Category Archives: Events

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

 

Global to Local Goals Through IMPACT 2030

 

 

 

“Volunteerism is a source of community strength, resilience, solidarity and social cohesion. It brings positive social change by fostering respect for diversity, equality and the participation of all. It is among society’s most vital assets.”

Ban Ki-Moon

 

impact-2030

 

In case you hadn’t noticed, we are 12 months in from the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals. This week is #GlobalGoals (a much better brand to reach the great unengaged audience we need) week as the UN General Assembly gets underway and year two of fifteen toward 2030 begins.

Recently I reached out to one promising initiative aligned to a pet project back in Liverpool. The reason I reached out to IMPACT 2030 was primarily for one key reason. It is private sector led. Whilst UN backed this is the business world rapidly coalescing from their own acceptance of responsibility and ability to lead. There are a whole host of reasons to explore IMPACT 2030, but for me when the private sector steps up, stuff gets done. Admittedly that stuff isn’t always the most morally acceptable when created in isolation, but this is different, it is a genuine and transparent partnership platform based on overcoming the biggest social and environmental challenges.

Another key element is the language being used. Volunteering, like CSR and other terminology has an image problem. IMPACT 2030 aims to reframe the debate using ‘human capital investment‘ in place of the more patriarchal terms like pro bono and volunteering, often seen as a cost or superfluous bolt-on activities. To encourage the private sector to significantly increase participation they have to see returns on investment, and in terms they understand and also appeal across the boardroom.

Philanthropy also absolutely has to be part of the equation as there will often be challenges that will never strategically fit investment propositions, but this focus on a more accepted private sector language can only increase awareness and impact.

So, in short, IMPACT 2030 aims to stimulate human capital investment in employees and align with the 17 Global Goals through awareness raising and support. The demonstrations of successes so far were a clear sign that the initiative’s momentum is building.

The standout case study of the Summit was between GSK and SAP combing their data and healthcare expertise to carefully listen to the local needs in Rwanda, map relevant employee skills and deliver a pilot project with Partners in Health within a mere three weeks. IMPACT 2030’s potential for human capital investment leverage is huge within their global remit. “These companies, so far, represent millions of talented people across 220 countries” said Executive Director Dr. Tauni Lanier.

The Mayor of Philadelphia was also in town to share the city-wide story of commitment to IMPACT 2030 and the wider Sustainable Development Goals, with particular emphasis on schools.

 

 

The always entertaining, and originally from Liverpool, Sir Ken Robinson shared wonderful insights from a creative and education perspective, even managing to connect the population explosion to the release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band!

I understand that IMPACT 2030 is only twelve months old, yet has made significant impacts and collaborations, but I did get a sense that the 99% was being overlooked. I often attend similar events and the reasoning for corporate focus is clear. Scale, or rather the appearance of ability to scale, as this isn’t always the outcome. The business world below the corporate threshold is yet again the audience that scarce available resources are appearing to push too far down the priority list. Approximately 50% of private sector turnover comes from SMEs which also has approximately 60% of employees in many global economies. If we are really going to make the Global Goals mainstream, it is essential that far more consideration is given to engaging with the smaller business community.

IMPACT 2030 will not be a US based ivory tower. A growing army of territory based Regional Voices has been identified to ensure, and trust me, I saw this passion, that the Global Goals become very Local Goals too. By having people on the ground who understand the needs of local communities, acting as advocates, brokering partnerships and reporting measured impact back to a centralised portal the project should deliver results.

The also originally from Liverpool (can you see any patterns here?) IMPACT 2030 Vice Chair, Sue Stephenson perfectly summed up the whole event with the wonderful African proverb

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.

 

For more information check out the links below:

#Impact2030

www.impact2030.com

Twitter list for Impact 2030 (shout out if I missed you!)

 

 

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

 

Is Liam Really #TechForGood, or #MarketingForApple?

29 arms of recycling innovation robot beautifully presented (of course) and they call it Liam? Only in the world of Apple.

Whilst hastily allowing myself to lose all focus on the writing I should have been doing today I jumped at the chance to join @TomRaftery as guest co-host for his #TechForGood Google Hangout tomorrow. As I explored previous shows to get a feel for my responsibilities I stumbled back across the ‘Liam’ element of Apple’s recent keynote.

The last few weeks have been something of a blur with many new discussions and projects appearing like the Rebel Alliance out of hyperdrive, but all with an eerily connected technology flavour. The Apple announcement was momentarily noted for their strong focus on responsibility at their key communications event of their calendar, before being usurped by the usual social media avalanche.

I’ve been a long standing frustrated critic of Apple, more from a wasted potential perspective than their actual social or environmental accomplishments, which have been markedly improving over recent years. Tim Cook has many achievements to take credit for, as it can’t have been an easy task to push sustainability up the priority list of the culture moulded by Steve Jobs.

Whilst on the day Lisa Jackson (SVP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives) was conspicuously front and centre, and the privacy debate raging with the FBI obviously adding its influence, Liam felt like the physical hook of attention for a more confident responsibility ethos away from the usual line-up of product launches.

Yes, I know there are only so many ways you can innovate with a phone, and this could be Apple running out of innovative product steam, but the eternal optimist in me is seeing Apple want to be seen as more than just a purveyor of beautiful ‘stuff’. That beauty could be creeping into their approach to their wider responsibilities.

Liam is an allegedly, as I’ve not seen many at all, 29 arm robot that can in a mere 11 seconds recycle a notoriously difficult product into component parts like never seen before. I’ve dreamed of Apple applying its design mastery for a stronger purpose than just music and communications. Was this it?

Maybe. Maybe not. After all there is only one Liam, I believe, and at full speed, could disassemble 1.2 million iPhones per year. Actually, only potentially 1.2 million iPhone 6s units until they teach it about the rest of their product back catalogue. That total would be in the billions. Last year alone Apple sold 230 million phones.

Innovative? Absolutely. Open source and shareable by the whole industry to reduce e-waste? Probably not going to happen (but hoping). Expensive? Absolutely and certainly prohibitively so. Chances of Apple opening recycling depots full of Liams? Slim. Marketing gimmick or potential for true impact? Actions speak louder than YouTube videos, so we shall see.

With over 1 billion smartphone products alone sold every year. A few weeks after the launch Liam now feels more like a lonely Disney Wall-E type character, desperate for a real purpose, a few friends and more trees, but I continue to hope.

Join me and Tom tomorrow at 4.00pm UK to explore this week’s #TechForGood news.

 

 

FIFA – ‘Show Me the Money’

The ‘beautiful game’ is free-falling through the ugly tree and hitting every branch.

Ugly football FIFA

Global football is witnessing another slow painful eruption, but this could yet be an big extinction level event for many that has been developing, and well overdue, for decades. Football is by no means isolated as Continue reading

And the winners of the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards 2015 are…

GSBA2015

Not all awards are created equal.

To some they are great opportunity to shine a spotlight on success, whilst others see only over indulgent attempts at PR and spin. I’ve always been a supporter of those receiving the credit they deserve for often swimming against the mainstream tide and pushing CSR and sustainability, and awards can be an effectively vehicle for spreading the word.

There is also an ever-growing number of awards of countless variations on criteria and the knack is rapidly becoming finding the most relevant awards to your project. It’s worth taking the time to do thorough research. Some awards have more credibility than others, and the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards are up there near the top.

This week I had the honour of joining Solitaire Townsend, Sally Uren, John Elkington and David Doughty to share our insight as judges for this year’s Guardian Sustainable Business Awards. It was our job to combine notes on the entries into the Consultancy of the Year and Communicating Sustainability categories.

I obviously can’t give anything away until the big announcements on the 29th April. What I am probably allowed to let you in on is that The Crystal is an amazing place to visit, John enjoyed the fish for lunch, David D may (or may not) have been a fan of The Archers, Solitaire enjoys chairing hyper-efficient groups, thus Sally was able to leave ahead of schedule, and I really enjoyed the return trip across the Thames on the Emirates Cable Car with my extra time. Thanks Solitaire!

Today (Friday 13th March) is also the final day to cast your votes for the Sustainable Business Leader and Unsung Hero. Click here to nominate your choice for recognition.

I’ve judged many awards and thought I’d offer a few probably obvious suggestions for those wanting to get a better bang for their awards application buck.

1. Be in it to win it.

If you’re proud of your innovation / success / idea, shout it from every rooftop you can find. Don’t allow potential naysayers to stop you. It is a great reward for those involved and hopefully exploited to help scale impact. There is evidence stating even critics see you in a better light, regardless of their voiced concerns.

2. Read and then answer the bloody question!

Don’t just use a box to elaborate eloquently on your wonderous initiative. Answer the question as specifically as possible. Assume the judges know nothing about your project and give details and data, not politician-like overly narrative responses to fill the word count and answer the bloody question. Rant done. Apologies offered if required. Judges really appreciate brevity!

3. Read the rules

It’s not rocket science people. Do your homework. Hit deadlines. Don’t go over maximum word counts. Don’t include extra attachments or links if not allowed. At best they’ll be ignored. At worst you’ll be disqualified.

4. Be honest with yourself.

Not every project is worthy of winning an award. Entering awards does require a certain amount of time to enter successfully. If your project doesn’t really tick the boxes asked save your time until you do have something special to compete with.

5. Ask for help

Build relationships with those conducting the award. It’s not against the rules to ask questions about the process or maybe even what has worked in the past. If you’re really stuck or enthusiastic, you can always ask me too.

6. Don’t ask for help

External advice is a double-edged sword. Outsiders maybe an option for writing award applications but they won’t know (or be as passionate about) your project as much as you do. Often naivety will be overlooked if the main details are there, and passion does win favour.

7. Plan beyond winning

Your amazing project has won? Yay! So what? That lovely new ornament needs to be more than a dust trap. Communicate through all your own channels, including sales, customer service, marketing, HR, everybody, just make sure you leverage all added value to justify the allocation of resources consumed through applying.

8. Learn from the ride

Your amazing project hasn’t won? Boo! Don’t cry. Just because you didn’t get to take home the dust trap doesn’t mean you came away with nothing. What did you learn from the process or the winners? Who did you met on this journey? How will you win next time?

Don’t forget to keep an eye on #GSBA2015 via Twitter and the Guardian Sustainable Business pages for awards updates.

Is Social Good Overtaking Cats?

Climate Summit_HubFor the first time in quite a while I’ve noticed a distinct lack of cute / comedy cat posts (albeit somewhat distorted by buckets of ice water) and a stronger impression of more purpose based flashes in the social media world.

My gut, if backed up by more than a little professional insight into the data, feeling is that we may at long last be turning a social good communications corner. The activist world had too long preached at its audience to save the whale / panda / water / energy / planet to only see early plateauing of resulting engagement. Those who get it, got it pretty quick, but the wider mainstream world nodded, smiled and apathetically carried on regardless.

One latest indicator of the turning tide is the latest collaboration between Upworthy, Unilever’s Project Sunlight and the United Nations Climate Summit. In a space where such apathy has held fast, with nearly 10 million engagements – and yes, the ‘so what’ will need to be assessed – the reach is impressive. The campaign aims to ‘raise awareness and inspire action that prompts global leaders to adopt a more ambitious and urgent approach to addressing climate change’ is laudable indeed and I for one will be keeping a close eye on the story as it unfolds.

“With more than 100 heads of state and government joining leaders from business and civil society at the UN Climate Summit, we want to help them understand how much support there is for ambitious leadership and action on climate change,” said Dan Thomas, head of communications for the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team. “Through partnerships with innovative and mission-driven companies like Upworthy, we are constantly seeking to engage new audiences in our mission.” – And about time too.

I appreciate the ethos behind Upworthy, even if I’m not 100% convinced with their format’s efficacy over time, but if very little else it demonstrates both the reception of, and the need for better storytelling, boldness and yes, even playing those mainstream marketing emotional tricks to more diversely convey social good messages.

From the latest press release – The Upworthy community is one of the most engaged on the Web. The average Upworthy post generates 35,000 social actions (shares, likes, comments), which is 39 times more than an average post from the Web’s top 25 publishers. One third of Upworthy’s audience is now outside the U.S., in countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, and South Africa.

With such important challenges edging ever nearer we need those who know to maybe ask more for forgiveness rather than permission in getting their knowledge to the masses.

I’d also like to say a thank you to whomever made the bolder decisions (especially on budget) than usual to explore this collaboration. My optimism is mildly rejuvenated.

Check out this link to find out what all the fuss is about. It’s a no cat zone I promise.

PS – No real cats were harmed during the creation of this blog post, but countless links, images and videos were ignored or deleted.