Reflections on NY Climate Week: Three Key Takeaways for a Sustainable Future

  • NY Climate Week
NY Climate Week Reflections, Lee Green
Black and white headshot of Lee Green
Lee Green
September 25, 2023

New York Climate Week is more than an annual gathering of eco-conscious individuals and organizations; it’s a crucible of ideas and innovations, a space where the future of our planet starts taking shape. This year, I had the incredible privilege of diving headlong into this transformative experience alongside my CEO, Amina Razvi. As we navigated through a labyrinth of discussions, panels, and networking events, three critical insights emerged that I believe can reshape our approach to sustainability.


1. The Power of Cross-Sector Collaboration

The first realization that struck me was the urgent need for cross-sector collaboration. While attending panel discussions and speaking with experts beyond the fashion world, I was struck by the potential synergies between different sectors.

Take, for instance, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and its engagement with the finance sector. SAC, with its focus on making the apparel and textile industry more sustainable, has much to gain from the finance world’s expertise in risk assessment and capital allocation. Conversely, the finance sector can glean insights into responsible investing by taking a cue from the sustainability metrics and frameworks that organizations like SAC have developed. It’s this kind of collaboration that can accelerate impact in ways we’ve never seen before.

Moreover, let’s not forget that the SAC itself is a microcosm of global expertise, with members from 36 countries, spanning retailers/brands, manufacturers, academia, and NGOs. The rich diversity within our coalition has made it a hub for innovation. Our members are not merely implementing sustainability measures; they are pioneering them. Whether it’s developing circular fashion models, creating low-impact materials, or piloting sustainability programs, the skills and initiatives of our members could serve as blueprints for other industries. It’s this kind of intra-sector collaboration and innovation that can enhance and enrich our partnerships with other sectors, making our collective efforts more cohesive and impactful.


2. Inclusivity: Making the Journey a Shared Experience

The second takeaway for me was the imperative of inclusivity. Climate change disproportionately affects marginalized communities, exacerbating existing social injustices, whether they be based on ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or geography. But, beyond the obvious, I was touched by the conversations of how people can feel separated from the climate conversation because of the color of their skin, or where they live in the United States. One panel discussion I watched centered around underrepresented voices and delved into storytelling approaches as a tool to engage those whose stories often go unheard. It was a powerful session, but also one that showed me, while there is a long way to go, we can be optimistic.

In the context of the SAC, inclusivity means living up to our role as a global convenor that represents all actors across our industry equally. It’s about more than just partnering with manufacturers; it means engaging them in meaningful dialogue. Gone are the days when representatives should just show up with a clipboard, ticking off boxes. The new paradigm demands that we give manufacturers a voice, allowing them to participate as equal partners in the quest for sustainability and a just transition. This inclusivity can manifest in various ways—from shared decision-making to capacity-building initiatives—that ultimately make the journey a collective endeavor.


3. Impact Over Intent: The New Gold Standard

The final, and perhaps most critical, insight is that good intentions are no longer enough. The stakes are too high, and the window of opportunity too narrow for us to be content with mere aspirations.

It’s no longer a question of ‘what’ we aim to achieve but ‘how’ we are translating these aims into tangible impacts. The conversations at NY Climate Week overwhelmingly emphasized this shift, especially among the journalists we spoke to, who were more interested in actionable outcomes rather than lofty goals.

Whether it’s reducing carbon emissions or fostering ethical labor practices, we need to focus on generating real-world impacts that are both measurable and meaningful. Only then can we begin to enact the change that our planet so desperately needs.


Conclusion

New York Climate Week wasn’t just an event; it was an education. It revealed the contours of a new world that we can build together—a world defined not just by aspirations but by impactful actions, fostered through collaboration and inclusivity.

So, here’s my invitation to you: let’s take these insights and turn them into a roadmap for the future. It’s high time we move from dialogue to action, making each day count in the collective quest for a sustainable, inclusive, and impactful tomorrow.

But, let’s make sure that when NY Climate Week returns next year, we are really talking about the transformations that have happened, and not just our good intentions.

Thank you for joining me in this transformative journey. The road ahead is long, but every step we take together makes it that much shorter.

 

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