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PA OPINION

Inspiring the next generation of sustainability leaders

Young innovators from leading global organisations came together to share, discuss and design ingenious solutions to sustainability issues as our Global Innovation and Technology Centre played host to the latest gathering of the Young Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Innovators Programme in partnership with the UN Global Compact (UNGC).

Our event builds on our longstanding partnership with the UN to help develop and deliver on the SDGs for 2030. These are 17 ambitious pledges relating to humanity’s greatest challenges, such as providing clean water and sanitation, and ensuring responsible consumption and production. The Young SDG Innovators Programme (YSIP) brings together talent from companies around the world to collaborate and accelerate business innovation towards the SDGs. Together, they learn how to use the SDGs as a catalyst for the development of sustainable new products and services, while developing mindsets that recognise that sustainability is good for business.

“We talk a lot in this [sustainability] space about business as usual, but that has become a pejorative term,” said Steve Kenzie, Executive Director of the UNGC UK, who joined us at the event. “We can’t continue with business as usual. And what’s not business as usual? Innovation. But even innovation-as usual will not get us the kind of breakthroughs we need. So this idea of breakthrough innovation that PA is such a strong advocate for is absolutely essential to bring us innovative ideas that are going to deliver the change we need to achieve the SDGs.”

Our partnership with the UNGC continues our leading work in the sustainability space, including:

-        acting as a technical partner to the UNGC, the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world, to advise companies on how disruptive technologies can accelerate progress towards the SDGs

-        developing  thought leadership on creating a sustainable future using breakthrough technologies, and a practical guide to achieving breakthrough impact on the SDGs through innovation

-        creating content for the core YSIP programme, drawing on our insight into breakthrough innovation to inspire the next generation of sustainability innovators – as part of our wider giving back and volunteering programme.

The programme runs over nine months in 12 countries and has over 300 participants – including six delegates from PA. At the latest UK network camp, we brought together dozens of young innovators from leading global firms to imagine and devise innovations that can create a positive human future in a technology-driven world.

Over the course of two days, they were given the opportunity to prototype designs, take part in ‘innovation sparring’ sessions, refine and validate solutions, and to prepare pitches on their projects for the leadership teams in their organisations.  

At PA, we’re delivering sustainability innovations, including technology that can deliver a waste-free alternative to plastic bottles, through to researching how circular economy principles can improve manufacturing and reduce environmental pollution in low income countries. That’s why it’s exciting to help mentor and be inspired by the next generation of sustainability leaders. And crucially, we want to put sustainability at the heart of innovation and unlock the commercial opportunities sustainability presents. Because this isn’t only good for business, it’s business for good.

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