Team Mexico had incredibly exciting days and enriching experiences. Tons of notes, ideas and theories are waiting for us to be sorted, researched, interpreted and elaborated. Much more will come but one thought was present throughout the conference, dominated all conclusions and keynotes, and therefore calls for our attention: probably the simplest but at the same time most challenging value of collaboration.
Collaboration is one of the core values of WBCSD and offers the opportunity to find and scale up sustainable business solutions. By providing a platform, the WBCSD promises solutions that “no single company could achieve alone”. The members and participants cover any industry sectors, they come from diverse cultural backgrounds and hold different positions in their companies. The broad range covers for example CEOs, representatives of the United Nations and us, the students of Lancaster University. When considering that at this conference people shared a simple table in a standard room whilst simultaneous being responsible for 8.5 trillion USD of the worldwide GDP, we can develop a sense for the broad range that successful collaboration can and hopefully will trigger. But at what point do collaboration and competition complement or block the development?
The tension hereby may be that the companies are actually competitors. On one hand, they fully depend on one another and can only together have a creative and exciting dialogue on expert topics and needs. On the other hand, however, they are obliged to their companies’ strategies and represent serious competitors. From my point of view, sustainability represents one of the most crucial elements of any excellent future company strategy. Thus, it is necessary to understand and question how much the companies do effectively disclose to the discussion. Despite this, I was impressed and seriously surprised how totally different companies came together on round tables, randomly and spontaneously, to discuss complex topics with very different approaches, knowledge levels and objectives. I experienced a trusting and open atmosphere to create unpredictable ideas as a team.
It attracted my attention to see how the collaboration on different levels and different intentions was appreciated and ended up generating innovative ideas. This might be because of the rapidly changing world that represents a unpredictable but necessary sustainable approach. Therefore, all companies share the same unknown future risk. They are all in the same boat and are urged to trust in each other. They seem to be aware of the fact, that business-as-usual cannot be successful in our future. Furthermore, I repeatedly heard the following argument, that companies can only together implement and drive a mass suitability solution and create a benchmark of sustainable business. In other words: to create an actual impact. Hence, the collaboration for sustainability poses a win-win opportunity for businesses and provides both financial advantages and strategic innovation. They understand that co-creating through sharing talent and resources provides double value. To outline the urgency and importance of the topic of sustainability I would like to finish with a quote from the conference: “the biggest solution is collaboration”.