Here, have a piece of world-saving wisdom

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this business is that meaningful change requires hardcore science and a lot of borderline unreasonable optimism.

I had the pleasure of being a selected panelist on the BCorp Leadership Development day held in Sydney on 27th September. #BLD17 was dedicated to get BCorps in the same room, sharing stories, tips and lessons to enable fellow companies to consolidate their profit & purpose business models.

I sat on a panel with Saxon Wright, CEO of the amazing Pablo & Rusty’s Coffee, Luke Heilbuth, head of strategy at BWD Creative, and Verity Lomax, Associate at Spark Strategy. Sitting next to such diverse insight and experience, my nerdy inner scientist felt rather intimidated facing the watchful eyes and burning ears of a room full of people. We shared our reflections on accelerating change towards a more sustainable society, where sustainable consumption is mainstream. We faced uncertainties in current paradigms and the unbelievably fast pace at which technology is evolving towards shared, digital economies.

The insights I offered come from lessons learnt here at Edge. Our projects, colleagues and clients consistently offer a better understanding of what a future of sustainable production and consumption might look like.

Want to positively contribute to green growth and leverage from being kind to the planet and society to gain the commercial upper hand?

Here are three core messages from a sustainability scientist:

Harness the science. Science is the only reliable way to measure and track the good we’re proposing against the environmental and societal impacts.

Example: A product manufacturer that uses metrics to model actual impacts to curate its supply chain and manage its risks can work to minimize impacts and can make verifiable claims. For instance, “ethically sourced” or “low carbon” is either auditable or futile.

Adopt positive symbolism. Positivity will drive motivation, buy-in and attractiveness.

Example: The fight against climate change mostly leverages urgency, fear and photos of starving polar bears and a world ablaze. These images make citizens reluctant and uncomfortable and scare off our weak-ass politicians. As a result, fighting climate change has been mostly about dreading the consequences rather than in understanding it’s the ethical thing to do. On the contrary, something like marriage equality has been quite easy to uptake by a lot of decent people because it’s about acknowledging love for what it is and supporting basic rights of fellow citizens. Plus: the rainbow flag is a cheerful thing.

Focus on the big awesome target. This is what makes small contributions great.

Some companies want to only operate on the basis of fair trade or on being the best workplace for their employees or on providing waste-free or carbon alternatives to more impactful consumption habits. And maybe they make pallets, coffee cups, or are a team of 15 consultants in the world of multinational giants, but focussing on the big picture makes them meaningful.

The feedback from the audience was overwhelming – and I mean exactly that, the bottom line of every question was basically “how do we save the world?”. Their yearning, goodwill and inquisition into best practice was the case in point for the message I wanted to drive home.

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