“We have to start rethinking from the ground up”
Mr. Lampert, why is sustainability suddenly so important?
Humanity’s greatest challenge is right around the corner: How are we handling climate change? We have to start rethinking from the ground up. And in my opinion, there is just one way to do this. We all have to make a radical change and start thinking, perceiving, acting, and producing sustainably.
What does “sustainable” mean to you?
Sustainability has an ecological, economic, and social pillar. We have to protect our environment and natural resources. We need subsistence strategies for long-term prosperity, not just short-term yield. And it is important that the pie is divided fairly. Everyone who contributes to production has to be properly compensated for his or her work.
Is sustainability a prerequisite for quality?
I am convinced that sustainable production will lead to a different understanding of quality. Consumers won’t always just buy the cheapest product. At the end of they day they will be proud that their butter was made by Austrian farmers. But that only works when the process is transparent, when we can trace where our products come from.
Is the key to trust showing who is behind the product?
Sustainability requires a certain intimacy. Trust is built when you know that there is someone who worked to make every product. No one trusts an anonymous system. That is why transparency is essential. When I know someone who does something for me, it creates emotional intimacy. And intimacy means consideration.
But you still have to convince the buyer...
Studies show that around 85% of Austrians want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced. And it goes even further; we can only wear our t-shirt with a clean conscience if it’s been made fairly. Every buying decision we make determines the quality of our products in the future.
So we all have to accept responsibility?
The sociologist Max Weber coined the phrase ‘ethic of responsibility’; we have to move in that direction. We need to understand that everything we do has consequences. Sustainable business requires all participants to act responsibly – from the producers and processing companies to the consumers.
Can sustainable business be measured?
The ecological footprint is the first important step toward evaluation. This shows that the production of sustainable goods emits significantly less CO2 and uses less water. Biodiversity is also a higher priority. Furthermore, there is a lot of work being done on “sustainable labeling” around the world.
And what is your advice for the future?
If we consistently pursue sustainability, we will assume our responsibility for this world and future generations. We all have to set an example in our daily lives. This is the only way we can face the future.
Interview: Helmut Wolf