SUSTAINABLE BRANDS MADRID: INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTOPHER MILLER, BEN & JERRYS

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In between plenary sessions during the Sustainable Brands Madrid 2017 event I sat down with Christopher Miller, Social Mission Activism Manager at Ben & Jerrys, to learn about the company´s relationship with Sustainable Brands and the Ben & Jerrys Foundation, and to ask him about the company´s work on food waste, on GMOs and on the reduction of their environmental footprint through an internal carbon price they instituted in 2015.

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Sustainable Brands, the global forum of business innovators, will be in Madrid from May 7th to May 9th for its upcoming event. Approximately five hundred representatives from all sectors of society will convene at La N@ve to discuss and exchange, under the event´s concept “Activating Purpose,” ideas on ways to advance sustainability at the systemic level. As in previous editions, a guest country – Great Britain – will be featured in the program, and national companies and brands will be sharing their learning experience through cases of success and positive impact. Go-Fooders will cover the event live and will interview prominent companies in the food and beverage industry, such as Ben & Jerry´s, Innocent Drinks, Unilever and The Consumer Goods Forum.

The company of the XXI century has all the tools in the box to take on pressing economic, environmental and social challenges lying ahead, but it is going to take a greater level of commitment to meet them. Despite the fact that the world is better off today than it was fifty years ago, as Swedish academic Hans Rosling put it, there are still various complex obstacles on the path to a more resilient future. In an effort to tackle those critical challenges and to mobilise efforts to address them, world leaders adopted, at a UN Summit in September 2015, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs constitute a roadmap for all UN Member States to follow. And whether or not they can be met by 2030, the important thing is to call to action all societal actors in all countries as fast as possible. The good news is that, thanks to global interconnectedness and the ongoing advancements in science and technology, factors of importance in decision-making processes such as capacity and information are more than ever before at the disposal of those in a position to effect change. Many companies across all sectors and industries are already successfully making use of those assets and setting the example. But, in order to achieve those goals and to contribute to a paradigm shift, companies that are taking responsible and determined action will have to become the rule and not the exception anymore.

Against this backdrop, the creation of fora or collective spaces where professionals of all sectors and disciplines meet to discuss and exchange ideas contributes to spreading out impactful business models. One of those platforms is Sustainable Brands, a global community of brand innovators that aims at redefining the world of business and commerce by means of adopting sustainable principles. Virtually every major city around the world has hosted one of their events. In May, Madrid will host its third Spanish edition, after having taken place in Barcelona for the previous two years. Under the management of Spain-based reputational marketing consultancy Somos Quiero and with the support of Madrid´s town hall as an institutional partner, Sustainable Brands Madrid will congregate around 50 business innovators and 500 representatives from all sectors of society at La N@ve.

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Photo courtesy of Sustainable Brands.

The content of the program has been developed around the concept “Activating Purpose.” In today´s world, where access to information has been democratised, more and more customers demand services and products from brands that are responsive to external inputs and that are committed to self-improvement. The companies that stand out above the rest are the ones that engage in conversation with others and look beyond their areas of expertise when it comes to defining a purposeful commitment to building a sustainable future. Representatives of leading global companies such as IDEO, Unilever, Coca-Cola and KPMG will exchange and discuss ideas on the concept of purpose through the prisms of innovation, leadership and sustainability in plenary conferences, breakout sessions and workshops.

In addition to the two-day professional platform, Sustainable Brands Madrid has complemented the edition with two more programs: Sustainable Sunday and Co-Creating Cities, both of which encourage citizens´ participation. Sustainable Sunday is an event created for families, to teach them about sustainability through music, cinema and other workshops, and it will take place on May 7th. Proyects such as Apadrina un Olivo, in which people are invited to participate in an oil tasting workshop, and Another Way Film Festival, where short films will be screened, will be just a few of the options that families will be able to enjoy. And Co-Creating Cities, which will begin on May 8th, is a pioneering initiative that aims to strengthen the ties between Sustainable Brands and the city of Madrid to foster innovative projects and ideas for the benefit of society.

Stay tuned and don´t forget to follow the live coverage of Sustainable Brands Madrid at Go-Fooders!

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