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By Pilar Roch, CEO of ideas4all Innovation.

We have been talking about sustainability and climate change since the last century, but the truth is that now, and especially in Spain following the recent COP 25, the issue has gained even more relevance in society, in political agendas and the strategic plans of our companies. 

At the end of last year, we launched our line of services ideas4all Innovation eco, which is our way of contributing to a more sustainable world, thanks to collaboration and participation from different stakeholders who propose ideas and solutions, analyze realities, explore and exchange data, and implement measures. 

In that vein, our recent agreement with the City Council of Santander and Banco Santander has enabled the launch of Santander City brain eco, a project with public-private collaboration that allows both entities to build a more sustainable city of Santander together with its citizens and business sector. 

Many of the recent projects working to attain a more sustainable world are collaborative, and they work because they are based on participation from many individuals with a common goal.

There are examples like the slow fashioconcept, advocating for lesser or slower consumption of clothes, as opposed to a concept of fast, disposable fashion, based on low costs and inferior quality. Collaborative projects like swap parties where clothes are exchanged, or monthly rentals for clothes (Ecoadicta project) are trying to change this reality.

Collaborative sustainability and fashion
The slow fashion philosophy encourages responsible consumer habits for clothes and tries to raise awareness about the environmental impact of the opposite model, fast fashion.

“Many of the projects working to attain a more sustainable world work because they are based on participation from many individuals with a common goal.” 

The collaborative model, apart from benefitting from reduced costs, also reduces emissions and energy use, as with shared work spaces (coworking) or dark kitchens, a trend that has appeared because of the food delivery boom and involves kitchens shared by several restaurants that only deliver food to homes.

Large companies like Coca- Cola have also joined in with sustainability campaigns like “Hagámoslo Juntos”, a global movement that involves everyone in waste and plastic reduction and collection. This does not mean that a collaborative approach is the only possible one–far from it–although there are undeniable advantages, such as:

Greater impact

One of the underlying issues regarding climate change and sustainability is the lack of resources: there are not enough for so many of us. 

In truth, we do have enough resources, but there is an imbalance in their distribution. To compensate this, collaboration among all actors in society is essential, such that an unused resource can be seized by whoever needs it. This practice is increasingly common, and is being applied in areas such as solar energy and its distribution in communities.

“There is an imbalance in resource distribution. To compensate, collaboration among all actors in society is essential, such that an unused resource can be seized by whoever needs it.”

On an individual level, participating with my ideas in the resolution of a problem reinforces my awareness, and helps me drive specific actions that, however small, work to achieve great results. But to be effective, we must bring together many people in collaboration.

More effective solutions

Do we currently know the real impact our actions have on the environment? For example, are we sure that renting clothes is more sustainable than buying them? Among other factors, we must consider how these clothes are transported, as this will have an environmental footprintthat needs to be measured to compare with other alternatives. 

Having information is essential. And this is where open digital tools, like observatories or ideas communities, play a very important role. They give access to more and better information, and in turn, they enable contrasted decision making, taking all variables into consideration. 

Greater justice

Transparent communities with democratic decision-making processes, based on collaborative intelligenceand with participation from verified experts in each field, or with the involvement of public authorities and the Administration, as well as the business sector, will ensure greater justice when making decisions (not always an easy task) in an environment that still presents so much uncertainty. 

As Arturo Pinedo stated in his recent post “Tras COP 25, el dilema de las empresas” (After COP 25, the dilemma for companies), this is the great challenge for businesses: “commit to responsible and inclusive sustainability, built on sound scientific and technological criteria, seeking consensus not only with the political class or militant activism, but mainly with a mature citizenship who must first understand and then accept the consequences of the measures adopted to ensure the planet’s survival.”

Everyone’s collaborative participation can help to overcome this challenge, while considering and balancing its three dimensions, as defined by Mercedes Storch in her article “Las tres dimensiones de la sostenibilidad” (The three dimensions of sustainability): economic, environmental and social, each one of great importance. 

Pilar Roch

ideas4all Innovation eco proposes the use of its innovation community software to bring together all stakeholders involved in creating a more sustainable world.

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