Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Summary: Session 2 plenary - Sustainable Consumption

A summary by Antonino Serra of session:
11.30am - 12.30pm
Convention hall B+C
Session 2 (Plenary) Sustainable consumption - time for action
Helio Mattar, Founder, Akatu Institute for Conscious Consumption, Brazil
Premila Kumar, CEO, Consumer Council, Fiji
Niall Dunne, former Managing Director, Saatchi & Saatchi Sustainability
Chair: Rasmus Kjeldahl, Executive Director, Danish Consumer Council
A thin line between living and surviving 

One can argue that there were tons of litres of ink used to write about Sustainable Consumption since the issue became an issue, especially since Rio 92. But the second plenary of this CI’s 19th World Congress that addressed SC showed that words and concepts can be re-thought and can pass through new lenses.
The distinguished panel that Rasmus Kjeldahl chaired this morning gave the audience their best ideas to shape what tomorrow's consumers need to have to ensure that the future is not only a word but something real.
Niall Dunne, former Saatchi & Saatchi Sustainability Director, broke the ice and put some good ideas about how little acts and small actions can trigger massive changes. He quoted people like Gandhi, Kennedy and Martin Luther King on dreams and the possibility of women and men acting as agents of change and innovation. He stressed that networks, as we know them nowadays are a tool that along with technology and widespread knowledge can achieve those changes that we deserve.  He also mentioned that we need to use corporations because they are the world’s greatest problem solvers.

Helio Mattar, from Akatu Institute in Brazil, put a frame on what SC should and must be, and he repeated that consumers as individuals have the power they need to be taken into account, but this power needs to be articulated in a collective way. He believes that no company can claim they will be sustainable, because they never will be… it is a long process.

Check Helio's presentation here

Premila Kumar, from the Consumer Council of Fiji presented the audience with facts about what is happening in her country because of the irrational use of resources and the lousy way we are dealing with the environment. Fiji, for example, contributes only less than 0.1 % of the carbon emission of the world but is suffering dramatic problems because of these emissions that were produced all over the world. She mentioned that these are examples of global problems that need global solutions, and that the Asia Pacific region has to find responses, given that, for example, 576 million people are hungry in an area that gathers 3,9 billion inhabitants, more than the 50 % of the world’s population.

It was clear after the plenary that SC is not only a serious affair but it is a matter of great concern, where the line between live and survive is thinner than ever.

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