Sarah Battey opened the workshop and introduced Lene Pedersen as the new chair of the People and Leadership Group. Lene and Donald Venkatapen then introduced the topic and the speaker: Dr Lucius, who is head of the Corporate Social Responsibility and Civil Society Division at the European Investment Bank.
Lucius gave a quick tour through the Anthropocene epoch–the period of time during which human activities have had an environmental impact on the earth. It was clear that with the human population around 7.6bn, increasing by 1m every 4.5 days, that there will be a point at which natural resources will not be sufficient.
He showed the stark correlation between the countries which are said to have a ‘good life’ and their ecological footprint, and explained the need for a re-invention of the good life and how we achieve it.
The speed of loss of biodiversity is increasing and we take ecosystems for granted when we have them for free (like bees), and yet they have a value, estimated at $100,000bn. Extremes of weather are often reported, going from forest fires to floods, and Luxembourg recorded its hottest temperature ever in 2019 at 40.6 degrees.
So many questions came from the audience that the breakout sessions were reduced but when the conversations began, many agreed that the facts Lucius had outlined were sobering. However, the three groups came back with hopeful signs in the areas of people, planet and profit.
People: Young people seem more environmentally aware and positive towards companies and products where sustainability is paramount. During covid, there was also an opportunity to reset and find out the necessities of life and what we could manage without. Reduced travel time and flexible working solutions may have created a momentum for the workplace to change.
Profit: There is an explicable contradiction between profit and sustainability, but many organisations are becoming aware of the possibility to use sustainability to promote their business and/or their products. An ideal world would require all economic actors and governments to implement sustainable policies and force the market to tackle environmental concerns at every level perhaps turning sustainability into profit may become a reality.
Planet: Politicians, people and companies are taking note of the need to do something about climate change. As individuals, we often feel powerless, but the general consensus was that we should be mindful of our choices and their consequences. As consumers, we can vote with our feet, and catalyse change through our buying habits. Rather than following the latest trends, we should ask ourselves “is it necessary?” before we make our next purchase.
Jill Saville is an executive coach and member of the British Chamber of Commerce for Luxembourg’s People and Leadership Group.
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The purpose of the BCC Tax and Legal Newsletters is to provide additional regular bimonthly updates of key Tax and Legal developments in Luxembourg that may be relevant to your business. The present newsletters issued by member firms of the Tax and Legal groups cover the period from September to October 2021