Attending huge eco conferences where people jet in from all over the planet to discuss sustainability can feel counter-intuitive. And this year’s Globe 2016 conference in Vancouver, which I attended with Unicycle Creative client London Drugs, certainly offered moments of irony.
Yet from the opening presentation, delivered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to the closing panel hosted by four of Canada’s most environmentally progressive Premiers, Globe 2016 also delivered inspiration, innovation and a real sense of opportunity.
Here are some highlights:
Global corporations continue to build sustainability into their business models. 2 Billion people worldwide a Unilever product every day. Dove, Axe, Lipton, Vaseline, Skippy and Popsicle (to name just a few) may not sound like the greenest brands, yet the ubercorp behind them has set some solid sustainability goals. By 2020, the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan proposes to halve the environmental impact of their products, source all agricultural products sustainably and halve the waste associated with disposal of their products. This is just one example of how global thinking has changed – it is no longer good enough for companies to ignore what happens further up and down their value chain.
More world-changing inventions are coming. It sometimes seems like everything under the sun has been done. One tour around the Globe 2016 Expo floor quickly dispels that myth. Take cement, for instance – one of the world’s most carbon-intensive building materials. JustBioFiber has melded straw waste with LEGO block construction to create a replacement for concrete building foundations that is actually carbon negative. These bricks are also easy to work with and provide incredible insulation value. On the more futuristic end of the spectrum, the General Fusion booth promised “Clean Energy. Everywhere. Forever.” While the future of viable fusion energy is still likely many years off, it was encouraging to know there are people working hard to make it happen. I definitely gave them the award for Most Impressive Giant Steel Machine.
Electric cars are still awesome. From the humble Nissan Leaf to the mighty BMW i8, various forms of electric and hybrid transportation were prominently displayed. But the most fun I had was test-driving the BMW i3. (See the London Drugs Green Deal Globe 2016 recap video above) This nimble, speedy cube offers clean practicality and German-engineered performance. It’s no Tesla, but starting at $45,300, its definitely another step in the right direction for more sustainable urban transport.
Companies that make sustainability a priority are not alone. Sharing the Globe 2016 experience with my client, London Drugs, made it clear that one of the conference’s most persistent values is that of community. Learning lessons from leading brands like Unilever, BASF, Philips, Seventh Generation and Levi Strauss, helps executives see past the day-to-day stresses of management to the bigger picture of brand and global survival. The world is moving ahead in a bolder, greener direction, and companies that embrace this evolution stand to profit. As P.M. Justin Trudeau put it, “The business of building clean economies has gone mainstream”
I look forward to seeing how far we can take it by the time Globe 2018 comes back to town.
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