Reflecting on the RSB Innovations Meeting 2022
Last week, RSB hosted a brand-new in-person event for RSB members and invited stakeholders, in partnership with The Boeing Company. And what a pleasure it was to meet, connect with and learn from all of 65 participants in Boston, USA!
From 4th to 6th October, RSB brought together leaders from around the world – representing RSB’s multi-stakeholder community across sectors such as aviation, shipping, textiles, chemicals and more – to dig deeper into the next stage of sustainability innovation and the bioeconomy.
Across its collaborative network, RSB and its members are pioneers in developing creative innovations with best-in-class sustainability at their core. The RSB Innovations Meeting offered guests the opportunity to participate in practical working sessions that are closely tied to RSB’s varied platforms and initiatives, and which examined the global transition to a bio-based and circular economy, including:
• Innovative supply chain solutions needed to demonstrate sustainability of materials
• The latest policy development affecting the switch to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)
• The role of airports in the SAF value chain and how they can be engaged
• The latest sustainability guidance for Power-to-X technologies
• Exploring the challenges of sustainable feedstock supply across industry sectors
• Continued innovation in sustainability for the circular bioeconomy through revisions to RSB’s best-in-class sustainability standard
On 4th October, participants were officially welcomed to the RSB Innovations Meeting for a relaxing evening of cocktails and conversation at the Boston Marriot Cambridge, sponsored by The Boeing Company, as they reconnected and readied themselves for an exciting couple of days ahead.
On 5th October, participants gathered at the MIT InnovationHQ for the main event of the RSB Innovations Meeting – a full-day conference of interactive presentations and discussions that showcased the important work being conducted by RSB and its multi-stakeholder community.
It started with an opening address by RSB’s Executive Director, Elena Schmidt, which grounded the day’s work in the seriousness of the worrying global context and the importance of innovation. This was followed by two keynote addressed: the first by Boeing‘s Global Sustainability Policy & Partnerships, Valentina Vecchio, who emphasised the need to accelerate the development of SAF industry and sustainability collaboration in partnership with RSB; and the second by Gene Gebolys, CEO of World Energy, who brought a lot of energy to the room with his message of anchoring sustainability efforts in scale and efficacy.
RSB’s Technical Director, Nicola Noponen, then started the first session, “Sustainable biomass policies: From headwind to tailwind for a strong bioeconomy”, which featured multi-sectoral perspectives from Todd Campbell (Clean Economy Works), Steve Csonka (CAAFI), David DeGennaro (NWF), Oona Koski (UPM) and Andres Franco (Procter & Gamble) on how policy can shift from stalling the growth of the bioeconomy, to propelling it in a robust and sustainable direction. The session also served to inform and develop RSB’s new Sustainable Biomass Policy Platform, which will launch at the RSB Annual Conference. After a quick coffee break, we then heard the final keynote address from Allen Paxson, VP and GM of Commercial Programs Strategy at GE Aviation/Aerospace, who gave an excellent presentation of the organisation’s role in advancing the bioeconomy.
The second half of the full-day conference was broken up into intimate and practical breakout sessions that were evenly split between participants. RSB’s Policy & Innovations Manager, Carolina Grassi, led the session, “Impact accelerator: A session of the RSB SAF Policy Platform on book and claim” with panelists Kristin Lewis (US Dept of Transport), Aaron Robinson (United Airlines), Daniel Chereau (IATA), Abby Donovan (Amazon), Colleen Zumpf (Argonne National Laboratory) and moderator John Holler (WWF). Alongside that was the session, “Disrupting certification to scale the bioeconomy”, which featured Alix Grabowski (WWF) and inputs prepared by organisations like LanzaTech and Heineken, in which participants workshopped RSB’s new and disruptive approach to certification of an “endorsement framework” that has the potential to scale sustainable impact.
The last breakout sessions then concluded the full-day conference, before a final wrap-up closed off a day full of learnings and discussions. RSB’s Programmes Director, Arianna Baldo, led the session, “Innovative solutions to decarbonise aviation: The role of airports”, which featured Dr Anna Oldani (FAA Office of Environment and Energy), Stephanie Meyn (Port of Seattle), Erin Cooke (San Francisco Airport), and Jesper Jacobsen (Copenhagen Airports) building on the great work done by all involved in the Sustainable Airports Platform. And alongside that was the session, “Power-to-X: Validating sustainability and creating confidence”, in which in Pedro Piris (EDF), Anna Stratton (ClimateWorks), Katrine Stenvang (Ørsted) and Andrew Stevenson (Twelve) examined the potential of PtX in the US and its sustainability risks, and reviewed the RSB Standard for scaling innovative PtX technologies.
That evening, participants met at EVOO – an establishment that focuses on local and seasonal organic ingredients – to enjoy complimentary drinks and a delicious dinner, proudly sponsored by GE Aviation/Aerospace.
On 6th October, the final day of the RSB Innovations Meeting, participants came together one last time for a laboratory tour of Indigo Ag, a Boston-based agricultural technology company, looking at their process to develop seed coatings that reduce fertiliser and water demand, how they monitor soil carbon and incentivise their farmers, and how to link these impacts with biofuel producers. The site visit was graciously sponsored by World Energy.
RSB would like to thank all participants who contributed their time and effort, and made the first-ever RSB Innovations Meeting such a resounding success. We would especially like to thank our long-time partner and RSB member, The Boeing Company, for making this event possible – your commitment to sustainability and decarbonising the aviation sector is an example to all working in the bioeconomy.
While it may be tempting to end the year on this high note, we are now full-steam ahead with preparations for the RSB Annual Conference 2022 – RSB’s flagship event with four days of fully-virtual interactions and engagements for global stakeholders across the bioeconomy – which will take place from 28th November to 1st December.
If you have not yet done so, register now, and we’ll see you (virtually) soon!