As part of efforts to also root the topic of ‘sustainability’ in the world of trade (as an intermediary between manufacturers and consumers), the Europrofession Foundation invited selected experts to discuss:
The path to sustainable development and an awareness of how to treat our planet responsibly can only be forged with information and education.
The Europrofession Foundation’s motivation behind its commitment to the ‘Encouraging Sustainability’ project is based on its statutory mandate to ‘promote professional training’. The opportunity to use the Europrofession Forum to open up target groups which its cooperation partners cannot immediately access under the ‘Encouraging Sustainability’ initiative was a key element in the decision to make ‘Trade and sustainability’ the topic for the Europrofession Forum on 18 and 19 November 2008. Scientists and practitioners from trade companies and trade-related organisations were invited to present their observations, recommendations and specific activities in this area.
Trade’s role as an ‘intermediary’ between manufacturers and consumers means that it has a particular responsibility which it must foreseeably accept with regard to the need for greater sustainability. Given this, ‘trade and sustainability’ cannot and should not be viewed as a question. Instead, it should become an obligation for all players in the trade industry.
Klaus Wiegandt, the former spokesman for the METRO AG management board, attended the kick-off meeting on 18 November. As founder and chair of the ‘Forum für Verantwortung’ foundation, Klaus Wiegandt is the instigator of and driving force behind the ‘Encouraging Sustainability’ project. In his presentation he spoke about the development of the initiative, which was born at the ‘The future of the earth – how much more can our planet withstand?’ colloquium organised by his foundation in 2005, and the resulting book series on the ‘Future of the earth’.
To launch the forum on 19 November, Prof. Dr. Bernd Meyer of Osnabrück University presented his thoughts on the topic ‘How should industry be transformed?’. His words demonstrated the radical nature of the changes required if we are still to be living on this earth in suitable conditions in 30 years’ time.
In other presentations, Prof. Dr. Christian Scholz (Saarland University), Wolfgang Garden (hagebau, Soltau) and Dr. Sibyl Anwander Phan-Huy (Coop Switzerland) offered examples of concrete steps that have already been implemented or that will be needed in the future to increase sustainability in trade. Prof. Dr. Bernd Hallier (EHI EuroHandelsinstitut, Cologne) gave a speech highlighting the need for ‘global monitoring’ of activities to improve sustainability in trade. Dr. Kristian Möller (Foodplus Cologne) and Leif Barthel (University of Stuttgart) presented practical examples from the agricultural and packaging industries.
To summarise, it should be noted that on the one hand we most likely already have and understand all the key scientific information on the need for radical behavioural changes in industry and society, but on the other there is some way to go (hopefully a viable way) to achieve its acceptance and implementation. The fact that representatives from trade were able to report on their companies’ specific activities as regards sustainability is a cause for hope.