October 29, 2021
Inspiring action for nature through social innovation
By: Hayley Whyte

One of things that attracted me to Accenture was its sustainability commitments and all the great work it was doing around community engagement. So when I joined the company two years ago, I was really excited by the possibilities to make a difference. I joined the Scotland Corporate Citizenship and Charity team and had the opportunity to contribute to social mobility initiatives, like Movement to Work. But there was less of a focus on nature and the environment at the time, which is really where my passion lies.

Eco Innovation Challenge

With the support of our leadership team in Scotland, I took the opportunity to start the Scotland Green Team, with the aim to engage and inspire our people around different environmental topics. Thankfully there were others within the Accenture Scotland community who shared my passion. This led to us entering a team in Accenture’s inaugural Eco Innovation Challenge, which mobilised more than 2,300 Accenture social innovators from 38 countries to find solutions to some of the world’s greatest environmental challenges. The seven grand challenges were Circular Packaging, Clean Energy at Home, Climate Resilience, Future of Food, Green(er) Supply Chains, Sustainable Cloud, and Rewilding Land.

Our team tackled the challenge of accelerating the rewilding of land, and came up with a mobile application called ‘Reimagine, Rewild’. The app leverages augmented reality to enable users to imagine what their local environment could look like if nature was encouraged to thrive. It’s an immersive, interactive platform for learning about the benefits of rewilding, and a brilliant example of how human ingenuity and technology can come together to drive positive change.

“Participating in the Eco Innovation Challenge has given me the opportunity to align my personal and professional ambitions.”

Visualising a nature positive future

After the initial ideation phase and rounds of voting, it was time to pitch. The judging panel consisted of Accenture leaders and representatives from our 40 innovation and NGO partners. It felt a bit like being on Dragon’s Den! The feedback we received was really positive. Rewilding Europe was particularly encouraged by the ability of ‘Reimagine, Rewild’ to help people visualise a more nature positive future – which can often be a barrier when trying to secure buy in for rewilding.

On completion of the Challenge, the seven winning teams were welcomed into Accenture’s Social Innovators Accelerator—an internal initiative aiming to equip our people with the skills and behaviours required to tackle societal challenges, through responsibly designed solutions. This gave us access to mentoring from leaders, both internally and externally, as well as funding and resource to bring our ideas to life.

Social Innovators everywhere

The biggest thing I’ve learnt from this experience is just how many talented people there are at Accenture. Lotte Beekenkamp, who works in Accenture’s innovation practice, has a real passion for sustainability—she’s on the board of the 2050 climate group. And Andrew Scott, who joined Accenture last year through an acquisition, has brought a lot of technical experience and knowledge. Our extended, multidisciplinary team includes app developers, UX/UI designers and a project manager from Accenture in the UK, Germany and Hungary. We all have different perspectives and skillsets, but we’re working towards a common goal. That is the magic of social innovation!

We’re currently building version one of the app, which we’ll be demonstrating as part of Accenture’s ‘sustainable innovation’ showcase at COP26. The next step from there will be to continue discussions with NGOs, charity partners and clients who have shown interest in the idea – and would like to help shape it further to get it out into the world. We’re feeling optimistic that there is a future for ‘Reimagine, Rewild’ and want to continue the momentum around the restoration of nature beyond the conference in November.

Solutions for nature

'Reimagine, Rewild’ is a great example of how Accenture is investing in solutions for nature. On a personal level, I’ve been conscious of my own impact on the environment for some time and have been working hard to reduce it. But working for Accenture has shown me that we do have it in our power—through human ingenuity and technology—to create a better, more sustainable, future for all.

Read more about how we are creating positive impact in the UK for our people, our communities and our planet.

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