Building Sustainable Ecosystems to Future Proof Your Enterprise – World Business Forum New York 2023

Building Sustainable Ecosystems to Future Proof Your Enterprise - World Business Forum New York 2023

We are looking forward to continuing This theme of uh of sustainability um in Our next session and uh delighted to be Joined by three leaders um each of whom Are working to build more sustainable Ecosystems and uh to discuss some of the Practical challenges that organizations Are facing in this sustainability space So uh we have put together a really Fantastic sustain ability panel for you And we're going to be joined by Melanie Hilton senior vice president of Innovation and Partnerships at gs1 Justina Nixon Sanel vice president and Chief impact officer at IBM and sha ktie Vice president Global sustainability Responsibility and trade at VF Corporation so please give a warm Welcome to our [Applause] Panelists Like I should have come you could have Come the other Way right guys so um how do you feel Following that it's a it's a tough act To follow yeah right bar we're going to Have to keep the energy up um so yeah Let's um let's dive straight in Fortunately we've got a we've got a lot To talk about and a lot to discuss um I Thought would be a good place to start Is just for each of you to talk a little Bit just for a minute or two introduce Yourselves and the work that you're

You're doing within your each of your Organizations so I'll just go in order If you Justina do you want to kick oh Sure and first of all I just want to say As someone who grew up in the South Bronx I am so impressed with the work That Stephen is doing so um kudos to him And the organization um so Justina Nixon St heel I'm the chief impact officer at IBM and I lead our environmental social Governance reporting and strategy and I Also lead the work that we are doing to Drive impact in our communities with a Focus on sustainability and Workforce Development and education okay super Thanks Melanie sure I'm Melanie Hilton Innovation and Partnerships at gs1us Gs1us is a standards organization so We're an offer profit the US is a one of 116 members across the world that focus On helping companies make Supply chains More efficient and high performing and We do that through a collaborative Platform of neutrality and of course Were most famously known for the UPC Barcode gs1 barcodes are scanned over 10 Billion times a day all over the world And that was the Hallmark upon which we Built um data sharing and and other kind Of supply chain standards fantastic and Sean thanks Chris and uh my company VF Corporation many of you probably don't Know VF but you know Our Brands we're The owner of 12 large Global parall and

Footwear Brands like the Northface Timberland Dickies Vans and many others And my role at the company is to oversee All the brands environmental and social Work so the E and the S of the ESG Including our work in the supply chain At The Farms that provide our raw Materials and across the organization at Large well thank you very much and You're all very welcome so um let's dive Straight in um I want to sort of maybe Address the first the first question to Justine and Melanie um both IBM and gs1 Work with a a large number of clients Companies around the world um in in Different areas and I wanted to get your Sense of what some of the most common Challenges are that you find your Clients and your partners are facing With regards to sustainability um I'll Maybe kick off with Melanie let's go With Melanie sure well number one is Data Availability um I think if if you don't Have the data the second would be data Hygiene if you don't keep it clean and Then the third is data sharing and I Can't tell you how many times I hear Different companies across the supply Chain say the incentives for data Sharing just aren't there and so how are We ever going to capitalize on Especially things like scope three when We can't even share foundational

Attributes like what's the height width And depth of a box I mean that's just What work we've been at for over two Decades and I think it continues to Plague us I think the second thing is um Companies need to be able to Substantiate the claims that they're Making and we've been working most Recently on material recycling so this Has been kind of new for us because we Were always about the barcode which Think of a box of rice typically the Number actually identifies the rice Inside and that's What mattered up until Maybe the last 10 years now all of a Sudden the fiberboard box at the rice is Packaged in becomes very important to a Post waste like a circular economy um Recycling streams and so what a lot of Producers want to do is make claims About the post waste material in a in a Product's Packaging ing but they don't Even know how to make those claims Because we don't have good facilities to Trace waste Downstream waste so there's Just there's a lot of Tod do and I think It can be a little overwhelming when you Think of the bread absolutely you just Mentioned scope three there for those That might not be aware of the the Terminology just what do you mean by Scope three so those well Justina can Probably add to this but those are the Emissions that your products carbon

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Emissions your products contribute that Are not under your direct control so It's it's right everything that happens To something before it comes into your Enterprise we had a partner that did a Study it's probably about seven years Old now that said 67% of the data that An Enterprise uses is actually generated Outside the Enterprise so a scope 3 Emission is much like that somebody else Had the direct impact on the carbon Embodiment up to that point but I am now Responsible to package that up with what I'm doing and report it to the next Person Justina what are you hearing no I Would just add to this um you know scope Three we look at it as almost everything That's happening across our supply chain Um and it is very challenging and just Going back to the challenges businesses Are seeing right now um we are getting Ready for regulation so if you're a Global business you already have to Prepare for csrd the corporate social Responsib responsibility directive from The EU and then potential right Mandatory disclosure from the sccc so I Think companies first of all are trying To figure out how do we look at this Data how do we collect the data how do We analyze the data how do we get Insights from the data that can help us Actually create our corporate strategy Around sustainability how do we make

Sure it's systemic so we are looking Across our business to incorporate Sustainability activities and Initiatives across everywhere everything That we do and then how do we action on It right how do we continue to iterate And action on the data that we are Seeing to be able to meet our goals so For example companies that have a net Zero goal you want to continue to look At at that and see how you could Progress against that goal and data is Really it underpins everything that you Do you need the data to make those Decisions you need the data to iterate On them and then you need the data to be Transparent right to you know especially As you prepare for the regulation so I Say those are the challenges that we Continue to see another big challenge um I think for corporations is how do you Support a just transition you want to Make sure that even as you continue to Progress against your own operations Your own goals looking at your supply Chain how do you make sure you're not Leing vulnerable communities or Underrepresented communities behind how Do you make sure that you're supporting Them as well so I think corporations Have to look at that type of societal Impact as well even as they're focused On the regulation and being transparent And looking at that data and I know you

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Both you know work very closely in sort Of resolving some of these problems and We'll get to that in a in a few minutes Um Sean um obviously you work in a very Different very very different business And VF Corp has received a number of Recognitions over the course of the year Of over the years um most sustainable Ethical transparent companies in the World um how have you succeeded in Making sustainability such a core part Of the operation that's lived through All the verticals of the company rather Than sort of being siloed as one Particular area yeah we're very Fortunate at VF because we are a Purpose-led organization quite Appropriate for this conversation today And our purpose ends with for the Betterment of people and the planet and So while each of our 12 brands have Their target consumer and their value Proposition for that consumer the Enterprise as a whole is purpos Le for The betterment of people in Planet and That aspirational goal aligns everybody Everybody across the organization and in Addition the ecosystem of all the Players that enable our business to Thrive including our supply chain Partners our vendors our farmers our Investors and the broader stakeholders Around our community and so um that Enables us to have a common language on

Sustainability a common aspiration and Work plans every year that people Ladder Into to drive real change and how who is Who how is that led in the organization Who's driving that is that you is it CEO Who's yeah and so it it's a partnership Honestly across our entire leadership Team and our board of directors and so I Report to our corporate responsibility Committee of our board of directors that Ultimately has the accountability to set Our annual goals our long-term Strategies and ensure that we are Resourced to deliver our results every Year okay super so melan I want to come Back to one of the points you you were Talking about the importance of data and The difficulty of of sort being able to All the data that's out there tracking Traceability what are some of the Innovations that are out there that Organizations can start to leverage to Help them overcome some of these Challenges you were talking about yeah The startup e ecosystem and Sustainability and circularity is so Vibrant and I think that the the Criticality for me certainly from coming From the standards perspective it's all Around interoperability so there's so Much technology that gets Chosen and You've got to kind of you got to create This parity I think you were Highlighting it as well because there

There is from from a coffee bean farmer All the way to the packaged good that Sits in the grocery store right that's Kind of mass distributed so you have to Contribute to that conversation on Traceability and for somebody who may Not even have internet connectivity how Do you address that so I think for us Innovation that we're seeing that's of Particular interest is um in things like Uh this will kind of probably get people Cringy but uh DNA tagins in produce are Very interesting we've actually traced The uh We've create proven the ability To trace lettuce from the point of Harvest all the way through human waste And so not that you should go do that on A regular basis but the idea that you Can know the location that something was Harvested and and the level of data that A DNA uh tagant can carry is 3,000 times Out of a barcode so I would say moving Past those one-dimensional barcodes has Been foundational we've got to get to The point where the amount of data that Anyone along the chain is interested in Can be accessible to them so I think Things like leveraging emerging Tech Nanotechnologies and things we can embed In products will be very helpful Certainly on the on the negative like on The call or adverse event side but on The proactive side I think creating Better communication streams between

Partners um as we move products through The supply chain and the other thing too Is a lot of um of reporting platforms That are serving very specific needs and I think you know Justina just building On what you said around regulation you You have a couple things happening to Digital product passport regulation in The EU which is coming to a theater near Us as well and even in the US um I we Just had our board meeting yesterday so I got to listen to a lot of executive Input um what's happening around food Safety modernization which is right now Regulation in the US that's going into Effect in 2026 around high-risk food Categories and better traceability for Them uh one of the things that that They've raised is that there's doing Business in the US and then there's Doing business in California and so um How they're going to deal with things Like extended producer responsibility Laws that come up at the state level and How quickly uh will the federal Government enact you know us-wide Regulation but I also think if we as Industry come together we can get ahead Of that and and kind of help guide Regulators who tend to be some of the Least expert on the topics that they're Trying to to regulate us about super Excellent Sean I wanted to give maybe Give us sort of a practical uh

Perspective or understanding of how you At VF Corp are trying to um meet the Challenge of understanding not only These direct environment enironmental um Uh impacts that that we're talking about Before but also these indirect sort of Scope three um uh impacts as well how How how are you managing to do that yeah Sure and it's a huge challenge it's it's Quite complex right now so we're a Product based company we produce and Sell 400 million products a year and the Vast majority of our carbon emissions Occur because of our product so scope One if you have a smoke stack with smoke Coming out that's scope one scope two is From your electricity purchases and Everything else is scope three and so For us 99% of our emissions are scope three and 70 plus per of those occur in the supply Chain so the extraction of raw materials And the production of our products um This is a big challenge but we do have Some data that helps us so we know how Many products we produce every year so We know the volume we know the raw Materials we use and our raw materials Come from let's be honest the Earth or An animal so wool comes from an animal Leather comes from an animal cotton Comes from the earth rubber comes from Rubber trees and so we can trace as You've heard already back to the origins

Of those raw materials I'll give you a Big Challenge let's take a Timberland yellow Boot I'm sure many of you have a Timberland yellow boot in your closet Somewhere I hope so if you don't please Buy One so the two main components of a Timberland yellow boot anybody guess It's rubber for the outsole and leather For the upper well we can trace the Rubber back to rubber plantations in Thailand that's where the rubber comes From Taps on rubber trees like maple Syrup and we can work with those farmers And the Cooper to make the rubber Farming practices more regenerative There reducing the impact on that Timberland yellow boot shoe that rubber Comes directly into the shoe it doesn't Go anywhere else so we we know whatever We do on the farm can be attribut Attributable to carbon reductions on the Product but now let's look at the upper The leather the yellow leather upper on That Timberland boot where does it come From well we trace it back to cattle Grazing in Missouri true story comes From cows that are grazed in Missouri But I have a question we know cattle Grazing is carbon intensive right Methane production land use water run Off Etc but tell me if we know the Carbon emission of a cow what amount of

That carbon emission is attributable to Us to the leather to the hide that comes Off I don't know if you know please let Me know we think it's based and Proportional to the value of the meat Versus the value of the Hide and that's How we kind of calculate the emissions Of a cow that is attributable to a Yellow boot but we still need more data And we still need more open-source data Sets that allow us all to converge on How to manage the complexity of scope 3 Data super excellent um Justina I want To maybe change t a little bit going Back to the sort of the technology but I Know at IBM you know you are big leaders In the field of AI and we were talking About AI earlier in in the session with Peterm Andis as well I'm intrigued to Get your thoughts on how you see the Role of AI in helping the pursuit of Net Zero yeah so um yes so we we've had a Long history with AI um recently also Launched our Watson X product um which Includes wats x. a and governance as Well which helps with um making sure That you have trusted data sources and It has reduced biases Etc um but the way That we look at AI from a sustainability Lens is that it underpins almost all of The solutions that we have but it also Provides us with access to data that we Can gain insights from that can help Progress against our Net Zero goals so

Let me let me give a very simple Explanation um we have I think like 50 Million square feet of space right Across the globe IBM is a very big Global company I think 280,000 employees Or so and when you look across all of Our buildings all of our space Um we're able to collect data across all Of those you know Locations so that we can actually look At the insights and proactively figure Out where can we reduce emissions where Can we reduce water consumption where Can we reduce energy consumption and Overall you end up reducing your Emissions and I think that's where data Can be very helpful there and then it's Not just the data it's the insights you Can gather from it because you you can Then create a strategy or you can Forecast where you could tweak things Right or iterate on um you know your Actions down the line to actually reduce Your emissions further and support your Net Zero goals so I think data underpins All of that work um in addition to what We're doing around Net Zero we're also Looking at how do we use data to support Like vulnerable communities right or Communities that are um really been Impacted by environmental threats um and Climate change so we have a solution a Platform called the environmental Intelligence suite and that has weather

And climate data and it's all Based on Geospacial data as well and we're able To give nonprofit partners and Governments and other partners access to That platform so that they can forecast Things like heavy rainfall um I wasn't Here when this happened a few weeks ago But we remember the the floods that were In Brooklyn and New York and you know it Has to do with the infrastructure as Well so if you can give organizations Access to that data so that they Understand when you're having like a Flash flood or When You're Expecting Heavy rainfall or what can you do around Your infrastructure and sanitation you Could really help those communities that Are most impacted usually their Urban Environments or they very rural Environments as well um you know one Example is the work that we are doing With the University of Illinois in the Appalachian Mountains where we're Actually using the data and our Forecasting models to help the community Understand when they're going to Experience heavy rainfall Appalachian Mountains are some of the lowest income Marginalized communities right and Usually with flash floods and um heavy Rainfall you have loss of life you have Have you know an economic impact as well So if you can work with them and make Sure they understand how to use the data

How to forecast what changes they need To make to be prepared for that you can Really have a very significant positive Impact and that's where I was going back To you know whether you it's just Transition or you know some of the work We do we we call it environmental Justice however you want to look at it How you use data to make you know those Decisions and how you can positively Impact Community has to be a part of the Work that corporations do as well and Data data makes a huge difference there Yeah yeah absolutely um Melanie I was Looking at a doing some research for the For the panel um before we came before Over the weekend and I I found a KPMG Study that found that while 70% of Millennials are ready to change their Buying habits in favor environment of Environmentally friendly products only 26% actually trust Brands environment Mental and sustainable Claims so question to you is how can Brands start building more trust among Their clients and consumers when it Comes to sustainability and avoid Falling into this trap of green washing And green hushing and all of these kinds Of topics yeah probably just building on Themes we've already talked about but One of the things that we believe as Especially as you look at Data Systems Now which are becoming more distributed

So there was probably a time where we Were moving to a lot of centralization And giant databases in the sky the first Iteration of cloud in the 90s I guess We've got a new iteration now um but as We move to distributed Data Systems you Really have got to create this notion of Links and access so if I want to Understand fair trade cotton claim being Made by u a company like VF I I first Wanted assurance that the claim has a Trust anchor behind it that's usually The certification agency that issues it The second thing is I want to know is That actually in good standing because The way CL claims are exchanged today is A lot of PDF documents and nobody knows Whether they're still accurate or not so I think tools that actually will analyze A lot of our I think in transition our Paper based processes and confirm is the Data actually still um accurate but this Notion of trust anchors and so one of The things we've been working on it pick Up any packaged good that you've Purchased recently and look at how many Claims are made on it non-GMO project Verified glutenfree free of now you see Free of the top nine allergens three of The top 12 allergens claims are just Growing and growing because you the Consumer wants to be connected with and These are the Brand's ways of connecting But the people who sit behind those

Claims have to be able to get those Claims into the hands whether that's a Buyer because the other thing is we had A very significant social um media Platform that was just launching their Commerce product ask us how do I ensure That Consumer Electronic products are Safe I want to know that the UL listing Things that companies are claiming about Their products are are in fact accurate And in good standing and so I think That's going to be a big part of this And um so just for the technology nerds Out there uh we're working on a project Around verifiable credentials which are Act actually um cryptographically Self-evident pieces of Digital Data that Don't require Central databases or any Sort of special access that a consumer Can verify really using a QR code but Even a business can verify so if I'm B2B Before I list a product I I want to be Able to validate those claims but if I I'm a consumer it's actually going to Increase the layer of trust but it's Also going to make it pretty Democratized in that it won't require Heavy lift on the consumer side to be Able to validate a claim yeah because You're absolutely right I mean we see Fair trade and ethically sourced and Almost there's so many now it's you kind Of kind of there's a danger becomes Meaningless to people as well you're

Just filled with all these kinds of um All these kinds of claims on the Packaging how do you deal with that Sean I mean yourself how do you kind of make Sure that you know that that you Overcome this challenge the cynicism That might be amongst amongst consumers Yeah yeah first what I would say is we Have a very strong robust governance Team to be able to validate any claim That our marketing team wants to make on A product um and oftentimes we're saying No we don't have the right level of data Integrity to be able to stand behind and Substantiate a claim that we may want to Make but maybe let me let me pull back Because we see the thing we see many Consumers saying yes I want to buy more Sustainable products but if you follow Them into the store their purchasing Conversion is based on style and fit and Performance and price and then maybe Sustainability and so we've pivoted a Little bit and I would say 10 years ago I would have said to you I would have a Vision that consumers would care more Today than they did before but actually What I think is working for us is Sustainability becomes part of the brand Pro promise and so if you buy a Northface jacket you can be assured that Northface is doing everything they Should whether it's around human rights Or water pollution or carbon emissions

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Or sustainable raw materials that they Can to enhance the pr the promise of That brand to the consumer and I think That's actually more powerful today than A long list of labels and claims whether It's fair trade or responsibly sourced Or you know zero carbon Etc yeah cuz You're absolutely right there's probably A few people in the audience sitting Here again yeah all this all this sounds Great but I know that if I'm cheaper Than my competitor I'm going to sell More um so I mean what would you respond To them um someone that's with that kind Of you know that kind of attitude o of Course especially in the economy we're Facing today right we see that Elasticity change in consumer purchases But at the end of the day for us as a Company with strong integrity and strong Ethics we're going to stand behind that Brand value prod proposition we're not Going to damage or even risk damaging The brand reputation by shortcutting our Environmental or our social Responsibility efforts to uphold the Brand and the promise to that consumer Justtina what are you what are your Thoughts on this the green washing Problem the green hushing problem what What do you how how can companies Address this yeah I think the the way You address it is to be as transparent As possible um it's not enough the words

You say or what you communicate but you Have to show the data and you have to be Able to have people look under the Covers and see that you're actually Doing what you're saying and honestly I Think that the mandated regulation and What's com in um in this space will Allow everyone to be transparent and I Actually think it's going to support Driving more impact in the communities In society because of that so um you Know we hear that claim right all the Time not us because we have a long History in in this space I think IBM Issued the first climate policy like 50 Years ago we are very transparent Through our IBM impact strategy and our Report about the progress we've made Especially around you know ethical AI or Environmental goals or even our social Goals but I think um you know I think Companies now have to be more Transparent and they will demonstrate The work that they're doing and the Progress and I think that's going to Start going away that's a challenge for The tech industry as well right that you Know did um digital waste and that's Become a a big issue in the last the Last few years it is it is and I think Again you know companies are very open I Mean our tech company peers right that That um you know we partner with but They're also in many cases our customers

Right our clients we're all asking the Same questions right because for you to Work with um whether a supplier or you Know you're you're working with a client They're asking these questions around Human rights around Dei around what are You doing around you know Net Zero Commitments and sustainability so I Think it's just a matter of time where Companies have to be transparent and Showcase the actions that they're making And that's the only way that you're Going to be able to gain and keep Customers I want you to just talk a Little bit a minute or two about this uh Sustainability accelerator that you're Doing which I was fascinated to read About yeah so I touched a little bit on It when I mentioned the Appalachian Project that we're doing but um early Last year we launch launched a program Called the IBM sustainability Accelerator and it's really a pro bono Effort from IBM but is how do we use our Data our insights our technology our Solutions and the expertise of the Business to really support nonprofit Organizations in making sure these Vulnerable communities have access to Technology and are able to launch Solutions and products that help Mitigate the effects of climate change So we've focused already on sustainable Agriculture culture we're working with

Small holder Farmers for example we also Launched a cohort on clean energy and uh Earlier today we announced the new Cohort around water management and that Was the example I gave around Appalachian but we're working in Brazil And India and other countries focus on How do we increase access to clean water How do we reduce pollution and sediments In water and then how do we make sure That we're against supporting these Communities so that they can have um you Know a safe um um you know livelihood Super yeah fantastic great work um Melanie I know you gs1 you you do a lot Of work sort of facilitating and helping Companies sort of build the the Circularity of their operations and a Lot of a lot of organizations are still On this sort of take make waste sort of Model so if there's a company here so Say you know I wish I could become more Circular um in terms of um in terms of My business model where's the place to Start what can companies start doing to To make that shift to more circularity Yep I think for us probably everything Hinges on precise identification and it You can see it in the apparel industry Where they've gone to serialization and Adopted RFID as a way to do inventory Visibility and so visibility is what Leads to all of the other goals I can't I can't track what I can't see and what

I haven't captured the data for our Foundation at gs1 is identify capture And share so the first thing for us is Really about movement to two things Precise identity Like not just identifying a 9 o bag of Potato chips but that 9 o bag of potato Chips how specific can we get on the Identity of a thing because then we can Actually provide a lot more transparency Around the static and dynamic data that Particular bag of chips Journey the Other one is around persistence and so How can an identity persist if you think About the Peril that you buy today the First thing you do is cut the tag off That's where the identity sat and so a Lot of apparel companies now are moving Whether that's utilizing 2D barcodes Sewn in um RFID threads that are sewn Into the product not for the purposes of Tracking consumers because that always Comes up but for the purposes of knowing What the material composition of the Garment is so that it can be recycled Because there is a whole industry to be Had in recycling and I think it's going To hinge on automation to happen at Scale and so I think you know I've Actually got my uh my director of Innovation in the room she's here Somewhere that she just got her Ms in Sustainability this year from Harvard While she was working for us innovating

In in the area of circularity and Sustainability so you know if you're Interested track me down and I'll track Her down but she is hugely passionate About this topic but really persistence Is going to be important and that will Be riing on technology and data to Actually power that persistence through The supply chain and the consumption Chain super excellent so we're coming to The end of our time got a couple of Minutes left I want to finish kind of With the same question for all three of You actually um and that's to do with Going back to sort of addressing Maybe Be Skeptics in the audience for those That are potentially skeptical about the Need to drive sustainability in their Businesses from each of your Perspectives what are sort of the short Medium and long-term consequences for Not embracing change in this area um I Don't mind who wants to take it first Sean do you want to kick off sure why Not um so a couple things right I mean The consumers we know for us as a Consumer-driven organization the Consumers are carrying more and more Every year we haven't done a good job Telling them what they should care about We've confused them as we talked about Already but we definitely know that they See more impacts every year of climate Change and they're buying from companies

That also care like they do so first and Foremost it's a market necessity for our Consumers to address their concerns I Think what we talked about also is the Emerging regulations and we see that Here in the US or in California we see That in the EU and across the world of Really strict and increasingly Challenging complex regulations that we All need to operate our businesses in Compliance with and disclose how we are Moving forward on on um on Sustainability and so I think there's a Two-prong approach here um I would I Would be remiss if I didn't talk about Our investors and shareholders because We definitely see an increase in Investor inquiry and shareholder Conversations around what we're doing For both social and environmental Sustainability excellent I say ditto With one addition um what what's the Legacy that we want to leave for future Generations right I feel like we have an Obligation for for the people that will Come after us kind of like what the Green Bronx machine was talking about Raising that generation of citizens and And what are you going to leave for them Okay see just same I think um you know When you think about sustainability you Have a number of different stakeholders Right you have your clients you have Have investors um you know you have

Regul Regulators you have um Society at Large your communities and your Employees so I think it's imperative That we all have to focus on this right Because employees are asking right why Should I stay with with your company or Even as you're trying to attract new Talent what are you doing across these Different initiatives right the E the S And the G and then also clients are Requesting the data as I mentioned Before so I think it's a business Imperative um I think you know companies Have to focus on this and long term I Think is also going to be profitable so I think it makes sense to do it and of Course how you support Society needs to Be you know one of the biggest areas That you focus on as well fantastic well It's an important and ongoing Conversation Sean Melanie Justina thank You so much for having with us today Ladies and Gentlemen Just a [Applause] Panel

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