Attending the WBCSD Liaison Delegate Meeting in Montreux, has provided me with the incredible opportunity to gain insights into sustainable businesses solutions developed by companies worldwide. Moreover, I had the chance to connect with likeminded people that are working in the field where I see my future career. It was very interesting to hear about how they got interested in sustainability in the first place and then decided to move into this area. In recent years, I have always been very interested in sustainability, but I did not know about many of the opportunities to combine business and sustainability in your profession. Now, I am very inspired by several people I have met and this experience has definitely made my career goals clearer.
The beautiful nature in Montreux surrounding the conference centre served as a special motivation to take action against climate change. Located directly by Lake Geneva surrounded by mountains whose tips were still covered with snow, the setting was fascinating and luckily the weather gifted us with loads of sunshine. However, climate change means that the nature around us will inevitably change – therefore, the beautiful setting was another reminder for the need of going “from action to implementation”.
Especially interesting to me were the sessions about sustainable lifestyles, which addressed areas of our lives that can be transformed in order to limit carbon emissions. However, even though the WBCSD’s message is to eat less meat, their catering included meat options during all days of the meeting. Whilst studying the Vision 2050 policy document as part of a module at university, I already found it very interesting that it does not talk in any sense about animal farming as one of the major causes of greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) claims that animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions (2006), however, more recent research by World Watch reveals an impact of an even greater extent: livestock and their by-products are causing “at least 32,564 million tons of CO2 per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emission”. Due to these facts, it makes me wonder that if not even members of the WBCSD can change their consumption patterns, how is the rest of the world supposed to understand that there needs to be a drastic reduction of meat consumption in order to significantly limit climate change?
Nevertheless, even though I was sceptical towards the actual commitment of the companies attending the WBCSD LD Meeting in the beginning, I got the impression that their engagement was clearly demonstrated during the conference. Instead of only presenting generic information, working groups were offered to attendees to individually work on sustainable developments for their respective businesses. The passion and efforts I have seen during these sessions make me hope for a better future – if more and more companies will actually move away from business as usual, their collective power will be able to change towards a better world. It is still a long way to go for this to happen, but the first steps are finally being made.
written by Isabella Trapani