A call to action
The message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to the business community is clear: We know what needs to be done, and we know that we need to act now. Solutions exist, range from transforming industrial sectors to individual business innovations to effective collaborations. One thing, however, is essential: We need to work together, cooperating between companies, science, and authorities across borders. By sharing insights and successes and learning from failures, we can make a positive impact in the fight against poverty, for reliable food supply, for access to education, and against the climate crisis.
Stuart Spear, Ruth Hafen, November 2022
Humanity’s Great Inventions are not the achievements of individuals ¬ even if history has repeatedly portrayed them that way. Behind every ground-breaking innovation are people who have worked, experimented, and argued together. They all persisted in their search for solutions – and found them: From the wheel to printing, electricity to penicillin, the internet to autonomous vehicles and MRNA vaccines.
Today, however, the enormous achievements of humankind and their outcomes also show us their Janus face: the climate crisis. Added to this, political upheavals and wars are causing great suffering and even leading to food becoming more expensive, and also scarce. All this brings hardship and suffering not only to those directly affected by war and crises, but to a large part of humanity.
In its latest report, released in April 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) outlined what we need to do if we are to mitigate climate change by 2030. The tone of the report is cautious, although there are also optimistic elements. “We have the potential to mitigate climate change. We are at a crossroads. This is the time for action. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming and secure a liveable future,” explained Hoesung Lee, IPCC Chair, at the launch of the report.
Amid the gloom, there is also good news, such as this: Since 2010, the cost of solar, wind, and batteries has dropped by as much as 85 percent, while new policies and laws are improving energy efficiency, reducing deforestation, and accelerating the use of renewable energy. We may be just in time to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.
The report’s call to everyone – governments, businesses, civil society, and public-private entities – is that we must now pull together and deliver results to succeed. To meet the target set out in the Paris Agreement in 2015 to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 and then be reduced to 43 percent by 2030. By 2050, net-zero emissions must be achieved globally. That’s a tight timetable that doesn’t allow for delays. It’s a timetable that calls with a loud voice for collaboration.
Various governments have launched new energy supply strategies; while some nations still rely on coal burning as their primary energy source – with corresponding impacts on CO2 emissions – others are focusing on renewable energy.
We have the potential to mitigate climate change. We are at a crossroads. This is the time for action. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming and secure a liveable future.
Hoesung Lee, Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
There are also countries discussing the use of the latest generation of nuclear energy. Nuclear is once again gaining increasing support in the battle against climate change as a result of the growing energy crisis. To improve the lives of people around the world, we depend on access to secure energy. Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, this security has been shaken.
Meanwhile, prices for basic foodstuffs have risen massively, and this is having a catastrophic impact on millions of people worldwide, not least in Africa and South Asia. India, for example, suffering from the consequences of an enormous heat wave, has imposed an export ban on wheat in order to ensure food security for its own population. This, in turn, has had a dramatic impact on food supply and security in other countries.
These events illustrate just how closely climate change, energy supply, and food security are linked. These major problems must be solved quickly. Unfortunately, the Gordian knot cannot simply be cut with a well-aimed blow; instead, we need to enter many effective collaborations together across all borders.
Back at Networking Days 2019, Stefan Scheiber, CEO of Bühler Group, called on industries, companies, academia, and non-profits alike to collaborate and become part of the solution. “We can ensure that systems use less energy and water, we can increase the efficiency of our value chains, and we can optimize our processes to produce less waste. We can invest in research and development to bring new low-emission solutions to market. Our new technologies can make a big difference,” he said to the 800 global business leaders in attendance, explaining what Bühler means by “innovations for a better world”.
We don’t have enough time to keep repeating the same mistakes – so we need to learn faster together.
Clara Rowe, CEO Restor
Ranjay Gulati, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, writes about Bühler in his book “Deep Purpose: The Heart and Soul of High-Performance Companies,” published in February 2022: “For Scheiber and his team at Bühler, the corporate purpose of ‘innovating for a better world’ was the rallying cry for pursuing their aggressive sustainability goals. It was also their way of linking those goals to their financial performance. The aspiration was for the two to go together.”
For it all to go beyond a slogan, Gulati writes, Bühler had to translate that lofty statement into concrete principles and actions: “They had to show through their actions that they meant business.”
The fact that behind Scheiber’s words there are not only deeds that breathe life into Bühler’s idea of collaboration, but also an entire building complex, is demonstrated by a look at Bühler’s headquarters in Uzwil, Switzerland. This is where the CUBIC innovation campus is located, where Bühler specialists work on solutions together with customers as well as partners from industry, research, and academia. The Grain Innovation Center and a plant for recovering energy from biomass, which Bühler is setting up together with its partner Vyncke Clean Energy Technology, are currently being built on the site. In the new Insect Technology Center, research is being conducted on sustainable animal protein sources – an important cornerstone for a sustainable food system. This is just one of many Bühler regions where innovation comes to life.
We don’t need less collaboration, we need much more collaboration, which is more open and transparent than anything that has been done before.
STEFAN SCHEIBER, CEO BÜHLER GROUP
To achieve the greatest possible impact, Bühler operates 24 Application & Training Centers worldwide. Here, engineers and product developers work continuously with customers to develop new innovations for the feed, food, and mobility industries. Thanks to dozens of partnerships on all continents with start-ups, customers, and academic networks, Bühler creates new breeding grounds for exchange and development along the entire value chain. Finally, the Networking Days, held every three years, invite customers and partners to join Bühler’s innovation ecosystem. Technology is only one half of the equation. While some measures to mitigate climate change are based on advanced technological solutions, others are based on imaginative ways to bring people together.
The non-profit Restor is an example of how to work together to address the challenges of climate change. Restor uses satellite data to dynamically monitor all restoration projects around the world. This includes tracking reforestation rates, wetland and grassland growth, and the foundation of sustainable agricultural systems.
Clara Rowe, Restor’s CEO, believes her company shows how greater transparency and collaboration can provide a way to address climate change. “Where the different players in this field agree most is the need to learn faster; we don’t have enough time to keep repeating the same mistakes – so we need to learn faster together,” Rowe says. “To do that, we need more transparency, and I think that’s already happening as companies become more willing to disclose what they think is really working and what isn’t. Transparency is becoming more and more en vogue because there’s a real sense of urgency and commitment that’s needed.”
“Accelerating Impact Together” is the motto of Bühler Networking Days 2022. Amplifying impact together and accelerating it, learning together, acting together, collaborating with industry partners, and perhaps even with competitors.
This is the “Collaboration 2.0” Stefan Scheiber has in mind and which he calls for. “We don’t need less collaboration, we need much more collaboration, which is more open and transparent than anything that has been done before. After all, our innovations should ensure that the world is a better place for generations to come.”