On Thursday, July 14th, Vancouver City Council met to hear feedback from the public on their Greenest City Action Plan, a robust document that outlines how our fair burg plans to become the Greenest City in the World by 2020. As ‘green’ is my business, my passion and a large part of my day, I felt obliged to share my support of the plan along with a few ideas on how it could be improved for local small business. (Basically reiterating what I said in my blog on November 6, 2009 when the first draft plan was announced) Below is the approximate text of my speech, minus the stuttering and stammering.
My name is Lorne Craig. I am a Vancouver business owner and have been for over 20 years. I run Unicycle Creative, a strategic marketing agency focused on sustainable business. I also write the GreenBriefs.ca blog on sustainability.
In other words, I am a Green Capitalist.
Unicycle Creative is one of the 395,000 small businesses that run the engine of BC’s economy, providing some 57% of private sector jobs. And believe me, I’m pedaling as fast as I can. So today I wish to speak out in favour of adopting the Greenest City Action Plan. Because for small business, green is a growth industry.
Every day I work with great local green businesses. I am also fortunate to advise regional companies like London Drugs as they implement industry-leading recycling programs.
Today I would like to talk about the value of the Greenest City brand.
Last month I attended Sustainable Brands 2011 in Monterey California, North America’s largest green branding conference. There, I discovered that Vancouver is already on the radar as a green business hub. But I believe our opportunity is even greater. One by one, world-leading brands took to the conference stage with their sustainability plans and accomplishments. And these were not the corner hemp store type of companies. These were Nike. SCJohnson. Starbucks. Adidas. Unilever.
These forward-thinking companies know that the tides of public concern, demand and legislation are steadily turning toward a more sustainable future. They also see there is money to be made. That’s why, all across the globe, corporations are investing to embed green thinking and practices directly into their operations and business models. So I think it makes sense for the City of Vancouver to do the same.
To the critics of this plan who say it ignores traditional industry sectors, I say that ‘green’ is not a ‘sector’. It is a survival strategy that runs through all businesses and sectors. From more sustainable film production, to high technology companies that enable greater efficiency, to resource companies that must do their jobs in new ways.
Our cities are where we must import food, live with pollution, deal with waste and generally start to clean up the mess. This is a time for bold goals, and municipal governments are in an excellent position to set them.
Striving to become The Greenest City in the World, Vancouver will attract the best businesses, while providing a role model for municipalities on the world stage.
But the local small green businesses of Vancouver could use more. We need more networking opportunities, quicker local procurement policy development and more small business support.
All of this could be achieved by taking Vancouver’s Green Capital brand just a bit further. Unite local green businesses under a ‘Green Capitalist’ brand extension. Organize local business trade shows and events. Let our legions of Green Capitalists proudly declare their status in the City of Vancouver and beyond.
I look forward to seeing the Greenest Cities Action Plan being approved by Council, and to be part of it as a proud citizen and Green Capitalist.
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