Sustainability goals are strongly connected to our retailers, so it is now held in high regard compared to ten years ago. Consolidation in agriculture is happening quicker than in other fields, requiring very long-term decisions. As a big family working in agriculture, sustainability for us is the key to give access to other sectors of industry that once did not have any connection”. From the point of view of the scientific research, Dr. Lisa Dyson, CEO and Founder of Air Protein added: “We are working on products that give you the texture that people are looking for, including flavours; that is our main mission now. Innovation when it comes is always scary and food is cultural and nostalgic. For this we are trying to recreate traditional flavours together with new”. Synthesizing non-animal proteins could in fact positively affect the reduction of greenhouse gases, on the basis of certain studies. The idea is to create a future world where you can have different opportunities and choices.
Many inspiring considerations that can serve as food for thought to help us build a shared sustainable future. ***
By Maurice Abbati