COP27 Reflections with Canada’s Ambassador for Climate Change
Earlier this month at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Canada hosted its first-ever Pavilion, featuring 200+ climate leaders and 80+ unique events that showcased the breadth and diversity of Canadian climate action. Hot on the heels of the world’s biggest climate summit, Canada’s Ambassador for Climate Change, Catherine Stewart, reconnected with GLOBE’s very own Elizabeth Shirt to reflect on key outcomes and challenges coming out of COP27, and what’s next for Canada at the COP15 Biodiversity Conference in Montréal (Dec. 7, 2022 – Dec. 19, 2022).
Join us in Toronto at GLOBExCHANGE (Feb. 27 – Mar. 1, 2023) to continue these vital conversations, invest in international collaboration, and exchange the solutions, skillsets, and dollars that will help advance Canada’s ambitious climate goals both at home and abroad: http://www.globexchange.ca/
GLOBE Series updates straight to your inbox.
Top 5 tips for running sustainability events during COVID-19 (and beyond)
By Elizabeth Shirt, Managing Director – GLOBE Series
When I joined GLOBE Series as Managing Director in early 2020, I was super excited. I knew GLOBE had been producing sustainability and climate events for over three decades, and I wanted to be part of the next chapter. After all, we have no time to lose on the road to creating a net-zero, equitable future. I knew that GLOBE events would be where critical conversations and collaboration took root.
What I couldn’t have predicted was a global pandemic that shook the event industry – among many others – to its core. We quickly pivoted to offering virtual events, and were pleasantly surprised to find that many partners and clients were keen to engage us on everything from programming to technical platforms. Our event services are now a permanent part of what we offer.
After two years of virtual events, I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised by what came next: a huge pent-up demand for getting together in person. GLOBE Forum, which has happened every two years for the past 30, sold out for the first time in its history. We had thousands of people register for in-person and virtual programming. With all that behind us and a huge amount of work to do in the next decade, I’d like to offer our top learnings that you can apply to your own sustainability and climate events.
#1: In-person events aren’t dead
After two years of Zoom meetings from our home offices, I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised at the tremendous interest in getting together in person at GLOBE Forum. People REALLY wanted to see each other after all that time, and the importance of human connection really came through in both our ticket sales and the vibe at the event itself.
How do you make the most of this desire to connect, which in turn fuels more collaboration and innovation? When you’re creating your program, don’t just think about who’s on the stage, think about who is in the room. Consider how you can help your attendees connect with each other – not only in your official programming, but outside of it.
For example, at GLOBE Forum we offered recharge lounges, meeting pods, and multiple networking events. These are where the magic happens…where else can a Chief Sustainability Officer of a multinational company get the opportunity to talk policy with a federal or provincial policymaker? Or a small company with big ambitions become part of the climate conversation? There were so many instances just like this at Forum.
For the first time ever, we also hosted an in-demand “Meet the experts” session with our colleagues from The Delphi Group. This was another way that we leveraged our own connections to help other companies make connections that will help them do what they do even better.
#2: If you’re not thinking about equity and access, start now
You can’t get away with all-white manels anymore. We will and should be held accountable for the people on stage, virtual or otherwise. Plus, if we’re going to build a better future, we need to have all the voices at the table – taking into account age, racial and gender identity, and differently abled perspectives.
At GLOBE Forum, we set and met speaker diversity targets. We considered what it really means to acknowledge the land we are gathering on. We also made sure to create space for First Nations leaders — who represent peoples who called Vancouver home well before any of us lived, worked or played here — to open the event, welcome us to their traditional territories, and talk about why sustainability is fundamental to their communities (and has been for centuries).
Could we do better? Absolutely, and we will keep the pressure on ourselves to ensure all our events are as inclusive as possible. If you’re considering an event, we encourage you to do the same.
In terms of event accessibility, providing virtual and hybrid options was definitely a huge step forward for us at Forum. Fortunately, we were able to leverage the expertise we’d gleaned during two years of the pandemic. We also ensured our event was accessible to a broad and diverse audience by providing targeted discounts for students, not-for-profits and under-represented groups.
#3: It’s not easy being green….but do it anyway
Ensuring your in-person event is sustainable is more and more important to your stakeholders – and is even more important if your audience lives and breathes sustainability, as ours does. There are a bunch of things you can do to work towards net zero, such as:
- Select a green venue. For example, GLOBE Forum takes place in the Vancouver Convention Centre, which is the world’s first double LEED Platinum certified convention centre.
- Ensure your badges are recyclable.
- Offer catering linked to sustainable food sources and local suppliers.
- Consider going paper-free by offering your program online only.
- Consider a fully virtual event OR partner with a credible offsets provider to mitigate the emissions associated with in-person events. We partnered with Ostrom Climate at GLOBE Forum to mitigate our event-related emissions.
Our mission is to provide events that are as green and sustainable as possible. We still have some work to do, but asking the right questions from the start is key to making progress.
#4: Go beyond a chatfest…link your event to outcomes and action
The learnings and best practices that people can glean from speakers and fellow attendees at events have a lot of value. However, with less than a decade to make urgent progress towards a net-zero future, we need to go beyond talk to action and impact. This is also what will make your event that much more compelling than another Zoom webinar.
At GLOBE Forum, we not only offered GLOBE Advances – deep-dive workshops on our key themes – but very intentionally built our program around the 10×10 Action Plan: the 10 actions in 10 years we need to take to get to net zero. The 10×10 will be developed out of the discussions that took place at GLOBE Forum and will specify WHAT needs to happen and WHO needs to do it on the road to net zero. These actions will be unpacked at future GLOBE events with the goal of ensuring accountability and impact. Read more about the 10×10 here.
#5: Take 5 after your event is over
There is nothing quite like putting on an event. It’s a high-intensity and high-stress undertaking. It’s really important to acknowledge that and to build it into your calendar in a way that won’t over-tax your team – such as ensuring they can take a breather when the event is over. Think about what’s going to be your best quarter for planning, your best quarter for implementation, and your best quarter for recovery.
It’s also important to define rules of engagement when things get stressful and so that you can stay true to your culture and values. This can really sustain you when the team is going a million miles an hour in a high-intensity environment.
Are you thinking about offering an in-person, hybrid or virtual event, workshop or presentation? We can help!
For more information about how we can partner with you to deliver your next sustainability event, reach out to our Senior Manager, Event Partnerships, Caroline Vanesse, directly at email@example.com.
GLOBE Series updates straight to your inbox.
Net Zero Insights hosted by John Stackhouse from RBC – Feat. Don Iveson, Co-operators
Recorded at GLOBE Forum 2022, this Net Zero Insights video features host John Stackhouse, Senior Vice-President, Office of the CEO from RBC in conversation with Don Iveson, Executive Advisor for Climate Investing and Community Resilience at Co-operators and the former Mayor of Edmonton.
GLOBE Series updates straight to your inbox.
Day Three Highlights from GLOBE Forum 2022, with Mike Gerbis
That’s a wrap! It’s been our great pleasure to connect and collaborate with the incredible community at GLOBE Forum over these past three days. As we look back on our last day together, hear about why we’re excited for what lies ahead on the road to Destination Net Zero from the Chief Executive Officer of GLOBE Series, The Delphi Group, Leading Change, and CBSR, Mike Gerbis.
GLOBE Series updates straight to your inbox.
Day Two Highlights from GLOBE Forum 2022, with Carol-Ann Brown
From the Opening Bell at Marketplace, to Innovation Challenges and Reverse Pitches, to interactive programming both on-stage and online, the second day of GLOBE Forum 2022 blew us away! Catch up with The Delphi Group’s President, Carol-Ann Brown, for more highlights from Destination Net Zero.
GLOBE Series updates straight to your inbox.
A Five-Point Plan for Canada to Reach Net Zero by 2050
By Phil De Luna, Green Party of Canada Candidate for Toronto-St. Paul’s
I have spent my entire career developing technologies to help decarbonize Canada. It started with my PhD in Materials Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto, where I discovered new renewable ways to convert carbon dioxide into fuels and chemicals. From there I co-founded a venture, Team CERT, to scale that clean technology out of the lab and became a finalist in the Carbon XPRIZE. I joined the National Research Council of Canada as its youngest-ever Director where I built and led a $57M collaborative R&D program to develop made-in-Canada technologies for decarbonization. Along the way, I have studied, discovered, developed, funded, mentored, and advocated for the development and expansion of cleantech.
At some point on this journey, I had a realization – technology alone is not enough to get us to net-zero. You can have the next breakthrough hydrogen catalyst or the cutting-edge carbon capture material, but unless you have the finances to scale it and the policies to support it, it will end up on the shelf. Together, technology, policy, and finance are the three levers needed to affect change. Thankfully, many institutional investors, corporates, and governments have recognized this need and are shifting money away from fossil fuels and into cleantech. For example, venture capitalists are expected to complete $7.7 billion worth of cleantech deals in the U.S. this year, up from $1 billion a decade ago. However, this transition is not happening fast enough, as it typically takes 20 years from invention to impact with clean technologies based on materiology, like hydrogen or batteries.
Following record-breaking heatwaves and the recent wake of fires across North America, the urgency to act on climate change is becoming more pressing every day. Unfortunately, many governments are not on track to meet their Paris Agreement climate goals and many, including Canada, continue to invest in fossil fuel infrastructure like pipelines. The International Energy Agency (a traditionally conservative organization) recently published a report showing that net-zero by 2050 is not possible with the continued development of fossil fuel infrastructure and extraction. Their analysis noted that achieving net-zero by 2050 can only be done with an unprecedented, warlike effort to expand clean technology infrastructure. And only governments and policies can work at the scale needed to jump-start this transition. We have innovators developing the technologies. We have investors recognizing the opportunity of this transition. We just need the political will to get it done.
Continuing my career-long goal to help make Canadian industry cleaner and more prosperous, I am now running to become a Member of Parliament in Toronto-St. Paul’s for the Green Party. I’m running because we must move faster to combat the threat of climate change and create new sustainable avenues to renew our society and economy. I’m running because we need more diversity in parliament and more science in policy. I’m running because I want to lower the barriers for other non-traditional candidates to consider running — because a diverse government is a robust and resilient one.
My platform is currently focused on three pillars: supporting our essential workers, housing affordability, and green jobs that are part of a just transition to a net-zero Canada. These topics are deeply personal for me. My fiancée is an operating room nurse at Sick Kids and a frontline worker. Many of my fellow Filipino-Canadians occupy these often low-paying but essential roles. My generation is being increasingly squeezed out of the housing market and is wondering, will we ever be able to purchase a home? Championing cleantech to fight climate change has been my passion, but more importantly, I recognize the opportunity in sustainable jobs. My father, an autoworker, lost his job when Ford closed their assembly plant in Windsor, ON, and I’ve seen firsthand what happens when an entire community is dependent on one industry. And I see the same thing happening in heavy emission industries today. We need to do everything we can to diversify the industry and ensure Canadian families have green jobs that will last.
There exists a massive opportunity in the clean energy transition, as the green economy will be the economy of the 21st century. To this end, I have come up with a five-point plan to get us to net-zero by 2050, one that I hope to push for in parliament.
Step 1. Protect what we have.
Nature sequesters 12 billion tonnes of CO2 every year in wetlands, rainforests, vegetation, and soil. Environmental conservation is not only about protecting the beauty of nature, but also about protecting its ability to capture and sequester CO2 through photosynthesis and other natural pathways. Take for example, recent plans for an Amazon warehouse on Toronto wetlands that was abandoned due to public pressure. Policies and technologies that focus on reducing consumption, reusing consumer goods, promoting a circular economy, and increasing recyclability are all ways to protect what we have.
Step 2. Renewables everywhere.
Solar and wind are now cheaper than coal. The issue is no longer economic price, but rather intermittency. What do you do when the sun does not shine, or the winds won’t blow? This is why it is so important to increase investment into and development of energy storage technologies, particularly long-term seasonal energy storage solutions that traditional batteries are not capable of. Policies that support a 100% emission-free electricity grid are also extremely important. However, we will need to consider initial lower-income energy subsidies when electricity costs may be higher due to infrastructure spending in the early stages of this transition.
Step 3. Electrify everything.
Now that we have clean and green electrons, we need to put them to work and electrify as much as possible of our traditionally fossil-fuel-powered economy. The obvious first beachhead is electric vehicles. Kicked off by Tesla’s rapid rise, light-duty transportation is well on its way towards electrification and mainstream adoption, Among others, Ford has announced they are slated to spend more on EVs than on internal combustion engine vehicles in 2023 alone. To help spur this trend, policies can create incentives for EVs, increase charging infrastructure, ban internal combustion engine cars, and mandate a certain number of EVs be available at any dealership. Another area is home heating and cooling. Electrifying our lived environment will also reduce dependence on natural gas by way of zero-emissions heat pumps.
Step 4. Tackle hard to abate sectors.
Once we’ve decarbonized our electricity grid, we’ll need to address industrial emissions that are difficult or impossible to electrify. Agriculture and the production of materials, fertilizer, cement, and steel – all things that we need for economy and quality of life – produce emissions just by the nature of their how they are created. This is where the need for disruptive technology is greatest, where we need to design and develop new processes that are circular, low-emission, or entirely new. Cleantech is not just solar panels and wind turbines, it is anything that can help reduce CO2 emissions. Electric arc furnaces, geothermal steam generation, bio-foundries that produce sustainable materials, and CO2 embedded concrete are all examples of the next wave of cleantech.
Step 5. Remove carbon from the atmosphere.
To address the inevitable gap between decarbonizing our electricity grid, transportation, buildings, heavy industry, and agriculture sectors –we need new ways to capture carbon from the atmosphere. Whether that’s nature-based solutions like regenerative agriculture or tree planting campaigns, or technology-based solutions like direct-air capture and carbon capture, utilization, and storage – we need to do it all. Policies that incentive organizations and individuals to capture CO2 or promote the use of CO2 in industry (eg. carbon-reinforced concrete) will help create demand and drive down the costs of capture as the technologies reach economies of scale.
The beauty of this five-point plan is that the technology needed to execute it will require the exact same workers who presently make their livelihoods in the oil and gas sector today. We will need pipefitters, chemists, technicians, welders, and engineers to build the clean energy infrastructure needed for a sustainable tomorrow.
And there you have it, Phil’s Five-Point Plan to Get to Net-Zero. Perhaps a bit idealistic. Perhaps some will say inertia is difficult to break, that things are easier said than done. But like running for office, you’ll never get a chance to change the world if you don’t try.
To the Brink and Back: Top 5 Tips on Navigating Your Business through a Crisis
By Mike Gerbis, Chief Executive Officer of GLOBE Series and The Delphi Group
We’re in uncharted territory. This is the common refrain I’m hearing as we all do our best to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The threat to people’s health is real, and so is the impact on people’s livelihoods and the larger economy. The scale of this pandemic, and the unknowns, feel overwhelming. So, let me take a moment to give you some hope as well as concrete actions that you can take now to protect your businesses.
First, the hope: we’re all in this together. And, at the core of Canada and what it means to be Canadian, we are about taking care of the collective. It’s why we have public healthcare and public universities and robust social programs. I have no doubt that that same spirit will help us get through this crisis.
Right now, we are all focused on the health of our families, friends, colleagues and communities. As we should be. But as we emerge from the pandemic—and we will—the silver lining may very well be all the learnings we gained from collectively addressing it. Those same learnings may be exactly what we need to drive the kind of transformational thinking that will help us advance a low-carbon economy.
Next, the actions you can take now. This may be my first global pandemic, but it’s not the first time I’ve come up against a crisis with massive economic ramifications. I survived the 2008 financial crash as well as SARS and the dot–com bubble of 2001/02. However, 2008 was my first time through a crisis as one of the long-time owners of The Delphi Group—and boy, did we make a few big mistakes. On the positive side, we learned from them, have adapted, and are now applying five fundamental principles to steer our companies through this one. I’m happy to share those five principles with you:
1. Respond faster than you think you need to…and breathe
One of the traits that characterizes many entrepreneurs is their optimism. Their positive outlook on growth and prospects often underlies their ability to take risks that others would not. This optimism and positivity can work against you in an economic downturn. It can cause you to see a crisis as a short-term blip and misread the medium- and long-term signals.
Remember, as the CEO or owner you are the captain of the ship, and your number–one job is to navigate your business through this storm so you can rebuild. Now is the time to be more pragmatic:
- Step out of the chaos and really get a sense of the risks (and possibly the opportunities).
- Pick up the phone to your clients to get a better understanding of their challenges and needs.
- Get in front of the turning economic tide by cutting costs, and eliminating all non-essential spending (e.g., new computers).
- Evaluate the services you’re offering, look for new opportunities (e.g., shifting from producing vodka to sanitizer) and pivot quickly when you see oncoming obstacles (e.g., restaurants offering home delivery).
- Work through various scenarios with your finance and executive team, considering even the worst-case scenario, so that you can plan accordingly.
- Gain an understanding of the leaders and critical team members who will help you get through this storm and rebuild on the other side. Watch, listen and see the response—they will emerge, I promise you.
It’s critical to act fast, but this is different from panicking. Make sure that you step back, take a deep breath to get a clear picture and ensure you’re getting the balance right. It’s not just about how fast you act, but what you choose to do—when and, most importantly, how. Your company values and culture are the best lens through which to evaluate your potential actions; acting in line with them is the best way to preserve the foundation of your company and everything it stands for. Using your values as your North Star in times of crisis will also help to safeguard the trust of your people at a time when you need it more than ever.
2. Cash is king
Cash is and always will be king above all else. You need to understand every part of your cashflow as accurately as you can, and run it weekly—not monthly. During the 2008 crash, some of our larger clients delayed paying us by up to 180 days, and some of our smaller clients didn’t pay us at all. Others cancelled contracts with us. That has a snowball effect on a small business because, if you don’t have cash, you can’t pay staff or your suppliers. Bottom line: assess your accounts receivable for risk. Are client payments in jeopardy? Do you need to negotiate? What customer segments have the highest risk associated with them? And watch the sales pipeline: are contracts/orders being delayed or cancelled? What about future sales opportunities—are they up, down, flat?
On the other hand, look to see where you might have some wiggle room in your accounts payable. Reach out to your landlord(s), suppliers and partners and see how you can work together and/or share risks, such as through drawn–out or deferred payments, and/or lower fees. Keep in mind that many of these companies are going through the same challenges you are.
Finally, continuously monitor and assess government programs—such as tax deferral and support for your employees (e.g., wage subsidies)—that are available to you. These can be a lifeline. Learn more about some of the most recent programs announced by the federal government here. At the same time, talk to your employees because there may be creative options here, too—some of your employees may be interested in moving to a part-time role temporarily, if the option is presented to them.
3. Prioritize relationships to protect revenues and drive future sales
Prioritizing the preservation of the company is key, and it’s also critical to keep in place the foundational pillars—partners, key staff, critical suppliers—so that you can get to the other side and rebuild.
As noted above, key short-term priorities during a crisis are to keep the revenue/cash flowing and drive down costs, but don’t forget the medium– and long-term revenues. That doesn’t mean get out there and do hard sales pitches, especially in the short term, because a ‘tone deaf’ approach will backfire. Focus on relationships. Reach out and connect with clients, partners, suppliers. Be supportive and empathetic. This is a time to strengthen relationships, not only because it’s the human thing to do, but also because those relationships will matter the most once you’ve navigated through the storm… or you haven’t. Protecting and strengthening your network and existing relationships will allow you to rebuild faster and more efficiently, realize new opportunities or, if the worst case happens, help you find a new path.
In addition, this is the time to be innovative and creative in how you approach your business and the services/products you offer. While engaging your stakeholders, new opportunities will emerge. Test them with clients, understand the evolving market, listen to and learn from the signals that will emerge from all corners of your domain—political, social, economic. Then, step back and look at the big picture because new opportunities will be there and you need to be ready to pivot. Be nimble and shift as soon as signals show the path that you’re going down is blocked. Also, be quick to jettison a new idea if it’s not helping you get through the storm. It’s all–hands–on–deck, and the waves and winds will come at you from all directions, so be prepared to get thrown around and think on your feet.
4. Communicate, communicate and then communicate some more
There is no such thing as over-communication in a crisis. Even if you have nothing new to report, make sure your employees hear from you often—and that your managers have consistent messaging that they can use with their teams. Any vacuum in the communication pipeline will quickly be filled with rumour and speculation, which only fuels more anxiety in your workforce.
Overall, the best approach we found is to:
- Be as transparent as possible, ideally finding the right balance between realism and preparing them for some tough choices that might have to be made.
- Interject regular messaging that gives them reason for hope, keeps them buoyed through tough times and allows them to connect with one another. For example, I write daily “morning coffee” messages to my full team that are lighter in tone and encourage them to reply to me and one another. For example, one day I encouraged the team to share their best recipes, and another day we shared wellness tips.
- Listen and be empathetic: “we understand how challenging this is, our priority is you and minimizing disruption to your roles, we will update you often, here are resources you can access.”
- Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.
- Always be respectful and authentic. It’s okay to be vulnerable. Your employees will appreciate that you care. Nothing is worse than feeling like you have no control over your situation, so give them as much agency as possible—the ability to reach out to a senior manager, provide feedback, raise concerns or share ideas on business opportunities and cost containment measures.
- Always get back to them if a question or concern is raised and share your response with the entire team so the message is consistent.
5. Take care of yourself
You know that old adage about putting on your own oxygen mask first before taking care of others? It holds true here. Leading through a crisis can take a toll, so give yourself permission to take care of yourself—mentally, spiritually and physically. I’m unbelievably lucky in that my business partners are also my friends and we have each other’s backs. However, I know that, as leaders, it can be hard to find a safe space to vent your concerns and seek support. I suggest you reach out to your peer network as, chances are, they are feeling the same things you are.
I hope these tips are useful. I truly believe that we will get through this by working together and, once we get to the other side, we will be stronger and more resilient. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me at any time if you’d like to chat (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
To continue this conversation about crisis management, I invite you to join our first–ever GLOBE Virtual event: How to Navigate Your Business Through a Crisis. Join me and experts in the fields of HR, financial management, and communications as we share lessons learned and tough-won insights. We look forward to offering many more useful events as part of our newly launched GLOBE Virtual: Resilience and Transformation Series.
GLOBE Series and The Delphi Group Partner with CBSR to Accelerate Canadian Corporate Sustainability Leadership
VANCOUVER, February 12, 2020 – Today the constellation of organizations that includes GLOBE Series, The Delphi Group, EXCEL Partnership and Leading Change Canada, with Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR), announced they are entering into a partnership that will consolidate and accelerate corporate sustainability leadership in Canada.
On behalf of the CBSR board, The Delphi Group and GLOBE Series will deliver CBSR programs and platforms and provide CBSR’s member network with access to additional resources and opportunities. CBSR’s Education Foundation, which conducts research into important issues for corporate sustainability leaders, will continue to operate independently under CBSR’s board. CBSR’s Executive Director will continue in his current role and be accountable to the CBSR board as well as to Ted Ferguson, President of The Delphi Group.
The combined members of CBSR and the EXCEL corporate learning partnership will benefit from closer alignment and more programming options. Both EXCEL and CBSR have been in existence for over 25 years, and their membership includes many of Canada’s top corporations who are leading on climate and sustainability issues, such as RBC, Maple Leaf Foods, Enbridge and CN. This partnership will make for an even larger and unified Canadian network on business and sustainability.
“We’re excited to welcome CBSR into our constellation of organizations. Collaboration between EXCEL and CBSR will bring greater value to our partners and supercharge our ambition to grow Canada’s clean economy.” – Mike Gerbis, executive in charge of the constellation of organizations that includes The Delphi Group, GLOBE Series, EXCEL Partnership, and Leading Change Canada
“This new partnership provides greater capacity for us to reach our full potential and provide more programming options for our members. Joining the GLOBE constellation helps us better demonstrate how doing business like a Canadian means not only being the best in the world, but also best for the world. – Leor Rotchild, Executive Director of CBSR
“This is an amazing opportunity to grow a national network of business leaders committed to making Canadian business a force for good. We are delighted that CBSR has joined our constellation and look forward to driving a leading-edge movement of sustainable business leadership on a national scale and beyond.” – Ted Ferguson, President of The Delphi Group
“The Board of CBSR is thrilled to support these two important networks coming together and we are confident that this new era of CBSR will be even more effective in helping Canadian companies become leaders in sustainability.” – Chris Coulter, CBSR Board Chair and CEO of Globescan
“As a long-time corporate member of both the EXCEL Partnership and CBSR, we’re excited about the new partnership and the value it brings in strengthening both organizations’ opportunity and ability to grow sustainability leadership across Canada, and tell a compelling story of Canadian values and commitment to sustainability beyond our borders.” – Jennifer Varey, Director CSR & Community Investment, Enbridge
About GLOBE Series, The Delphi Group, EXCEL Partnership and Leading Change Canada
GLOBE Series, The Delphi Group, EXCEL Partnership and Leading Change are part of a constellation of organizations that work together toward a common purpose: to achieve a sustainable, prosperous and socially just future in a generation. We provide services and platforms that empower business, government and youth to improve performance while accelerating the clean economy.
In 1995, CBSR helped to introduce Canadian businesses to a ground-breaking idea now widely accepted as a compelling truth: that businesses do better – by every measure – when they operate in a socially and environmentally responsible way. For over two decades, we’ve helped Canadian businesses understand those principles and reap the benefits of putting them into action. Initially, acting as guides and teachers, we also developed into convenors, providing safe spaces for businesspeople to freely reveal challenges, share information and work toward building socially responsible companies and a more sustainable future. Most recently, we’ve become champions for the Canadian approach to doing business; we believe our approach has something to offer the world. As we grow, we will continue to support our partners, in our traditional roles and by creating new tools and unique, inclusive opportunities
to help Canadian businesses and governments make an enduring and positive contribution to the world. cbsr.ca
Announcing Executive Changes at GLOBE Series
If you had asked me how long I thought I’d stay in the job when I first started with GLOBE, I probably would have told you ‘a few years.’ And yet here I am, 25 years and 18 events later…
My tenure with GLOBE is not the result of complacency. Quite the opposite – it’s a result of being continually inspired and motivated to work in an area of the economy that has been full of riches – riches in terms of ideas, people, impact and opportunity. And things in this space have never been more exciting.
It’s time, however, for a change. I will be stepping down from my full-time role at GLOBE at the end of February, and working in a part-time capacity from March through May to see through some important projects and help manage the transition. This is a personal decision my colleagues and I have been preparing for over the past year. I have other things to do, other challenges to conquer, and I plan on taking some well-deserved time off.
I’m excited to share that we have recently hired Carol Becker as the Managing Director of GLOBE Series. This is a new role designed to enable us to thoughtfully move forward in a time of growth and increasing market complexity. Carol comes to us with tremendous leadership credentials, having worked for over 25 years in both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. She has deep and diverse experience in event management, honed through having her own company and managing several others. She has a strong track record of optimizing teams, processes and structures so that companies can innovate and grow. As importantly, Carol shares our values and our passion for supporting and enabling the clean economy. Welcome, Carol!
It would be an understatement to say I’ve been immensely privileged to work with the colleagues, partners, clients and friends I have been blessed to get to know while working at GLOBE. You have all shaped GLOBE over the years into what it is today. Thank you for making these 25 years so richly rewarding, and so much fun!
I’m personally excited to watch how GLOBE Series and our sister organizations in the constellation evolve and grow so that they have even more impact in Canada and beyond.
I hope to see you at GLOBE Capital in Toronto in a few weeks.
Chief Operating Officer
The Restoration Club – An Interview with Sally Uren
Companies that want to change the world need to be a meaningful part of the solution—and not just a smaller part of the problem. Sally Uren, CEO at Forum for the Future, explains.
What can business leaders do to address social and environmental challenges within their organizations?
I’m going to push back a bit on your question, and suggest that business leaders actually need to look beyond their organizations and consider how their companies can put more back into society and the environment than what they take out. At Forum for the Future we call this ambition “net positive”—the state in which you are not only ensuring economic viability, that is, you are making money, but you are also making the world better—ecologically and socially—than it would be if your business did not exist. I say this because the fact is, the stocks of our natural assets and societal assets are dwindling and we need to rebuild them. We just can’t assume business as usual will deliver the sustainable development goals anymore.
That sounds like a tall order, and perhaps a bit tricky for some companies to wrap their heads around. Are some better positioned for this approach than others?
At Forum For the Future, we tend to engage with businesses that understand that success comes from solving complex sustainability challenges in a way that builds value back into the business. Beyond that, I would look for willingness in the company’s leadership to embrace the four principles that we think of as kind of prerequisites for a net positive company.
And those are?
Well, first there’s materiality. Where can your business can make a big positive social and/or environmental impact? What are the big levers you have to work with? Second, transparency. Are you willing to speak openly and honestly about those challenges, and how as a business you’re addressing them? Then there’s regeneration. Where are those opportunities to restore damaged ecosystems, to actually rebuild some of the systems that we rely on? Finally, a company needs to be prepared to embrace systemic thinking. It needs to really understand the system it operates within, and address social and environmental challenges such that it builds resilience.
You’re talking about characteristics that may already be hard-wired into a company’s culture. For example, a brand built on confidentiality and discretion may have a hard time really embracing transparency. It sounds like this is about the people, the leadership, the tone they set, and the culture they create?
If an organization really wants to embrace sustainability, it is going to need to embrace a shift in mindset and culture. Companies and organizations need to really understand that their ability to drive value is inextricably linked to these big environmental and social challenges. And that actually helping to restore the systems that we rely on is a fast track to long-term value creation.
Tell us more about the systemic characteristic of a net-positive company. How might that play out in the real world?
Let’s say you run a business in the agricultural system. Clearly, you’re heavily reliant on the productivity of crops, and access to raw materials such as seeds, and water, and healthy soils. And, if as a business you don’t really understand how that system works and what it’s going to take to secure your supply over the long term, then, actually, there’s a really significant threat to your business. One of the projects that we run at Forum for the Future is called Cotton 2040, where we’re working with a range of apparel brands, retailers, standards bodies—essentially, everyone—to bring them together to “mainstream” sustainable cotton. The organizations involved in that project understand that their financial viability is already linked to the vibrancy and resiliency of the cotton system.
Why is it a cotton system, not a cotton industry, or sector?
Industry doesn’t really adequately capture the complexity of value-creating relationships which underpin the delivery of goods and services to market. A sustainable cotton system that is climate resilient and delivering sustainable livelihoods to millions is much more fit for the future, and far better positioned to deliver on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. So, we can create what we would call systemic change by understanding the levers that might create a new way of operating, a different way of interacting. And that’s what business leaders should be driving for. With incremental change, we’re not addressing the root causes of challenges, we’re just putting bandaids on some of the systems. That isn’t going to deliver the sustainable development goals.
Why did you choose to focus on cotton?
Cotton is ubiquitous, it is in most of the clothes that we wear, and yet it is associated with some really significant sustainable development challenges. It has environmental challenges because it can be quite a water hungry crop, and is also grown in parts of the world likely to be significantly impacted by climate change. There are also big societal challenges with respect to working conditions, living wages, and so on. We also came to this system out of a recognition that there are efforts already underway in the cotton system, but they’re not necessarily “joined up.” If we find a way to link these existing activities – for example, by harmonizing the language between all the different,cotton standards – then perhaps we can create a blueprint that we can replicate across other commodities.
Are we seeing more collaboration between competing brands on sustainability. If so, why?
It’s taken a while, but many businesses are starting to recognize that many challenges—particularly supply-chain challenges—are just too big for one brand to tackle solo. There are areas where you can use sustainability to compete and to differentiate your brand. However, when we’re tackling issues as complex as labour rights, climate adaptation of a global crop, like cotton, then actually brands need to collaborate.
Could blockchain help ensure supply-chain accountability in an industry—sorry, a system!—like cotton?
I’m convinced blockchain will form at least part of the future of supply chains, and it also has applications in finance. It’s effectively just an open ledger that allows transactions to be recorded in a completely open and secure fashion. So yes, it allows us to deliver complete transparency through a supply chain. But it might also be used to deliver access to capital and to reduce the price exposure that smaller players face in buying commodities. Blockchain won’t solve all of our challenges, but I do feel it can help us get closer to sustainable supply chains.
What other emerging technologies are on your radar these days?
I’m quite intrigued in the potential to merge blockchain with the internet of things. So blockchain, actually as an open ledger, gives you transparency. If that open ledger can talk to the internet of things, then you potentially end up with a much smarter supply chain. I’m also really intrigued by this trend we are seeing where distributors can become “light manufacturers,” meaning we may no longer be so reliant on large-scale manufacturing. The technology is now there to move from globalized infrastructure to much more localized infrastructure. Digital printing has really evolved over the last few years and is now used in many different applications. There are lots of ways in which the way goods and services make it to market could really radically change.
I’m curious about what advice you offer organizations and leaders who are ready to take on a net-positive approach. How do you message this stuff?
Communicating sustainability is no different than communicating anything else. It’s about good storytelling, and about making people feel good, and speaking to their aspirations. Don’t appeal to gloom and doom—the sense of what we stand to lose. Rather, appeal to people’s desires to live better. This is about making people feel good about what they’re doing. People don’t want to be told what they can’t do; they want to hear what they can do.
This article is part of our new six-part content series, “Echoes of the Forum”, which provides exclusive videos, interviews, and key takeaways and actions from our world-leading sustainable business event – GLOBE Forum.
Our second chapter focuses on the role of business in accelerating the clean economy.