From Design to Impact – Leading the Change Towards a Circular Economy!
The global community faces an unprecedented environmental crisis. Climate change, resource depletion, pollution, and social inequalities threaten the delicate balance of our planet. The traditional linear economy, characterized by a “Take, make, dispose of” model, has led to massive waste generation and environmental degradation. The pursuit of profit often comes at the expense of the environment and marginalized communities, exacerbating these challenges.
Najia Qazi understands the urgency of this situation and refuses to accept it as the status quo. She believes that businesses can be a force for good, and profit can coexist with environmental and social responsibility. Being a visionary Founder and CEO of Sustainable Narrative, her vision challenges the prevailing narrative that economic growth must come at the cost of our planet’s health.
Najia’s journey into the world of sustainability was driven by a profound vision—one that blends the three essential P’s: People, Planet, and Profit. Her mission is clear: to demonstrate how these elements can harmoniously coexist and, more importantly, contribute positively to our world. In her eyes, it’s about approaching business from the perspective of tomorrow, ensuring that every venture leaves a lasting positive impact.
With a professional background in design, Najia’s career initially led her to collaborate with various brands. However, her exposure to the intricacies of production and consumption processes awakened a deep curiosity within her. She immersed herself in understanding the complex web of global supply chains, leading to startling revelations. Among them is the fashion industry’s staggering carbon footprint, which rivals that of the petroleum industry, and its contribution of 10% to annual global carbon emissions. Armed with this knowledge, she embarked on a journey of discovery, soaking up information like a sponge.
Najia’s quest for knowledge led her to delve into sustainability-focused programs, such as the one offered by the University of Columbia in the United States. Armed with a wealth of knowledge and a burning desire to make a difference, she knew that she had to change, to do better, and to inspire change in others.
Join us as we delve into the life and vision of a true advocate for positive change whose work extends beyond today’s profits, impacting generations to come!
Could you please elaborate on your story as the beacon of your organization and how you have positioned it as a dependable player in the competitive market?
Sustainable Narrative is a digital consultancy-based sustainability initiative started with a mission to create awareness and provide sustainable design-based solutions to businesses in Dubai, UAE. We aim to incorporate a regenerative business mindset that includes the processes of restoration, renewal of current resources, and the creation of sustainable systems. As I mentioned before, my exposure to sustainability kicked off in the design world, but I also learned that we should instead question the entire value chain.
So, I purposefully decided not to limit my scope to only design brands because I realize the importance of the entire economy needing to work effectively and efficiently at all scales. This means for large and small businesses, organizations, and individuals across industries to get to a point where we are reducing our impact and bringing positive outcomes, whether it’s on a human or environmental level.
Further, positioning Sustainable Narrative as a dependable player in the competitive market by implementing several key strategies. By showcasing expertise, building a strong reputation, and providing value-added services to clients. Also, as experts and thought leaders, we attracted attention and gained credibility within the competitive market.
We go beyond simply offering advice or recommendations; we strive to provide practical solutions that deliver tangible results. This could involve conducting thorough assessments of clients’ operations, identifying areas for improvement, and implementing Sustainable Development Goal 17 practices that lead to other benefits. By offering customized solutions tailored to each client’s unique needs and goals, our personalized approach demonstrates a commitment to understanding and addressing the specific challenges faced by clients, from small to large businesses within the MENA region.
Could you please brief us on Sustainable Narrative, its offerings, and how your expertise has contributed to the development of the company?
Sustainable Narrative focuses on helping organizations adopt sustainable practices and strategies. That includes working with businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations to develop and implement sustainable solutions that address environmental, social, and economic challenges. Our expertise is derived from our ability to analyze and synthesize information from a wide range of sources.
In terms of sustainable consultancy offerings, services include:
- Sustainability Strategy Development: We assist organizations in developing comprehensive sustainability strategies that align with their core values, business objectives, and stakeholder expectations. Our expertise lies in conducting thorough assessments of an organization’s current practices, identifying areas for improvement, and formulating actionable strategies to achieve sustainability goals.
- Environmental Impact Assessment: We offer environmental impact assessment services to help organizations understand the potential environmental consequences of their activities or projects. By conducting rigorous assessments, we identify potential risks and propose mitigation measures to minimize negative impacts on ecosystems, natural resources, and local communities.
- Stakeholder Engagement: We recognize the importance of engaging stakeholders in sustainability initiatives. Our consultancy services include designing stakeholder engagement strategies that foster collaboration, transparency, and inclusivity.
- Partnerships and Collaborations: We help organizations build strong relationships through partnerships and collaborations to ensure the success and acceptance of sustainability initiatives within the region.
What motivated you to pursue a career in consulting?
It is a dynamic field that attracts individuals with diverse backgrounds and interests. There are several factors that motivated me to pursue a career in consulting and start a Sustainable Narrative.
- Intellectual challenge: Work on complex problems that require critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and the ability to analyze data and information from various sources. The opportunity to constantly learn and tackle new challenges can highly motivate me to enjoy intellectual stimulation.
- Variety of work: An opportunity to work on a wide range of projects across different industries and sectors such as energy, finance, food security, design, beauty, fashion, etc. This variety allows me to gain exposure to different business models, organizational structures, and strategic issues.
- Impact and influence: By providing expert advice and implementing effective solutions, I helped organizations improve their performance, increase efficiency, and achieve their goals.
- Professional development: Focus on continuous learning and development can help me grow and advance various opportunities.
- Entrepreneurial spirit: By becoming independent and having more control over the work and client engagements per project.
How have your problem-solving skills helped you in your career, and what brand strategies have you employed to maximize success?
As a sustainability consultant, problem-solving skills are crucial for effectively addressing the complex challenges and issues related to sustainability. These skills enable consultants to analyze problems, identify potential solutions, and implement strategies that promote sustainable practices and outcomes. One way problem-solving skills are utilized is in conducting research. I often need to gather information from a wide range of sources to understand the environmental, social, and economic impacts of different practices or policies. They must be able to identify relevant data and analyze it to gain insights into the root causes of sustainability challenges.
Problem-solving skills also come into play when a consultant collaborates with stakeholders. They need to facilitate discussions and engage with diverse perspectives to understand the needs and concerns of different groups. I work collaboratively to develop solutions that address shared interests while also considering broader sustainability objectives. In addition, for developing innovative strategies that maximize success in sustainability consulting. To think creatively and outside the box to propose new approaches that can overcome barriers and drive positive change. This may involve identifying opportunities for efficiency improvements, suggesting alternative technologies or materials, or designing new business models that align with sustainable principles. I think it is important to employ effective brand strategies that enhance credibility, visibility, and impact. Here are three key brand strategies:
- Establishing thought leadership: Demonstrating expertise and thought leadership in sustainability is crucial for building credibility as a consultant. This can be achieved by speaking at conferences or industry events or by participating in expert panels or advisory boards. By sharing insights and knowledge, consultants can position themselves as trusted authorities in the field, attracting clients and opportunities.
- Building strategic partnerships: Collaborating with other organizations or individuals who share similar values and goals can amplify the impact of sustainability consulting efforts. This can also enhance visibility and credibility by associating with reputable partners who are recognized for their sustainability initiatives.
- Leveraging digital platforms: In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is essential for reaching a wider audience and maximizing the green impact. This can be achieved through various means, such as maintaining an informative and engaging website, regularly publishing content on social media platforms, participating in online forums or discussions, and leveraging search engine optimization techniques to increase visibility.
What have been some of your most successful endeavors, and what experience do you have working with multiple channels of trade?
The Emirate has set ambitious targets to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable development. At Sustainable Narrative, we have also been able to mark ourselves as one of the leading voices in the conversation. At EXPO 2020, we partnered with L’Oréal Middle East on Garnier’s One Green Step campaign. This was a digital educational campaign, followed by a physical event, encouraging people to move towards green living and share the steps they are taking in their day-to-day lives to help the environment.
Sustainable Narrative has also collaborated with the World Green Economy Summit and MENA Climate Week hosted by the Government of the UAE and jointly co-organized by the UN entities on climate change, environment, and development. This platform was utilized to build consensus around the potential of technologies, policies, and youth as engines of a green economy transformation. It also supported the UAE’s efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDGs), the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, and the Dubai Net Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy 2050. This was a fit Sustainable Narrative that emphasizes educating and encouraging businesses to take ownership of their journey towards a more responsible and sustainable future (Website link to the list of collaborations: https://www.sustainablenarrative.net/collaborations).
How to envision scaling your organization’s services and operations in 2023 and beyond?
At Sustainable Narrative, our aim has been to create awareness by providing green solutions to various businesses. We are trying to incorporate the regenerative business mindset that includes the process of restoration, renewal of the current resources, and creating sustainable systems that integrate the needs of society with the integrity of nature. In the near future, we hope to bring together a business community and its sustainability-driven goals and initiatives under one umbrella, not only in the UAE but also in other parts of the world. We aim to do this by way of effective collaborations and teamwork, and continuous research and exploration into the realms of sustainability.
In envisioning the scaling of our sustainable consultancy services and operations in 2023 and beyond, it is essential to remain agile and adaptable. Continuously evaluate our progress, reassess the strategies, and make necessary adjustments to ensure long-term success.
However, integrating a new sustainable mindset requires a collaborative effort from all stakeholders involved, including the UAE government, citizens, brands, and customers. One effective way to bring these groups together is through education and awareness campaigns that highlight the benefits of sustainable practices and the negative consequences of inaction. That is by considering leveraging technology, automation, and digital platforms to streamline operations and reach a wider audience. Also, exploring partnerships or collaborations that can enhance our delivery capabilities in the long term. To me, a transition to a more responsible future cannot come without involving everyone. To engage citizens, brands, and customers, it is important to communicate the benefits of sustainable practices in a way that resonates with them. This can be achieved through targeted messaging that emphasizes the positive impact of sustainability on health, well-being, and quality of life.
Overall, integrating a new sustainable mindset requires a collaborative effort to create a more sustainable future for generations to come.