To tackle our biggest sustainability problems, we need to work together. That was a key takeaway of the Leaders in Sustainable Thinking conference, which took place in Mississauga, Ont. in late October.
Hosted by tissue manufacturer Kruger Products, the invitation-only forum brought together sustainability leaders from across the grocery industry and beyond. Steven Sage, Kruger Products’ VP of sustainability and innovation said the aim of the day was to “get more people under the tent and to really focus on collaboration.” Among the attendees were decision-makers from Loblaw, Sobeys, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Saputo, Maple Leaf, Weston Foods, BASF, Grand & Toy and Canadian Tire.
In a sobering keynote address, Professor Richard Matthew of the University of California, Irvine, called attention to some of the critical issues we face, including climactic disasters, population growth, political and economic turbulence and crumbling infrastructure. He noted that while these are indeed big problems, the best way to tackle them is by finding ways to co-operate and co-ordinate our resources.
Unilever Canada’s VP of legal and external affairs, John Coyne, also spoke of what it takes for collaboration to work: structure, discipline and investment. He also encouraged attendees to think more urgently and selflessly if they hope to be effective in solving some of these big problems related to sustainability.
The Delphi Group consultants, who helped organize and facilitate the day, invited attendees to participate in a number of working groups that focused on different sustainability-related areas, such as climate change, energy efficiency, communities, health and nutrition, and products and packaging. The areas were identified as ones in which there might be some overlap amongst the companies and, therefore, some opportunity for collaboration. The working groups allowed for a deeper discussion of the issues and for participants to come up with, if not solutions, then a plan for next steps.
Watch some of the highlights here: