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The Power of True Transformation:
Key Takeaways from SB Rio

Sustainable Brands has arrived in Rio. For the first time, we’ve managed to convey to sustainability leaders in Brazil the spirit of this network, which reaches around 500,000 people worldwide and brings together professionals dedicated to transforming the way business is done. It’s become clear that this is a community where making excuses and whining is not an option.

Sustainable Brands has arrived in Rio. For the first time, we’ve managed to convey to sustainability leaders in Brazil the spirit of this network, which reaches around 500,000 people worldwide and brings together professionals dedicated to transforming the way business is done. It’s become clear that this is a community where making excuses and whining is not an option. It is a space for the constructive debate of ideas, for the creation of collaborative connections, for learning from the solid experience of competitors, and for capturing trends.

All of this could be experienced at SB Rio on May 8th and 9th. According to a survey by the consulting companies GlobeScan and SustainAbility, Brazilians are the consumers who are most sensitive to the topic of sustainability. That doesn't come to us as a surprise, since concerns over social disparity and natural resources are all too familiar to us. Through the incredible verve of Silvio Meira, Chief Scientist of Porto Digital, we’ve also learned that an organization's continuous performance in terms of people, the planet and prosperity is what allows for the creation of a reputation on social networks (through connections, relationships, interactions, meaning and knowledge) and, therefore, creation of the brand. Thus, sustainable brands can only be seen in sustainable companies, and that's what is driving the more than 150 companies that attended the conference.

The necessary evolution in production processes and business models calls for innovation which, at the end of the day, facilitates the opportunities of the New Economy. It is curious to see how solutions can be all around us — in nature — as Fred Gelli, designer and specialist in biomimicry explained: “The largest and richest R&D department we know of is nature. That’s where TerpenOil went in order to find the base for the production of 100% organic clean solutions, developed in partnership with the Ceará Federal University. This is a clear trend of these new times: to contribute in collaboration for the development of a profitable business, based on innovative technology that does not cause harm to people or to the environment.”

Innovation can be as powerful as the one that took shape at Natura almost 10 years ago with the success of the Ekos line. It transformed the assets of Brazilian biodiversity into the company’s main technological platform and promoted a wave of transformation throughout the business, to the extent that the company developed and launched a product (first shown at SB Rio) conceived solely to disseminate the concept of conscious consumption among consultants and consumers.

Just as important as seeking new technologies, as demonstrated by giants such as GE and BMW, is engaging and forming models that allow for a win-win solution. Natura, Walmart and HP gave us examples of how to jointly develop solutions with a wide variety of partners. HP, for example, supported the launch at SB Rio of a new company, Sinctronics, which has transformed the recycling of all its electronic devices in its own business. Through this innovation, the company makes it possible for HP and other companies to increase the amount of recycled material used in their products. As explained by Pedro Luiz Fernandes, CEO at Novozymes: “There’s no such thing as trash. Trash is ill-treated waste.” We notice that the circular economy is emerging in Brazil.

At SB Rio, we learned that entrepreneurship is one of the pillars of sustainability; after all, it allows for the transformation of the future. That is what the founder of Tecsis, Bento Koike, did. Over the past 12 years, he has made wind power possible in Brazil and around the world. The company is the second-largest producer of blades for windmills and actively contributes to the economic feasibility of this alternative source of energy. This reality made it possible for Brasil Kirin to announce at the event its investment in a wind farm that will provide one-third of the energy required for all of the company’s beverage plants in Brazil. It is clear that Brazil is ready to be less dependent on oil.

Considered in the past to be the country of the future, Brazil breathes the spirit of our time. The country is undergoing a transformation led by companies and by society that will guide future leaders — not the other way around. What do young people want from companies and their brands? “Purpose … and transparency,” answered Carla Mayumi, from Box1824, an agency that analyzes trends of youths aged 18 to 24. There is a group of young pioneers who will hack our society and break away from codes that no longer make any sense. These youths establish connections driven by an interconnected world, sharing a collective vision. This is the reason that Coletivo (the Collective), Coca-Cola’s social business, makes so much sense in our low-income communities and has begun to inspire other countries. It was not just chance that the strength of combined experiences at Sustainable Brands Rio 2013 was present in both the content and the presentations. In this premier year, the highlight was the power of the proposal: presenting solid cases of companies and organizations that are transforming the way business is done and building the brands of the future. Done. Let SB Rio 2014 come.

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