Learning from Glasgow COP26: The long view
COP26 is now in the rear view mirror. Was it a success? A failure? The fact that the media is trying to form an opinion is a good indication that it had an impact.
As the media circus fades we are left with the long term impact on how people think and feel about the role sustainability plays in their world.
The new era of sustainability. From a strategic point of view sustainability is a driving force. No longer can we imagine a strategic plan with a “sustainability” section, the strategy is sustainability. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are now accepted as a global ethical standard. A key question is how best to prioritize the UNSG’s in a relevant way for any business.
Sustainability is also at the heart of the global cultural conversation. No business is untouched by our need to harmonize our relationship with people and planet. The cultural energy unleashed by COP26 built on The Paris Agreement and broadened its meaning beyond emissions.
Science and technology are key. Competing perspectives and histories will only find common ground in shared scientific understanding: Facts presented as data. A new commitment by China and America plus an increased awareness of the importance of ethical, well presented, facts brings rational understanding into the heart of marketing communication. The creative industry will rise to this challenge and greenwashing will be a thing of the past – as long as clients are committed to action.
Sustainable design and innovation is exciting. Design and innovation in pursuit of productivity, speed and ease of use have dominated industry and consumerism for a generation. Now there is a new aspiration: sustainability. The exciting challenges ahead will be met by design and innovation with the full enthusiastic attention of consumers hungry to be part of a new age that promises to be less wasteful has lower environmental impact and is more inclusive.
So was COP26 successful? Was it a failure? As long as you take the long view it was neither, it was a major cultural moment when nearly 200 nations and people from all walks of life were united in pursuit of a single goal: a sustainable world where people and planet are in harmony. Businesses and brands will lead behavioral change by making sustainability exciting because it is now the key to long term growth and profitability.