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CO-BUILD-20: The Blueprint for a World Post-COVID-19

RegenAbility, the Future of Sustainability. This op-ed is the result of an unusual and innovative conversation between an exec and a poet, a doer and a dreamer, a Chief Sustainability Officer and a Chief Poetic Officer.

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CO-BUILD-20: The Blueprint for a World Post-COVID-19

  1. 1. RegenAbility, the Future of Sustainability By: Virginie Helias, Chief Sustainability Officer, Procter & Gamble Vincent Avanzi, Chief Poetic Officer, The Ink Of The Future During the lockdown with the world on pause, the two met virtually to discuss a possible storytelling for the world post Covid-19 to build back better for brands and leaders and to use as a blueprint for the way we do sustainable business in the world of tomorrow. Please discover a mix of enchanted vision and grounded action as the balance of both worlds. May this manifesto bring hope and be the roadmap for a more regenerative way to do business and to be human. This op-ed is the result of an unusual and innovative conversation between an exec and a poet, a doer and a dreamer, a Chief Sustainability Officer and a Chief Poetic Officer, one that we can listen to with words to inspire and punchlines to reuse and the other that we can watch in action to back it up with real examples to follow. CO-BUILD-20: The Blueprint for a World Post-COVID-19
  2. 2. 1 – It’s Humanity O’clock, the Time Has Come Vincent Avanzi: With the world on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and much of humanity contemplating the possible worlds of tomorrow, we may have reached the tipping point we’ve all been yearning for. The question now is: How can we as a species —and as businesses— learn from the past, contribute to the present and cowrite the future together? Time is of the essence given the climate emergency. Horizon 2030, Action 2020. It is now “Humanity O’clock” and “the time has come” as Nicolas Hulot would say. The time has come for brands and leaders to step forward and align their business models to the needs of our planetary ecosystems. The time has come to focus not just on our personal income, but on our universal outcome. Virginie Helias: As with planting a tree, the best time is 20 years ago but the second best time is now. People are embracing a new consciousness across geographies, committing to being more health- conscious and more environmentally- conscious post COVID-19 as they realize that planetary and human health are two sides of the same coin. Many companies are stepping up to be a force for good and, as we look to a future where economy and ecology are reconciled. Force for good, force for growth is the new model for business. Nobody wants to go back. - 2 -
  3. 3. 2 – The Blueprint: write the Best Story Mankind Ever Told Vincent Avanzi: “In the beginning (of the world) was the word.” (John 1:1) Throughout history, stories and words have always preceded reality and guided our narratives. Maybe the time has come to write the best story mankind ever told, a new story for the future of humanity, a compelling story, an inclusive, inspiring, regenerative, poetic and collective narrative. As a new era awaits, we are all invited to co-write a new “blueprint” for the world (blue being also the color of harmony and of the oceans on our home planet), as a new common horizon, as a dream (as Napoleon Hill said “a goal is a dream with a deadline”), a pledge, a manifesto of an “Edendorado” in Esperanto, that universal language that can be felt and understood by all beings sincerely, with a story that can be desirable for all, by all dreams and all means necessary. Art by Catherine Nelson Virginie Helias: During the COVID-19 pandemic, research showed that 75% of people in the US and Europe said they would value help from brands on ways to be more environmentally friendly at home. According to Google Trends, over the past 90 days search interest in “how to live a sustainable lifestyle” has increased by more than 4,550%. People need help to navigate the dilemma between safe and sustainable – is it as hygienic as it needs to be if I wash my clothes in cold water? What do I do with all the extra plastic packaging I’ve accumulated due to additional deliveries of food and essential goods? Can we develop a blueprint for brands to be net-positive contributors to society? - 3 -
  4. 4. 3 – A Poetic Title: from “COVID-19 to “COBUILD-20” Vincent Avanzi: Jonas Mekas wrote, “in the very end, civilizations perish because they listen to their politicians and not to their poets.” Let’s start listening to the poets. Words are a world of wonders. Maybe poetry will shape the world and maybe we’re all poets inside, waiting to burst out. What type of storytelling could we all write, and each contribute to? Transitioning to post COVID-19 times, we would like to propose a possible title for this story and call it “COBUILD-20,” to build together collectively in 2020, with a 2030 horizon, not a “brave new world” like Huxley, but a “sane” new world, to shift the paradigm of business and the reverse the priorities of life, ecology and economy. We are all aware of the “4 Ps” of sustainable business: “People, Planet, Purpose, Profit.” The time has come to embody them fully and add a fifth “P” for Poetry in it to give it a true meaning to lasting prosperity. Virginie Helias: We need to “Build Back Better” and we cannot do it alone. At P&G, we are mobilized to make the planet great again through our Ambition 2030 goals and business agenda, a roadmap to enable positive impacts across our supply chain, our brands, our employees and society through partnerships. Working to develop solutions so that no P&G packaging finds its way to the ocean, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which P&G’s CEO David Taylor chairs, is the largest effort to develop and scale solutions to prevent plastic waste from leaking in the environment, the 50 Liter (50L) home coalition to reinvent the innovation agenda for urban living so that the sustainable level of 50L of water per day per person feels like 500L. COBUILD-20 is our rallying cry. - 4 - Artwork The Ink Of The Future
  5. 5. 4 – Key Positive Impact (the new KPI): From Business as Usual to Business with a Soul Vincent Avanzi: We may need to change the rules of the game and also improve the version of players. As enlightening leaders, let’s elevate ourselves and align our mindsets, our footprints and our heartbeats to go from the cycles of History to a lasting Future, from corporations in competition with one another to cooperation as a higher mission with each other, from gaining market shares to making “humanity shares”. From a short-term profit to a long-term benefit, from presenting PowerPoints to discussing “purpose points,” from less harm to more good, from rivals and going viral to thinking about what is really vital for our survival, from old business models to role models for business, from agony by money to harmony of many, from high times of modernity to lifestyles of sobriety, from aiming at our Moonshot to landing here our own “Earthshot,” basically transitioning from business as usual to “business with a soul.” May we, individually and collectively, as leaders and companies, be more “in service” and less “for profit,” more in balance between being and doing, nature and culture, business and wisdom. This may be the middle path to reach a “World- Wise Win-Win,” where everybody, (the people, the planet, the societies, the shareholders, the employees, the consumers) wins because we have changed the hierarchy of the indicators of success. Tomorrow, being “number one” might not be measured by profitability, but the sustainability and the level of positive impact. After so many years of talking about it, let’s change the indicators. The acronym KPI? Let’s replace the “target scorecard” of Key Performance Indicators by a “planet postcard” of Key Positive Impacts, aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Statistics already start to show that the companies with the most social and environmental impact will be the ones that will prevail in the near future. One sign of planetary awareness is also the fact that we are seeing the emergence of a new generation of leaders and a new civilization of humans that will, as consumers and citizens tomorrow, gradually demand this alignment from organizations in order to adhere to brands. Virginie Helias: P&G invented brand management in 1925 with Ivory and Camay. 100 years later, we are ready to re- invent brand building. We call it Brand 2030. All our leadership brands are committing to a measurable and time- bound path to be net positive contributors to society – through innovation that enabling responsible consumption, leveraging their voice to promote sustainable living and reducing their impacts from material sourcing to end of life. Those are our new KPIs (Key Positive Impact Indicators). - 5 -
  6. 6. 5 – Replace the Word “Sustainability” (Ability to Sustain) with “RegenAbility” (Ability to Regenerate) Vincent Avanzi: With new narratives generally come new words that create new realities. Take the word “sustainability” for example, which has been trendy for over a decade now. If we look at it from a different angle, it literally means the “ability to sustain.” Maybe the ability to sustain the world as it was prior to COVID-19 is not the solution. What ability could we be looking for instead? Our “human-ability,” our “common future-ability,” our “oneness- ability,” our life preservation ability or simply our “regenerability” as our ability to regenerate resources to make the economy go into a virtuous endless circle, just as the planet goes round, hence respecting the cycles of all living species on its soil? We would like to propose a neologism and call it “RegenAbility,” as a contraction of “regenerability,” the ability to regenerate, to make it modern, unique, meaningful and mark the time. The lexical field contains power and words rightfully put together are action. Change the words to change the world, Change our perspective and the way we look at things, not think but also feel, not only with mental eyes, but also with poetic hearts and minds. Virginie Helias: Can a shampoo brand be a force for regeneration? Herbal Essences is committing to protect endangered plants and promote plant biodiversity. In partnership with Royal Kew Botanic Gardens, their goal is to save 300 plant species from extinction and preserve the ecosystems of the top 10 plant extracts used in their products. They have started activating their commitment with the “20 by 20” campaign (save 20 plants in 2020 in the US) in collaboration with Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. Dawn’s superior grease cutting power led them to commit to protect aquatic wildlife by keeping the birds and their environment clean. Their goal is to reach a 90% bird release rate in future oil response rescue efforts. Charmin, Forest Stewardship and Rainforest Alliance certified, is committed to creative collective solutions that positively impact people and forests in the world and for every tree they use, at least one is re-grown. - 6 -
  7. 7. Virginie Helias: Re-Generation for P&G means Climate Re-Vert, Plastic Re-invent and Water Recycle. • Climate: 100% of the electricity we purchase in North America and most of Europe is renewable; our technology enables people to use less warm water when they use our products (e.g., with Cascade Platinum you save up to 20 gallon per wash when you skip the pre-rinse before putting your dishes in the dishwasher). • Plastic: We develop solutions to accelerate the circular economy – PureCycle, an invention from a P&G scientist that turns recycled polypropylene into a near virgin state; Holy Grail, a coalition led by P&G that qualified the use of digital watermarks on packaging to improve sorting; LOOP, a shopping platform with products in durable refillable packaging. P&G was the 1st manufacturers to sign up for the pilots with 11 brands. • Water: 70% of our products need water to be used. Beyond developing water efficient technology or waterless products (Waterless Hair Care line), we have initiated the 50L Home Coalition to reimagine water usage in urban homes: reduce, recycle, reuse, purify and enrich water so that people use less and enjoy it more. 6 – Enlightening leaders, we are the “RE” Generation! Vincent Avanzi: And may we be the “RE” Generation. The one to lead the way to RE- enchant the world, RE-poetize our societies, RE-connect with nature, RE-boot our economic system, RE-think our ways of living, RE-build our society and economics for the future, RE-lease the human passion and our best potential, RE-veal our most precious dreams, RE-vive the roots of who we are, RE-turn to the essentials of our humanity in terms of life, love, solidarity, empathy and biodiversity. And basically RE-connect truly with people, gather together and not separate the elements of nature, a philosophy we inherited from Descartes. As Satish Kumar (founder of the Schumacher College) would say, “soil, soul and society” are interdependent. RE as RE- invent tomorrow with RE-silience today. This is a “once in a mankind” opportunity so let’s take a stand with both of our hands and be that RE-generation, not a mere RE- peat generation. It might be our own RE- volution, to cosign a “RE-Generation Declaration”, for life preservation, better life relations and international conversations. A “You-Turn” to not reach a point of no-return in ten years from now. Horizon 2030, Action 2020. - 7 -
  8. 8. 7 – The Birth of “Chief RegenAbility Officers” Vincent Avanzi: We can switch job titles as well. Inside companies, we would like to launch a movement to embrace new “Chief RegenAbility Officers” that will lead the way in helping corporations embody this new narrative to influence the entire company and therefore impact the eight billion people on this planet. Change the job functions to change the company direction and put more poetry in your job description, in your job title and in your leadership in order to further re- enchant capitalism and adding a much needed dose of humanism and life wisdom prism. Virginie Helias: I once called myself a Chief Agitator Officer, often playing the role of an internal activist, trailblazing and challenging our business leaders to make sustainability an integral part of their business agenda. Today 83% of our employees say that they are contributing to their organization’ sustainability efforts (an increase of nine points compared to two years ago). Sustainability is now built-in, not bolted on. The task ahead is to do more, bolder, faster and with greater positive impact. Reducing our footprint is not good enough, we need a blueprint for regeneration of our society and our planet. Let’s create a movement of Chief RegenAbility Officers (a side benefit: we won’t confuse CSO with Chief Supply Officers anymore!). - 8 -
  9. 9. 8 – One Humanity: may the “New Normal” be Written with Two “L”s for “All” Vincent Avanzi: In the end, we know, if any doubts were still possible, that the planet cannot be treated as a mere market and that life really has no price. As Robin Williams would say in a modern Corporate Poets Society, “poetry, beauty, romance, love… these are what we stay alive for.” Sustainability and RegenAbility are our common responsibility as One Humanity. The companies of tomorrow that are the most engaged and responsible will outperform the rest. Start the transition now. Be part of the solution, not part of the pollution. The key of the story may be in finding the collective purpose of mankind, our grand horizon, our collective purpose, our higher mission. The future of our planet is in our hands and everything is still possible. And maybe Adam Smith was incorrect about the “invisible hand” of the market, maybe the true hands are the helping hand we give others and the writing hand to cosign our own story. Imagine eight billion people all “co-creating equal.” “A dream you dream alone is only a dream, a dream we dream together is reality,” said a wise man once from the Beatles in a song destined to touch us all. All brands and leaders, this is our chance for lasting change. - 9 -
  10. 10. Virginie Helias: Imagine a ship with 163 corporate leaders, sustainability practitioners and green activists, a collaborative at sea, embarked on a mission to the North Atlantic gyre to collectively develop new breakthrough solutions to end the ocean plastic pollution. The leader-ship of tomorrow, partnering across the value chain, from industry to activists to develop regenerative solutions. Enlightened leaders and RegenAbility Officers, we are the ones we have been waiting for! Welcome all aboard the Enlightening Leader-Ship Join the ship and add your words, your vision, your actions. And may our ambitions meet our common horizon. - 10 - The time has come to transcend ourselves and reveal our true essence as human heroes in action and sustainable pioneers. To be an example, be an “activist” as Emmanuel Faber (Danone) would say. This is our time now to lead the way. We are the first generations to feel the effects of climate change and maybe the last that can do something about it. And maybe the cosmos kept the best for last. If “poesis” in ancient Greek means “to create,” be a corporate poet to transform our reality. Let’s give this story life, together. All businesses have as motto to change the world, now’s the time to really contribute to changing the world for the better. Welcome in this exciting new journey of Humanity, aboard the boat of our common future, the enlightening leader “ship.” May our ambitions meet the horizon in order for the “new normal” to be written with two “L”s for “all.” Finally, we all have a key word of life, pick yours now, make a commitment and change the world with it. CO-BUILD-20 to co-write and re-invent the future. Back to you… for us. Our time is now. Horizon 2030, Action 2020.
  11. 11. Virginie Helias is the Chief Sustainability Officer of Procter & Gamble. With over 30 years of experience at P&G in Brand Management and Innovation across multiple multi-billion dollar brands and regions, she is also recognized for her visioning, change management and leadership development skills. In July 2011, she recommended the creation of a new position, Global Sustainability Brand Director, working across all P&G business units and regions. Her mission was to embed sustainability into the innovation, brand-building and everyday business practices at P&G. In July 2016, she was promoted to Vice President of Global Sustainability, in recognition of the work she has led to make sustainability a core business strategy, an innovation driver and a catalyst for a more resilient organization. She is the architect of the “Ambition 2030” goals, an industry-leading roadmap that is transforming how P&G is integrating sustainability across its supply chain, innovation and brand building. Virginie has received the 2018 Women Leading Award from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and was selected as one of the 25 women shaking up the Climate movement in 2020. In 2019, she became the first P&G Chief Sustainability Officer. Vincent Avanzi is a Chief Poetic Officer, author, speaker, storyteller and speech writer. Former Microsoft employee and twice a globe-trotter, he founded The Ink Of The Future to reenchant the world with poetry. He developed the concept of “corporate poetry” to bring out the soul of corporations and develop the human global awareness around sustainability, singularity, wisdom and harmony. He is the author of eight books including “Harmony and the Genius Spot of Mankind” (Human Odyssey) and "Trouver son Point Génial" (Hachette) and was dubbed an “enlightened leader” by Decideurs Magazine. Recurrent speaker at Sustainable Brands and creator of many neologisms included "CoBuild20", he is also a consultant on brand identity and accompanies CEOs and leaders on their transformational journey, their storytelling and the art of writing inspiring speeches. “Poetry will save the world and we’re all poets”. More info on Watch the poetic journey “The Universe in a Unique Verse (The return of Pangea)”. About the Authors - 11 -© 2020 – All rights reserved | Design: Flavia Sacapaño