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March 26, 2019
Two years into the Climate Collaborative’s work, the natural products industry truly feels energized. I felt this palpably a few weeks ago at Climate Day, from the way people stood up one after the other to commit to climate action during the session to the sea of commitments companies proudly displayed at their booths to the tenor of people’s remarks throughout the day.
Climate Day marked the two-year anniversary of the Collaborative’s launch, and wow, we’ve come a long way. In just two years, 360 companies have made over 1,300 commitments to act on climate—an average of one company committing every two days.
As companies tackle this tough issue on their own, it’s truly a gift to be able to meet up in person at Expo West every spring to learn from each other, make new connections and deepen our commitments to this work. Last Tuesday, more than 500 industry leaders and a world-class roster of speakers gathered to address some of the biggest climate challenges facing the industry—from unlocking consumer engagement to innovating to scalable solutions, fostering CEO leadership and going deeper in our agricultural supply chains to sequester carbon.
While the industry may not yet be re-setting their corporate missions en masse, I saw a few really hopeful themes emerge in the panels over the course of the day:
We’re seeking progress not perfection, and scary, audacious goals are one way to get us there. General Mills started out the day with an incredibly ambitious commitment to shift one million acres to regenerative agriculture.
We need to break out of silos. Within our companies, we need to work collaboratively across teams on climate goal-setting and implementation and to connect climate to the mission and goals of our companies. We also need to remain inclusive and collaborative as an industry to work together to tackle the common challenges we face, and exponentially increase our potential impact. Our Resourcing Action panel showed that every company struggles to prioritize action, but if we start working together, it can become a lot easier.
Value chain engagement will really unlock impact: Regenerative agriculture, transparent and robust ingredients sourcing practices, and active, meaningful consumer dialogues on climate change are critical industry steps as we look toward reversing our sector’s climate impacts. Furthermore, Ed Maibach’s session showed that Americans across the board are increasingly concerned about climate change and many more Americans choose to advocate for a better future through consumer decisions rather than politics.
We need new, stronger policies: To effectively address the current climate crisis, we ultimately need robust policy frameworks at the local, national and global levels. Green for All’s Michelle Romero reminded us all that with the right policies, “Many of the solutions can tackle poverty and pollution at the same time.” Growth and climate action really aren’t in opposition, even at the policy level.
We closed out Climate Day with Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and Patagonia Provisions–there is truly no one better placed to talk through how companies in our industry can recalibrate their missions to respond to climate change.
“I asked myself, why am I in business after all these years?” said Chouinard. For him and for Patagonia it’s been revising their entire corporate mission to reflect that, “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.” Chouinard urged every company in the room to do the same, quoting David Brower, saying, “There’s no business to be done on a dead planet.”
There were so many other valuable takeaways from the day, and I hope we can incorporate all of them into our upcoming work. More than anything, I also felt an urgency in the room, and a will to do more, quickly. And so as I look toward the coming months after Climate Day, we’ve got a lot to tackle, including:
Launching a new consumer engagement advisory group,
Continuing to grow our retailer climate action group and ROOTED community,
Getting new partnerships off the ground, and
Connecting our network to meaningful pathways toward policy advocacy.
I’m excited to get to work, and thrilled and grateful to have this community of companies and individual champions as our partners in this critical work.
Winners: Our National C+op Grocers Climate Collaborative Awards honored eight new leaders whose efforts are helping to move the whole industry forward. Congratulations to all our winners.
Video: We put together a short video sharing the progress that CC-committed companies are making in their own words.
Source: The Climate Collaborative
Director, The Climate Collaborative
Erin is the director of the Climate Collaborative, responsible for management and execution of the collaborative’s work, including all programming, communications and outreach. Erin has a range of corporate campaigning and sustainability experience. She previously worked for CDP, managing corporate engagement for the We Mean Business coalition’s commitments campaign. In that role, Erin worked with hundreds of the world’s largest companies, industry groups and investors, supporting them in making leadership commitments on climate change. She has also worked in public relations and international development and earned a master’s degree in international relations and economics from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She is based in Brooklyn, New York.
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