In an audience poll on day one of Sustainable Brands Detroit, “innovation," “commitment" and “courage" rose to the top as attributes defining corporate sustainability leadership, aptly setting the tone for the US arm of this global event series that is bigger, better and bolder than ever.
The event took place at the Cobo Convention Center in Detroit last week, bringing together over 2000 businesses and brand leaders, as well as another 1000 people from 60+ countries via lifestream to collectively work on “redefining the good life."
As well as powering the 2017 SB event series with our 100% renewable energy, South Pole Group also had a strong presence in Detroit this year with members across our marketing, sustainable supply chains and carbon & renewable teams in attendance. Our passionate staff spent the week immersing themselves in the 'who's who' of consumer goods, both presenting and participating in sessions to share insights, inspirations and new tools for integrating low-carbon strategies into business philosophy.
An event like this holds significance as it brings important decision makers together in the sustainability debate, with real climate action as a key outcome. The presence of big name apparel and consumer goods companies like Lululemon, MEC, REI, Nike, Patagonia, and Levis showed that a sustainability ethos is now at the forefront of every brand strategy. A key takeaway from the week is a growing expectation that leading companies will increasingly take on “advocacy" behavior as part of integrating sustainability into business strategy and implementation.
In the panel discussion "Redesigning the Fashion Industry," Frank Zambrelli of GCU Fair Fashion Center 'redefined the good life' as a system in which all businesses act as corporate statesmen, working to combine economic value creation with environmental stewardship, social inclusion and sound ethics. This kind of shift in brand thinking, away from climate obligation and towards true climate activism is the kind of bold action needed by big brands in order to rise to the challenges set out by the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.
With this in mind, we shared important insights on the Paris Agreement that businesses must consider in our session, "Life in a Post Paris World: What is Happening, How Brands Can Participate, and the Full Range of Benefits That Await", chaired alongside Robbert Slotten of Philips Lighting.
Hero stories came from big companies like Apple and LÓreal who have made new commitments to ensuring sustainability along their entire supply chain. LÓreal's new product Biolage is taking it to the next level by encouraging salons across the country to incorporate sustainable practices – from using less, colder water; to changing the lighting to LED and incorporating reclaimed wood or living, green walls for fresh air and aesthetics.
Sara Chandler, Apple's director of Operations and Environmental Initiatives shared insights into Apple's effort to achieve a closed-loop supply chain.
Achieving sustainable supply chains is key to the South Pole offering. And in the 'Sustainable Transportation: Tech and Techniques,' session we dived into a discussion about how we co-created a fully functioning and replicable model for serving values-led consumers and building low-carbon communities in the process. Through a multi-stakeholder partnership between South Pole Group, Measurabl and Intuit, the ride-sharing company Lyft has boosted its effectiveness, credibility and global reach, and make a tremendous community impact both locally and abroad. See our presentation slides for insights into how Lyft created an innovative enterprise program that created tangible social and environmental benefits in Zimbabwe.
Our key takeaways from this week: the tides are changing in the consumer industry, and it's the innovative, bold and ambitious brands who see the great economic opportunity and positive social impact that sustainability strategies can create. For more photos, recaps and information about further upcoming global events, visit the Sustainable Brands website.