In her opening remarks at the Retail Sustainability and Environmental Compliance Conference, RILA President Sandy Kennedy announced that RILA will merge its sustainability-focused conference with Sustainable Brands. Beginning in 2017, the two will produce a single conference together than includes a retail-specific program track, in addition to Sustainable Brands’ usual program, which covers sustainability-led brand innovation across multiple consumer-facing industries.
Below is a Q&A between RILA's SVP Research, Innovation & Sustainability Adam Siegel and Sustainable Brands' CEO and Founder KoAnn Vikoren Skryzniarz offering more information on the partnership.
Why do you think this transition makes so much sense?
Adam Siegel, RILA - We see so much alignment in the program goals of our respective conferences, so for RILA, partnering to develop a single event seemed like a natural next step in our evolution. We can continue to offer content to help retails grow, but also provide RILA attendees with exposure to leading practices in other industries, those that have traditionally participated in the Sustainable Brands events.
KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, Sustainable Brands – Our mission at Sustainable Brands is to shift the world to a sustainably flourishing future, and we describe our community as the "home for the global community of business innovators who are shaping the future of commerce worldwide." Executives who participate in RILA's sustainability conference are those same business innovators. RILA's goals are aligned with ours, so when the opportunity to partner emerged, it made sense to combine forces and create a strong gravitational pull for the two communities to share insights and collaborate more fully.
What makes Sustainable Brands conferences so unique?
KVS – Sustainable Brands brings both creative and technical experts together for lively 'systems thinking in action' conversations; we help brands find new paths to sustainable growth while accelerating the shift to a sustainable economy. Our conferences are an anchor part of our offering to amplify leadership and support peer-to-peer learning, collaboration and business development for brand and sustainability leaders from around the world.
How will this change effect RILA's environmental compliance, energy management and responsible sourcing?
AS – Environmental compliance, energy management, and responsible sourcing are all critical communities that we have built over the past ten years. We value that history and will amplify our efforts for them. By partnering with Sustainable Brands for their annual U.S. conference, RILA will be able to shift the energy previously invested in planning our own conference to building even more opportunities for sustainability, environmental compliance, energy, and responsible sourcing execs to engage with one another through regular meetings, monthly conference calls and the regional workshops that have provided members with great value. RILA develop the added offerings with input from the groups themselves.
How valuable is it for retailers to be immersed in the innovative and action-oriented culture of Sustainable Brands. What, if any, concerns do you have about this transition?
AS – We believe that the partnership provides retailers with the best of both worlds. Access to high quality retail content, as well as exposure to practices of leading businesses in other industries and from around the world. We couldn't imagine a better partner than Sustainable Brands and given the reception that the news has earned from RILA members so far, I am confident that they see the opportunity in the same way we do.
Can you name a particular moment or speaker from a past conference that was memorable to you or exemplifies what retailers can expect at Sustainable Brands 2017 Detroit?
KVS – Well, that's a lot like picking a favorite child. We have just concluded our first Sustainable Brands conference in Copenhagen where 450 change leaders from 20 countries convened to explore current issues and leadership in the Northern European context. There were so many terrific case stories and discussions there this week, including presentations from two of the world's largest beer companies, showing leadership in engagement in environmental action and behavior change (Heineken), as well as breakthrough packaging innovation via an "in-design" biodegradable bottle, (Carlsberg), a terrific case from Adidas showcasing a brand/employee activation initiative that responds directly to the refugee crisis in Germany, a partnership between 900 year old Storaenso, and design leader Merimekko who have collaborated to create a biodegradable textile that delivers beautiful form, function and environmental health, and of course a set of presentations from sustainable retail leaders like C&A and IKEA who shared how they are reimagining their retail stores to deliver innovative paths to business growth in a ‘peak consumption' world.
What makes you most excited about partnering with RILA?
KVS – That is easy – I am most excited about the power we have through this partnership to accelerate the adoption of sustainable lifestyles. When we can get these to parts of the channel, along with the advertising community, humming along in concert, we will massively accelerate the momentum toward a sustainable future hat has already been picking up steam in the last couple of years. Through our efforts to "Reimagine the Good Life" – our global initiative launching at Sustainable Brands 17 Detroit and traveling around the world, we will co-create a powerful new vision for our future that can be enabled through the extended value network we will bring together to collaborate.
Will exhibitors & sponsors from RILA's conference have an opportunity to continue participating at Sustainable Brands?
KVS – Absolutely. We fully confident they will also find value in the partnered event. I know that some have participated in both events in the past (as have many attendees) so our strategic partnership should be a clear value to them.
AS – And considering we are elevating our sustainability, environmental compliance, energy management, and responsible sourcing efforts, sponsors who want to build relationships with retailers over the full year will still have a home in those focused groups.
Where can retailers go to learn more about Sustainable Brands '17 Detroit? ?
AS – We encourage retailers to visit www.rila.org/Sust2017 or www.SB17Detroit.com
Of course, conference participants are also welcome to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 600-2066.