by Tom Bosschaert

1 februari 2024

Tom Bosschaert

Dear friends and sustainability trailblazers, as usual at the start of the year, we send you a newsletter packed with knowledge goodies about the frontlines of sustainable innovation and research.

This time, we have an extra large amount of goodies for you, in the form of two in-depth knowledge articles, no less than three podcasts, and several new case studies.

First, we unravel the dynamic evolution in ESG frameworks and reporting standards. Next, we present an in-depth analysis of utopian city designs, unearthing lessons from their past missteps to inspire future cityscapes.

Highlighting our projects, we embark on a year-long sustainable journey with Starprint Vietnam in the packaging industry, and show you a project with the Province of Utrecht, focusing on the visualization and understanding of a circular region.

Furthermore, you can read about how we have transcended the B-Corp certification, read about the exciting upgrade to the building of our UCo community in Utrecht, new masterclasses in the Netherlands and Vietnam, and no less than three very cool new podcasts for you to tune into and get the current edge of sustainability innovation.

Enjoy the news, gifts, and the new year!

Warm regards,
Tom Bosschaert and the Except team 

Deep Article: Earthquakes in the ESG landscape

In December we published a seminal deep-dive piece, investigating the turmoil the world of ESG frameworks and standards are in, and how they are reshaping the workings of the corporate world. The article had an overwhelming viewership on LinkedIn and Twitter, with over 12.000 readers to date. 

“Earthquakes in ESG-Land" offers an engaging exploration of the dynamic shifts in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards. It delves into significant changes, such as the EU's ESRS standards and the developments around double and triple materiality, reflecting the evolving landscape of corporate sustainability. This thought-provoking piece uncovers ESG’s implications for future sustainability strategies, inviting readers to consider the transformative impact of these developments on global business practices. 

Deep Article: Learning from Failed Utopia

We have another big gift for you. Historian Saul Boyle and Tom worked for a year on this research journey. Go along with us into the fascinating world of sustainable city design with our long read article, "Learning from Failed Utopia." Explore the deep journey through historic utopian cities, understanding the lessons of their many failures. We dissect examples like Brasilia and Masdar City, Fordlandia and NEOM, extracting key insights for creating resilient, adaptive urban environments. 

This colorful journey navigates the delicate balance between ambition and practicality in urban planning, offering a glimpse into both the missteps and triumphs of past urban megaprojects. We then extract valuable lessons on how to apply this to future city designs and Orchid City.

Case: Starprint Vietnam’s Sustainability Journey

Plastic waste makes up more than 80% of the waste in Asia. Starprint Vietnam (SV), as a packaging manufacturer, is taking steps to become fully engaged with the mission for a sustainable packaging industry. We started this journey with SV, using the Symbiosis in Development (SiD) framework, and completed the first chapter of what looks to be a transformative pathway for the industry. 

SV’s journey includes extensive training for SV’s core team, data analysis on environmental footprints and market trends, and co-creation workshops in Ho Chi Minh City. SV's commitment to sustainable practices and innovative solutions signifies a proactive change in the industry, paving the way for a more sustainable packaging future. Read more about  how SV shapes their journey here.

Article: Moving beyond B Corp certification

Ever navigating the evolving landscape of sustainability, we have made a conscious decision to step out of B Corp certification. This decision, not taken lightly, is far from a departure from our values, rather a step towards a clear delineation of our core principles. This news caused a big stir online in the B Corp community with heated debates, so we wrote an article to explain why.

Our journey with B Corp began with shared ideals, but it became evident that B Corp does not represent the pioneers in the sustainability field. This for us is a reaffirmation of our commitment to lead, innovate, and inspire in the realm of sustainability, unbound by the confines of standard certifications or simple marketing labels. Read all about why Except stepped out of B Corp here.

Case: Landscapes of the Circular Economy

In the project, "The Landscape of the Circular Economy," we explore the journey of material flows through evocative illustrations, for the Province of Utrecht. In this initiative Emma collaborated with Tanja Koning, supported by the Stimuleringsfonds voor de Creatieve Industrie. It offers a unique perspective on shaping sustainable and economically viable environments. 

From innovative food waste reduction strategies to future-focused water management and renewable energy solutions, this project is a powerful tool for understanding and advancing circular economies. It's a step towards helping governments and businesses visualize and implement sustainable practices for a resilient future.

Read all about the Landscape of the Circular Economy here.

Sustainability Leadership masterclasses Vietnam 

In October and November, we hosted sustainability leadership masterclasses in Ho Chi Minh City, to an audience of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and investors. “One of the most effective and impactful workshops I have ever learnt” - said Chau Nguyen, Managing Director of Urbanist Travel. 

The workshops featured engaging topics such as Sustainability Roadmaps, ESG and Green Marketing, and guests including Starbucks Vietnam, Lego, and SG25. We developed the program in partnership with Frontier Leadership Institute. Stay tuned for new masterclasses in Vietnam at the end of Q1 2024.

Listen to 3 sizzling new Podcasts

Tune in and listen to the latest insights in innovation and sustainability.

The NatureBacked Podcast: Here, Tom reveals how Except is transforming to initiate long-term societal transformations. He emphasizes the urgency of action, outlining five key intervention points in society for a snowball effect transition. These include the financial sector, agriculture, the built environment, manufacturing, and education. Tune in to the episode.

Pink Mondo Podcast: In this episode, Tom demystifies sustainability and societal functions. He discusses how Except collaborates with organizations and industries to develop sustainable impacts through innovative projects. This conversation is a deep dive into combining science, business, design, and communication to address today's societal challenges. Listen to the episode.

WTF Cities Podcast: Are you interested in sustainability as resilience, harmony, and wellbeing? What do you think about integrated sustainability? How can we learn from the past for a better future? We talk about his vision for the future of cities, stages of grief in sustainability, Orchid City, the City of Hope, and many more. Tune in here.

SiD Masterclass & Graduates Whatsapp Group

In October of this year, we held another 3 day SiD fundamentals masterclass, this time with participants from Germany, the US, and the Netherlands, all together in Utrecht for a 3 day deep-dive. Three days of riveting conversation, and of course, at the end, a SiD certificate for each participant.

To further connect the now several hundred SiD certified participants, we started the SiD Graduates Whatsapp group. If you have received a SiD fundamentals training in the past, please email us for an invitation link to join.

UCo Sustainability Center gets an upgrade

Have you been to our UCo sustainability center, which opened its doors in 2017? With UCo we renovated an industrial listed heritage building from 1916 in an exemplary circular, healthy, and inspiring office for its community of sustainability professionals. After 7 years of successful operation, UCo is now getting a tune-up with a new floor, canteen and meeting spaces.

A new phase in UCo’s life started with the disassembly of the '70s non-heritage part, which fully restores the building's heritage value. Of course, it wouldn’t be UCo if many building materials were not re-used, before they started their life in other buildings around the area earlier on. The upgrade is set to be completed in February, be sure to come check it out, and sorry for the mess in the meantime :). Read more about UCo here.

Stay in touch!

That’s it for this new 2024 newsletter, don’t be a stranger and let us know what you think about our work on LinkedIn.

Tom Bosschaert
by Tom Bosschaert

1 februari 2024

Further reading