COPENHAGEN, 18th October 2023: Under the glittering lights of the Tivoli Hotel’s exhibition centre in Copenhagen, Denmark, The Consumer Goods Forum commenced its 8th edition of the Sustainable Retail Summit which brings together more than fifty world-class sustainability leaders from the industry and beyond.

Isabelle Kumar, Plenary Moderator hosted the CGF Coalition Directors welcome, under the theme “Rethink – Act Better”.

Cédric Dever, the new Director of Plastic Waste, spoke about the need to raise awareness and visibility on the plastic waste problem, inviting people to find out more about the CGF Golden Design Rules for Plastic Packaging, and the COA’s work supporting an ambitious, legally binding Plastic Waste Treaty at the UN.

Debora Dias, Senior Manager, Environmental Sustainability, spoke about the Forest Positive Coalition’s imminent launch of its 3rd report, ‘Perspectives on Progress: Challenges and Insights on the Way to Forest Positive’, which outlines the COA’s collective actions, challenges, progress and learnings from the past 12 months prioritising the sourcing of deforestation and conversion-free goods in members’ own supply chains, supporting suppliers to do the same, and working to transform commodity production landscapes into forest positive areas.

Maria Isabel Cubides Sanchez, Senior Manager, Social Sustainability spoke on the importance of the Human Rights COA’s work taking a measurable, reportable, KPI-based and collaborative approach to eradicating forced human labour in the consumer goods industry.

Luiza Reguse, Senior Manager, Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI), announced how the SSCI has today held an engagement session with stakeholders to showcase the new Environmental Benchmark that assess environmental sustainability standards for primary production. This new benchmark sets minimum requirements for environmental certifications, enhancing industry trust and providing clear expectations for sustainable practices.

Sharon Bligh, Health & Sustainability Director, delivered a powerful message about the high ambition and high necessity of the new Net Zero Coalition, reflecting a growing industry consensus that the challenges, while not easy or simple, must be tackled collaboratively — and solving them must be accelerated.

Special Guest Speaker Jorge Laguna-Celis talked about his perspective heading the One Planet Network of the United Nations Environmental Programme, observing that the CGF mandate is closely aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: ‘ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns’. SDG 12 is key to shifting the needle on responsible business, and responsible consumption. And those attending SRS are the ambassadors and champions of the change that is coming. Making an environmental case for sustainability is no longer sufficient — the cost of living crisis is difficult for consumers, and businesses also have a role to play not just in the sustainability business but in the cost-cutting business. Companies also have an important role in helping consumers not just about their environmental impact but also their social impacts of their choices.

Isabelle Kumar then spoke with special guest speaker, Sarosh Qureshi, to get further insight into developing sustainable business models in Copenhagen. Sarosh is Senior Advisor, Sustainable Business Models at Circular Copenhagen, and leads the Sustainable Bottom Line 2.0 Project (Bæredygtig Bundlinje 2.0), which provides help, guidance, consultancy, and investment support on developing and implementing sustainable and resilient business models for SMEs in Copenhagen. He is also a consultant on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. He founded SBM in part to respond to demand by Small Medium Enterprises in the Copenhagen area to get help to transition to green business models. He talked about the lack of resources and guidance available to SMEs — where do they start? So companies reach out, and what they need help with his company tries to solve for them.

Guests for the SRS were then welcomed with an evening cocktail reception, which highlighted aspects of the city of Copenhagen as one of the most sustainable cities in the world — appetisers made with local, seasonable ingredients, most of which were plant-based, with some light fish and poultry options. Vibrant discussion between friends old and new characterised the evening. There was visible excitement and enthusiasm about the work of the Coalitions, in particular the new Net Zero coalition being launched, given its relevance and interconnectedness across all the coalition areas of the CGF — and across the consumer goods industry.

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