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Josef Mantl, AT

CEO JMC & Spokesman Sustainable Future Campaign

What does Sustainable Entrepreneurship mean for you personally?

For me, Sustainable Entrepreneurship is an innovative movement that combines technology, environmental awareness and a sense of responsibility, leading to a more sustainable world – whether in an ecological, social or economic sense.

How deeply ingrained do you believe this way of thinking is in society, above all in the minds of entrepreneurs?

The concept of sustainability is now an integral philosophy in Austria and society in general. Many individuals and entrepreneurs have already made it a fundamental part of their guiding principles and way of life and there has also been a paradigm shift in politics, business and the media. Young people and professionals in particular have spearheaded this change, and as Spokesman of the ‘Sustainable Future Campaign’, I’ve seen plenty of impressive evidence of this. But even traditional businesses are increasingly recognising the potential of sustainability and see it as a chance to become more competitive.

How do you see Austria’s role and position in the development of Sustainable Entrepreneurship? You have good contacts in the USA – to what extent do you see differences between Austria and the States?

More emphasis is put on Sustainable Entrepreneurship in the USA than in Europe. On the one hand, the top universities like Harvard or Columbia have offered programmes related to it since the 1990s and this has led to a general shift in consciousness. On the other hand, there are lots of rich foundations which can sponsor projects on a scale that is unthinkable here.

How important is the subject of sustainability in the communications sector, in your opinion, and what is its current standing in the media?

Sustainability and Sustainable Entrepreneurship are key terms in PR and communications. No company can afford to create the wrong headlines in this regard any more, since consumers now make more conscious and informed choices. It’s not all about image, however: transparent and sensible communication is important. Sustainability is not a PR tool which companies can use simply to appear more attractive – rather, it should be a fundamental part of their overall concept and strategy. Every company has a different way of implementing sustainability and the main thing is that company strategies concerning sustainability, social business and corporate social responsibility are clearly outlined in order to make consumers aware of such processes.

How important is it for you as an entrepreneur to put sustainable thinking into practice in your field and to what extent do you do this?

Basically, I try to lead a life that is practical yet sustainable and which fits in with my entrepreneurial activities. I too have to learn how to combine environmental awareness with entrepreneurship, something which requires a lot of strategic thinking, discipline and innovation.  But that’s where my strengths lie and I see it as a duty and a personal challenge to incorporate sustainability into my life, business and surroundings. Every step counts in our campaign for a more sustainable future, regardless if it involves occasionally cycling to work, rather than driving, or trying to organise your office resources more efficiently.  Having clear goals and a consistent approach helps me and my team to implement excellent ideas at work that combine fun and sustainability. These range from car-sharing to cooking and eating together in the office. We try to be very creative and bounce ideas off each other.

Every year, entrepreneurs are given the SEA for outstanding projects that put Sustainable Entrepreneurship into practice. What convinced you to support the idea?

I’ve been very impressed by Christina Weidinger’s commitment in founding and now coordinating the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award. Based on my experiences in the USA, I’m also convinced that it is important to proactively exploit synergies and am therefore very pleased to support the SEA as Spokesman of the Sustainable Future Campaign.

Together with SEA founder Christina Weidinger, you were recently trained to be a Climate Leader by the ultimate environmental activist, Al Gore. What did that mean to you personally?

Naturally, I found it fascinating and inspiring to meet and be trained by the most high-profile campaigner for environmental protection. His dedication and charisma alone make him unique. But besides the specialist input we received, the course gave me personally the energy and inspiration to continue putting all my efforts into working towards a more sustainable future.

How can each and every one of us help to raise the profile and importance of Sustainable Entrepreneurship?

Both entrepreneurs and consumers can put Sustainable Entrepreneurship into practice – entrepreneurs through innovative ideas and launching good-quality, sustainable products on the market, and consumers by putting quality and product provenance first, rather than being guided by prices or advertising.