This week sees the conclusion of the European Sustainable Development Week (SEDD). Since 2014, this special week has highlighted the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Objectives and encouraged every one of us to contribute to a shared vision which commits to “putting an end to poverty, saving the planet and building a peaceful world”.

The UN’s 17 sustainable goals have been adopted and form part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. More precisely, the Agenda lists 169 targets to be achieved by this date. The period between 2020 and 2030 has been named the ‘Decade of Action’. Indeed, though significant progress has been achieved, urgent action is still required on all fronts.

In the context of this worldwide effort, staff at Sidetrade have taken collective action, linking their more local sustainable initiatives to those on a worldwide scale by means of a challenge organised in partnership with the NGO Tree Nation.

Daily eco-friendly actions literally become… a forest in Madagascar!

On the 18th September, the opening day of the European Sustainable Development Week, we set a challenge on B-Side, a communication platform which enables us to share useful information with our people, such as press reviews, information about our competitors, highlights of our working life, job offers, or new product launches…. The challenge invites Sidetraders to share all their small or larger-scale daily actions which contribute to the protection of the planet.

For each ‘like’ received, Sidetrade offers a tree to the employee who thus becomes a ‘planter’ and so is contributing to Tree Nation’s reforestation project in the north-west of Madagascar.

In two weeks ‘Sidetraders’ have greatly increased their own sustainable development initiatives, contributing to Madagascar’s reforestation by indirectly making possible the planting of 556 trees. For the individual who contributes, each tree is a special and unusual gift. Also, each tree is a victory for the deforested areas of Madagascar, contributing to a more resilient environment, and is a pledge of our commitment to a better future for us all.

The challenge we set up has quickly won a lot of support from our teams. Some have chosen to replace their light-bulbs at home with LEDs, others to buy local or organic products, yet others to go by bike to the office or the gym, or to give up using plastic bags… Ideas have been flowing, so our initial aim of planting 500 trees has quickly been achieved.

Actions we can all take

For our group of ‘planters’ the challenge has often become an opportunity to consider – or reconsider – the Sustainable Development Objectives and to forge a link between these, their own initiatives, the company’s actions as regards CSR, as well as the more global issues of sustainable development.

For many of our people, the protection of the planet has become a concrete reality in their daily lives, both at the office and at home. This initiative will add to the many positive links which already exist between Sidetraders.

As well as the positive energy and huge dynamism created by the challenge, it has also shown that involvement in the protection of the environment is within everyone’s reach, especially when action is taken and shared with enthusiasm.

As one of the participants neatly put it: “The challenge has shown that many of us are involved in taking action to help the environment, and that each action counts”. These efforts could inspire more still to follow.

From the suggestions made by participants, let’s pick out a few here. Sidetrade could partner with an NGO to protect biodiversity or with local fruit and vegetable growers. It could launch a clean-up of the local environment, or set up workshops to teach about recycling…

We are a technology business. We are also a responsible and committed business which is convinced that the well-being of our staff and the protection of the environment are the keys to our future, both individually and collectively.

The result of the challenge Sidetrade set up with Tree Nation provides both clear recognition and proof of our commitment, but also an incentive to go even further. The strength and influence of our company are great advantages in helping to boost CSR initiatives. We must seize this opportunity as we go forward.

Delphine Vantours, Chief People Officer at Sidetrade