Category Archives: Environment

Liverpool’s Latest Signing: New 2030 Hub To Score Sustainable Development Goals

Back in early 2016 we began shaping a concept for Liverpool’s very own innovative Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) hub. Today the doors at 23 Argyle Street, Liverpool, England, Earth are finally open.

Hub2030

Last week we hosted our first event with the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson welcoming a crowd of predominantly private sector businesses large and small to hear our plans for local and global SDG impact through our new 2030 Hub, and to hear their ideas for collaboration over the next 13 years.

This was a purposefully low key affair to reconnect with and update many we had spoken to at various stages of project development, but we still had a significant private sector heavy audience and globally influential speakers including Sue Stephenson from IMPACT2030, Libby Annat from Primark and even a few scene-setting words by a native called David Connor from Coethica.

The big noisy launch will come in early autumn but for now we are open and decreasingly quietly stirring a cross-sector silo-busting community to inform, energise, support and measure public, private and third sector policy and practice around the Global Goals.

I am obviously biased but Liverpool could very well be the ideal planet-wide location for such a concept. There are arguably few other cities in the world that have the diverse socio-economic mix, international heritage, and an unbridled community spirit to ensure the Agenda 2030 moral code of ‘no-one must be left behind. People who are hardest to reach should be given priority’ is supported.

The 2030 Hub’s early development was serendipitously and eerily aligned to the Local2030 initiative currently emerging from the United Nations, aiming to make the Global Goals relevant in local contexts. We were ahead of that particular game.

We have many more big announcements in the pipeline as we roll out some world-changing partnerships, events, initiatives, ambassadors, news and services. We have more to learn than offer ourselves but sometimes you have to run before you can walk, or as a certain large sports company would say ‘Just Do It’. We have a robust 13 year plan, and that plan evolves and scales as rapidly as our stakeholders and the planet demand.

The 2030 Hub is an innovative approach to blended entrepreneurship through a physical workspace, vibrant task focused community and energised communications offer providing a fertile cross-sector ecosystem for SDG impact. The home in Argyle Street has desks, co-working, lounge, meeting room, breakout area, city centre car parking (bikes too – more please), the best organic coffee we can find and great wifi – mild apologies for the mid-narrative advert –  with access to a UN / corporate world connected global community of support, inspiration and tools.

 

We are targeting the private sector first, because being honest here, they have the biggest potential to make an impact – and are also the biggest part of the problem. We aspire to be the glue between the sectors encouraging making a fair profit whilst creating real impact against some of Liverpool’s own and playing our part in global social and environmental challenges.

The 2030 Hub will be shouting from the rooftops next to the Liver Birds and introducing everybody that will listen (whether they like it or not) to the Global Goals, creating ambassadors, sharing best practice, inspiring new leadership and kicking-off with research projects to map what the SDG’s actually look like across this City, and who is already making an impact that deserves some credit.

My favourite quote from last week’s event was

What have the SDGs got to do with a kebab shop in Toxteth?

…welcome to Liverpool. No verbal holds are barred. I’m not sure what the official UN answer would be, but I’m stereotypically guessing the owner of such a fine establishment may possibly be a touch sceptical. Our response would be… I’ll take one of your finest spicy chicken kebabs whilst you tell me what you want your business to be remembered for.

We have lofty aims and still need more support, but the local and global energy is both renewable and boundless. Everything is impossible until it is done for the first time.

More to come, soon.

 

#2030hub

www.the2030hub.com

The Best Running Shoes Come From The Ocean

Adidas Parley UltraBoost

It could get busy around here.

The polarising struggle to argue out the sustainable consumption oxymoron often misses the point. Consuming more sustainably than we have done before has to be part of the real world incremental improvement process whilst we scramble for the step-change improvements that are really needed. Yes, that may very well not be quick enough to avoid catastrophic environmental change for many of ‘us’, but we are where we are, this is what we have, pragmatism has its uses and credit to those who are trying. Many aren’t.

Last week we saw Apple throwing its marketing nous behind Earth Day, this week we see Adidas (there is no alphabetical component here) upping its sustainability commitments and profile including ‘one million pairs of shoes made from up-cycled marine plastic in 2017.’

One million. Many people have little to no idea or the vaguest concept of the scale of industrial production, but such big numbers should make you sit up. One million pairs of running shoes made from up-cycled plastic has to be progress. Say it with a Dr Evil pinky finger to your mouth, I dare you.

Every second breath we take is generated by the Oceans,” commented Cyrill Gutsch, Founder of Parley for the Oceans.

We are now into the territory beyond climate denial but not quite mainstream consumerism (i.e. purchasing dictated by sustainability criteria). Yet. Apple, adidas and many other leadership companies are exploring key themes such as the circular economy and the Sustainable Development Goals and momentum is building week after week. Expect to see many more innovative products and processes conveyor belted out as the market is tested for acceptance.

Companies like Interface and their work in a similar vein to Adidas’ partnership with Parley with Net-Works are also even possibly more worthy of praise as they were way ahead of the pack, but alas, carpet tiles have yet to become a dominant brand category in your face 24/7 in the way the usual suspect consumer brands have.

For disclosure. I adore my adidas UltraBOOST running shoes. For many, many years I had always shown a strong brand affinity for Nike (whom I even worked as a football freestyler and tester of prototype football boots in my non-linear career story) or Asics for great running shoes and avoided Adidas after a bad experience before the New York marathon. I explored a pair when setting out to train for my first ironman distance triathlon 18 months ago (and survived in surprisingly good shape), and instantly fell in love with the astonishing levels of comfort for a performance running shoe.

Worth noting is how the bigger consumer facing brands are increasingly pushing out high profile product and communications. We are past tipping points now and heading into consistent mass market positioning rather than the niche deep green audiences of not so long ago. I hate to admit it, but this could get boring as sustainability innovation today becomes the norm of tomorrow.

For the brand lovers and runners out there check out the shoes and vote with your wallets for a great product now combined with great provenance. You could also check out www.adidas.com/runfortheoceans as week of support around World Oceans Day, June 5 -11.

For the sustainability people, and activists wanting to look beyond the communications frontage, adidas also shared their latest Sustainability Report.

*Oh, and if anybody at Adidas or any of their close friends should read this, and need a UltraBOOST size 9 product tester, I’m your man!

 

 

 

Apple’s Greatest Video?

Credit where credit is due.

I’ve roasted Apple (should that be baked?) many times, especially during the Steve Jobs era, but I had a feeling that Tim Cook would take a very different approach to sustainability. His supply chain background almost dictated it.

So, without further ado, here is Apple’s latest effort to use its brand for good, and that matters. It really matters. Watch the videos and then read why it meant so much to me.

 

Not your usual Apple slick, minimalistic, polished marketing advert!

Apple were the epitome of laggards, hiding away from disclosure or action whilst they focused on selling as many of their beautiful innovative tech toys as possible. Nothing new about that. Countless business still take that approach. Probably most businesses in all honesty.

But, Apple were and are one of the biggest mainstream brands in the world, with the accompanying leadership position that should elevate any authentically responsible business to push sustainability not only through their own operation and products, but also their widest sphere of influence including their customers and fans.

Five years ago I wrote a blog hoping, and predicting Tim Cook’s appointment would be a catalyst for change. Such a change was always going to take time. One tweak here, a new appointment there, a commitment to solar, a video celebrating diversity and now this. (notice I omitted Liam the recycling robot – Apple’s Howard the Duck moment)

The video above feels like a milestone moment because it shows Apple is now comfortable enough to be creative and step away from brand norms – which is very out of character – and bold. We desperately need more bold. The work has been done internally and my new hope is that this video is the start of a confident new leadership brand in the sustainability space, or should that be iSustainability?

The biggest challenge of our time is convincing the non-usual suspects to look at the issues people like me call sustainability in a way possibly only Apple could do, to change behaviour at scale.

Congratulations Tim Cook, Lisa Jackson et al, your mark has been made, but how high can you go?

 

 

Reasons To Be Happy

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Happy International Day of Happiness!

*Spoiler: Smurfs will be mentioned*

Companies are bad, everybody knows that. With the exception of a few of the usual suspects such as Patagonia and Unilever, the mainstream reputation of the private sector pretty much stinks wholesale. With trust in business, governments and even charitable organisations at an all time low, occasional pillars of resistance and hope break through the overwhelming greyness. But is that all justified?

I’m lucky, and happy. Beyond the rituals and pains of actually having to get paid for a living I’m fortunate to work in space that generates wellbeing in many ways. My day to day bounces between global and hyper local like a manic game of table tennis. I see many bright shards of hope, optimism and positive impact that seldom reach the ‘fake news’ mainstream media circus. One day I will unleash this goodness formally through ideas that have been gently simmering for many years. I promise.

My favourite current game of ping pong in my world is being played by the global (and local) IMPACT 2030 and a new very local (currently national – somewhere in Scotland I believe) kid on the block, well I say kid, but Stuart at Charging Around Britain is a touch more seasoned than that.

E_2016_SDG_Poster_all_sizes_without_UN_emblem_LetterIMPACT 2030 makes we happy because it pushes the private sector to realise what it really should be, connected groups of people, not homogenous shark-like legal structures hell-bent on profit maximisation. Through facilitating the evolution of corporate volunteering to a more human capital investment ethos IMPACT 2030 reminds us all of the essential humanity of business and the power of impassioned employees. Into the second year of the Sustainable Development Goals during 2017 with accelerating reach, progress and new initiatives IMPACT 2030 will be very much stepping up a gear.

As for Stuart McBain, well, he is one of those entrepreneurs that just did it. Anybody that walks the walk makes me happy. Too many ‘experts’ pontificate and achieve little. After building a successful accountancy firm in Liverpool, Stuart’s next step was to jump in a car and shout out the world to become more sustainable. In the usual very entrepreneurial JFDI method of operation he set off in his new Tesla Model S to be the first to tour the UK coast in an electric car. He left on Friday and will take 23 days to travel these isles whilst visiting any sustainability hotspots on his Charging Around Britain – #Adventure1.

 

Stuart openly admits he has much to learn across the sustainability and renewables space, but just watching his enthusiasm as hopefully an indicator of sea change awareness providing hope for our very uncertain futures.

Profit isn’t a bad word, and there many, many great businesses and business people. Make sure you celebrate the good wherever and whenever you see it.

Enjoy and share your happiness.

Oh, and more Smurfs…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smurfs Up! Tiny Blue Belgians Change The World

For those who hadn’t noticed, my inner-child is quite near the surface. I try desperately to be sensible, responsible and adult like, but the reality is I am proud to add a touch of levity when the setting allows. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the big problems that surround us all locally and as a global community.

So, today, I give you The Smurfs!

Now my inner-child is sated I should reveal the wonderful reason this should be shared far and wide, and not just to children (or bigger kids with jobs).

It is easy to criticise the UN for being abstract and a big part of the problem created by a global community of environmental and social institutions that have for years been preaching for us all to save the world. The response has largely been erm, nope. Not my circus, nor my blue Belgian kids characters.

There is a subtle yet hugely significant change happening. Those who are privy to the gloomy data, science and politics are actually collaborating ever more effectively with people who can translate these urgent messages into the range of tools, voices and formats needed to engage the real army. You. Your children. Your friends. Your cousins. Your cousin’s cousins. Everybody who doesn’t get the immediacy. In short, everybody.

Team Smurfs will rally behind the 17 Goals through to the International Day of Happiness on 20 March 2017. Voice actors from the upcoming animated movie Smurfs: The Lost Village will attend a celebration at United Nations headquarters in New York on Saturday, March 18 to honour youth who have already taken action to achieve the Goals in their own communities.

smurfs-un-main-campaign-final

“We know that children and young people are some of the world’s most passionate advocates on issues that matter to them the most. We must continue to find new ways to empower them to help achieve a world free from inequality and injustice for every child. This campaign will give children and young people the platform they need to have their voices heard,” said UNICEF Director of Communications Paloma Escudero.

“The campaign message focuses on the notion that every one of us can make a difference, regardless of our size,” said Veronique Culliford, the daughter of Peyo, who created the Smurfs in 1958. “It’s an honor and privilege for The Smurfs to support the United Nations and to continue our longstanding relationship with UNICEF.”

“All of us, even a small Smurf, can achieve big goals!” added Demi Lovato, who voices Smurfette in the upcoming animated film.

Can a kids cartoon change the world? Damn right it can!

Watch it. Talk about it in work. Talk about at home too, and share it like crazy.

www.smallsmurfsbiggoals.com

#SmallSmurfsBigGoals and #TeamSmurfs

 

Almost Amazing – New Video from Google for Entrepreneurs

A quick post to share a great video for a world where entrepreneurship is on its way to becoming as prevalent and appealing as the great employed masses.

I have often waxed lyrical about the strengths of entrepreneurialism in smaller business or corporations alike, but business for the sake of business isn’t what we should be aiming for.

Yes, jobs and wealth generation are the essential to stable functioning economies but with the environmental and social storms on the horizon, we need to be demanding more from any new businesses not already ingrained in an outdated carbon intensive, fuck you world I want a yacht mentality.

Entrepreneurship is wonderful but we, and I mean Google in particular, as they should know better (they know everything don’t they?) should be taking the leadership role by seeding all new businesses with the additional knowledge of a world just over the start up launch day party horizon.

Profit is not a bad word, but it does have a bad reputation.

I’ll just leave a couple of such seeds here…

BCorps – Normal business / better model

Breakthrough Business Models – the shape of future business (pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

A Cunning Plan That Might Just Work

Did you know whilst the world goes to hell in a handbasket à la Trump, Brexit, ISIS, all reality tv, plastic microbeads et al, there is actually a plan to counteract much of humanity’s blatant disregard for our planet and respect for each other?

Ok, that may actually be a first world vision of the underworld, and the real global challenges sit lower down Maslow’s hierarchy, but that is probably too close to the blissfully ignorant view of those outside the Sustainable Development Goals bubble.

As part of my own humble action for #GlobalGoals week I’m going to post every damn day, which for me will be a near miracle when I pull it off, and some of it may even make sense, possibly even inspire an action or several.

So to kick the week off, and the next 14 years, here’s the big plan. It is not mine, but I do like it…

 

Amongst a few ideas I have I will also share an amazing trip last week to New York to jump into the world of #Impact2030 where the private sector is pushing its own efforts through human impact investment (or volunteering if you prefer). I may even cover entrepreneurship, technology, sport and BCorps, but who knows? I don’t. You’ll just have to stay tuned to enjoy the fun!

But, please, do one thing extra this week. Make an hour to read, share or just do something, anything. If you let me know what you did I may even send you a present.

#GlobalGoals

#2030Now

#Impact2030