3Keel collaborates with Canopy to accelerate climate action

3Keel and Canopy are two sustainability consultancies who could have been competitors. But in a world in the grip of a climate emergency, and where urgent progress is required to move us onto a sustainable footing, we need new ways of working to maximise our impact.

3Keel and Canopy are combining their expertise to help their clients to accelerate progress on climate change and sustainability. Simon Miller, Managing Partner at 3Keel, and Matt Loose, CEO of Canopy, discuss collaboration not competition in a world where global heating is causing catastrophic changes to our climate.

So how did the partnership between Canopy and 3Keel come about?

Matt: I initially reached out to Simon, quite simply, because I hold him and the 3Keel team in high regard. I’ve spent my career trying to help companies improve sustainability outcomes and my experience is that collaboration is important to developing creative, long lasting solutions. I founded Canopy to work with the brightest minds to make a real difference, and 3Keel shares this aim. I called the business Canopy to capture the idea that working together, under this big tent, will turn ideas into actions.

Simon: And from our side, we’ve known Matt and his work for a number of years, and met in the past at sector events. Matt’s approach was out of the blue, but over a few cups of coffee I quickly realised the sophistication of his thinking and effective ways of working. For 3Keel, this partnership feels like an important element for our next stage of evolution.

3Keel’s Simon Miller with Canopy CEO Matt Loose

What do you think the other brings to the partnership?

Simon: So for us, Matt brings the ability to constructively engage with different stakeholders at all levels of a business. I’ve already seen his skills at plotting routes through some of the  thorny issues that clients can face, and like us he has real expertise in the FMCG sector. These are a really valuable abilities, and it will be an asset to 3Keel and our clients to have a partner like Canopy to collaborate with on the appropriate projects.

Matt: 3Keel brings rigour to the science and data around complex problems. Bringing this insight to clients, so they know where and how to act is a critical piece of the puzzle. It is also important when bringing stakeholders together to solve these big problems. Our clients will benefit from the combination of our technical, stakeholder and strategy expertise.

Why partner now?

Matt: All the science is telling us that we have to massively accelerate our progress on sustainability. We’ve got a climate emergency, extreme biodiversity loss, kids giving up on their schooling to protest. Our clients recognise there is a compelling case for businesses to act. Together, by combining our expertise with that of our clients, we make a bigger impact than we would separately. And if we can get this right, it means other collaborations on these issues have the potential to flourish as well.

Simon: We have a shared sense of urgency and a need for high impact with our work. We have trust in each other to collaborate effectively and openly. The need for climate action is particularly critical. There is a lot of woolly talk going on around collaboration. Just the other day I came across the term “rainbow-washing.” It’s green washing, but for the SDGs. The SDGs are another example of where companies really need to be collaborating to achieve the ambitious 2030 goals.

“We are still a very long way from turning off the plastic flowing into our oceans – we must accelerate action”

Which SDGs do you feel need particular attention?

Simon: You know I’ve always thought there should be an SDG on soil. But as SDG13: Life on land is the closest to this, I do feel this one is often overlooked. However, SDG15: Climate Action is where there needs to be the most urgent action. The climate movement, accelerated by Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, has markedly shifted the nature of discussions with clients, and COP26 in Glasgow is also focussing attention.

Matt: The SDGs are necessarily interdependent. Rather than seeing them as isolated problems we need to make progress across the board. But there are areas where we know progress is slower.  SDG14: Life Underwater is a particular concern and an area we need to make urgent progress. We are still a very long way from turning off the plastic flowing into our oceans – we must accelerate action. Action on sustainable foods and sustainable diets will also unlock massive benefits, so SDG3: Good Health and Wellbeing should see rapid investment. It’s also a good example of where collaboration is crucial – the complexity of food chains means it’s not enough for just one retailer or brand to act. Only though collaborative action at all stages of the value chain can we achieve the change that needs to happen.

“We need everyone to be throwing all that they have to bring about rapid decarbonisation”

What would be your message to companies trying to accelerate sustainability?

Simon: Have courage! I’ve witnessed really tough conversations going on internally at companies we work with, and the realisation in some quarters that ‘business as usual’ is not going to be possible in the medium to long-term. Courage is definitely needed to share those messages to the cynics, some of whom of course hold the senior positions. We are now seeing more clients having these conversations, and we are focussing our efforts to provide the evidence and perspectives which resonate.

Matt Companies need to really know where to intervene effectively. It is important to make positive change strategically – to know where your environmental and social impacts lie, and what capabilities you have to make a difference. Those are the building blocks from which to build a really strong and courageous business moving forward.

What can we expect from the partnership? Any teasers to share?

Simon: Ha ha – yes actually! There is a high profile project which is going to be announced in the coming weeks, which will bring our respective skills together to provide sector-level support to increasing climate action. Watch this space – we should be in a position to announce it in February. Beyond that, we’ve discussed co-hosting some roundtable discussion groups, and joint ventures on key issues where we see there is a need. Who knows, we might even do a podcast!

Matt: 3Keel and Canopy have a real fit in terms of the work we do, the values we share, and this will be reflected in all the work we do together. Collaborating is exciting. Together we can make a tremendous impact. I’m a big believer in the adage ‘If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together’, and I think our partnership will demonstrate this.

“If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together”