COP26 will be a key moment for businesses to think – or rethink – their green credentials. More than 100 world leaders will come together at the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP26) next week (31 October – 12 November) in Glasgow, to address the challenges of climate change and the role individuals, groups, organisations and businesses need to play in
stepping up to the challenge.
COP26 president designate Alok Sharma has said the government can only meet its environmental targets with the support of the business community and that while ministers are determined to “build back greener” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it needs the support of business to do so.
While there will be a spotlight on businesses and their sustainability targets, the summit will also help shine a light on the companies making a difference in the cleantech ecosystem. Helping to push cleantech innovation – and help Britain to reach net zero – the British Embassy in Israel is running several events surrounding the conference, the highlight being its Queen of Green (The UK-Israel Women in Sustainability Programme) initiative to promote UK and Israeli female start-ups and founders innovating in the cleantech sector.
Successful applicants from across the globe have been invited to Israel for a five-day delegation in November, when they will meet female founders in the same field, visit research and innovation centres, and gain business skills and industry knowledge through workshops and mentoring.
They include one to watch British-based food sharing app OLIO (Anne-Charlotte Mornington) and Israeli start-up Saturas (Anat Halgoa Solomon).
Hadar Huberman, clean growth sector lead, UK Israel Tech Hub at the British Embassy Israel, says: “The British Embassy in Israel has been echoing the UK’s strong stand and ambitious commitments around climate change with the Israeli innovation ecosystem.
“In addition to creating awareness and encouraging active participation of Israeli government, NGOs [non-governmental organisations] and tech companies in COP26 itself, the embassy has been taking an active role in bringing the British and Israeli markets closer together around sustainability and clean growth.
“We lead the way to bilateral collaboration in clean energy solutions, agrifoodtech investment trends and sustainable fashion technologies, with various activities encouraging Israeli businesses to join the UN’s Race To Zero campaign – the embassy is promoting the fact that both economies have much to gain from joining forces around climate change.
“We are aware of the fact that Israel, with over 750 sustainability-related tech companies and start-ups, is the bedrock to some of the most innovative technologies around alternative foods, water management, smart mobility and advanced industry.
“While the British industry is ahead of the curve in committing to net zero, and companies such as GSK, Tesco and British Telecom are using tech solutions to reduce their climate footprint.
“The evident match is clear – the UK holds the regulatory knowledge and market lead on business adaptation to green economy, whereas Israel has the technological edge to take the British industry to net zero.”
Elinor Honigstein, head of UK Office, UK Israel Tech Hub at the British Embassy Israel, says: “As part of our mission to provide significant value for the cleantech sector, we (UK-IL Women Leading Innovation Network at the British Embassy Israel) are partnering with corporates, venture capital firms and innovation hubs to create a programme that supports and connects women in sustainability in the UK and Israel.
“The COP26 satellite initiative, Queen of Green, will invite British women entrepreneurs in agrifoodtech to Israel to meet with Israeli entrepreneurs and ecosystem leaders.
“We chose to focus on agrifoodtech because Israel is uniquely positioned as a source of innovation in this field, with more than 300 research groups, 400 digital companies that raised close to $300 million (£218m), and it is listed among the top 50 global agrifoodtech ecosystems.
“Meanwhile, Britain is a fast-growing market through which start-ups can go global. As a result, we hope both sides will benefit from meeting each other, sharing best practices and sector-specific knowledge. It is also a great opportunity to feature leading women innovators and to drive more diversity into the cleantech field.”
British-based OLIO is a food sharing app that connects neighbours with each other and local businesses so that excess food doesn’t go to waste.
This could be food nearing its sell-by date in local stores, spare home-grown vegetables, bread from your baker, or the groceries in your fridge when you go away.
It was founded by Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One. Anne-Charlotte Mornington is its chief partnership officer.
Founded in 2015, OLIO quickly transformed into a global marketplace.
It has more than five million members – half of whom started using the app during the pandemic.
Around 80 percent are UK-based. Users upload a photo and description of the item they want to share, arranging for pick-up via private messaging. OLIO hopes to help everyone reduce their impact on the environment and ensure people aren’t throwing away food unnecessarily.
The app has raised a $43m (£31.23m) Series B round led by VNV Global and joined by DX Ventures, the venture capital arm of food delivery business Delivery Hero.
It has partnered with several major food retailers, including Tesco, Pret a Manger and Costa Coffee, and won several awards including this year’s Best of Green Awards 2021: Eco Tech and Digital Excellence in Agriculture: ITU-FAO Regional Contest in Europa and Central Asia, and it has now been successful in the British Embassy in Israel’s Queen of Green programme.
Mornington says: “Businesses need and must support the COP26 agenda to make our global transition towards a green economy smoother.
“Key points based on the COP agenda that businesses must prioritise are:
- Help reach net zero, they must set goals to create clear actionable roadmaps;
- Support the scaling of the voluntary carbon market;
- Support the financing of the transition to net zero;
- ·Capture the opportunities that will be unlocked by the outcome of the COP26 negotiations and make them viable;
- Support additional innovation and industrialisation needed to achieve the massive cost-down that will enable a timely global scale-up, for example hydrogen and hydrogen-based technologies;
- Understand how to work with and invest in nature as an asset;
- Prepare for the changes relating to climate hazards and bake in resilience mechanisms in business operations. Change in climate will affect human livability and workability, food systems, natural capital, as well as physical assets and infrastructure; and
- Rethinking investments, financial institutions and other companies will need to retool themselves for this challenge, and what the best financing mechanisms of the future might look like – for example, fund allocations for natural defenses and to ensure greater preparedness of exposed communities.
“The UK and Israel must join forces to create the tools and frameworks for change to be implemented. Climate change should not be a competitive advantage, it should be everyone’s priority. governments and industries must build collaborative strategies to support and embrace our changing reality.
“It is thanks to collaborations such as UK-IL that solutions will be determined and our path towards net zero will be accelerated.
“Businesses that are not putting sustainability at the heart of what they do will not survive the test of time.
“Both financing and procurement terms will increasingly favour ‘eco’ businesses and this will make it increasingly difficult for businesses that are not addressing those challenges to thrive.”
Saturas is an Israeli-based agritech company focusing on improving farmers’ water usage making it more efficient.
The technology accurately measures the right amount of water plants need in order to thrive without overwatering them, which encourages water conservation, but also the quantity and quality of the fruits and crops produced by farmers using their system.
Saturas was founded in 2013 by Halgoa Solomon and Moshe Meron.
It has developed an advanced decision support system for precision irrigation based on its miniature stem-water potential (SWP) sensor.
“The sensors, embedded in the trunks of trees, vines and plants, receive direct input from the tree or vine to provide accurate information for
Earlier this year, Saturas raised $3m (£2.18m) in the first part of a Series B funding round for its precision irrigation management system.
Halgoa Solomon, its CEO, says: “COP26’s importance for raising awareness and support in sustainable technologies is key, especially for young start-up companies.
“It will provide a platform for the creation of business contacts and opportunities.
“Both the UK and Israel are significant players in the ecosystem with innovative technologies and leading strong industries.
“Collaboration can promote the goals and accelerate the process.”
The Israeli company that was inspired by an orange
A pioneering Israeli packaging company is helping to accelerate the shift away from the use of plastics through its trademarked compostable packaging.
TIPA emerged in 2010 and manufactures compostable packaging that emulates the functionality and optical properties of plastic but is biodegradable and does not adversely affect shelf life. An increasing number of brands are turning to TIPA’s solutions as they search for alternatives to plastic. Among those with whom they are working are Duchy Organic for Waitrose, Riverford Organic Farmers and Stella McCartney.
Co-founder Daphna Nissenbaum, a former software engineer, says: “Consumer demand for sustainable packaging is growing meteorically.”
Next week, world leaders will meet in Glasgow to discuss ways to deal with climate change. Nissenbaum says: “Beyond helping to fight against the plastic contamination of our environment, compostable packaging helps to bring organic waste safely back to the soil. Sequestration of carbon in soil not only helps to protect our soil and the plant’s health but also plays its part in the fight against climate change. TIPA is looking forward to a successful outcome of the COP26 and wants to contribute to help grow this world into a better place.”
TIPA has taken part in several polls, finding that a majority of the public demands sustainable packaging alternatives, and are willing to pay more for it. A recent UK poll revealed that 83 percent of the British public would prefer their food to be wrapped in compostable packaging rather than traditional plastic.
How does TIPA’s packaging work? The products break down under compost conditions, returning to nature without harmful impact. “Like an orange peel, it protects what it packages before degrading safely in compost, leaving no harmful residue.”
The war on plastic has gathered momentum and is set to ramp up as governments across the globe commit to banning the use of plastics that threaten our natural environment. Single-use plastics are among a raft of items that could be banned in England as part of a new public consultation being launched in the autumn.
While plastic products have played a significant role during the pandemic; think masks, gloves, bottles of sanitisers, which are eventually discarded in terrestrial or marine environments, the pandemic has also allowed us to rethink our relationship with the environment.
“Sustainable packaging is becoming a necessity rather than a ‘good to have’. The market is growing along with the spotlight on plastic pollution, now more than ever. Employees are attracted to companies and organisations that
do right by the world.”
ABOUT THE QUEEN OF GREEN
Partners include Strauss, Volcani Centre, LSE Generate and Tech Nation
- Five-day delegation
- Designed to enable female founders and execs in the field of cleantech and sustainability to network and grow through mentorship, workshops and funding opportunities.
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- Down to business
- Alok Sharma
- Queen of Green
- The UK-Israel Women in Sustainability Programme
- British Embassy in Israel
- Anne-Charlotte Mornington
- Anat Halgoa Solomon
- Hadar Huberman
- British Telecom
- Elinor Honigstein
- Tessa Clarke
- Saasha Celestial-One
- Pret a Manger
- Costa Coffee
- VNV Global
- DX Ventures
- Delivery Hero
- Daphna Nissenbaum
- Volcani Centre
- LSE Generate
- Tech Nation
By Joe Millis