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Should all brands have to show their environmental side? – Part 1

Here's the first part of what all the industry experts had to say

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With COP28 taking place in UAE this month, we asked people for their opinions if all brands had to show their environmental side.

Given the current landscape, the multiple yeses come as no surprise. However, we also saw few noes.

Earlier this year, even Unilever’s new CEO Hein Schumacher said purpose is not relevant to every Unilever brand.

Here’s part 1 of what all the industry experts had to say in detail:

Alex Malouf, PRCA MENA Board Member


Yes and Yes! Tell me of a brand that doesn’t have an environmental footprint and tell me of an issue that is bigger than climate change today.

Consumers are rightly asking questions about what brands are doing to go carbon neutral, and any brand who ignores this will see their reputation suffer.

I’d hope that every brand and organisation would have a strategy to reduce their carbon emissions as well as a way to communicate the work they’re undertaking and the results they are achieving.

I’d say that this is white space for many brands in our region, and I hope we put this issue front and centre what with COP28 in the UAE this year.

Estelle Khayat, Senior Manager – Strategy & Insight, Publicis Groupe Middle East


Corporations could bear a significant share of the blame for environmental harm, and that could make them responsible for taking environmental action.

But even when it’s more than greenwashing attempts, environmental responsibility shouldn’t be a brand’s differentiating factor.

That’s with the exception maybe of some true ‘purpose-native’ brands (not every brand is a Patagonia).

If we stop looking at environmental responsibility as a competitive advantage, the ambition can then be for brands to uphold a collective responsibility in implementing industry-wide changes towards a more conscientious path.

Instead of competing on purpose, we’d open impactful action not just to consumers, but to other brands too.

Alok Gadkar, CEO/CCO of Tuesday, a GP Inc company


With COP28 in UAE this year, the need to sing the same song has been quite a challenge for many brands. But if you don’t have an environmental, sustainable, climate change story, there is absolutely no need to force-fit.

In fact, stop right there. Being relevant is more important than being present.

Having said that, it’s time for brands to introspect and consider improvements that can be made within all areas of their business to minimise their carbon footprint, including within their buying, manufacturing and sourcing departments.

Creating and putting out a “sustainability agenda” story to tick a PR box is highly contrived; today’s consumers instantly recognise a fabricated narrative. Integrity is everything when it comes to this highly important issue.

Jonathan Lawlor, Partner at Premium & Fine Foodstuff


We no longer live in a world where we can rely on government policies alone to address all challenges facing our environment.

The private sector profits from doing business in our society and has an ethical responsibility to step up and show leadership in addressing environmental challenges and supporting communities in which they operate.

We launched Premium & Fine Foodstuff with an objective to take more responsibility for helping to raise sustainability awareness and addressing environmental challenges.

Doing so in the right way, authentically and staying true to their brand values will be rewarded.

Consumers are increasingly demanding more sustainable brands and want to support brands that are taking steps towards a more sustainable future.

Irene Garcia Lasala, Director – Sustainability, GMG


Brands today need to be responsible. There is a difference between having a purpose and showing an environmental commitment.

A purpose-driven brand creates a positive impact through its operations, while a report-driven brand explains the efforts it has taken to mitigate the negative impacts of its operations.

Some brands may choose to make environmental responsibility a central part of their mission, vision, and goals, while others may simply report on their efforts to reduce negative impacts.

Not every brand needs to fully revamp its business around sustainability, but every company should take steps to minimise its negative effects on the environment, economy, and society and communicate its plans for doing so.

More opinions and takes are shared in Part 2