The R20 Austrian World Summit is a top-level summit about leadership on implementing the Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This annual event is organized by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “R20 Regions of Climate Action” office in Austria.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s key message this year was to remind us that we need to become Victors and not victims in this fight for climate change, showing those members of the world community who have decided to opt out of the Paris Climate Change agreement, the array of economic opportunities and successes that lay in embracing new carbon neutral solutions.
Following the line-up of key leaders, such as the Austria’s President and Chancellor and the UN General Secretary, you were confronted with high-level panel discussion involving so many powerful women! The UNFCCC’s wonderful Patricia Espinosa, next to Norway’s President Erna Solberg, Austria’s new Minister for the Environment and Tourism, Elisabeth Köstinger, and last but definitely not least, the awe-inspiring Jane Goodall, who reminded us to stop using our brain when we approach this issues and re-think with our hearts in order to achieve change!
As a member of the summit’s Advisory Board (Xenia zu Hohenlohe, Considerate Hoteliers Managing Partner), I was honoured to host a panel session bringing into play the other sustainability forum I am board member of, the Langenburg Forum.
The discussion set itself the goal of creating a blueprint for more deliberate and constructive collaboration between cities and their surrounding areas. The focus was on the cases of food and shelter two fundamental human needs. The conversation evolved toward building a more general agenda for deliberate, constructive, urban-rural interactions for sustainability, which can then be applied across the board to other dialogues around water, air pollution, soil security and so many more topics concerning our natural capital.
Participants ranged from the CEO of the Billa Group Austria, former German Foreign Secretary Joschka Fischer, Prof John Schellnhuber from the Potsdam Climate Institute, Ani Dasgupta a Director of the World Resource Institute, and two key stakeholders showing us best practice examples. One of those was a hotel!
A hotel built entirely of wood, and not in the mountains, but in one of Germany’s key cities, in Munich, called the Soulmade Hotel. The founder and creator of this wonderful new concept, Tommy Schlereth, demonstrated that you can streamline the construction of a hotel with over 120 rooms, to become a very resource and time efficient process. Not only is the hotel a commercial success, and always fully booked out, it is now becoming a roll-out model to be build in various other European key cities.
Very much in-line with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s motto of being Victors rather than Victims, this hotel shows how determination, conviction coupled with passion to reduce our impact can make economic sense and become a shining example of best practice for others to follow. But it takes courage to embrace such change- and I wish for all to have an extra portion of courage to change our ‘business as usual’ approach to make little changes that make a big difference.