Last week’s third annual Sustainability Week at Planet Mark-certified The Hospital Club has been described by organisers as “the best ever”
“We launched Sustainability Week three years ago with the aim of generating a meaningful dialogue about global sustainability issues,” said Sue Walter, CEO of The Hospital Club. “The creative and business industries have an important voice in this space, with a huge audience, and we are delighted with their passion for the subject and the way in which they have taken ownership and fully engaged with the event. Each year we have seen this level of engagement grow, and this year has been the best year ever with thought provoking content and fantastic speakers and panellists.”
A varied schedule of daytime and evening events throughout Sustainability Week 2015 saw lively and informative discussions, workshops, performances and screenings on themes ranging from climate change, smart cities, green enterprise, sustainable food and communications. Highlights included a hotly debated session on climate change, which brought together experts from the Grantham Research Institute and The Climate Group and posed the question “why are we still dithering?”. Another, ’Me Myself and Why?’ triggered a powerful call to action from celebrity activist Bianca Jagger, who urged citizens to “hold their governments to account” on climate change ahead of crucial climate talks in Paris next week.
Elsewhere, leading figures from the built environment industry, including UK Green Building Council chief executive, Julie Hirigoyen, and Rebecca Pearce, CBRE EMEA head of Sustainability, unpicked some of the solutions that could help cities best adapt to the new challenges they face, while there was plenty of advice and inspiration on hand for green start-ups from a panel of experts who included Jean Oelwang, ceo of Virgin Unite. Oelwang invited entrepreneurs with good ideas to get in touch with her and encouragingly declared that “sustainability is the sexiest thing right now”.
Steve Malkin, CEO of Planet First, which co-curated this year’s event, commented: “The panels were outstanding, with great speakers and really strong content.The buzz seemed to be feeding through the members’ club and the non-member attendees’ feedback was that The Hospital Club is ‘getting’ sustainability like no other.”
Elsewhere, Sustainability Week, saw presentations from sustainable restauranteurs, communication experts and green entrepreneurs.
Ben Tish, head chef at London’s Salt Yard, explained in a panel discussion entitled ‘Why food taste better when it’s made good’, the reason the charcuterie and restaurant group is acting on the environment, including developing a team of ‘green ambassadors’.
Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of sustainability communications agency Futerra, ran a session entitled ‘Pervasive Communication’, in which she explained the strategy behind successful sustainability campaigns. “The key word for sustainability is people not communications, because if you don’t understand people you can’t effect change,” she said, adding the reason why most sustainability campaigns fail is because “they try to change other people’s values”.
CEO of award-winning energy-from-coffee waste start-up Bio-bean, Arthur Kay, advised in a session focusing on sustainability and entrepreneurs that the best way to tackle climate change was city by city. “Climate change comes from a handful of mega cities so changing just one can change the world,” he declared.
Alongside the more serious business of sustainability, the week also provided entertainment, including a ‘climate change’ themed cabaret entitled Apocalypses, from award-winning performers Desmond O’Connor and Twice Shy Theatre.
Creativity is the key
The essence of Sustainability Week, though, was perhaps best summed up by panelist Charlotte Webster, a communication specialist and founder of artist collective Human Nature Art. When asked what her single piece of advice would be to make sustainability relevant to the individual, she said: “I propose we flip around consumerism to creativity because our lives are better when we consume less.”
According to Sue, The Hospital Club is already in talks about Sustainability Week 2016 and looking to raise the bar even further. “Our aim is keep amplifying the dialogue every year so that eventually it takes on a life of its own and flows beyond the walls of the Club and beyond this one week of the year,” she said.