How a small lapel pin sparked big conversations at ecobuild 2018


Last week, Bioregional enjoyed three days at ecobuild 2018. Emmelie Brownlee shares what we got up to, and why a lapel pin proved to be an excellent engagement tool

As we set up our stall at ecobuild on Tuesday morning, I don’t think any of us expected to end up with more than 100 pledges from attendees about how they will drive action for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UK.

Our secret weapon? A small lapel pin of the SDGs…

Built environment and the SDGs

This year’s ecobuild posed the question, “how can the built environment sector collectively help to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals?”

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed by more than 190 governments in 2015 with the aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Bioregional is working to drive action for these goals in the UK, including in the built environment sector where we do a lot of work.  

As a partner of ecobuild, we helped develop some of the sessions exploring this question – covering the industry response so far, how the SDGs relate to the Paris Agreement and what actions can be taken by the sector.

What will you do to help the SDGs?

But we really wanted to make sure that – as well as exploring the issues – attendees left ready to get started on action for the goals in the UK.

So, we asked people to make pledges about what their organisation will do to help us achieve the SDGs by 2030.

The range of businesses that got involved was exciting. As you’ll see below in our Twitter Moments, we had people from BRE, Rockwool, Carey Group, Arup, Kingfisher, Elementa Consulting and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.

The process got people thinking about the different ways they and their organisation are best placed to engage with the goals – from providing services or engaging customers to offering sustainability training or reporting against the goals. 

The power of the pin

How did the pins help us engage with people? Well firstly, we did provide one in return for making a pledge (we’re not above a bit of bribery). But the real draw lay in their ability to strike up conversations, rather than being simply a ‘freebie.’

As the pledges started to rack up, more and more people turned up saying they had seen a colleague or another attendee wearing an eye-catching SDGs pin. They’d come to our stand to either:

  • Find out more about the SDGs; or
  • Make a pledge, because they saw the potential of the pins for awareness-raising. It’s not always easy to start a discussion about something as huge as the SDGs, so anything that helps open that initial conversation is useful.

Either way, this helped us speak to a wide range of people as well as provide them with a way to spark their own discussions in the future!

Get involved

If you’re interested in how you and your organisation can get involved with the SDGs, here are three things you can do today:

  • Sign up to our mailing list and receive a copy of our new guide that will share how companies in the built environment sector can incorporate the SDGs into their business. We will be sharing it at the end of March.
  • Check out the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD); a cross-sector network of organisations who are working together to drive action on the SDGs in the UK. 
  • Let us know on Twitter what your company pledges to do to help achieve the SDGs using #ImWithTheSDGs.


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