Day 1 highlights
1. It's important to celebrate the wins
There's clearly extraordinary work to be done in securing a sustainable future. But as Co-Founder of Global Optimism Tom Rivvett-Carnac reminded us during the summit's opening address, we shouldn't lose sight of the progress that’s been made. For example, with the price of renewable energy now lower than fossil fuels, it is at-last cheaper to address climate change than to make it worse.
UN-led Commitments like Race to Zero are also taking into account the systemic nature of these challenges.
2. Some of the biggest problem areas are hiding in plain sight
Particularly in terms of carbon emissions and environmental impact, some aspects of modern life and even entire industries can be overlooked as attention remains fixed on emission contributors like air travel and energy production.
The construction industry is “one of the most underrepresented in the Race to Zero,” and has “the most catching up to do.” In fact, 50% of a building’s carbon footprint occurs during the construction process, and construction waste makes up about 30% of landfills around the world.
Tim Coldwell, President of the B-Corp Certified Chandos Construction, shared how the company plans to lead by example, through sourcing from net-zero raw material suppliers, and even including carbon-per-unit cost in the company’s pricing operations.
In terms of the challenges to sustainable urban living, Techem CEO Mattias Hartman underscored how a lack of measurability makes some carbon-heavy aspects of everyday life nearly invisible to most people. Hartmann said our cars actually provide a simple model to follow in terms of real-time data:
“When we step on the gas, we know how efficient our driving is. But most people have no idea how efficient their homes are. Digitization of buildings is necessary to achieve this.” - Techem CEO Mattias Hartmann
Regarding agriculture and the economics of transforming our food system, Karel Blockmans, CTO of Biobest group advocated for more transparency in the food supply chain. As Karel said, “Everytime you pick a product off the supermarket shelf, you are voting for a particular food or agricultural system.”
All great reminders that sometimes global transformation starts with addressing problems in our own backyards.
3. There is still a carbon-intensive elephant in the room
In terms of common threads, digitization dominated the day – from supply chains to new agricultural tools and everything in between. No surprise — at Kin + Carta, we’re big believers in the power of digital tools. But one question that went unanswered, and largely unasked, continues to linger:
What about the impact of those tools?
How do we ensure that true sustainability lives at the core of solutions themselves, and not just the outcomes they aim to create?
How can a systems-mindset help us avoid developing shortsighted products and experiences? Whether that’s prioritizing efficient technologies like cloud-native data platforms or taking an empathetic accessibility-first approach to design, evaluating the impact of every decision must become a force of habit.
From the boardroom to the server room, lasting transformation is only possible when people, culture and technology all work in harmony.
Like any ecosystem, nothing exists in isolation.
Which is why these opportunities to come together, share ideas and challenge one another are so important. It takes everyone.