Takeaways from The Business Show’s Sustainability Summit 2021 Afternoon Sessions

Editor's Choice, Environment, Irish News, Sustainability | Fri 24 Sep | Author – Business & Finance

The Business Show Sustainability Summit debuted Wednesday 22nd September, to an attentive international audience. Across two stages, some of the world’s most influential environmental speakers debated the severity of climate change, from extreme weather events and trends to the latest warning issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and how this will have catastrophic impacts on businesses, society and individuals.

Host Sarah Freeman, Managing Editor for Business & Finance Media Group, started off proceedings by welcoming the audience to the Sustainability Summit, part of The Business Show content series. She described how The Business Show was launched in 2020 with the aim of supporting industries through the unknown landscape that lay ahead.

“We began by providing expert advice on the best strategies for surviving — and thriving — through  economic uncertainty and today, we’re coming together uniting companies and industries, to focus on  sustainable business and Action the Change together. This is our opportunity to explore and share solutions so that we can all make a positive impact on our future and enable the path to net zero carbon.”

She welcomed the event Founding Partner, An Post, who she described as leading the change in Ireland and creating a healthy environment in which communities can thrive for generations. She also thanked partners Deloitte Ireland, Ibec, Schneider Electric, Bord Gais Energy, Energia, DPD Ireland, HP Inc., OneTrust, Skillnet Ireland, Emovis, IMR, Vyra, Native Events, Common Purpose, Sustainable Business Magazine, Ecomogul Magazine and Business & Finance Magazine.

The Summit is available to view on demand here. Below are takeaways from the afternoon sessions. To read takeaways from the morning sessions, click here.


ACT STAGE


Andrew Lynch, Chief Innovation Officer at IMR joined Keith Nally, Creative Director at Church of Oak Distillery to discuss Sustainable Creativity. The conversation was moderated by Joan Mulvihill, Digitilisation Lead at Siemens.

Mr Lynch discussed the role of creativity in his role at IMR. “I’ve been in this world [manufacturing] my whole life […] If you think about manufacturing, you’re making stuff, you’re building products. 

“For most of my life, it was seen as a solution, but when you look at it from a sustainable lens, that messaging has changed completely […] People are not interested in getting product unless it is ethically derived […] Manufacturing companies of the future will be digital, ethical and sustainable.”

Mr Nally added: “What are the consequences of any product we touch? Any product we create through design? Because it does have social, ecological and environmental consequences.”


This session was follows by a panel discussion from Gary McCarthy, Director of Global Sales Operations, Wisetek, Austin Geraghty, Global Director, Health, Safety & Sustainability, Hovione, and Andrea Cawley, Commercial Director, Automatic Plastics Limited, on the topic of Sustainable Manufacturing: The Path to Net Zero. 

The session was moderated by David McCormack, Director of Sustainable Manufacturing at IMR.

Mr McCarthy said of reusable tech:We are very much focused on IT … Our number one option is getting a device into a state that they can reuse … We are able to refurbish devices and put them back into the supply chain, [or by] remarketing [them] – wiping devices and reselling them […] It is a niche market, but it is something that is ever-evolving. 

“There are a lot of precious metals in those devices … We need to recover those and put them back into the manufacturing of new devices.”

Mr Geraghty added: “Pharma is a very important industry. Medicines play a very important societal role […] In terms of sustainability, there are quite a lot of improvements we can make. One area is pharmaceuticals and the environment […] One area is waste management. 

There are a lot of precious metals in those devices … We need to recover those and put them back into the manufacturing of new devices.

“We produce a lot of waste […] We need to minimise waste and maximise our participation in the circular economy. A related concern is resource consumption […] [like] water and energy. We are an energy intensive industry.”

On Hovione’s sustainability journey, he said: “We have been monitoring our sustainability for a number of years […] We have made real progress in certain areas, such as our use of renewable energy, and our business practices to make life easier for workers […] If we really want to be a truly sustainable company, we can’t just be better at what we do, we have to do better things.”

Ms Crowley, discussing how Automatic Plastics can contribute to sustainability, said: “As an injection molder for pharma […] it is up to us to drive the sustainability agenda … What we make sure we work on is that the positives of plastics are understood. 

“We help pharma companies put [items] into their packaging. We’re very much focused on avoiding ‘green washing’ … With us, our sustainability journey starts with procurement. The clients we work with are open to those suggestions too.”

She continued: “We formed a green mean team … with a number of members across the organisation … going after a list of opportunities. We’ve managed to drive a lot of positive change.

“We implemented technical improvements and behavioral improvements, making sure machinery is switched off … We work with clients on the design of products … We can offer advice for sustainability, such as making sure you don’t have waste [during production].”


Dr. Neil Walker, Head of Infrastructure, Energy and Environment and Transport at Ibec, discussed Sustainability & Stakeholder Capitalism with Sarah Freeman, Managing Editor of the Business & Finance media group

He discussed how regulatory and policy drivers are making sustainability a boardroom issue: “The various committees in my area regularly meet with policymakers,” he said.

He continued: “Our strong belief is that improving the quality of life for people who live and work in Ireland [is important] […] The growing labour skills shortages make this factor even more important […] People want a clean environment […] No one wants to be stuck in traffic commuting every day […] We support the nationwide phasing out of smoky fuels.”

He voiced his desire for the government to “drive greenhouse gases out of the economy,” and said, “the voice of business needs to be heard in the next climate action plan.”


Laura Wadding, Partner, Risk Advisory, and Sustainability Leader at Deloitte, then discussed the ‘Role of Regulation in Sustainability Finance.’

In her keynote, she said: “Sustainable finance is anchored in a long-term ethical vision of financial investing. It seeks to reconcile economic performance with positive social and environmental impact, by funding companies that actively contribute to sustainable development.”


After Ms Wadding’s keynote, Dave Kirwan, Managing Director of Bord Gais Energy, spoke about ‘Our Energy Future.’

He noted that conversations about sustainability have been growing more urgent since we entered the 00s.

He continued: “Today in Bord Gais Energy […] It is absolutely understood we will be judged by our actions […] You never change things by fighting the existing reality […] build a new model that makes the older model obsolete […] The stone age didn’t end for a lack of stones […] We’ll part from practices that have been with us since the industrial revolution by making them [redundant].”


Kristina Moody, Senior Partnership Director at Common Purpose then moderated a panel on ‘Responsible and Sustainable Businesses.’ She was joined by Tomás Sercovich, CEO, Business in the Community, Georgia Heathman, Public Policy Manager UKI, Tier Mobility, and Tony Corrigan, Founder and CEO, Orbidal. 

Sercovich said: “Sustainability has remained fundamental to the business conversation around how to run a business, what products to put on the market place, and how to reorganise your work force.”

Sustainability has remained fundamental to the business conversation around how to run a business, what products to put on the market place, and how to reorganise your work force.

Heathman said: “Tier Mobility’s mission is to change mobility for good […] When the IPCC report was published and recognised transport and mobility as the greatest contributors to climate change, [founder Lawrence Leuschner’s] vision for Tier Mobility was born. Lawrence wanted to curb the impact of transport on city carbon emissions.”

Corrigan said: “We work with about 500 companies each year […] Over the last three or four years, it would be pretty rare for any of those businesses to talk about sustainability when it comes to competing for a business […] Over the last three or four years, I think there has been a little bit of a change where some buyers are requiring some sort of sustainability policy, very often around environmental initiatives.”


Gordon Willoughby, CEO of WeTransfer, ended the day on the Act Stage with ‘Moving From Good Intentions To Good Concrete Actions.’

In his keynote address, he noted that WeTransfer is “proud to be one of the largest technology B Corps in the world,” and said that the group has put sustainability at the centre of the business. 

He spoke about sustainability in the broader sense, not just in terms of the environment, but also its impact on the community.


RESHAPE STAGE


Next, a panel composed of Cllr. Claire Byrne, The Green Party, Mark Barrett, Director, Purecore and Peter O’Brien, Founder & Director, Happenings and Megan Best, Managing Director, Native Events spoke about working towards a sustainable Irish Events Ecosystem! 

Megan Best spoke about the challenges of minimising damage to the environment. She said: “Event organisers in Ireland haven’t been as engaged or as aware of environmental friendly solutions as they could be. Also as an island nation, that makes it more expensive to ship in e.g. solar tech for an event.”

She added that there was a value driven aspect whereby those in the industry e.g. lighting and sound teams, tend to specify really big power requirements which is a difficult issue to change.

The key to all this is the advanced planning of the event. There’s not enough involvement at a very early stage of the sites because the design of the sites is the key to reducing the requirements needed.

Mark Barrett noted “The key to all this is the advanced planning of the event. There’s not enough involvement at a very early stage of the sites because the design of the sites is the key to reducing the requirements needed.” 

He added, “It’s a battle of the creatives and tech guys. You want to make the site as attractive and that’s understandable but if we’re involved in the early states, we can point out certain things.”

Peter O’Brien said, “Collectively we’re like an alcoholic…addiction to a culture which is so archaic and gone. We’re so resistant to change. We’re heading into this crisis whereby we need to do things efficiently and fast.”

He added, “The challenge has always been that no one cares. We’ve only just started to care. The exponential growth of the system, the capitalist model, is now under a magnifying glass.”


Tony Verutti, Head of Global Partnerships & Strategy at Parley for the Oceans, was up next speaking with Pia Hillebrecht, Sustainability, Innovation and System Change: Consultant, Coach & Facilitator for Strategic Development, imPactHill.s about Driving A Sea Change. 

Tony said, “When we think about the big threats we’re facing today, there’s a lot…plastic pollution, climate change, illegal and overfishing. It’s difficult because climate change is not something you can see…So when we looked at what issue everyone would understand, we thought plastic. You see it washing up on the beach. The superstar of this movement to really drive it and help people connect to their daily actions, with plastic you see that.”


Nick Hollis, Sustainability Brand Ambassador at HP Inc spoke with Gary Tierney, MD at HP Inc about Achieving Sustainable Impact Together. 

Nick said, ”While at HP, it was incredible just how mindful they were of the environment and particularly the impact that HP products had, right through the entire life cycle…right from manufacturer, through use, right to the end of life”.


Magid Magid, Founder & Director, UnionOJ spoke with Adirupa Sengupta, Global CEO, Common Purpose about Sustainability & Justice. 

Magid said, “People always ask and say ‘We see what’s happening and we want to do things but don’t know what to do.’ If you’re funny, write about it, if you’ve got money then donate to causes.”

He noted the issue of race saying, “I always think everyone should educate themselves, try to have an understanding of the issues and why people are out there protesting.”


Dr. Gavin Schmidt, Senior Climate Advisor at NASA spoke to Kendra Pierre-Louis, Senior Reporter, How to Save a Planet, Gimlet / Spotify about how to create connections between climate science and industry. 

Gavin spoke about vulnerability for businesses. ‘What risks do you have? If you have infrastructure in flood plains, if your supply chain depends on being able to transport things across the ocean. Alot of different elements will have different vulnerabilities associated with that. 

Having more people talk about their concern about our climate, that’s key.

He added, “Then you need to think about your contribution. If people are going to start accounting for carbon, you need to have that as part of your business metrics e.g. where are you using fossil fuels?”

Ultimately, he said, “Having more people talk about their concern about our climate, that’s key.”


Tom Szaky, Founder & CEO of TerraCycle spoke to Alexis Benveniste, Writer, CNN, about Circular Economy & Partnerships as the Solution for a Sustainable Future.

He said the aim was to look at how we stop extracting things from the earth and make new products from recycled content. 

“The goal is to tighten the circle so we move from a recycling based economy to a reusing based economy.”


Next, Marc Buckley, Founder, Environmentalist, UN & WEF Expert, ALOHAS Regenerative Foundation spoke with Sarah Freeman, Managing Editor, Business & Finance Magazine  about how to Rescue Your Organisation Before It’s Too Late. 

Marc covered a number of topics including moving beyond ESG to Regenerative Economies and Planetary Services, imminent EU ESG Taxonomy and Regenerative Systems Platform business models and organisational success in the Anthropocene. 

He spoke about the cost of reaching the SDG’s. “In order to reach SDG there’s a set amount of US dollars, it’s 90 trillion US dollars had we started in 2015. We’re a little bit behind on that so the number has gone up…We’ve realised that there’s an untapped market potential that for every dollar invested in SDG’s, there’s a 16 dollar return.”


Daniel Gutiérrez Patiño, CEO of Saving the Amazon, and Carol Saavedra Gutiérrez, International Director of Saving the Amazon, spoke to Pia Hillebrecht, Sustainability, Innovation and System Change: Consultant, Coach & Facilitator for Strategic Development, imPactHill.s about Making a Business Model out of Philanthropy. 

Daniel spoke about  leading an NGO that has a social, environmental and cultural impact, how life changing an experience is to have a life project related to the earth’s wellbeing, and making a business model out of philanthropy.

Carol spoke about what the foundation does from a social and environmental point of view, and who their main allies are. Attendees will gain an understanding of the importance of the Amazon in the climate crisis, the indigenous communities that inhabit it, and the relevance of supporting projects like Saving the Amazon.

She outlined some of their topline statistics, ““We have planted more than 150,000 trees, have worked with 265 beneficiaries in our project and have conserved more than 400 hectares of land in the Amazon.”

Daniel picked up on that, noting, “Each tree that we plant is marked with the name of an individual, the person or the company. They get pictures of the tree and much more information so that person can get empowered as a climate warrior. Information on how the Amazon is important for biodiversity.”


The last keynote speech of the day featured Cyrill Gutsch, founder & CEO of Parley for the Oceans who discussed The Future of Economy and the Role of Sustainable Collaboration.

Cyrill founded Parley for the Oceans as a collaboration network for creators, thinkers and leaders. As a new form of environmental organization they are driving towards a new idea of economy: one that is based on collaboration, eco innovation and creativity. Their belief: Purpose is the new luxury.

He described their role and always their vision for what needs to be done. He said: “Expedite this transition from an old exploitative economy to a new economy that is based on collaborative activity and innovation. We believe that companies can drive, faster than any government, change.

He continued, “Because today, the environmental issues we are facing, all the problems that are threatening our future, they’re created by individuals, organisations and by brands. So why wouldn’t the same layer of society solve these problems through innovation, by defining new standards. Doing business today can no longer be at the expense of nature.”

The purchasing behaviour was also changing, he said. “Consumers today are not accepting it anymore that their ‘brand’ is based on any kind of irresponsible behaviour. So the future is really about taking care of the environment.”