The aim of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt is to inspire leaders worldwide to carry out their responsibility to society and to act as responsible leaders for a peaceful, just and sustainable future. This includes the event series “BMW Foundation Denkraum” (Thinking Space), where this year the focus was on the topic “Good living and sustainable cities by 2030”.
It was precisely four years ago, in September 2015, that the United Nations adopted its Agenda 2030. This document is the first attempt to create a basis for “economic progress in harmony with social justice and within the framework of the ecological limits of the earth”.
Years before the adoption of this Agenda, the BMW Group declared Sustainability to be a strategic corporate objective and, ever since then, socially and environmentally responsible action has been part of its promise to deliver premium products and services. In that respect, the company has assumed a pioneering role worldwide. It includes, for instance, sustainable responsibility at every vehicle stage: from development, production and transportation through to storage, sale and disposal. In addition, the BMW Group works with cities and governments to develop and maintain initiatives and concepts designed to achieve greater sustainability. The key goal is to make mobility not just safer, more reliable and more comfortable, but also more sustainable.
Mobility, participation, climate change, health: many global problems come together in cities as if under a magnifying glass. It is for this very reason that solutions can be developed there to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goal #11 – “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. With its Thinking Space project, the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt aims to make its contribution towards this.
At the foundation’s headquarters on the Praterinsel in Munich, the focus was on diving deeply into the manifacetted dimensions of this topic. The SDG #11 provided a positive scenario for participants to aspire to.
Based on the context of Agenda 2030, decision makers from industry, government, science, start-ups, banks, NGOs, culture and the media discussed the key questions of: “How can we make the way we live together in cities more participatory and resource-efficient?”; “How can industry, investors and society contribute to a “new economy” and a transformation of conventional forms of government, administration and financing?”; and “What innovative ideas and business models can be used to create more wellbeing and sustainability in our cities?”
As well as Prof Obiora Ike (Executive Director of the Global Ethics Centre in Geneva), who spoke about the ethical conditions, Dr Sarah Hackfort (Head of Research into Sustainability and Transformation at the Institute for Future Studies and Technology Analysis in Berlin) stressed in her keynote speech how important it is to adapt the commercial system better to the needs of people and the necessities of the future. Amongst other things, production and consumption patterns underpinned by a holistic approach to the entire value chain and a recycling mentality must be consciously promoted.
“Companies can and should be role models here”, says the research expert. It is crucial for them to also provide clear impetus. In addition, sustainable planning and actions is in the interests of any intelligently operating company. “Opting for sustainability is ultimately an investment in your own future”, she says. It is the only way companies can continue to be successful in decades to come. This is why it is fundamental for a carmaker like the BMW Group to move from being purely a carmaker to becoming a comprehensive mobility service provider with a focus on our future, long-term needs. It is important to think outside the box and come up with visionary ideas. Initiatives like the “Denkraum” are an important forum for this.