It’s said that nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.
Maybe that’s why audiences responded so enthusiastically to SAVe founders Christina De Bono and Joe Perez’s recent presentation at the USAV 2022 Spring Conference: “Bringing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the AV Industry.”
The times demand that we focus on sustainability. From climate change to growing income inequality, we face serious threats to our future, and we’re simply running out of time to course correct. Here on the West Coast of the United States, where SAVe is headquartered, human-induced climate change has given rise to unremitting wildfires, heat waves, cold snaps, mega-droughts, windstorms and other extreme weather events.
And we’re not just producing more greenhouse gases than ever, we’re generating unprecedented amounts of e-waste.
You’re all familiar with the grim statistics.
Or maybe not. We were surprised to learn that in 2019 alone, over 50 million tons of e-waste – including displays, cables, power supplies and other AV equipment – were generated in North America and Europe. Worse yet, that number has increased 21% over the last five years.
Not only is this e-waste bad for the environment, but it’s a danger to the communities where it’s disposed of. E-waste can contain harmful materials such as mercury, lead and cadmium, which contaminate the soil and water, and make their way into the food chain.
BUT THERE’S A SILVER LINING.
Actually, there are a number of silver linings. We have the power to slow and even arrest many of the threats to sustainability. Moreover, we have a blueprint for action. And if we follow through on the SDGs, not only can we avert a host of problems, we can realize a world of benefits.
But if we’re to make meaningful progress, action will have to come from all quarters.
We’d love to report that our government is on top of this issue and leading the way. But it’s not. On a national level, the lack of inaction is inexcusable and shameful.
Which is all the more reason why business needs to step up. Every industry has a responsibility to act – and that includes the AV industry.
And boy, does it include the AV industry! Here’s just one example of how we contribute to the problem: planned obsolescence. Companies aren’t creating products that are intended to last. Instead, they’re engineered to break down over time and eventually fail. Products that can’t be repaired need to be replaced. That’s part of industry’s business plan – and it has to change.
The good news is that we’re well-positioned to make substantial progress in responsible waste management, carbon emission reduction, and reduced energy usage. SAVe was created to be a catalyst for activating the ingenuity, imagination and commitment that courses through our industry.
THE SDGs: A WAY FORWARD
In 1987, the countries of the world officially defined the term “sustainable development” to mean “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
In September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all 193 members of the United Nations, with each nation pledging to achieve these indivisible and universal goals by 2030 in order to ensure a sustainable world of all people.
Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals were agreed to. Each SDG specified a number of specific targets – 169 in total – in areas ranging from climate to poverty and gender equality.
The power of the SDGs is that they are comprehensive, systemic and totally interrelated. An SDG approach can stop global warming, eradicate poverty, establish sustainable communities under the basic rule of law, and achieve all the other goals. The resources and know-how exist.
If you haven’t heard of the SDGs, don’t feel too bad. You’re not alone. Our federal government has taken no steps to publicize them to the American public, or to carry them out here in the United States. The United States is the only advanced industrial nation that hasn’t submitted a report on their progress to advance the SDGs.
THE ROLE OF THE AV INDUSTRY
SAVe is focused on where and how the AV industry can have the greatest impact. And make no mistake: we can have a huge impact. Afterall, our industry comprises some of the world’s most capable systems contractors, product manufacturers, consultants, programmers, engineers, technicians and other allied professionals. The AV industry ALONE is expected to generate $259 billion in 2022.
ENDORSEMENT ISN’T ENOUGH.
Saying, “Great idea! Go for it!” won’t get us where we need to be. Nor is it sufficient to make internal changes toward sustainability in our own companies (although that is a start). We must also act together to advocate for systemic changes in the industry. And we need to take concerted action to stop the detrimental practices that pollute, poison and exploit on a large scale.
What’s called for is leadership to steer our industry in the right direction.
The first industrywide U.S.-based organization to bring stakeholders together to take concerted action to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, SAVe stands for SUSTAINABILITY IN AV.
SAVe will provide a vehicle for our industry to take action and will also serve as a bridge to other industries, NGOs and partner organizations who share our conviction that urgent action must be taken to preserve the health of our planet, communities and people.
How will we do this? In a number of ways. For starters, SAVe will focus on:
It’s astonishing how low the level of awareness is surrounding goals that have been endorsed by every single member of the United Nations including the United States. So, our first responsibility is to spread the word about A) the urgent need for action; B) which actions to take; and C) the kinds of impacts we can expect to achieve.
SAVe: A SECOND LIFE
Give your AV equipment a second life at the end of its first life by donating it through a network that SAVe has established with the Commission on Voluntary Service & Action (CVSA), representing over 200 community-based NGOs throughout North America serving people and communities in need of systemic solutions to economic, social and environmental problems.
SAVe provides a certification program for companies in the PRO AV and low voltage industries. This will include education, company assessment and tools to develop an SDG plan.
REMEMBER: CHANGE GIVES RISE TO OPPORTUNITY
Let’s acknowledge the obvious: Meaningfully addressing climate change, poverty, inequality, environmental degradation and accelerating threats to sustainability will take work. There will be costs. There always are when paradigms shift.
But change also brings opportunity. According to the Wall Street Journal, in just the next decade, there will be upwards of $12 trillion in business opportunities for companies that align themselves with sustainable development.
Think about your business. A commitment to sustainability will help you attract and retain employees. It will make you a more attractive partner to customers who want to advance sustainability. And it will position you as a community leader. SAVe is a way forward – not just for our planet and our society, but for our industry. We rise and fall together, and by committing to advancing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, we can create a more stable, prosperous future for everyone.
To learn more about SAVe – and to get involved with this amazing initiative – please contact us at SAVEAV.org.