With a dance performance and an interactive activity as its final keynote session, Sustainable Brands 2019 in Detroit ended in a creative way, wildly different from the way it started.
The session, “Dancing with the Future: The Science and Art of Human Cooperation,” alternated dance performances about the environment and human cooperation with an audience activity. Attendees were separated into small groups for the activity, where they discussed the extent they were willing to sacrifice long-term resources for future generations to build more wealth now.
But before that, Great Lakes Now attended sessions on water challenges and sustainability policy.
“People need to love water,” said Matt Welch, director of operations for Circle of Blue, in “Pooling World-Class Expertise, Innovation and Creative Partnerships to Solve a Range of Water Challenges.”
“You can’t teach people to love,” he said. “It’s got to be part of everything you’re doing.”
Jan Peelan, the infrastructure and environment advisor at the Netherlands Embassy, talked about the Netherlands. Some 40 percent of the country is below sea level,and 60 percent is prone to flooding if not for the water management system the country has in place, Peelan said.
“For us, living with water, managing water is basically our first priority,” Peelan said. “We can’t just sit and stop, because challenges evolve.”
Another session, “The Importance of Aligning Lobbying and Policy Positions with Sustainability Strategy,” looked at the role companies have when it comes to encouraging the government to pursue more sustainability and environment-friendly policy.
“We have a lot of companies stepping up in the absence of government leadership,” said Kristina Joss, the executive director of Salterbaxter MSL.
The panelists also discussed strategies for companies to engage with the public and government on policy issues.
“We believe that this health issue is a nonpartisan issue, and we’ve adjusted our strategy accordingly,” said Sasha Calder, director of sustainability for Beautycounter. “We’re really careful and cautious in who we partner with and how we frame our conversations to be connected… in a way that doesn’t feel politicized and a lot more accessible.”
“People have very different ideas about what matters the most and how they show that,” she added.