“Change is About Stepping Out of Comfort Zones”, says Daniela Chaves, new CSCP Project Manager

Following years of experience in the food industry, Daniela Chaves has joined the CSCP as a Project Manager at the Sustainable Infrastructure, Products and Services (SIPS) Team. In this interview she explains that when it comes to enabling positive change, unlocking the potential of relevant stakeholders starts by understanding their needs and perspectives first.

Now you’re here: What is a key goal you are looking forward to achieving as part of the CSCP?

Before officially joining the CSCP, I had the chance to get to know the organisation as part of the CSCP co-working space. This gave me the opportunity to experience first-hand how my values and professional ambitions matched with what the CSCP has to offer. And, what can I say: It was a clear match! I was searching for a space where I could trace the impact of my work in other people’s lives and wanted to contribute toward a more sustainable future, covering all aspects: social, environmental and economic.  It may sound cliché, but my aim is to understand what keeps different actors away from implementing sustainability on a daily basis. It is only through understanding this key element that one can support different stakeholders to take meaningful steps toward more sustainable practices. Probably this could be framed as that one overarching goal that I am looking forward to achieving in my new role as Project Manager at the CSCP.

Is there a project in particular that you have already put your heart in?

As a new parent, I am really happy about the project FoodLoops, which aims to improve the organic waste cycle with a focus on schools. Using our expertise on multi-stakeholder engagement formats, we will guide our project partners in the Baltic Sea Region on building local collaborations to develop solution pathways for biowaste valorisation.

Considering the fundamental role educators play in children’s lives, I strongly believe in the potential of working with schools on the topic of food waste reduction. The principles and values that children socialise with at a young age are essential for the long-term results we are looking to achieve when it comes to food appreciation and waste reduction.

As you have worked for years in the food industry, how do you think your experience can inform and support your current work at the CSCP?

Since much of our work at the CSCP is about inspiring and enabling positive change, my experience in change management in large international projects comes in handy. In particular, my knowledge on agile management, that is, how to create an agile working culture and mindset, making people comfortable with a constantly changing environment, and creating a positive feedback culture, are assets to our work. As is my communication experience with different stakeholders, which helps me understand (and translate) different stakeholder needs and perspectives.

From food consumption through to transport, what are the key sustainability principles that you live by?

I think that the key principle is “less is more”. In my family, we try to cultivate a minimalistic lifestyle based on what is essential on a daily basis: from food to clothing to children’s toys. We enjoy cooking and try to buy ingredients that are grown or sourced sustainably and also plan our meals carefully to avoid any waste. As far as clothing is concerned, we favour renting clothes or buying second-hand instead of purchasing new items. To this end, I fully acknowledge the difficulty consumers face when it comes to endorsing circular behaviours. One cannot expect consumers to return old garments if they have to drive for hours on end to find a recycling drop-off facility. For consumers to truly endorse circularity, we need to also build the right infrastructure that incentivises and enables such behaviour.

This calls for major (systemic) change. How do you think the CSCP can help to accelerate and scale transformative solutions?

As humans we tend to hold on to experiences that we are familiar with. Change is then the ability to let go and step out of comfort zones. In order to successfully transform, organisations have to be open and create safe spaces to ‘taste’ and ‘test’ new approaches. At the CSCP we support organisations of all sizes and across sectors to define their vision in line with major sustainability goals of our era and then translate their vision into concrete action. We do this in a very human-centric way, in that we put a great effort in accommodating all the different perspectives, pick up people where they are, and enable them to co-shape the transformation.

For further information, please contact Daniela Chaves.