Innovation That Matters

Can you live a more sustainable life? 

Enlightened Leaders

Alessandro Armillotta, CEO of the sustainability app AWorld, tells us how

Too much talking, not enough action – Alessandro Armillotta, CEO of the sustainability app AWorld, is heading to COP28 with a clear message. He believes that an ‘intention-behaviour gap’ in society is stalling progress on net-zero goals, but with a bit of tech-enabled encouragement on a personal or professional level, we can all make a difference through everyday actions.

Choose public transport when you can, air dry your laundry, eat a vegetarian meal once a week… There is a host of small actions we could take that would contribute to a lower carbon footprint if we did them consistently, but not enough people are doing them. A recent study by the American Psychological Association, for example, showed that 7 in 10 Americans wish they could do more about climate change, but over half do not know where to start, citing time, money, and skills as blockers.  

“We live as though our resources are infinite because we fail to see the impact of our daily actions and sustainability feels complicated,” says Alessandro. “My focus is to try and close the ‘intention-behaviour gap’ – the discrepancy between what consumers say and what they actually do.”

He doesn’t blame people. “Today’s culture doesn’t incentivise living sustainably,” he says. “At COP28, I will have meetings with an ecosystem of people and partners. It will be a privilege to be there, but it’s just talking. As soon as we get back home and go out onto the street no one has a clue. Governments can make pledges, but wider cultural change will take too long and we don’t have time. I am going back to the idea of working on ourselves first if we want to see change. I think it comes down to individual action.”

Enlightened Leaders - Alessandro Armillotta

The AWorld app, a partner to the United Nation’s ActNow campaign and the European Commision’s Climate Pact Initiative, is a guide for people who want to reduce their carbon footprint. A user can build their own set of easy-to-achieve tasks and goals (such as turning off lights or choosing clothes made from recycled fabrics), log when they’ve done them, and then see the positive impact of their choices through the amount of carbon, litres of water, and kilowatts of electricity saved. From December 2023, the app will include mobility data and automatically calculate the carbon footprint of journeys depending on the mode of transport, without the user having to input anything manually. Future features will include calculations around how actions can positively or negatively impact energy bills.  

“I feel it is our responsibility at AWorld to build a path with technology that gently nudges users and rewards them.” Key to this strategy is working with large businesses and corporates, who can leverage the AWorld app to encourage behaviour change in employees and consumers, which, in turn, can help them reach their own net-zero goals. Capgemini, Cognizant, and Blackrock are some of the companies currently using AWorld to empower their stakeholders to make positive changes.

“We have built out our experience based on what we understand about motivations. There are people who will make changes because it makes them feel good, they want to fit into a community of like-minded people, they want to compete, or they want to be rewarded.” The app caters to these motivations through gamification and a regular stream of content sharing big-picture context. “It needs to feel ‘normal’,” Alessandro says, “not like you are doing something sustainable that requires loads of inputs.”

Once COP28 is over, Alessandro will be back in his native Italy to launch a citizen engagement campaign in Umbria, with campaigns in other regions such as Marche, Lombardy, and Lazio, on the horizon.  It’s an exhausting schedule but Alessandro is all about action. “We all need to be active,” he says. “There are no passengers on Planet Earth, we are all crew.”

Disccover the AWorld app in the App Store or Google Play. Find out more about employee engagement via AWorld at aworld.org

Written By: Angela Everitt