'Companies Vs Climate Change' conference rallies Brussels audience

The following article was featured on Triple Pundit in October 2017. It was written as part of a series by me, as Chair of the first European 'Companies Vs Climate Change' conference in Brussels that took place in October 2017.

October 4-6 saw the inaugural European ‘Companies vs. Climate Change’ event, hosted in Brussels. Launched in the US in 2016, the Brussels version brought together a select group of around 150 senior leaders from a range of FTSE 500 companies based in Europe. The event was carefully curated to support practical learning and collective action by the business sector on climate change.

This reflects a widespread understanding among business leaders around the world that climate change is an issue that can’t be ignored, can’t be tackled alone and is an opportunity to innovate. The speaker lineup included senior leaders from leading companies including ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steel company, SAP, the world leader in enterprise software and other household names like Ericsson, Toyota, Carlsberg, Lidl and Walgreen Boots Alliance.

Some common themes emerged over the three days - including the role of technology in climate change-related innovation, the Sustainable Development Goals as a focal point to coordinate efforts across a companies.

What was most striking was the range of backgrounds and skillsets in the room.

Betsy Reed, Director of Big Sky Strategy and the Chairperson for the event, commented:
‘This event underlined the fact that tackling climate change is now central to the business strategies of the world’s leading companies. They must increasingly do more with less as resources like water become more scarce, global population growth creates more demand for goods and services and temperatures and weather patterns make it impossible to carry on the same way they always have.

‘When you bring people together, their collective input, energy and resolve creates something that’s larger than the sum of its parts. That’s what happened in Brussels...’

The business sector will always innovate to survive, and when their resources and R&D teams are pointed at an issue like climate change, we all have good reasons to be optimistic. After three days of presentations, networking and practical discussions with the world’s leading companies, ‘Companies Vs Climate Change’ Brussels provided a dose of much-needed and very realistic optimism.

When you bring people together, their collective input, energy and resolve creates something that’s larger than the sum of its parts. That’s what happened in Brussels — speakers and delegates shared their time, knowledge and ideas. Everyone made new connections and I am confident there will be a legacy of practical activity that addresses the pressing issues created by climate change. I can’t wait for next year’s conference.’

Betsy Reed chaired ‘Companies Vs Climate Change’ Brussels in 2017 and will Chair again in 2018. Over the course of her career in sustainability, Betsy has done a ‘grand tour,’ having worked in and for government, NGOs, communications agencies, tech startups and large corporates like Nestle UK.