First Impressions! And a framework for the future?

A lil bit about Montreux

Nestled between the cold embrace of two Swiss alpine ranges lies the warm, welcoming town of Montreux.

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A walk by the lake…

Montreux’s city structure is brilliantly planned with each level of the city neatly stacked upon each other. Filled with unique architecture ranging from minimalist, modern homes, to unsymmetrical blocks that stack up to build form modern ziggurats, Montreux’s unique cityscape resembles its multi-lingo population that resides within.

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Certainly an…uncommon design eh?

Most of these eclectically designed homes and business buildings gaze down upon the crystal blue Lake Montreux.

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Gazing at the lake from the balcony of the conference center

On particularly pleasant evenings, one might be fortunate enough to inhale a whiff of the blossoming spring flowers as he becomes entranced with the glowing sunset.

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The setting sun, mirrored in the calm, slightly rippling waters of Lake Montreux

In the evenings, the city is silent and tranquil, but one may hear the occasional joyous sounds of laughter escaping from behind the walls of the majestic mansions.

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The hotel for many of the conference’s important delegates.

Well, these were at least my first impressions of Montreux. Seriously, the place was stunningly breathtaking!

I know many of my blog mates have produced some high-quality pieces of writing brimming with sources from academic studies and journals. However, I would like to keep my blooog slightly more casual.

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Making a new Swiss friend before the conference

 

First impressions

The conference has greatly exceeded my expectations and caught me off-guard in some aspects. I was prepared for a very formal event and was pleasantly surprised at how approachable everybody was. The delegates behaved professionally but were also very spontaneous. The staff was passionate and disciplined, and did their best to accommodate the CEOs and us students.  The CEO of the WBCSD, Peter Bakker, was extremely charismatic and motivational, especially during his speech in the opening plenary. Mr. Bakker is one of the most authentic people that I’ve ever met. In the dinner gala on Tuesday, he sternly reminded the guests that while we ate, thousands of others were starving and urged us to donate to charity. While the general mood of the conference was friendly and casual, there was also an air of urgency as everybody strived to make progress in the name of sustainability.

Between my shifts working attendance and security, I was able to sit in on some of the workshops and presentations the delegates visited. In these meetings, the delegates behaved in a raw, candid and unfiltered fashion. I really got a chance to see how decisions were made and how policies were introduced at the highest level of business.

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The Crew at work. You can see the tip of my head in the verrrrry back.

 

The long road ahead

Switching the tone a little, the WBSCD recently aligned their goals to the UN’s 17 social development goals (SDG). These goals include objectives to eliminate hunger, and poverty, while enabling quality health and education for all. Check them out below:

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Courtesy of  http://www.socialconnectedness.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Screen-Shot-2016-03-10-at-3.05.14-PM-1024×463.png

 

I was quite surprised and skeptical when I first read some of these goals. I mean no poverty, and zero hunger by 2030? Calling it difficult might be a understatement!

However, after my initial critical response, I began to realize that these goals serve as a tool to unite people to the same cause. The first step to accomplishing any task is to first set the goals needed to complete the project. Although ambitious, the SDGs provide a vision and a framework to creating a better, more sustainable world. Because of their difference in structure, and operation, each WBCSD member company might contribute differently to help sustainability. With the goals clear, each member company will be able to enact and supply their own unique way to affect change.

Communication and knowledge sharing is key in the fulfillment of the SDGs as companies in similar industries can share their green methods with each other. There were many mutualistic examples of companies helping each other to save energy and become more environmentally friendly in the conference (Unfortunately, I can’t go in detail too much on this matter). Platforms, such as the WBCSD’s new reporting exchange, will facilitate the information exchange across sectors, and in multiple languages. I look forward to seeing the reporting exchange in action in the future!

There are other benefits to accomplishing the SDGs too. According to the WBCSD, development towards the fulfillment of the SDGs would be worth 12 trillion dollars a year and generate up to 380 million in new jobs by 2030 (1). Sectors that would invigorated by SDG development include food and agriculture, energy and materials, health and well-being, and cities and urban mobility. Such a considerable financial incentive would surely encourage companies to invest more in their local communities.

 

That’s all for today! Today was more of a introduction to the event. Tune in next time for a detailed analysis on the necessity for sustainable change! I will be talking about how the paradigm for sustainable growth will shift to a survival based system!

 

Sources:

(1) WBCSD Official Website:

http://www.wbcsd.org/Overview/News-Insights/General/News/New-CEO-Guide-to-the-SDGs

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