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SB'16 Barcelona Will Demonstrate 'Sustainability and Business Are Not Only Compatible, They Are Inseparable'

The second edition of Sustainable Brands Barcelona is taking place the 22nd-24th of May. Sandra Pina, director of the event and partner of the consultancy firm Quiero salvar el mundo haciendo marketing gave us a sneak peak of what is to come.

The second edition of Sustainable Brands Barcelona is taking place the 22nd-24th of May. Sandra Pina, director of the event and partner of the consultancy firm Quiero salvar el mundo haciendo marketing gave us a sneak peak of what is to come.

You are preparing the second edition of Sustainable Brands Barcelona. Why we should not miss it?

Clearly, the sense of community and the generation of the belief that changing the way we do business, the way we build brands and the way we act as citizens is possible. Last year we all left with the feeling of being able to overcome it all, with our notebooks full of inspiration, fulfilled and supercharged to face the challenges ahead.

Sustainable Brands gatherings around the world are about bringing together leaders in sustainability and business, to emphasize that not only are these two concepts compatible, but inseparable. The planet demands it, the citizenship demands it, and we gather in Barcelona to prove that it is good for business: Companies embracing sustainability are better positioned to reduce and manage both costs and risks, build stronger brands and improve their corporate culture. They are better positioned to face their present and future challenges.

Additionally, Sustainable Sunday - which is unique to Sustainable Brands Barcelona - connects brands to the people, because only by engaging both will there be real change. Its aim is to share a day of activities to move towards a sustainable future, to prove sustainability is a positive experience for everyone.

What are the highlights of the programme? What is HOW NOW?

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How Now is the theme of SB Barcelona this year. It is about the possibility and the urgency of the marriage of sustainability and business: It is possible, this is how it is done and you can start now.

The Netherlands is the guest country of the conference this year. Why?

We love The Netherlands - they are practical, they transform needs into virtues, they are leaders in engineering, they export knowledge and expertise, they are one of the world’s trade centres. And now the same is happening with sustainability. Also they have the capacity to involve all the actors. Private and private sector go hand in hand. We can learn a lot from them. They are already leading in the Circular Economy, integrating it in business strategies, public policies and laws, and they wish to become the global leaders by exporting this knowledge.

Innovation and sustainability are a priority in their agendas as current Presidents of the European Union. So we added leading brands and companies to the programme to inspire and give answers to the attendees. Markus Laubscher from Philips and Andy Ridley, CEO of Circle Economy, will be joined by Bert Van Son from Mud Jeans, Arratia, and Juan Jose Freijo from Brambles. All of these companies are absolute leaders in applying (and benefitting) from a circular economy model.

What is the key global event impacting sustainability?

The Paris Agreement (COP21) regarding climate change, as it is a cornerstone of sustainability. This month, more than 100 countries started the ratification process at the UN in New York.

However, we cannot forget smaller initiatives that also advance the sustainability cause, such as the study published at the end of last year by Thomas Singer recognising that sustainable products and services are becoming more relevant in big companies’ portfolios. The weight of sustainability in business grows six times faster than the rest of products and it is already 21% of the business of 12 analysed companies such as Allianz, BASF, Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, DuPont, GE, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Philips… This is also important. There is no dichotomy between sustainability and profit.

Tesla is also disrupting a key industry for sustainability with its model 3. Big changes are happening.

What about Spanish companies? What examples do you feel are most relevant nowadays regarding the circular economy?

Spain, as always, is different. We cannot say the country as a whole has sustainability as a priority. But as is always the case, some innovative companies are doing great, with advances in sustainability recognised in the international scene. Acciona, Gas Natural, Abertis and 20 others rank on the RobecoSam sustainability yearbook.

At the entrepreneur level, there are also very interesting initiatives. We do, however, need to raise a greater level of awareness in government and SMEs, and implement sustainability strategies, or we will be left behind in regard to innovation, creating employment and a better future for everyone. That said, I am confident we will have disruptors that will become global leaders.

What companies do we need to keep in mind?

EcoAlf creates clothing and accessories completely from recycled materials. It has positive impact around the world, delivering ethical products and services in a circular model. It caters to a high-end market with its ‘trashion’ concept.

Axioma Solucions created a perfect circular economy product for the health industry and is seeing the results of its global impact. It proves the need, success, and viability of the circular economy.

The colourful stone-inspired Eco Line countertops by Silestone, of the Cosentino group, was researched and designed for sustainability and is made of over 50% post-consumer and post-industry waste.

Zicla converts waste materials into business opportunity by promoting, designing, and selling recycled construction products.

Aqualogy jumped towards circular economy with its global integrated water solutions. Its solution has minimal implementation cost and drastically reduces maintenance needs while improving service and positive environmental impact through generation of 100% clean and renewable energy.

And these are only a few examples of what is going on in Spain in sustainability.

How did the relationship between Sustainable Brands and Quiero salvar el mundo haciendo marketing come to be?

I co-founded Quiero, which organizes SB Barcelona, on the principle of wanting to save the world through marketing. Quiero salvar el mundo haciendo marketing communicates, innovates and investigates to create solutions which promote sustainable development.

We advise companies that intend to protect the planet’s resources and inspire reduction, if not elimination, of waste.

Through educational programs and other projects, Quiero works with the likes of Coca-Cola, Labels for Your Planet, IKEA, Asociación Semilla, Madrid City Council, UNICEF, Grupo VIPS and more to empower at-risk youth and everyday people and to promote responsible and eco-friendly consumption.

We want businesses to develop in ways that respect the environment by implementing best practices in sustainability and efficiency to minimise environmental impact, to be a social company committed to society and especially to local communities.

Naturally, our involvement with the Sustainable Brands was a perfect fit.

Sustainable Brands Barcelona will be held in May. Sustainable Sunday (22nd of May) in CosmoCaixa, with the conference (23rd and 24th) at Campus Norte de IESE in Pedralbes. Tickets are now on sale.