In my opinion the sustainability debate needed a new inspiring, empowering and solution-oriented approach. Doomsday scenarios, pictures of melting icebergs and a language of abbreviations were dominating the most important agenda of our time (if you ask me).
While writing the Guide to Sustainia book as part of the Project Green Light initiative I dreamed of turning the approach of the book into an actual organization dedicated to highlight solutions and realistic scenarios and road maps.
I wanted to create an organization that empowered and excited people. To do that we needed to provide people with something to aspire to and long for. Not restrictions and pointed fingers.
I created Sustainia alongside great partners and it was founded within the Scandinavian Think Tank Monday Morning. I’m immensely proud that my dream while writing the Guide to Sustainia quickly materialized into the Sustainia organization thanks to committed partners who shared our dream. It was an amazing journey and privilege to lead Sustainia for its first five years. Here is a little glimpse of what we created while I led the organization but I know for a fact they continue doing some really amazing things (check it out, the team is truly amazing).
THE VISION OF SUSTAINIA
The organization started with a clearly communicated vision of the world we could create ten years from now based on solutions and technologies available. The vision was communicated in the Guide to Sustainia that quickly became a reference point for communicating sustainability in an engaging and inspiring manner.
GLOBAL COMMUNITY OF MILLIONS
Sustainia has managed to reach and engage a truly global and huge audience. Over the years we have reached more than 170 million people all over the world and our Sustainia Community come from more than 117 different countries. From the outset it has been critical that we succeeded in disseminating our messages far wider than the usual crowd of people interested in sustainability
BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS
Sustainia was founded with a mission to communicate sustainable living in an exciting and fresh manner. I wanted to reduce complexity and make sustainability accessible. Here are some of the publications we created in my time heading Sustainia.
GLOBAL EVENTS & WORKSHOPS
Sustainia has travelled the world hosting events and workshops in Rio, New York, Singapore, London, Oslo, San Francisco - you name it. Here is a little selection of some of the events I've hosted in my time as CEO of Sustainia.
The cornerstone of Sustainia’s work has always been focused on the solutions we need to build prosperous sustainable societies. SUSTAINIA100 is an annual guide to 100 innovative sustainable solutions from around the world covering 10 different sectors. Go see all of the 500 solutions gathered for 5 consecutives years here.
Unique network of partners
Since the launch of Sustainia it has been supported by a unique network of companies, organizations, foundations and high-level individuals. Some of them include: UN Global Compact, Regions20, IFHP, WWF, UN Foundation, World Bank Group, Connect for Climate, C40, IPCC, Ellen McArthur Foundation, UC Berkeley, NRDC, ECO Fashion, NICE - Nordic Fashion Association, World Resource Institute, EMBARQ, EAT, European Environment Agency, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Connie Hedegaard, Dr. Pachauri, Helena Christensen, Pharrell Williams
The Sustainia Expo has travelled the world showcasing sustainable solutions and inspiring visitors. The first stop was a huge Sustainia Expo at the Rio+20 and thereafter the Singapore City Summit and since then the Expo has been a part of all Sustainias events.
Each year Sustainia hosts the Sustainia Award Ceremony – an evening gathering over 1400 people celebrating sustainable solutions, entrepreneurs and companies dedicated to sustainability. Our objective for establishing the Award and event was to gather people in a celebration of sustainable technologies.
Sustainia Island was developed because I wanted a very tangible way to communicate the application and context of sustainable solutions as that makes it much easier to connect with them and understand their potential. The Sustainia Island is a microcosms of the world – with all climate zones, demographics and challenges we face on planet earth. It has 4 mega cities and small villages. Desert, mountains, highlands and suburban areas.
From my speech on the day we launched Sustainia:
What would have happened if Martin Luther King Jr. had said: I have a nightmare? Probably not much. But that is what we have been doing. We have travelled the world with our PowerPoint slides about fires, deserts, melting icebergs, and catastrophic floods. We have tried selling our sustainable solutions by speaking to people’s fears or moral obligations. But this has not created the change we need. People are not inspired, motivated, or engaged. Just the opposite.
We couldn’t find any clear explanations of a sustainable future that gave people a clear idea of what a transformation to a sustainable society would mean to them.
So we decided to create Sustainia.