Throughout the month of June, Rio played host to an exciting initiative with its roots in the Berlin School community. LivMundi is a sustainability platform sparking change through community initiatives, content, and most recently, the annual LivMundi Festival. The platform was founded in 2017 by Luciane Coutinho, Head of MashUp and an alumna of the Berlin School Executive MBA in Creative Leadership. Struck by her own personal encounter with the effects of environmental damage, Luciane recognised the power of story-telling to connect the issue of sustainability to real people and communities. Three years after its founding, LivMundi Festival has grown in reach and ambition. Throughout June, local community members, educators, and creative leaders, including EMBA participants and alumni from the Berlin School, came together for a month-long series of projects, installations, talks and educational initiatives encouraging greater ownership and action on sustainability. We spoke to Luciane and some of the Berliners who are bringing LivMundi to life.



How did LivMundi begin?

Luciane: The story behind LivMundi begins with my own personal experience, when my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease relating to agro-toxic misuse. I decided that I needed to do something – not just to wait, but to act. My idea was to create a festival that helps to make content and information about sustainability free and available to all people in our community in a way that connects to their own stories and actions. When I met Ana at one module at the Berlin School, we talked about how to make that idea a reality.

Ana: I met Lu through the Berlin School and she has really been an inspiration to me. One thing that we have in common is the belief that as leaders, we have a responsibility to act. So, we each volunteered our time and resources to make LivMundi happen and I’m very proud to be one of its curators. What started as an event is really becoming a movement. Now, it’s from Rio to the world... 


Was there a point in your own careers when you realised your own potential and responsibility to create change?

Clarissa: As a designer, I have always worked towards change – I believe designers are change-makers. I have worked in several social projects and I think there is still a lot more we can do in order to enhance change in a positive way.

Marie: The moment that you realize that your individual actions have an impact there is no way back. The world is constantly changing – it is made of change, in one direction or another. It’s about understanding how we are contributing and taking a conscious approach with every single gesture. "Every little gesture is a weapon of mass construction” – understanding that empowers us to move into a positive direction. Personally, to be devoted to contributing to building a better world is an embedded condition for every job assignment. You can always do it in one degree or another. There is no need to work for a big organization or company to consciously start generating positive impact. But if you do, the responsibility is even bigger, because your potential impact is also larger. "The future is now." What is the world that you want to build? What is the world that you are building? The key is to start with the ‘here and the now’ and take into account that all actions are BIG actions to move forward in a more sustainable direction. 


What was the focus of this year’s festival?

Luciane: The most important word for this year’s festival was ‘connection’. We believe that powerful stories are a good way to connect people and we want to use these to engage the “cariocas” from different parts of Rio. We invited local leaders to tell their stories. Most of them are dealing with a huge scarcity of resources and they share the same thinking and the same goals, but they’re facing different challenges. Each story is an opportunity to connect and unite communities about the economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects of sustainability.

Ana: For the first festival, the ‘connection’ theme focussed on the individual. The second one was more focussed on the city. And for this one, we put both the individual and the city together, connecting small, everyday actions on the individual level, then to the organizational level, right up to the macro level.


There is a huge focus on young people throughout the festival. How important is education to creating positive change?

Ana: Education is crucial to encourage micro-changes that influence the macro-level. When it comes to young people, our focus is on encouraging better sustainability habits. Schools are a very powerful and fruitful environment to encourage ongoing change. We now see LivMundi not only as an event but as an ongoing project. Education is very important to this – we’ll continue to engage and sensitize teachers and kids through projects that they carry out throughout the year, which we plan to showcase at the festivals.


LivMundi is now in its third edition. What positive changes have you seen since its launch?

Luciane: First of all, there has been a rise in conversation about the topic since the earlier editions, with people really asking about what sustainability means in terms of effects and also small changes we can each make. We see this in our own numbers with a rise in new volunteers who wanted to work and be part of the movement. We see it in comments and our engagement online. But this conversation has also been responsible for some changes in our daily lives in Rio. For instance, the government banned the use of plastic straws in public spaces.


What is the importance of inclusivity to LivMundi and the wider conversation on sustainability?

Ana: We try to make LivMundi as democratic as possible. Most of the activities are completely free. You see families, young kids, and elderly people as well as entrepreneurs and leaders, all working together.

Clarissa: Inclusivity and diversity are extremely relevant themes and they should be organically inserted in the scope of sustainability. I believe sustainability is a conjunction of values related to healthy environments and relationships, so all these themes are connected.

Marie: We are all in the same boat, named planet Earth, and all our actions add up. It is an intrinsic matter of inclusivity in all directions. The journey and path to sustainability require dialogue and shared experience and expertise. It requires the evaluation of impacts and interactions, interrelations and connections. Not everybody is in a position to do something. However, when we join forces, we are able to achieve more, and faster. 1+1=3. The whole is more than the sum of its parts (Aristotle). Individual action is powerful, but inclusion - common action and collaboration - is crucial in order to make the most of it.


What is the unique role of creative leaders to drive the conversation on sustainability?

Clarissa: Creative leaders have the power to influence people, leading by example and creating narratives for their creative projects including all causes they believe in. The values of sustainability should be present in all projects today. Whenever we create something new, we should think of the entire ecosystem and its consequences.

Marie: On one hand, creative leaders can help to drive and move towards a more sustainable world. It’s a journey full of challenges, therefore creativity is needed in order to find solutions. So the responsibility is clear - to use creative talent to contribute to promoting and generating a more sustainable world. There is also a need to create greater awareness of the importance of taking action. Even small actions and individual ones add up to the worldwide challenge that we are facing. On the other hand, as leaders, we have the power and the voice to join forces and to make use of available resources that contribute to positive sustainable change and which sensitize others to do so as well. Creativity and leadership are critical assets in this global mission.


Berliners of LivMundi:

Luciane Coutinho (Class 17) is the Head of MashUp and Founder of LivMundi.
Ana Lavaquial (Class 11) is an independent Consultant, Researcher and Collaborative Economy Specialist and a LivMundi Festival Curator.

Clarissa Biolchini (Class 20) is Founder of Archipelago Creative Strategy and mediated the Sustainable Development Goals workshop at this year’s festival.
Marie Reig (Class 19) is a Hybrid Culture, Communication, Media & Media Production Expert and delivered her powerful “21 Days to Change the World” workshop at this year’s LivMundi.

You can find out more about LivMundi's ongoing initiatives here:

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