My key takeaways were that you’re never too young to lead, and never too old to learn. If there is something you care about, just act on it, gather like-minded people, and start an initiative! Secondly, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. If you’re not part of the conversation, you can’t create any change. And finally, you need to work the system. The issues of today are so large and so complex, we need collaborations and systemic solutions to be able to tackle these problems. For organizations this means showing a bit more courage, embracing uncertainty, and being vulnerable in partnerships with others.
Hearing from people all over the world, different regions are focused on different development needs. In Africa and Asia the focus is primarily on education initiatives, though some sustainability efforts surface, for example conservation efforts and plastic removal in coastal areas and islands. In the US and in Europe the focus is much more on sustainability efforts. For all the sessions around the topic there were some specific sustainability learnings, for example from the showcase by Audi. Working together with Nunam, Audi collects batteries that are close to their end-of-life for their primary purpose (e.g. phone batteries) but still have capacity to create a charging pack for rural areas. They illustrated how you can change your perspective of waste and extend products to a second life.
Furthermore, the session on the challenges in the food system taught us that challenges in the food system are closely related to issues in the fashion industry, as both get their resources from farms. Moving forward, effective (global) regulation that supports more sustainable (both social and environmental) practices is a key requirement. Finally, the work and calling from Sylvia Earle, to think of life in the oceans not as something useful but as something we co-exist with, will help in changing the way we approach depletion of the blue waters.