At the initiative of L’Oréal’s American subsidiary, a ground-breaking Forum on Sustainable Consumption was held in New York on 10 December 2012. The “RE: Imagining Consumption” Forum was organised in partnership with sustainability NGO Forum For the Future, which for over the past 16 years has been working with political, economic and social stakeholders from all over the world to advance sustainable development. ‘Thirty participants, including representatives from NGOs, consumer goods brands, retailers, communications and branding specialists, came together at L’Oréal’s invitation to try to identify the best strategies to encourage consumers to adopt more responsible product purchase, use and disposal,’ explains Pam Alabaster, Senior Vice President of Sustainable Development and Public Affairs at L’Oréal USA. The Forum’s agenda included a review of the pioneering practices of leading brands, plus a forward-looking workshop on consumerism in 2020, a review of the barriers to sustainable consumption and the identification of strategies to drive consumer behaviour change.
Why was this forum created?
Sally Uren, Deputy Chief Executive of Forum For the Future: The issue of responsible consumption is too important to be resolved by a single company. That’s why L’Oréal has opted for a multi-stakeholder approach, working with all the different actors required to deliver a new sustainable type of consumption.
Why is it important for your NGO to work with a company such as L’Oréal?
S. U. : The social, economic and environmental challenges which we’re facing require action from civil society, governments and businesses. So for an organisation like Forum For the Future, it’s vital to establish partnerships with groups such as L’Oréal that are world leaders on their markets and committed to sustainable development initiatives.
What were the forum’s main conclusions?
S. U. : Three key points emerged. Firstly, a universal language for sustainable development is required, breaking the agenda down into meaningful messages. Secondly, we need to redefine the concepts of happiness and success, so that they’re no longer synonymous with “buying more products”. And finally, sustainable consumer products should be affordable and accessible to all..