Category Archives: Sustainability

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

Scandinavia Top SDG League

SDG Index Graph 2017

Scandinavian countries lead from the front of a European pack of countries on UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) performance, as published in the latest SDG Index for 2017. The UK stands at a respectable 10th in the league table, with the USA floundering down at 25th.

The keyword for this year in the SDG Index is ‘spillover‘.

‘In this year’s report we note that development patterns of the rich countries
may generate adverse “spillovers” that may hinder the ability of poorer countries’ to achieve the SDGs. For example, the high consumption levels, banking secrecy and tax havens, and weapons exports, by the rich countries may severely inhibit sustainable development in poorer and more vulnerable countries. On the other hand, international development finance by high-income donor nations also directly supports the SDGs.

There is also mention of the emerging phase of SDG development around cities based agendas, with a preliminary SDG Index and Dashboard for Cities being launched in the United States. Obviously our very own rapidly accelerating Liverpool city region SDG movement will be keen to engage and learn to improve our own performance too!

Take a read of the report for yourself via the SDG Index website here.

 

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?

 

 

Want A Path To A Heroic Future? Now?

Try as you might, it’s hard to avoid the imposition of doom, gloom and political madness, now more than ever. Whether it’s Donny ‘Cable TV Host’ Trump, How The F*** Brexit, Everybody Elses Climate Change, How Do I Pay The Bills or just the damn cold and rain outside.

It is also hard, even with the increasing awareness, advice and efforts, to see past our preconceptions, education, life experiences and personalised media bubbles.

But, there are those that are particularly, and occasionally spectacularly adept at focusing forwards. One of those has to be Alex Steffen, who recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, that even inspired my own credit card into action.

Want to know what the future could look like, and more importantly how to make it happen? It is maybe easier than you think…

“I believe it’s literally true that we can’t build what we can’t imagine. The fact that we haven’t compellingly imagined a thriving, dynamic, sustainable world is a major reason we don’t already live in one.

Our challenges are epic. If building a better world seems out of our reach, then we need to become people who can reach farther. We extend that reach by embracing bigger visions. To become people capable of doing heroic things together, we have to envision a heroic future. That’s the mission: finding that heroic future, and the paths we take to get there.”

 

Heroic. Together. Now. Start. Be Bold. Fail. Learn. Improve. Repeat.

For more about Alex check out his website at www.alexsteffen.com

 

 

 

Paper Feels Better Than Digital Ever Can

 

Online content is like the sugar rush of the fast food world. It just can’t satisfy like a good book, magazine or paper can.

There’s really nothing like a good read away from a damn screen.

Yes, it’s a tougher business proposition in today’s online micro-attention over saturated world of news, gossip and marketing, but the feel, smell and ease-on-the-eyes of paper will always have a place in my heart.

The great local folks at Ethos Magazine are edging close to the end of their Indiegogo campaign and I’ve promised to give them a quick shout out.

The face of global business is changing. Our world is full of amazing people achieving brilliant things, and Ethos Magazine tells their story… This crowdfunding campaign asks you to share in our passion and purpose and bring Ethos magazine to glorious, printed life.

Watch the video below. Support if you can. Please share where you can, or just reach out directly to Andrew, Fiona, Patrick and the team to explore connecting to some great entrepreneurs and communicators.

www.ethospaper.com

 

 

 

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!)