ARTICLES

We curate and feature conversations and articles co-created with many friends, colleagues and forward focused collaborators. Talented guest writers, thinkers, luminaries and thought leaders who are passionate about New Zealand Innovation and Sustainability.

We have a brilliant team of fellow collaborators who help us write and spread new and emerging ideas on innovation in New Zealand.

Contact us if you wish to contribute a topic or to collaborate with us to write one.

Innovation meets Sustainability

…answering Vincent Heeringa's rhetorical question...

“If we are to galvanise consumers and voters in more than virtue signalling, climate change and biodiversity need a better story. Do you know of one?” Vincent Heeringa, Anthem, Executive Director – ‘Climate Change has a PR Problem’. Idealog Dec 2018

Thanks for asking Vincent…yes…yes…I think I do!

 

Returning to New Zealand, after an 8 month ‘gap year’, has been quite a refresh of the mind, body and soul. It was planes, trains and automobiles…mixed with all forms of public transport imaginable. AirBnB’s through Mexico, USA, EU and Asia… The finale was an Innovation meets Sustainability presentation I gave at a Surabaya School in Indonesia.

My ‘gap year’, a name that makes my friends chortle knowingly, perhaps due to the fact that I am not a twenty-something millennial trying to find myself, was punctuated by visits to innovation and sustainability thought leaders and luminaries in many cities around the world.

Returning to New Zealand has coincided with relocation from Auckland to Christchurch…in my opinion…the ‘sweet spot’ for innovation and sustainability in New Zealand.

I was especially excited to get-back-into the NZ national business conversation about Innovation…and its increasingly explicit links to Sustainability.

Vincent Heeringa, Executive Director, Anthem and one of my all-time-favourite story-tellers, innovation commentators, innovation practitioner in his own right and great all-round person, published one of the first articles I read on my homecoming. ‘Climate Change has a PR Problem…’. His Idealog article finished with a question:

“If we are to galvanise consumers and voters in more than virtue signalling, climate change and biodiversity need a better story. Do you know of one?”

Yes…I think I do have the start of a much better story…

Remember when the shiny-new-toy in the New Zealand national business conversation was Innovation? Before the Knowledge Wave in the early 2000s…

We quickly reached consensus on many things’ innovation. Self-evident truths that today that are taken completely for granted. Such as; Innovation thrives when people and projects are recognised, when great ideas are implemented, when we embrace failure and learn the valuable lessons.  Above all else that we must celebrate success. Our own success and the success of other innovators…

Innovation and Sustainability are now explicitly linked globally. I’ll be writing about that next time. The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals give businesses of every size the framework to implement ideas with big impact. And to measure and report progress as part of the United Nations Global framework.

The PR problem with Climate Change is that it is a deeply saddening and complicated. The doom and gloom is endless and far-reaching. There is really bad stuff happening all over our shared planet. There is little incentive to be the first mover. In New Zealand we all feel a little bit disconnected from the realities our shared planet.

So, let’s take the innovation communication basics and apply them to communication around Climate Change…or to Climate Action as per the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13/17.

Climate Action thrives when people and projects are recognised, when great ideas are implemented, when we embrace failure and learn the valuable lessons it brings. Above all else when we celebrate our successes and the success of others… 

So, can we now please, collectively as a New Zealand business community, agree on starting the Sustainability and Climate Action story with the celebration of success…

I was thrilled, on my return to NZ, to see that Rachel Brown, CEO and Founder of the Sustainable Business Network, has been awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for her leadership of Sustainability in business for so many years. Brilliant!  I also applaud her for recognising that the power business has, can and must be, harnessed to combat Climate Change through positive action.

And to answer your question Vincent…

Let’s treat positive Climate Action and Sustainability, undertaken by business, as the zenith of innovation…because that is what it is….

Let’s celebrate the wins, long and hard. Let’s learn from our mistakes…let’s encourage and inspire each other…

Let’s collaborate…and let’s make sure we win.  We’ve got this…we are New Zealanders.