Sustainability Leaderz* Congress

*At least that's how they've spelled it in their URL - guess it is to help it appeal to the kidz. Not sure it will. 


I have had several emails inviting me to come along to the 2018 Sustainability Leaders Congress, a two day event (in Berlin). I'm not sure how they think TGT has £900 (plus transport and accommodation) to spend on this and how it would be relevant to our work. I would love to go though, because these sorts of events fascinate me, as do the people working in this 'industry' - their framing not mine. 

It is easy to be skeptical about the genuine sustainability interests of some of the companies represented on the worryingly un-diverse panel of speakers they've lined up. And I get that being a Sustainability or CSR lead at Dell, Coca-Cola, Diageo, L'Oreal, Volkswagen, Mars, Nestle or Carlsberg must be a very tricky job. But, we need these companies to fundamentally change the way they operate if we are going to get anywhere close to genuine progress on Sustainability. To be honest, I am glad they are even trying. If the congress needs some folk in the room who can report on the impacts of Climate Change on real people right now, I would be glad to join a delegation of front line NGO professionals. 

What always interests me in meeting people who work in these jobs is the extent of their personal commitment to the task in hand. I assume there is some level of commitment, or else they wouldn't have chosen a career in sustainability, but on the other hand, leading on sustainability at these mega corporations must get a bit soul destroying; the temptation to walk away from all the head patting and patronizing smiles must be enormous. It takes someone pretty special and pretty resilient to create a meaningful positive impact on the sustainability** of their company.

Among the 100 or so delegates in Berlin there will be a handful of these people I'm sure; they are the ones I'd love to meet - some will be doing absolutely incredible things against all odds. They are truly awesome people, the sort who give the cynical side of me a good shaking.   

For everyone else, I fear this might descend into a group therapy session as they empathise with each other over the inflexible harshness of their corporate worlds... but I truly hope not. 

Sign up to the congress here: it's unlikely I'll be there sadly.

**social, environmental and economic, at local and global levels; simultaneously.


Morgan PhillipsComment