Last week, Sapience attended the 7th annual Sustainability Week hosted by Economist Impact. Both an in-person and virtual event, it brought together a multitude of experts spanning an array of industries to talk about the key topics surrounding sustainability.
Many talks discussed the complexity that businesses face, the emphasis on ensuring that their outfits are subsequently sustainable and the importance that audiences now place on ESG.
Here we round up the talks that stood out for us.
Build better, smarter cities
‘Climate-ready smart cities – Preparing for the future’ panel took an in-depth look at how urban spaces around the globe can be upgraded to help businesses collectively meet sustainability objectives. As Ani Dasgupta from the World Resources Institute noted, net-zero objectives won’t be met if we don’t get cities right.
The conversation touched on how cities provide a space for collective action between government and local people. This developed into a discussion about how public and private stakeholders can work collaboratively to drive towards a better, more resilient future. Clare Wildfire from Mott MacDonald explained that while local governments can establish underlying policies for sustainable change, the private sector will bring the skills and investment appetite for a quick scale-up.
The panel also explored the barriers that exist around unlocking finance to make our cities smarter and greener, as well as the challenges that are faced by SMEs who are looking to implement sustainability policies.
One thing was clear: our cities need to see change for the good of the planet, and they need to see it fast.
In conversation with Sustainable Energy for All
The Economist hosted Damilola Ogunbiyi, Chief Executive of Sustainable Energy for All, discussed how the global community can improve the accessibility of clean energy. Damilola’s expertise comes from a wealth of experience, particularly in her home nation Nigeria, where she has advised the President on the country’s power strategy.
A key issue that Damilola addresses was that of “clean cooking”, which affects millions of people worldwide – particularly women. Improving access to clean cooking fuels for more of the population much be an urgent priority. It is both an environmental and a humanitarian issue.
Making fashion sustainable
This talk panel bringing together the sustainability managers of top fashion and clothing businesses to discuss how the fashion industry is practising sustainably and what areas need to work to improve.
A large proportion of the talk raised the theme of the fashion industry grappling with the challenge of being sustainable, whilst also continuing to make a profit. Chloe Mukai, Senior Programme Office at Ethical Fashion Initiative spoke about how the industry can make impact quickly – which includes the small ‘wins’ and the long-term strategies. She also touched on the idea that Investors are looking for a sustainable plan when looking to invest in a fashion business.
Layla Ertur, Head of Sustainability at giant fashion brand H&M focused on how the brand is adopting business models that have sustainability running through them and more specifically, models that support circular design principles. H&M has also established a second-hand platform which has become incredibly popular, demonstrating that audiences are interested in protecting the environment.
An overarching theme was that sustainability needs to be considered at every level of the business, from the people involved, the product and the planet. From the electricity used to house the production machinery to the disposal of used clothing.
The talks illustrated that ESG credentials are not only fundamental for businesses to thrive, but it is increasingly imperative to adopt a robust sustainability initiative as best practice in order to keep up with their competitors in the market. Next year is set to be full of fascinating talks once again and we shall look forward to them.
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