It was quite the experience, to say the least!
To give you some backstory, the Raglan Chamber is an accredited member of the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Industry (NZCCI), which includes 30 other accredited Chambers from around the Country (connecting us to a network of over 22,000 businesses and fellow Chamber members nationwide).
With that, NZCCI is a member of the International Chamber of Commerce, which in itself includes Chamber members from over 100 countries around the world. The ICC, with the World Federation of Chambers, put on the World Chambers Congress every other year in a different host city.
Not only did we have the opportunity to attend the Congress with our fellow NZCCI delegates, but we were also asked to present Plastic Bag Free Raglan (PBFR) as part of the Sustainability Plenary during the Congress.
Our Connection to Plastic Bag Free Raglan
PBFR was initiated by the Raglan Chamber of Commerce and the Whaingaroa Environment Centre at the beginning of 2016, and is further supported by Xtreme Zero Waste, Para Kore and the Raglan Community Board.
The Chamber assisted PBFR in the development of the business support programme and the accreditation programme that assists businesses in removing single-use plastic bags from their shops, implementing a more sustainable solution.
Since the inception of the accreditation programme, PBFR has accredited over 60 businesses as ‘single-use plastic bag free’, including the Raglan Four Square Supermarket, who is the first Four Square in New Zealand to remove their single-use plastic shopping bags.
Our hope is to inspire a new way of thinking for businesses. We took the opportunity at the Congress to encourage the implementation of sustainable business practices to strengthen the long-term vitality of communities both economically and environmentally.
The project was warmly received by the room, with expressions of gratitude and interest from Chamber members worldwide. The President of the Kenya Chamber of Commerce acknowledged the importance of the topic and hopes more Chambers begin to encourage the businesses in their own communities to start making changes. Kenya is one of the most recent countries to ban single-use plastic bags.
Global Goals for Sustainable Development
The World Chambers Congress was also an official partner event of Global Goals Week, as part of the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development project. Plastic Bag Free Raglan was added to the list of projects being actioned by the International Chamber network, to help achieve the goals that have been set by the UN.
Many Chambers from around NZ have requested more information, so they can start the steps to shifting their communities as well. We are looking forward to sharing PBFR with the wider network of Chambers and will continue to support the project in its efforts locally… as Raglan moves towards becoming a single-use plastic bag free community.
The Congress was three days of information, inspiration and insight into the wider community that is the International Chamber of Commerce. I look forward to sharing more about the Congress with you over the coming weeks.
Have a very happy and productive week,
**One of the highlights I will mention right now was meeting Gunter Pauli, who also spoke during the Sustainability Plenary. He was incredibly inspiring and I would recommend learning more about him! Here’s one of the videos I’ve found since coming home.
Watch the full presentation here: