Yesterday, Le News attended the 2017 Swiss Global Compact Dialogue on responsible business, in Wankdorf, near Bern. The subject was: corporate social responsibility and sustainability, a somewhat abstract word that means living in ways that leave future generations with a planet that supports human life.
The event was free for media and included a free lunch, so it was hard to say no – there is little money to be made in media these days, so a free lunch counts!
Two of the team at Global Geneva magazine were there too, another good reason to turn up.
Speakers came and went, and as is normal in Switzerland, some presented in German, some in French, and others in English. Translation headsets were provided, however few appeared to need them. In most countries, encountering people of other tongues requires a passport. Not in Switzerland.
One attendee taking sustainability very seriously is Business School Lausanne. They are building their programmes around social responsibility and sustainability. The team there reckons we should imagine solutions and then design businesses to fit (outside-in), rather than incrementally changing what we have (inside-out). Makes sense.
Then it was lunchtime. One gauge of how serious organizers of such events are about sustainability, is the lunch menu.
In 2012, there was a global conference in Rio de Janeiro on sustainable development, focussed on, among other things, how to cut levels of dangerous greenhouse gases. In a Washington Post article, Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton, and Frances Kissling, an ethics consultant, describe how they asked the Rio event organizers what was on the lunch menu. To their surprise they found much meat.
A U.N. report entitled: Livestock’s Long Shadow, shows how livestock are one of the top two or three most significant contributors to greenhouse gases. In addition, climate researchers Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang estimate that livestock account for a eye-popping 51% of greenhouse gas. It is also relatively quick and easy to shift to eating more plants and less meat. In addition, methane, the main greenhouse gas associated with livestock, disappears faster than CO2, so the benefits come quickly.
At another U.N. meeting that one of the pair attended, one speaker, who was from a top environmental organization, unabashedly said that he “could never give up” his meat.
Le News is pleased to report that the event in Bern put sustainability where our mouths were. There was only one lightly meaty dish on the menu. Hash browns, vegetarian vol a vents, vegetable stew and fruit were the main things on the buffet.
Yesterday in Bern, the Swiss chapter of the U.N. Global Compact didn’t just talk about sustainability.