Since leaving Switzerland my life has been in a bit of a whirlwind, I’ve written a 15,000-word dissertation and finally finished my exams and my university degree. It has only been recently that I have been able to sit down and to properly reflect on my experience at the WBCSD Liaison Delegate meeting. My experience has not only influenced my private perceptions of what sustainability is but also my beliefs about the roles and responsibilities of organisations. I am happy to say that I achieved my goal of learning more about sustainability from the WBCSD conference. Before I attended, I was interested in sustainability but was somewhat lacking in knowledge. The conference taught me a lot but more importantly inspired my curiosity which has led to me seeking further information and knowledge myself, from watching documentaries to engaging in conversation with my more informed friends.
While it may seem like a relatively minor change, I have become a lot more conscious about recycling. Previously I recycled myself, but now I have started berating my flatmates for failing to do so, or for recycling incorrectly. Similarly, I have become more conscious about food waste, I now try to ensure I do not buy more than I need so I don’t have to throw any away. I have also tried to reduce my meat consumption, recognising that it is at once bad for the environment and bad for my health to eat meat so often. My shopping habits have also changed in that I now try to buy more locally sourced, organic, or sustainably sourced food.
Previously I had fewer strong opinions about the role of business and sustainability but the WBCSD conference really opened my eyes to the responsibilities that organisations have, as well as the power they possess to make a positive change in the world. It was great to see the many positive steps that the member companies of the WBCSD were making to become more sustainable and I hope that this trend continues. Organisations should develop strategies towards sustainability rather than simply being reactionary. If long term goals and objectives were clearly set for more organisations then more would get done. This requires the acknowledgement of sustainability as key practice, with more people and organisations recognising how important this is then hopefully this will begin to happen more. If we can reach the stage when sustainability is valued in an organisation at the same level as HR or Marketing then we can make a lot of positive progress.