Global social business summit to spotlight plastic pollution

Main conference opens today


Asjadul Kibria, from Wolfsburg, Germany | Published: November 08, 2018 10:02:59 | Updated: November 08, 2018 14:08:06


The ninth edition of the annual social business summit kicks off today (Thursday) in the German city of Wolfsburg with global leaders and thinkers rethinking the future of human civilisation, which is now at stake.

The Global Social Business Summit is being organised by Grameen Creative Lab, co-founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus and social thinker Hans Reitz.

The theme of this year's summit is 'Building a New Civilisation' while the main topics for discussion and debate are 'Plastic & Circular Economy', `Mobility', `Solidarity', `Sports & Social Business' and `Food & Its Value'.

"Plastic is killing us and there is no way to sit idle," said Yunus explaining the rationale for selecting it as a topic in this year's summit. "It is pushing the very existence of our human civilisation to the path of destruction. The danger of plastic is well known and even those who are doing business are also thinking about it. That's why some of them are joining the summit, which will try to offer some solution."

"Plastic does not belong to nature and we need a fundamental system change to address the problem," said Hans Reitz. "What we need is a circular economy," he added.

Around eight million tonnes of plastic are estimated to be dumped in seas and oceans every year and by the year 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea.

Against the backdrop, it becomes urgent to think about the transformation of current linear industrial production lines into a more circular economy, he said.

He urged social business entrepreneurs to become the pioneers in offering some solutions.

During the summit, different plastic recycling and waste management approaches will be discussed in various workshops, presentations and expert dialogues.

Volkswagen Group has supported the conference for the third time since its inception in 2009.

The summit is taking place in Autostadt Wolfsburg where the headquarters of Volkswagen Group is located.

Some 700 academicians, researchers, business people, scientists, economists, politicians, development activists and professionals and students are taking part in the summit.

Social business is a concept developed by Yunus to overcome the limitations of the current profit-driven business practice.

Under the framework of social business, investors do their business to solve or address different social problems but are not allowed to take back profit generated from the business activities. Only invested amount can be returned while profit has to be reinvested to expand the business.

Professor Yunus, also the founder of Grameen Bank, believes that social business is not only an important instrument to resolve the crises that humankind faces, it is also a great reflection of human creativity.

The main summit is accompanied by a two-day Seventh Social Business Academia Conference, which ended on Wednesday where academicians and researchers discussed on mainstreaming social business in higher education.

More than 30 research and academic papers were presented in the two-day conference. Many of these papers reflect the experiences of ongoing social business activities.

Parveen Mahmud, managing director of Grameen Telecom Trust, shared her experience of promoting small entrepreneurship among the women in Bangladesh.

"By providing small equity support to women, we are getting better outcome," she told the FE on the sidelines of the conference.

In another presentation, Niru Shamsun Nahar, Principal of Grameen Caledon College of Nursing, showed the promotion of nursing education under the social business model.

In parallel to the academia conference, the 'Young Challengers and Young Pioneers Meeting' also took place in Autostadt Wolfsburg, which allowed young entrepreneurs and students from the different countries to acquaint themselves with the basics social business.

They also discussed and exchanged their views to develop the existing social business practice.

asjadulk@gmail.com

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