In 2020, we decided that the theme for our year would be regenerating the veterinary world. I had been running The Webinar Vet for a decade and begun the online revolution for vets, which had taken millions of miles off the roads over the last decade. However, we wanted to do more to show leadership in the veterinary industry. As a digital educational business, it is arguably simpler to be sustainable than a large pharma company. However, we calculated our carbon footprint; offset double what we produced during the pandemic year; started a veterinary sustainability podcast and planted a wildflower meadow at the Liverpool Science Park along with encouraging our landlord to embrace renewable energy providers.
Part of beginning a sustainability journey is that the further you get down the road, the more you realise more can still be done. Many larger companies have not yet started, because they don’t know how to start. Small steps are enough at the start to build the company owner’s confidence.
Part of this year’s journey was to try to facilitate bringing the veterinary industry together to see how we can collaboratively move faster into a more sustainable future. I was at COP26 and I realised how government, industry and individuals need to work closely together to achieve the environmental targets that have been set for this decisive decade. Carbon seems to be the main focus that everyone concentrates on but it is not very holistic. When I decided to organise the forum, I wanted to look at resource use and biodiversity as well as climate change and carbon.
It’s very hard to get a lot of big companies in the room initially. Companies want to know who else is turning up and, inevitably, there is some distrust in being too open in sharing where they are in their sustainability journey. From the start of the process, I made it clear that this would be a safe place to discuss topics and that Chatham House rules would apply. Sustainability and regeneration are such big topics and companies are learning as they go. Every company that is taking these topics seriously have strengths and weaknesses in its approaches and I believe we will learn quicker if we work together. Collegiality and collaboration are more important than competing against each other in the environmental arena.
This was the background that led me, as a vet in an independent business, to start bringing companies in the veterinary space together to collaborate in this essential area of veterinary regeneration and sustainability. This journey will not be finished next year. It is a long journey, but one with a clear goal of reducing carbon production by 50%; creating a more circular, less wasteful economy and having 30% of the land of high biodiverse value by 2030 (30 by 30).