The World Business Forum is very much used to driving positive change and inspiration within the global business community.
Through its events in the world’s major cities, WOBI provides renowned business icons with a platform to share their success stories with the 10,000-plus executives in attendance throughout the year.
Luminaries including business magnate Richard Branson, inspirational speaker Simon Sinek, Olympic champion Michael Phelps, film director James Cameron and former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi have imparted their knowledge and experience on the WOBI stage.
But an entirely other outcome has emerged as a key target for companies all over the world in recent years: making a positive sustainable impact.
"When faced with challenges as great as those brought about by global warming, we can’t wait for governments or private individuals to mobilize."
With this in mind, WOBI has put its influence and network behind a new initiative aimed at tackling the challenges posed by global warming. It’s an issue that Chris Stanley, WOBI’s Global Content Director, says businesses have a responsibility to step up and act upon.
"Businesses are incredible drivers of innovation, transformation and change. They have unparalleled resources at their disposal in terms of human talent and creativity, as well as organizational capacity," he says. "When faced with challenges as great as those brought about by global warming, we can’t wait for governments or private individuals to mobilize."
Stanley’s role means he’s tapped into issues of interest to WOBI clients around the world. From developing the topic of each event to curating the lineup of appropriately authoritative high-profile speakers, Stanley must have his finger firmly on the pulse of the business community in order to provide a worthy show.
"It’s really fulfilling to work with my WOBI colleagues on these programs and to see firsthand the positive impact they have on our clients," he says.
WOBI’s new Green Impact initiative has the power to go beyond simply influencing a client’s success, however.
"There’s a broader trend of companies realizing they need objectives that go beyond profit and shareholder value," Stanley says.
With that in mind, WOBI has put out a call for companies implementing effective environmental initiatives to share their stories on the main stage of each of this year’s World Business Forum events around the world.
"Green Impact is a showcase for business-led environmental initiatives that are having a positive impact on the climate crisis," Stanley says. "The aim is that the Green Impact stories selected for these events will inspire other leaders in attendance to leave determined to build their own environmental sustainability programs in their organizations."
To be a part of Green Impact, applicants must create a short video that illustrates their green scheme and the impact it’s having.
"Each organization needs to look at its own unique resources and talents before deciding where best it can make an impact."
"We’re not asking companies to share plans that are strategic to their core business," Stanley says. "We’re not even searching for new sustainable business models or products, rather activities that companies are implementing that go beyond their core business."
One such initiative that’s already impressed Stanley is LG Electronics Iberia’s Smart Green movement.
"They’ve partnered with other companies, schools and government institutions to plant 47 million trees per year across Spain to help reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere," he says. "What makes the project unique is that they’re using drone technology and artificial intelligence to plant the shrubs in a way that’s effective both in terms of cost and regenerating ecosystems.
"It’s a great example of how an organization is using its resources and skills in ways that go beyond its core electronics business."
Taking different roads
Despite the World Business Forum’s dissemination of these initiatives among its wide audience, Stanley acknowledges the path to a greener future is different for each business.
"There’s no single road map to follow," he says. "Each organization needs to look at its own unique resources and talents before deciding where best it can make an impact."
Green Impact has been designed to encourage companies to develop their own initiatives and achieve a purpose that resonates with them rather than merely copying what’s on display.
"In fact, the broad theme of this year’s World Business Forum is purpose, a reflection of how important we feel this topic is for business leaders," he says.
"People want to work for purpose-driven companies, to feel that their work makes a difference."
A strong purpose drives action both as individuals and as organizations, he adds, and motivates teams to achieve their highest potential.
"Purpose is the catalyst of innovation and creativity," Stanley says. "People want to work for purpose-driven companies, to feel that their work makes a difference. Companies that are leading environmental initiatives are demonstrating that they have a purpose around making a positive impact in the world."
So far, WOBI’s Green Impact initiative has already received applications from all over the world.
"We’re looking forward to receiving more over the coming weeks," Stanley says. "Companies that are acting in this way should feel proud of their actions and excited by the possibility of inspiring others to develop actions of their own."
Companies wishing to take part in Green Impact can submit their five-minute video applications until the end of July. Those selected to showcase their initiatives will get the chance to do so at this year’s WOBI events in New York, Sydney, Milan, Madrid, Mexico City or Bogota.