As the COP26 summit comes to a close, I've taken some time to reflect on my learnings.
Firstly, the summit has only solidified my belief that collaboration is our strongest tool in mitigating the climate crisis. While there is hesitancy around the level of action that will eventuate from the commitments made, it is undeniable that collaboration must underpin change. No individual, organisation, industry or country can tackle climate change alone.
The concept of competition means nothing to our warming atmosphere. The pervasive impact of its devastating floods, storms, droughts and rising seas, are, without prejudice, impacting our global communities. There is no leniency for countries closest to net-zero, nor vengeance for those with the highest emissions. And yet, what has become even more prevalent from the global media coverage throughout COP26, is that almost always, the communities most negatively impacted by climate change are those least responsible. This must be addressed, and I believe that collaboration and collectivism have a primary role to play.
Over the last few weeks especially, I've found myself in passionate discussions with an array of industry leaders across sectors, outside of the beauty industry where I usually operate. I've come to realise that many companies are concerned that by diverting their focus to sustainable business practices, that this will negatively impact their profits. However, we have built sustainability into our business from its inception, proving that sustainability and success can go hand in hand - as demonstrated by many other big businesses such as Patagonia and Unilever.
What has become clear to me, is that we cannot continue to think, strategise and operate in the same way and expect change - it requires a new way of thinking. It's about understanding that collaboration - the sharing of ideas, innovations and IP - will actually strengthen all businesses involved, not weaken them. Last month, we released the IP surrounding Emma Lewisham's world-first achievements in climate positive and circular-designed skincare. We shared our refillable packaging moulds, returns and recycling processes, and carbon calculation guides.
Despite these being IP that we had heavily invested in as a business, we understand how essential collaboration is for progress. And, I know that we will need collaboration from other businesses as we move forward. Through collaboration, we have an opportunity to expedite the increase of our social, environmental and financial impacts - the triple bottom line. I urge business leaders not to be afraid of collaboration - it will not negatively impact your profits but it will positively impact our future.
I also believe that simplicity is essential. Within the sustainability space, complex language and difficult-to-understand terminology are constantly making critical conversations exclusionary. For wide-scale change, we need everyone to understand and be included in every climate-related conversation. As more businesses, consultancies and people of influence drive discussions, I urge them to consider the accessibility of the language they use.
If there is complex terminology, is there a good reason for it? Is it adding to, or taking away from the percentage of people who can engage with the conversation? Is there an assumption of understanding? And, if complexities are relevant, are they being explained so that people can be educated and empowered to enter the discussion? To redirect the current course of climate change, we need everyone.
Finally, a point around which I feel incredibly restless, and that has been discussed countless times over the course of the COP26 Summit, is the rapid rate at which we need carbon reductions. We no longer have the luxury of time. The commitment to Net-Zero by 2050 appears to be allowing many leaders to procrastinate around the problem instead of proactively leading us towards bold and purposeful solutions.
To keep our planetary boundaries from crossing their critical tipping points, we must make clear, concise, measurable and timely strategies to rapidly reduce our impacts. While I believe that on an individual level we should all be doing absolutely everything that we can - buying well and buying less, repairing and reusing more, supporting local, and as much as possible eating plant-based diets - there is no escaping the responsibility of global governments to put stringent policies in place that will expedite the transition to a net-zero economy.
And, while businesses should be proactively taking action, as policies are put in place, organisations should use these as a platform from which to take rapid action. There is a growing swell from the ground up but I strongly believe that we also need leadership and examples from the top down. We need faster and larger emission reduction targets and strategies that are backed up by legislation and mandated by leaders who will be relentless in their pursuit of achievement. We are committed to halving the inherent carbon emissions of our products by 2023 and cutting them as close to zero as possible, by 2030.
Sustainability is, and must always be a journey - however it is one that demands that we run, not walk. I am not perfect, nor is my business, however in both, I remain committed to learning and leading boldly with the knowledge that I have.
I feel proud to be paving the way in circular and certified climate positive beauty, however, I feel equally as proud of how we are doing it - with our actions centred around creating measurable change and underpinned by collaboration. I strongly believe that collaboration and collectivism are our way forward.
We live on one planet - and we have one chance to unite and decide what our future is going to look like.