In the series 'Five questions for...' we will frequently place individuals and organisations contributing to the sustainability transition in the spotlight. To give Klimaatkantoor a more personal face, this first edition features its founder, Hesther Jolly.
What will Klimaatkantoor focus on?
"Klimaatkantoor aims at contributing to a more sustainable, collaborative economy together with partners and organisations from the public-, private-, academic- and non-profit sector. In concrete, this means that we will support the private sector in developing more sustainable business models and inspire organisations to take a more collaborative approach in reaching the objectives as set out in the global and national climate accords."
Why is collaboration so important in the sustainability transtion?
"The United Nations has introduced Sustainable Development Goal 17 as 'Goal for the partnerships' (1). It has declared that collaboration and cross-sector partnerships (between national governments, the international community, civil society, the private sector and other actors) are essential to reach the 2030 sustainable development agenda. Academics are also promoting this vision and the private sector is realizing that collaboration holds the potential for fulfilling both sustainability-related as well as corporate missions. A global survey by the United Nations points out that 78% of CEOs believes organizations should enter multi- stakeholder partnerships (2). Also governments increasingly view partnerships as an effective way to reach sustainability objectives and non-profit organisations are realizing that achieving their goals becomes easier in an alliance with multiple partners."
What does this mean for the Netherlands?
"The Netherlands is no exception. To date, the United Nations counts an official number of aproximately 5,000 partnerships (3) between governments, the private sector and that what they call civil society, which spans anything between academic institutions as well as non-profit organisations and communities. These so called cross-sector partnerships hold enormous potential. According to estimates from McKinsey, the Sustainable Development Goals could be worth $30 trillion by 2025 (4). For Dutch companies, the goals offer an opportunity that they are not yet fully aware of. But in the end, it's not about money. Economic value is important to get the private sector on board, but it creating a more social and sustainable future is what really counts."
Profit and purpose don't seem to go hand-in-hand in our current economy.
"That's right. It's still very much either/or, while I strongly believe in the combination. In the end, it's about the creation of value. True value can only emerge if social, environmental and economic value are in balance. That's not something that will be fixed tomorrow, but each organisation can ask itself the question whether their business model is in balance. Although consumers increasingly place importance on sustainability, fairness and transparancy, this should not form the main driver for a company to embrace these values. By now, it is clear that our current economic system is broken. The earth's resources are being depleted, we're facing climate change, hunger, inequility and poverty. But being an optimist, I mostly see opportunities. I want to contribute to clearing up the mess."
What has inspired you to found Klimaatkantoor?
"I started a Executive Master's degree in management studies in 2018, from the desire to contribute to the sustainability transition in the private sector. I thought: if I want to inspire change, I will fully need to understand the current system. That turned out to be true: management studies is about taking the biggest slice of the pie. There was one professor however, Arno Kourula, who introduced partnerships as a means to realize the sustainability transtion. He complety opened my eyes. I thought: this is it, this is way I decided to study. Since that time, I have specialised in cross-sector partnerships and sustainable business models. Interestingly, in the literature partnerships are seen as a new type of business model, however the model itself did not yet exist. I decided to develop it for my thesis and did research at Green Light District, an Amsterdam-based cross-sector partnership aming at transforming the Red Light District into a sustainable area. Taking a bottom-up, collaborative approach, we co-created a tailor-made business model for the partnership which I extrapolated to a more general cross-sector partnership model. Arno guided the process and later this year we will publish the model together. Upon graduation, I new what I needed to do: lauch a sustainable enterprise promoting and facilitating collaboration in the sustainability transition. And that's how Klimaatkantoor saw the light."