Climate Takes Center Stage at Milan Design Week

April 15, 2013


World Bank and Carbon Neutral Alcantara Co-Host Alcantara Dialogues/Connect4Climate: Re-Think, Re-Design, Re-New

MILAN, April 15, 2013 The World Bank is an international development organization dedicated to reducing poverty. Alcantara is an Italian company that produces a unique material used in high-end cars, interiors, fashion, and hi-tech. At first glance, unlikely partners.  What unites them? A shared commitment to sustainability and tackling climate change.

This common goal was the inspiration for a series of panel discussions entitled Alcantara Dialogues- Connect4Climate: Re-think, Re-Design, Re-new, co-hosted by the World Bank’s Connect4Climate (C4C) initiative and the 100% carbon-neutral company Alcantara at the Temporary Museum for New Design during Milan Design Week (April 9-14, 2013).

The high-profile dialogues took place in a 300-square meter pavilion designed by internationally-renowned architect Giulio Cappellini using Alcantara materials to create an innovative sensory experience. The space also featured a C4C exhibition of user-generated climate stories and images from around the world designed by projection designer Jared Mezzocchi for the more than 300,000 visitors who came to Milan Design Week.

From April 9 -12, 2013, the discussion series featured influencers from the worlds of design and architecture, fashion, corporate social responsibility, global advocacy, entertainment, and the arts. Panelists included: Corrado Clini, Italian Minister of the Environment; Cyril Muller, World Bank Vice President for External Affairs; Donald Ranvaud, International Film Producer;  Franca Sozzani, Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief; Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; and Kenny Young, Grammy Award-winning Songwriter, Music Producer, and Artists Project Earth (APE) Founder.

The lively high-level discussions were moderated by Joseph Grima, Editor of Domus; Eliza Anyangwe, Senior Content Coordinator from the Guardian, Zoe Fox, Content Coordinator from Mashable, and Izzy Lawrence, Host, Writer, and DJ from MTV.

As World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim has said, “To deliver bold solutions on climate change, we need to listen to and engage broader and more diverse audiences.”  This unusual public/private partnership was an effort to do just that - by stimulating new conversations with thought-leaders from a wide variety of disciplines to create a greater understanding of how sustainable design and business practices can impact social behavior to mitigate climate change.

The discussion series started on April 9, 2013 with the opening panel on Design and Sustainability. Giulio Cappellini made his case for sustainable design by saying,  "On one hand, it is important to create really beautiful products, but on the other hand we must also try to give people a better way of life, and help to make a positive impact on the places where we live. In this way, design and architecture can really make people dream for a better future.”

Designer Marcel Wanders added, "There is nothing that grows old more fast than the new, and so we have to start understanding that we should not look for the new - we should look for the real, for the important, for the things that really are connected to us already from the past to bring us to the future... we need a thousand ideas, and a thousand solutions as each of them have their own value."

At the Sustainable Fashion panel on April 10, 2013, Giovanna Melandri, President of the MAXXI Foundation in Rome, offered to help continue the important conversation that the C4C/Alcantara Dialogues kickstarted. "Let's put together the great fashion schools, designers, and people working on sustainability and have them talk - they are often worlds apart. I am happy to offer MAXXI to help bridge these worlds, as we are a contemporary cultural and research institution which, together with Connect4Climate and Alcantara, has an interest in seeing how we can move this conversation on sustainability within the multi-trillion dollar fashion business forward."

Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia, highlighted that the production line needs to be taken into consideration for climate mitigation in fashion. “What we see on the runway is not that important - what is important is what is before, from a social and an environmental point of view."

During her remarks at the CSR and Global Advocacy panel on April 11, 2013, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Betty Williams, said, "Anyone involved in the work for peace and justice must be involved in the work for Mother Earth. It is all of our responsibility to challenge governments to take action against climate change."

While speaking about MTV's partnership with Connect4Climate and their joint effort to use the MTV brand for good, Julie Allen, Creative Director for Social Responsibility of Viacom International, said, "We need to make people realize that small changes, when they all come together, can make a big difference. We have seen a shift in how young people think and they are becoming more socially responsible. For MTV, warm is the new cool."

Speaking at the same panel, Kelly Rigg, Executive Director of the Global Call for Climate Action (, put it simply: "There are 5 things that we need to know about climate change: 1) It's happening; 2) It will be bad; 3) We cause it; 4) Scientists agree; 5) If we act urgently, we can do something about it- there's hope." She stressed the need for governments to create incentives for businesses to take action, eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, and tax carbon pollution, while the public must increase its demand for sustainable goods.

As part of the last panel of the series on Entertainment and the Arts on April 12, 2013. Grammy Award-winning songwriter, music producer, and founder of UK- based Artists Project Earth (APE) Kenny Young stressed the need to raise awareness about climate change though the mainstream, as the people who are most unaware of climate issues are among the masses: "Art is used to inspire. Musicians are artists who can communicate with a wide public and reach millions through their music to spur audiences to think locally and act globally to build low-carbon communities."

The panels also focused on the importance of private sector commitment to fostering a more sustainable world and looking at best practices of corporate social responsibility, including the story of Alcantara, which uses energy from renewable sources and puts environmental protection at the core of their business strategy.

“We view sustainability as an opportunity, not a cost. Given our shared objectives and values, partnering with the World Bank's Connect4Climate was a natural step for Alcantara - not only because of our long-standing commitment to carbon neutrality, but also because of our desire to provide a platform for meaningful dialogues which will spur people to re-think, re-design, and re-new,” said Andrea Boragno, Alcantara’s CEO and Chairman.

Connect4Climate (C4C) is a global partnership program dedicated to climate change communication supported by the World Bank, the Italian Ministry of Environment, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in collaboration with more than 150 global knowledge partners. With over half a million followers on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels, C4C is building an ever-growing community of individuals and organizations around the world committed to climate change action.

"Today’s rapidly changing social media environment presents a great opportunity for global discussion and advocacy,” said Dr. Corrado Clini, Italian Minister of the Environment. “With an impressive coalition of partners, Connect4Climate amplifies local voices, enables policymakers to listen and learn from local innovations, and is helping to bring together environmentally-engaged citizens from all corners of the globe."


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