No meat and bottled water for delegates at meeting

Delegates attending a business conference in Nairobi were recently taken aback when they arrived for lunch to find there was no meat at any of the serving points.

Earlier in the morning at the opening of the 4th Private Sector Conference on Sustainable Inclusive Business, many of them were surprised when they learnt that no bottled water would be served.

All delegates had been advised to bring reusable water bottles, but a majority of them seemed not to have gotten the memo.

Karin Boomsma, the director of Sustainable Inclusive Business, the organisers of the event, said they lead by example, and that is why all their meetings are designed to be sustainable in the real sense of the word.

“Producing 1kg of meat requires as much as 20,000 litres of water compared to 1kg of wheat which requires between 500 litres and 4,000 litres of water,” said Ms Boomsma.

Conference organisers had arranged for a central water point from where delegates could refill their reusable bottles.

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Outdated model

The aim was to avoid the use of plastic water bottles which are known to block waterways and poison both land and aquatic life.

The meeting held last Friday at the United States International University, sought to, among things, influence and help shape policy, inspire businesses to think and act differently.

It also sought to spur citizens to lead within their own spheres of influence on issues of circular economy and sustainable inclusive business.

“Why bother about the circular economy? Isn’t everything going on just fine? Aren’t businesses thriving and making money?” posed Boomsma. She said the current economic model adopted by many businesses - linear economy - is a threat to sustainability.

A linear economy is simply a take, make, waste economic model. It is an outdated energy system. It assumes that resources are infinite and that irrespective of how we use them, they will always be there for the benefit of humanity.

Boomsma cited the unfolding water crisis, the plastics menace and electronics waste crisis to underscore the urgent need for a circular economy.

Countries such as the Netherlands which are already implementing the circular economy, also ensure that materials, whether imported or made within the country, meet certain basic stands.

This increases the cost at the beginning, but in the end, it ensures that the material or gadget can be broken into its different parts and reassembled or the parts used to make something else.

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Private Sector ConferenceSustainable Inclusive BusinessBottled waterMeat