Marcello Palazzi has been active in civic innovation for many years. He has been leading the B Corp movement in Europe, from Amsterdam, and is the B Corps Global Ambassador. He is also Chairman of SIX, the worldwide social innovation exchange. In this interview he gives us a short introduction to his talk.
What will you will be talking about at Social Innovation Summit?
– I have three main topics. Firstly I will speak about the transition we are going through at the moment, the transition into a more open society with more open innovation. For many years there has been a flood of new ideas coming from NGOs and social innovators. In the next phase I hope to see more governments taking the role as facilitators, giving more open space to empower social innovation and nudging good ideas. Secondly I think that we all need to be better at learning from each other globally. In SIX we have 16 000 social entrepreneurs. How can we be more effective in learning and how can we find better structures for these processes? And thirdly I will speak about the B Corp movement, where companies that put impact first try to shape a better world.
What is the B Corp movement?
– It is a movement with about 2 300 companies in 50 countries all over the world, that all think that business impacts and serves more than just the shareholders. The movement has an equal responsibility to the community and to the planet. You could also say that B Corp is a method to measure impact. To become a certified B Corp your company has to assess its total activities through 200 indicators, a sort of ‘medical’ for businesses to test overall health. Among the B Corps you can for example find Danone, Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s.
Why is the B Corp movement not more present in Scandinavia?
– We are just not there yet. So far we have covered over 50 countries and we have not had the time to establish an office and an organisation there, but it will come! We have a partner in Denmark though, B Lab Danmark.
What is your view of social innovation in Scandinavia?
– I am a big fan of “the Nordic model” but I also see that the Scandinavian societies have changed a lot over the last years, even though there still is a general consensus about “the model.” So far the social sector has been taken care of by governments, but I hope that they will be more positive to engage with social entrepreneurs. I want governments to be more like coordinators and less top-down decision-makers. I also think that Scandinavians can do a lot more in the world when it comes to development, entrepreneurship and how to better integrate cultures and people into our societies.
What about the future for social innovation in Europe?
– Europe still is an amazing continent of diversity of culture and cultures, which we are not fully aware of and don’t actively develop as a source of competitive advantage. Here I think we have to be optimistic: we have the possibility to pursue intercultural connections for the good of all. Potentially Europe can do a lot more! For example the Scandinavian countries, Germany and the Netherlands, all with quite well organized civil societies, really should try to keep that asset and in addition attempt to become more innovative. I would love to see a programme for everyone working in a government, where they learn how to be more innovative! That could create more openness and innovation. Finally I think Europe lacks a clear and common vision for the future, to unite around.