How to advance equity in energy solutions in the COVID-19 era

July 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

How to advance equity in energy solutions in the COVID-19 era Daphany Rose Sanchez Mon, 07/06/2020 – 02:01 During the day I work in the energy sector supporting government and utilities design programs to perform outreach to and educate low-income and diverse communities. At night, I go back into my neighborhood, one thriving with diverse residents. Sitting on both sides of the table, I’d like to share what you need to pay attention to in order to be part of the solution on the interconnected fronts of energy efficiency and social justice. If 2020 has shown residents in the United States something, it’s the dire need to understand historical barriers, immediately stop our current way of working and deliver energy solutions. As a New York City resident, director of an energy consulting organization, an advocate of energy equity and a third-generation resident of public housing, I have a unique view of the structural barriers we must break down to solve the global climate crisis. As energy consultants developing energy solutions, it may feel difficult to look away from the bombardment of messaging about death and economic downfall, and videos of divisiveness and hatred. More than 122,000 U.S. residents — our neighbors, friends and family members — have died from COVID-19. Witnessing a family member or a friend die so suddenly is new to most of us. It may feel difficult to look away from the bombardment of messaging about death and economic downfall, and videos of divisiveness and hatred. But the worst part is that our country has had not one pandemic, but two rising. We are seeing on social media people of color — specifically, Black people — murdered time and time again. As with COVID-19, families are worried about how many times they have to see a son, daughter, nephew or friend die so suddenly. They’re also the target of hatred from people they’ve never met, feeling the pain, worry and stress of being judged by their skin color. Communities in the crosshairs Meanwhile, COVID-19, just like other structural inequalities, has had the most profound impact on communities of color. Low-income Black and Latinx folks already quarantined within disinvested neighborhoods are seeing rampant infection and death. They’re vexed with the choice of working as essential workers, risking getting sick or dying, versus losing income and risking eviction from an already overpriced apartment. But this isn’t new. Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other marginalized communities have long been resilient against natural disasters, racism, environmental toxicities and gentrification. What should energy professionals who care about these interconnected crises and operate in historically underserved communities do? What’s the best way to look at COVID and racial injustice, and focus the negative emotions and stress onto positive, equitable energy solutions towards climate change? You can start with the following steps: Understand the connections and empathize I have had conversations with many among the majority of people who live outside of yet sympathize with marginalized communities, and with others who demand justice but have a hard time understanding the relationship between equity and race. I’ve heard and seen the juxtaposition, and the idea that climate and racial justice are two separate issues. Others are aware of what actions are required but fearful of losing power obtained through an “injustice” system. Americans are divided on how antiracist measures are critical to dismantling structural barriers, just as they are divided on the urgency to fix our planet in a way that minimizes the collateral damage of leaving the few behind for the greater good. The worst part is that our country has had not one pandemic, but two rising. To those of you who have a hard time understanding what we fight for or why we are so loud about climate justice and racial equity, think about how you feel during the rise of COVID: trapped at home, worried about your future. You’re frustrated, angry, depressed, stressed out. You want life to return to normal. That’s how many of us feel who were raised as “different” races, ethnicities, cultures and identities. If we’re born in subsidized housing, others see us as less than human. It is a quarantined site whose children go to schools that receive less funding. We’re worried we won’t be able to make rent because we earn less. We’re afraid we can’t exercise outside for being mislabeled as a criminal and even killed. We’re worried our parents and grandparents will fall sick without a place for us to take care of them. We’re concerned about our future. We walk a thin line — between being the person our employer wants (providing ideas only when asked) and being the person our parents raised us to be (outspoken, providing perspective based on our diverse understanding and experiences). Listening and empathizing will bring you closer to understanding a community’s needs. Assess the situation Next, assess how you have engaged in the community. Assess who you are in relation to it. What has been done to support the local economy?  Have you or your company accelerated injustice? If so, how do you stop and promote equity within your organization? How do you resist selfishness and step down when someone else with a necessary perspective can be elevated? How do you release your power to support a cause? Self-change and organizational change is the first step to address inequity within the workplace. Let communities lead To assess low-income communities, examine what organizations already exist there. What type of outreach have they done, and how can you provide fiscal resources and collaborate with them on programming? Nonprofits, unions and coalitions within those communities have decades of experience engaging and communicating successfully with their neighbors. They have built trust and know what works and what does not. They are familiar with how to tailor government programming specifically for groups with different cultural backgrounds and energy-use needs. Nonprofits, unions and coalitions within those communities have decades of experience engaging and communicating successfully with their neighbors. To all energy firms: Actively investigate how you are supporting these organizations. Consider mandating a percentage of community representatives on all committee programming boards, regardless of technical expertise, developing materials that are culturally and linguistically representative of the community. Eliminate the transactional relationship with the community. Develop a communal process where you are supporting participants with their mission, helping them build wealth and create a sustainable future for their neighborhoods. Developing long-term community relationships can help us collectively tackle climate change. Evaluate information access Energy consulting firms are also evaluating methods of operation and delivery of energy outreach programming and design. The first thing that comes to everyone’s mind in light of COVID-19 work-from-home quarantine is virtual access as in-person meetings, audits and processes move online. Just as equitable engagement begins with collaborating across sectors to achieve an overarching goal, the clean energy sector must think about collaborating with internet providers while developing outreach and incentive programs that advocate for equipment that requires WiFi. If your energy program incorporates such incentives, think about the additional burden to low-income customers. How can your funding expand to provide an internet connection to residents? At Kinetic Communities Consulting, our projects have shown that if you provide a separate incentive that improves qualify of life, people are more inclined to pursue energy efficiency. Providing internet at a low or no cost with a solar or air source heat pump project provides a quality-of-life improvement. How can your funding expand to provide an internet connection to residents? Roughly three in 10 adults with household incomes below $30,000 a year (29 percent) don’t own a smartphone, and more than four in 10 don’t have home broadband services (44 percent) or a traditional computer (46 percent). And a majority of lower-income Americans are not tablet owners. Collaboration with local internet providers, nonprofits supporting low-income Americans and local government can help close the communication gap. Partnerships with internet providers removes one barrier to energy efficiency programs invested in installing new climate-friendly technologies. Using community aggregation engagement also provides customers the opportunity to obtain a lower internet bill cost and entice customers to complete projects. It gives residents a platform to learn more about their utility usage and lifts a concern of access and awareness. Consider equitable hiring and training COVID has exposed how people of the global majority — that is, people of color — are the first to be laid off, as the latest U.S. employment numbers bear out. Black and Latinx workers are hit the hardest in clean energy, with Latinx workers comprising 14 percent of the industry but 25 percent of its job losses. For energy consultants, the automation of audits and processes can further exacerbate layoffs. When energy consulting firms develop automated methods to accelerate energy outreach and program development; they must consider equitable hiring and training practices. Think about what you have learned in your own position — the relationship of your skillsets and a job’s requirements — to be mindful of whom you are rehiring and who your job postings reach. Consider developing gender-neutral job postings and removing a candidate’s education to avoid unconscious bias. Not only is hiring and training critical, but understanding the work culture you have created can nudge diverse candidates either to grow within or leave your organization. An equitable path forward allows the energy industry community to become more robust and unified. These types of efforts pay off.  Companies with the most diverse executive teams were 21 percent more likely than others to enjoy above-average profitability, according to a 2018 study by McKinsey & Company. For executive teams with ethnic and cultural diversity, this likelihood rose to 33 percent. A study by the Boston Consulting Group found that revenue tied to innovation, in terms of products and services launched in the past three years, was 19 percent higher for companies with above-average diversity in management. Spend time creating and maintaining professional development opportunities for staff to learn and grow within the industry. Be mindful of who you believe should be in the position and be open to the skillsets people have, regardless of the industry standards. Educate yourself Below are some amazing people of color/people of the global majority articles you can read to understand the importance of the intersection in energy and social justice:  •     Black environmentalists talk about climate and antiracism •    Climate activists: Here’s why your work depends on ending police violence •     Why every environmentalist should be antiracist •    How racism manifests in clean energy •     The climate movement’s silence •    How to help Black employees •     Felecia Hatcher: Tech community must do more than tweet support. It needs to invest •    I’m a black climate expert. Racism derails our efforts to save the planet •    Hold my earrings: Black women lead on systemic solutions in the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond People are dying, and some may not psychically see it, unlike hurricanes or wildfires. U.S. society is in a state of shock and feels a sensation of dystopian reality. An equitable path forward allows the energy industry community to become more robust and unified, giving people who are hit the hardest the opportunity to engage, participate and create a unified solution for a climate-resilient future. The first step is to become aware, and the next step is action. Pull Quote It may feel difficult to look away from the bombardment of messaging about death and economic downfall, and videos of divisiveness and hatred. The worst part is that our country has had not one pandemic, but two rising. Nonprofits, unions and coalitions within those communities have decades of experience engaging and communicating successfully with their neighbors. How can your funding expand to provide an internet connection to residents? An equitable path forward allows the energy industry community to become more robust and unified. Topics Social Responsibility Cities & Communities Environmental Justice Equity & Inclusion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Lady Liberty and New York City at sunset. Shutterstock rudall30 Close Authorship

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How to advance equity in energy solutions in the COVID-19 era

Labels: Disdain them — except one

July 6, 2020 by  
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Labels: Disdain them — except one Bob Langert Mon, 07/06/2020 – 01:45 A longtime friend told me he was Christian and couldn’t support Democrats because it violated his principles. Then I heard a news update that Republicans were trying to ax Obamacare. I think I’m an Independent.  I’ve been spending more time contemplating the racial problems our country faces. I admire the friends and family that have posted Black Lives Matter signs. I just read “White Fragility,” and it infused me with thoughts that challenged my privileged white life. I hadn’t thought I was a racist, but I now realize I am because I’m part of a systemic white-dominant society by default. Truly. And it’s got to change, including me. I’ve thought of myself as young. But now I get up in the morning and hobble about until I’ve warmed up my body to stand straight. Labels. Can’t stand them. Listening to the radio the other day I heard an ad that said, “All of us use social media way too much.” How do they know that about me? I’m not too married to Twitter. I self-label myself as “athletic.” Yet I played a bocce match the other day against an 80-year-old woman who’d recently had surgery on her arm and had to toss the bocce ball with her odd hand. I lost. By a lot. There is one label I genuinely like and admire: ‘I’m a seasoned corporate sustainability leader.’ Another good friend of mine told me on the phone that he never thought I was a radical, “so liberal,” after reading my book about corporate sustainability (“The Battle to Do Good”). I don’t think of myself as liberal, but I’m finding in my daily conversations with friends that maybe I really am. Just yesterday, a good friend of mine said he doesn’t like the politics of Starbucks. And I’m thinking, “This is a company that is really trying to do good.” I passed on a very interesting New York Times article about health care to a buddy. He told me the article was narrow-minded and wrong because — well, it’s from the New York Times. He gets his news from Fox. We’re still buddies, although sometimes I wonder where to draw the line on sharing similar values. He said I’m a CNN person. I do watch/listen to it the most. I find myself labeling others and am ashamed that I do. He is a bully. She is slovenly. And I thought I was a good Catholic. There is one label I genuinely like and admire: “I’m a seasoned corporate sustainability leader.” I started this work by addressing the Big Mac polystyrene clamshell some 32 years ago. Finding the good intersection of business and society has grabbed my heart and mind ever since. But now I am mostly retired. It’s yet another label I disdain. If anything, I feel like I’m accelerating, not stepping back. Even though I made the choice to wind down my sustainability career, I have lots yet to give to my family, friends, neighbors and community. The couple of Myers-Briggs tests I’ve taken have labeled me an introvert working in an extroverted field. My safe haven is to be alone. But what I find I miss the most about working in the day-to-day of corporate sustainability is the gobs of good people I got to know, share, laugh, commiserate with and share a passion to change the world for the better. You are my good friends. I like being with you. Which brings me to my very least favorite label: “Retired from GreenBiz.” My regular writing for GreenBiz has seen its better days. I love writing about sustainability, but now that I’m not in the frontlines, I find I have little to write about. So this is my final column. I love the GreenBiz community, starting with Joel Makower, who I met 30 years ago when I bought a bunch of his books for McDonald’s people. His integrity and caring attitude permeate the whole organization. John Davies is full of bright insight and even better wit. Twenty-four hours at a GreenBiz Executive Network meeting was like filling up the tank with high-octane gas. I was ready to rock and roll after every meeting I attended. Everyone I meet at GreenBiz is an awesome person. How do you do it, GreenBiz? Thank you for the opportunity to write a column with my thoughts for the past five years. As you can tell, I’m not one for being labeled. It irks me. But you can label me a “big sap” for how much I care about the entire sustainability movement — and the special people that make it happen. Pull Quote There is one label I genuinely like and admire: ‘I’m a seasoned corporate sustainability leader.’ Topics Leadership State of the Profession Featured Column The Inside View Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage

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Labels: Disdain them — except one

What role does ESG play in the ‘new normal’?

July 6, 2020 by  
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What role does ESG play in the ‘new normal’? Janine Guillot Mon, 07/06/2020 – 01:25 Facing existential crisis, it’s only natural that our perspective will change — for better and for worse. In recent weeks and months, as many of us have “sheltered in place” in the face of a global pandemic, each of us has come to grips with a valuable reminder of what’s truly important: family, friends and colleagues; security and safety; food and water; healthcare. By comparison, everything else seems small and suddenly insignificant. For some of us, that includes our work. When people are sick, suffering and dying — with little certainty about when or how it will end — how can we be expected to focus on a project deadline, a business meeting or a PowerPoint presentation? Recently, I was asked to participate in a webinar discussion about environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing in the wake of COVID-19, and I had to ask myself, “Is the work we’re doing at SASB completely irrelevant or more relevant than ever?”  The most urgent and important work being done today is that of our healthcare workers, grocery employees, delivery people and others on the front lines of meeting society’s most basic and most critical needs. We shouldn’t let a day pass without thanking them for their service, nor without asking ourselves how we can better support them as they rise to meet the scale of challenge before us. And soon, we must start giving serious thought to what we can do to ensure they’re never put in such a desperate position again. Respond now, adapt as soon as possible While today’s triage efforts are paramount, society is clearly starting to think about what’s next. This is an opportunity for all of us — companies, investors, government, civil society — to think critically about what our role might be in creating a more resilient future.  Although the global COVID-19 outbreak is first and foremost an existential public health threat, it also likely represents the dawn of an economic “new world order” and a reshaping of the global economy. Without question, it’s too soon to draw any conclusions about the lessons we’ve learned from this experience, but it’s nevertheless clear that businesses, investors and our entire system of free enterprise will need to adapt to a new normal in the coming post-coronavirus era.  Transparency leads to accountability, accountability drives innovation and innovation is key to resilience. In recent years, the rise of ESG, responsible investing, corporate sustainability — different people use different terms — has focused on evolving “business as usual” by recognizing that effectively managing environmental and social issues is key to the long-term sustainability of both business and society. The COVID-19 crisis is likely to accelerate this trend. The key questions that have arisen from the crisis are essentially ESG questions, such as: Will rising biodiversity loss and the changing climate influence the frequency and intensity of pandemics? How can companies adapt to ensure business continuity in such an uncertain environment? How can we ensure more resilient supply chains for essential goods, such as food and medicine? What can businesses in B2C industries do to ensure the health and safety of their employees and customers? How can healthcare providers better ensure access to critical tests and treatments at an affordable price? How might a long-term period of “social distancing” influence the adoption of artificial intelligence and robotics, and how will that affect workers whose jobs can’t be done remotely — such as manufacturing, waste management and deliveries? How can traditional and ecommerce retailers ensure fair pricing and reduce the risk of supply hoarding or price gouging? How can a wide range of industries — across the transportation, technology, hospitality and infrastructure sectors and beyond — effectively adapt in the wake of an anticipated rise in telecommuting and teleconferencing? Will the COVID-19 crisis permanently change consumer behavior regarding shopping, travel and entertainment, with significant implications for the retail and hospitality sectors?  Once the worst of the current crisis is behind us, it’s crucial that we don’t weaken our resolve to ensure that individuals, businesses, investors, economies — and thus society at large — can become more resilient in the face of 21st-century challenges. An opportunity to adapt In the coming months, as the forces unleashed by the COVID-19 crisis continue to reshape the economic landscape, they will bring long-held assumptions under scrutiny and potentially render entire business models irrelevant. They will bring more questions, but also — if we’re receptive to them — more answers. At SASB, we encourage long-term thinking in capital markets, and while that may not help solve today’s crisis, we believe it can contribute to preventing — or at least tempering — tomorrow’s.  We believe transparency and disclosure on business-critical ESG issues will improve how companies and investors measure and manage so-called non-financial — but nevertheless critical — resources such as natural, social and human capital . Further, it will help corporate directors and managers, along with investors, understand how effective management of those resources is critical to the long-term sustainability of a business. Emerging from this crisis, we can shape a future in which the interests of business, investors and society are in closer alignment.   The best answer to my question about the relevance of our work came during a recent “industry deep dive” webinar. Our restaurant industry analyst was discussing the connection between worker health and foodborne illnesses — a business-critical issue in the restaurant industry — and the metrics that can help drive effective management of such risks, including worker training and food-handling protocols.  I immediately thought about the increasingly clear connection between lack of paid sick leave and the spread of illness, and it became clear: This crisis will provide important new insights into non-traditional performance metrics that will help drive a structural shift in how both companies and investors think about delivering long-term value to both shareholders and society. To return to my original question — is ESG disclosure irrelevant or more relevant than ever — I believe the communication piece is key. Transparency leads to accountability, accountability drives innovation and innovation is key to resilience. When investors readily can identify and direct financial capital to the forward-looking companies that are evolving their business models to thrive in the face of future risks, markets will be more stable, more efficient and better prepared to absorb unexpected shocks. Today, we’re being asked to choose between lives and livelihoods. Emerging from this crisis, we can shape a future in which the interests of business, investors and society are in closer alignment. When economic and human prosperity are mutually supportive, we won’t have to sacrifice one for the other.  Pull Quote Transparency leads to accountability, accountability drives innovation and innovation is key to resilience. Emerging from this crisis, we can shape a future in which the interests of business, investors and society are in closer alignment. Topics Finance & Investing Corporate Strategy ESG Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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What role does ESG play in the ‘new normal’?

How 5 communities across the US are seeking environmental justice

July 6, 2020 by  
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How 5 communities across the US are seeking environmental justice Kristoffer Tigue Mon, 07/06/2020 – 01:00 This story originally appeared in InsideClimate News and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalistic collaboration to strengthen coverage of the climate story. In many ways, Maleta Kimmons defines her neighborhood by what it lacks. Several houses near her home remain vacant. Last week, she had to drive seven miles just to buy groceries. And two weeks ago, at the height of the Minneapolis protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a police officer May 25, looters broke into the only pharmacy in the area, forcing the store to close and leaving many in the neighborhood without easy access to life-saving medication such as insulin or inhalers for asthma. Kimmons, who prefers to go by the name Queen, said what her neighborhood doesn’t lack is pollution. Near North, where Queen lives, is one of several neighborhoods that make up north Minneapolis, a  predominately Black area surrounded by a large number of polluting facilities and infrastructure, including roofing manufacturers, a trash incinerator, a metal recycling plant and several major interstate highways. The ZIP code that covers much of north Minneapolis has the highest hospitalization rates for asthma in Minnesota, according to Minnesota Public Radio . It’s also home to the highest rates of lead poisoning among children in the city. Add the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on top of these factors, and her neighborhood is in a “horrific” situation, said Queen, who is Black. “Where are you going to get an asthma pump when Walgreens is closed?” she said. “I know a lot of people that have asthma, particularly in North.” Queen moved to Minnesota from Chicago in 1974 at the age of 10, first living in what used to be St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood —  a once-thriving African American hub before it was cut in half by the construction of Interstate 94 in the late ’50s. Her family, she said, was “looking for a better life, where there would be more resources, education, housing.” You’ve got to have ownership. … It’s race, class, money and politics. That is the narrative. That is the story. Eventually, Queen’s family moved to south Minneapolis. But in the 1990s, she said, the area became gentrified and too expensive, so she left for the city’s cheaper north side. Queen attributes the issues that north Minneapolis faces today — the vacant homes, the poor access to medicine and food, the proximity to industrial pollution — to a lack of Black ownership and the political power that accompanies wealth. “Right now, over in North, you can’t name 10 Black businesses — they ain’t there,” she said. “If you don’t own anything, you’re not changing nothing.” In 2018, the median household income in Queen’s neighborhood was about $39,000 , compared to the state average of more than $70,300 . As protests raged across much of south Minneapolis, destroying several blocks of Lake Street — another historic city business corridor —  Queen helped rally residents on the north side to protect the few Black-owned stores that do exist along Broadway Avenue from more looting. (Much of the looting came from out-of-towners, Queen said.) The destruction she witnessed reminded her of the stories she had heard of the 1967 riots, which also destroyed parts of north Minneapolis . And it reminded her of seeing her first limousine in 1974 outside of a black-owned pool hall in St. Paul. She remembers her Black neighbors inside the stretched-out sedan, a symbol of wealth, celebrating in their “loud colors,” their button-up shirts and their hard shoes. She remembers just years later, many of the Black-owned businesses shuttering their doors along Rondo’s Selby Avenue — today, an upscale food co-op stands where the pool hall used to be. “You’ve got to have ownership,” Queen said. “It’s race, class, money and politics. That is the narrative. That is the story.” St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana: ‘We’ve already been written off’ Reserve, Louisiana, had an agrarian economy when Robert Taylor was born. His parents worked at a local sugar refinery. “I’m a lifelong resident,” he said. “I was born here in 1940, so I’ve seen some changes.” When he was a boy, he said, “I could just walk out my house and go out my backyard and I was in a sugar cane field.” By the time he was a young man, the petrochemical industry was moving in. He bought a plot of land on the edge of town and built a home, finished by the time his fourth child was born, he said. “I went and got my wife from the hospital and brought her with our child to our new home.” Around the same time, he said, DuPont began operating a new chemical plant less than a thousand yards from the home. St. John the Baptist Parish, which includes Reserve, lies within Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley,” a stretch along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that is cluttered with petrochemical development and the pollution it brings. The Environmental Protection Agency’s National Air Toxics Assessment, which uses emissions estimates to model health risks, estimates that the risk of developing cancer in Reserve is 50 times the national average, and that the five census tracts with the highest risk are all in the area. But as Taylor watched the development spring up around him, he didn’t know any of that. All he knew was that a lot of people seemed to be getting sick. Several family members have died of cancer, he said, while his wife is a cancer survivor. It wasn’t until four years ago that Taylor began to connect what he saw with the industry that had developed around him. The risk of developing cancer in Reserve is 50 times the national average, and the five census tracts with the highest risk are all in the area. “I came home one night and my wife was so sick, and the odor was so horrible coming from the plant, that I called 911,” he said. “And the emergency personnel, they were taken aback by the odor. Of course, all of them was white, none of them lived in the community I lived in,” he said. Almost two-thirds of Reserve’s residents are Black. It never occurred to him that other parts of the parish didn’t have it as bad. And soon after that incident, the EPA arrived and began monitoring for a chemical, chloroprene, that is used in the nearby plant and is considered by the agency to be a “likely carcinogen.” “I got the first results of the monitoring; it scared the heck out of me,” he said. When the EPA found high levels of the chemical in the air near a school, “that’s really what sparked the people to join me and we formed this Concerned Citizens of St. John.” His group has been trying ever since to get Denka Corporation, which bought the plant from DuPont in 2015, to limit emissions. Denka did not reply to requests for comment from InsideClimate News, but a company website says it has voluntarily reduced emissions and that “there is no evidence to suggest Denka’s operations are harmful to local residents.” Taylor’s wife now lives in California, to be away from the pollution. Some of his children have moved out of the parish, too. His great-granddaughter was born recently nearby, “and she has no future here,” he said.  But he feels trapped with his home. Beyond the low value of the property, Taylor said, he wouldn’t feel right selling to another family, only to have them live with the same burden. “We’ve already been written off. We’re walking dead people,” he said. “We’ve been sacrificed.” Bears Ears National Monument, Utah: Trump ended tribal governance Alfred Lomahquahu helped build the five-tribe coalition that proposed the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. The land might seem remote, but the struggle against racial and environmental injustice has been no different for the indigenous people of the Southwest than for those protesting on the streets of the world’s cities. “People are actually getting united,” said Lomahquahu, a Hopi. “That’s the main thing that the government is afraid of, that’s why they don’t want these protests going on.” The coalition’s work focused on protecting red rock canyons and pinion-dotted desert containing hundreds of thousands of archaeological sites and areas of deep cultural significance to the Hopi Nation, Zuni Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe and Ute Mountain Utes. “We started speaking with [President Barack] Obama on a one-to-one, government-to-government basis,” said Lomahquahu, now community administrator in the Hopi village of Baqavi in northern Arizona. “Part of our strategy was that we were going to work side by side with [the U.S. Bureau of Land Management] and all these other government entities as part of the planning for the whole monument.” The Obama administration embraced the idea, establishing and empowering a Bears Ears Commission when it created the monument. Lomahquahu was the commission’s co-chair until it was abolished when the Trump administration downsized the monument by 85 percent not quite a year later. Some people are privileged more than others and willing to use that privilege to help everyone get back on their feet. Trump administration officials rebuffed commissioners and other monument supporters, he said. “But we already knew at that point that everything that we achieved was going to go down the drain — and for every other minority, too.” Yet, the experience also showed the tribes, historically at odds with one another, the power of working together, he added. Later, conservation groups, professional societies, recreation groups and even large companies such as Patagonia joined the tribes’ campaign to protect the land from mining and pollution. “Some people are going to use their privilege in order to help others that aren’t privileged,” Lomahquhu said. “I think that’s something that you really need to look at now. … Some people are privileged more than others and willing to use that privilege to help everyone get back on their feet.” New uranium mining, coal-fired power and oil and gas development in the region are other threats that the Four Corners region has faced. More recently, Indian Country communities have united against COVID-19. “We’re just waiting for Trump to leave office,” Lomahquhu said, “so we can get back in there and regroup again and bring all entities back together.” The Rockaways, Queens, N.Y.: Young leaders of color building resilient communities Milan Taylor was 21 when he founded the Rockaway Youth Task Force in 2011, to sponsor community clean-ups and encourage voter registration in this outlying neighborhood on a barrier island in Queens. A year later, after Hurricane Sandy left homes four to 10 feet underwater and knocked out power for days, Taylor found himself helping to lead rescue and relief efforts in a neighborhood that was 60 percent African American and Hispanic and the poverty line was 20 percent higher than the state average. He mobilized hundreds of volunteers in a widespread effort to assess the needs and deliver food and medications to hundreds of home-bound community members, including elderly and disabled residents. As they meticulously canvassed high-rise apartment buildings, the major relief organizations and the NYPD seemed strangely missing in action. “Sandy gave us the exposure that [the Rockaway Youth Task Force] needed to grow,” said Taylor, now 31 and the group’s executive director.  And a good thing that is, with climate scientists predicting sea level rise of at least a foot by 2050, which will make the Rockaways more prone to climate change-fueled flooding and storm surges than they already are.   “What we’re trying to accomplish as an organization is to build more resilient communities,” Taylor said, “We want to be there, whether it’s a disaster brought about by climate change or even human disasters” — a reference to the ongoing protests for racial justice and an end to police violence.  The conversation of Black lives mattering isn’t just limited to police violence … It also extends to climate justice. Taylor said that it is important for the task force, made up largely of young people of color, to be “led by our own constituency, meaning that those who are directly impacted decide which direction and which campaigns we take on as an organization.”  Despite being told after Sandy that his organization couldn’t grow, he said, “We’re still here … still doing work, still helping our communities and still training the next generation of leaders.” He noted that one former RYTF organizer, Khaleel Anderson, is running for the New York State Assembly.  In the future, Taylor said, he hopes the broader climate movement embraces his work with the task force, which recognizes how race, gender and socioeconomic factors contribute to environmental injustice. “The conversation of Black lives mattering isn’t just limited to police violence,” Taylor said. “It also extends to climate justice.” Los Angeles: Latino children in Boyle Heights play in lead-contaminated soil Idalmis Vaquero sees such joy in the exuberance of a neighborhood boy named R.J. The 6-year-old runs to her to show off his newest feat — a backflip — on the dusty patch of grass outside of their aging apartment complex owned by the Los Angeles Housing Authority. Yet there is a dark contradiction between the glee of this boy and the reality of life in the shadow of a lead recycling plant that has poisoned the ground that dirties R.J.’s bare feet. The boy, like so many other children and families living in this neighborhood, is exposed every day to the high concentrations of lead that have contaminated this mostly Latino community just southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The Exide Technologies recycling plant and its predecessors emitted lead, arsenic and other dangerous pollutants, leaving homes, apartments, schools, parks and day care centers with dangerously high levels of lead-contaminated soil. Vaquero, 26, a third-year student at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, grew up in public housing in the Boyle Heights neighborhood, where she still lives and where her parents settled after emigrating from Mexico nearly 30 years ago. There has been little change in her neighborhood since she was a child. Factories, smoke stacks and exhaust-belching diesel trucks define the community more than grassy parks and welcoming recreation centers. So she worries about the future of R.J. and other children. “Living here will have an impact on the quality of life for the rest of their lives,” she said. “It makes me mad that our lives are not considered equal when it comes to addressing environmental hardships.” As many as 250,000 residents, mostly working-class Latinos, face a chronic health hazard from exposure to airborne lead and arsenic that subsequently settled into the soil from the recycling plant, according to a 2013 health risk assessment by the South Coast Air Quality Management District . The health of these communities need to be prioritized and protected from any more pollution from Exide and other environmental injustices. Lead contamination has been found in children growing up in neighborhoods surrounding the now-shuttered Exide battery plant, a University of Southern California study found . Lead is a neurotoxin, and there is no level that is considered safe in humans. The 15-acre recycling facility operated in the industrial city of Vernon for decades with minimal regulatory oversight. It churned out poisonous pollution around the clock seven days a week as the lead from 25,000 old car batteries was melted down every day for use in producing new batteries. The facility received more than 100 environmental violations for such things as lead and acid leaks and maintaining an overflowing pond of toxic sludge. The Exide plant was shut down in 2015 by the U.S. Department of Justice, which also ordered the company to pay $50 million to clean up the site and nearby neighborhoods. The state later pledged $75 million for the ongoing cleanup, overseen by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control . The cleanup has been painfully slow, which Vaquero takes as yet another signal that her neighborhood and neighbors are just a forgotten footnote in a city defined by the glitz of Hollywood and Beverly Hills.  Vaquero majored in environmental studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where she made the decision to stand up for her community and others like hers. She described the environmental injustices in her community in a 2016 thesis : “The health of these communities need to be prioritized and protected from any more pollution from Exide and other environmental injustices,” she wrote. “The community’s power and resilience will prevail and environmental justice will be served to Southeast Los Angeles.” Pull Quote You’ve got to have ownership. … It’s race, class, money and politics. That is the narrative. That is the story. The risk of developing cancer in Reserve is 50 times the national average, and the five census tracts with the highest risk are all in the area. Some people are privileged more than others and willing to use that privilege to help everyone get back on their feet. The conversation of Black lives mattering isn’t just limited to police violence … It also extends to climate justice. The health of these communities need to be prioritized and protected from any more pollution from Exide and other environmental injustices. Contributors Nicholas Kusnetz Judy Fahys Ilana Cohen David Hasemyer Topics Climate Change Environmental Justice California Policy & Politics Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off People march in St. James, Louisiana, a small Black community at the end of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, to demand a safe and open evacuation route. Given the level of toxicity in this parish, it has earn the name of Cancer Alley. Credit:  Fernando Lopez for Survival Media Agency

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How 5 communities across the US are seeking environmental justice

Lyft’s 100% EV strategy requires a policy blitz

June 24, 2020 by  
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Lyft’s 100% EV strategy requires a policy blitz Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 06/24/2020 – 02:00 ICYMI, ride-hailing biggie Lyft announced last week that it plans to electrify every single car offering services on its platform by 2030, including both those that Lyft owns and rents to drivers and ones that its drivers own. It’s a colossal task for an 8-year-old company that says it won’t be profitable until at least 2021 and plans to slash hundreds of millions of dollars in costs this year.  Why will it be so hard? Because the vast majority of cars on the Lyft platform are owned by drivers, many of which drive for less than 10 hours a week for Lyft. So essentially Lyft has to act as a catalyst — using policy, economic and industry tools — to spur the broader transportation ecosystem to more rapidly adopt zero-emission vehicles. In particular, the unprecedented move will require an unprecedented leap forward in policies that can make electric vehicles affordable and beneficial for Lyft drivers within the next 10 years. On a media call last week, Elizabeth Sturcken, managing director at the Environmental Defense Fund, put it this way: “Lyft is committed to using the most powerful tool we have to fight climate change: policy influence.” One of Lyft’s strategies will be to work with regulators across city, regional, state and even federal levels to create an environment that reduces the upfront costs of EVs and helps drivers save money fueling them compared to gasoline cars. Lyft already has tested out creating this kind of environment in a couple of microcosms in the United States.  Lyft Director of Sustainability Sam Arons pointed to Lyft’s policy work in Colorado during the Political Climate podcast last week. Arons said Lyft was able to work with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to modify the state’s law around Colorado’s electric vehicle tax credit and make it available to ride-hailing fleets.  As a result of the changes in the Colorado law, Lyft was able to roll out what it says is the largest electric ride-hailing deployment in the U.S. — with 200 EVs — in the Denver area of Colorado. “We want to replicate that with other policymakers in the country,” said Arons on the podcast .  Lyft is committed to using the most powerful tool we have to fight climate change: policy influence. Lyft also mentions in its white paper that the company has been working closely on policies such as California’s new law creating a Clean Miles Standard, under which ride-hailing companies soon must submit plans to introduce targets for zero-emission vehicles. Lyft says it’s been working with partners on similar legislation in other places such as Washington state. In the same vein, Lyft also has been advocating for more states to adopt laws such as California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). That’s California’s mostly-loved law that generates LCFS credits for companies providing low carbon fuel, whether that’s from electricity, renewable diesel or renewable natural gas. Revenue from selling LCFS credits can be used to support low carbon projects in California such as EV rebates for buyers, community-based EV programs and deployment of high-speed charging stations. At the federal level, Lyft plans to try to help maintain and expand the federal zero-emission vehicle tax credits, which can be as large as $7,500 but are being lowered and phased out for some automakers that have reached the limits, such as Tesla. Beyond policy influencing, Lyft also will need to work closely with automakers to reduce EV prices and optimize new electric vehicles for ride-hailing drivers. Lyft plans to start this work by leveraging its bulk purchasing power when buying EVs for its Express Drive program, which rents cars to Lyft drivers across the country. In addition to automakers, Lyft will need to collaborate with EV infrastructure providers and utilities to get more EV chargers deployed and to create better rate designs for EV charging. There’s a whole lot of work to do, and it’ll take the entire ecosystem to get Lyft where it wants to go. Good luck, and we’ll be following along with the ride-hailing company as it leads the industry toward electrification.  Pull Quote Lyft is committed to using the most powerful tool we have to fight climate change: policy influence. Topics Transportation & Mobility Policy & Politics EV Charging Electric Vehicles Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off All of the initial projects will be in the United States. Courtesy of Lyft Close Authorship

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Lyft’s 100% EV strategy requires a policy blitz

The 2020 GreenBiz 30 Under 30

June 22, 2020 by  
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The 2020 GreenBiz 30 Under 30 GreenBiz Editors Mon, 06/22/2020 – 02:30 If you’re looking for the light of inspiration during one of the darkest periods the world has seen in decades, you’ve come to the right place. We are proud to introduce our fifth annual cohort of twentysomethings who are sustainability leaders within — and without — their companies, nonprofits and communities. The Class of 2020 hails from seven countries, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, Brazil and Taiwan, and they are tackling diverse challenges — from cultivating a more sustainable food system to advocating for climate justice on behalf of disadvantaged communities to testing best practices for circular cities to negotiating impactful renewable energy contracts. The list of their accomplishments is long and growing longer by the day, and they’re just getting started. NIne members of this year’s cohort work are affiliated with some of the world’s most influential companies, including Allbirds, Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, MetLife, Moody’s Investor Services and Saint-Gobain. Others are making waves in the business world from other perches, including government, consultancies, startups and environmental justice advocacy groups. The GreenBiz 2020 30 Under 30 honorees were nominated by GreenBiz readers and community members around the world and selected by the GreenBiz editorial team. Grateful appreciation to the World Business Council for Sustainable Business and the Yale Center for Business and the Environment for helping us spread the word. Please join us in congratulating and celebrating the best and brightest of 2020 — at a time when we all could benefit from approaching challenges with fresh eyes. Here they are, in alphabetical order: Emily Adams, 27  Senior Sustainability Lead, MetLife; New York LinkedIn   Emily Adams’ parents impressed on her the beauty and fragility of our planet at a young age, pushing her into Girl Scouts and pulling her along on family hiking trips to national parks. Her experience with an aboriginal tribe while studying abroad in Australia recontextualized the power and importance of the environment across cultures. To turn her love of nature from a hobby into a career, Adams joined MetLife as a sustainability intern in 2014. Her crowning achievement, so far at least, was building Our Green Impact. The program offers discussion forums, a speaker series and volunteering opportunities to encourage MetLife’s 49,000 employees — whether they work from home or in small offices in other countries — to reduce their environmental footprint, at the office and at home. (Approximately 10,000 of them participate.) “Our mission is to help people protect their families, protect their finances, be confident for the future — and a large part of that is reducing risk,” Adams says. “All aspects of sustainability are pretty core to that.” Adams also vets MetLife’s office suppliers, staffing companies and consulting agencies for aligned values. Sustainability questions are being embedded into requests for proposal documents and onboarding materials. These efforts by Adams’ team helped MetLife become the first U.S.-based insurer to achieve carbon neutrality in 2016.  — Jesse Klein Jennifer Ballen, 28   Head of Global Market Operations, Indigo Ag; Boston LinkedIn Jennifer Ballen thrives at being busy. “I’m always doing six things at once,” she says. “That’s just my personality.” It’s also how she grew up. Both her parents worked a lot, and they chose to spend their family time doing something meaningful, such as volunteering at a homeless shelter in Boston.  Drawn to finance, Ballen started her career at Morgan Stanley in traditional asset management. She became intrigued by her clients’ requests for investments with a triple bottom line — and the very notion that profitability and impact needn’t be mutually exclusive.  Delving into the sustainability world, Ballen trained with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps in Rio de Janeiro, where she got her first taste of inspiring people to act, and her zeal for public speaking. Now she calls herself a “corporate change agent.” While working towards an MBA at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Ballen met and was inspired by Anheuser-Busch InBev Chief Sustainability and Procurement Officer Tony Milkin. When he offered her a job leading the company’s global sustainable packaging initiative, she jumped at it. Later, she led sustainability at Drinkworks , the company’s joint venture with Keurig Dr Pepper. Ballen, who recently took on her new role at Indigo Ag, says her time working in the food and beverage sector shed light on “just how important agriculture is to a sustainable future and the climate change battle.” — Meg Wilcox Charlotte Bande, 29 Senior Sustainability Consultant — Climate Strategy Lead, Quantis International; San Diego LinkedIn Belgium-born strategist Charlotte Bande connects her career in sustainable business to two incidents: an encounter on vacation in Egypt as a preteen with a young boy brushing his teeth with mudwater, and her father’s decision to leap into a sustainability role while she was pursuing her degree in commercial engineering and sustainable development. The first inspired her quest to find a job with “purpose” while the second woke her to the possibility of bringing that mission to a corporate role.  During her five years with Quantis, Bande has advised some of the world’s largest companies in the food, cosmetics and apparels sectors, helping them define science-based targets, insetting initiatives and carbon pricing approaches. She’s an advocate of ” Absolute Sustainability, ” a Quantis philosophy that challenges businesses to take planetary boundaries into account not just for carbon emissions but also for biodiversity, land use, freshwater consumption, the phosphorus cycle and the nitrogen cycle.  “She’s an incredibly clear and transversal thinker, works hard to know the facts and the science that underlie her advice, has a strong sense of purpose,” observes one of the half-dozen people who nominated Bande to this list.  Passionate about kite-surfing and wakeboarding, Bande describes herself as a “slow traveler,” someone who enjoys learning new cultures. Her frequent travels have taken her to Croatia, Morocco and Australia, and she’s starting a personal blog to explore changes she can make to her lifestyle to support the sustainability cause. “Learning, thinking and teaching; that gets me moving,” she says.   — Heather Clancy Oliver Camp, 2 6   Senior Associate, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition; London LinkedIn   Oliver Camp is passionate about food waste, which he calls a “terrible indictment of our ability to manage our food and supply chains.” But he also sees ample opportunity for reducing it, and for redistributing this “waste” to hundreds of millions of malnourished people worldwide. Health, wellness and nutrition are Camp’s key interests.  He majored in languages in college because, he says, “Languages really help you connect with people and build relationships.” But the primary focus of Camp’s work has been to harness the power of big corporations to improve people’s quality of life. For the past two years, Camp worked on Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan team to help the company’s brands find new technologies, services and products that would support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He also worked with Nestlé while at McCann Enterprise to develop a low-technology platform for communicating nutrition and health information to low-literate consumers in equatorial Africa. Now, Camp is starting a new role with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, a foundation that addresses malnutrition in low- and middle-income countries. He’s excited to bring his skills for channeling innovation and building partnerships to achieve broader impact. Indeed, his former employer Unilever is a key strategic partner. “The thing about these roles with NGOs and foundations is you can use your convening power to bring together a whole host of public and private institutions. And for me, that feels like impact at the biggest possible scale,” he says. — Meg Wilcox Alexis Cureton, 27 Clean Energy and Equity Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council; Oakland, California LinkedIn  | Twitter For Alexis Cureton, the pandemic has underscored that those left behind need advocates. Championing the needs of underserved communities is something he does on a daily basis through the lens of clean and efficient energy at the largest U.S. environmental organization, the Natural Resources Defense Council.  Cureton’s work touches California’s disadvantaged communities through initiatives such as those providing energy retrofits at multi-family buildings and funding for resiliency plans during wildfire season for those who live in utility power shutoff zones. Before he joined NRDC, he helped low-income families gain greater access to electric vehicles and chargers through the nonprofit Greenlining Institute.  While California is where his work is currently focused, Cureton’s upbringing traversed him across the U.S. South and Midwest via Tulsa, Oklahoma; Duluth, Georgia; and Indianapolis, Indiana. He attributes his ability to see a broader national perspective, and not just a local one, to his childhood growing up across diverse regions. Cureton says his father — a public health professional who would go above and beyond for his patients — inspired him to embrace a profession of helping others and “fighting on behalf of community members that look like me.” He also looks to the teachings of scholars that advocated on behalf of those less fortunate, including W.E.B DuBois and Martin Luther King. But he notes: “It just so happens that my muse is clean energy.” — Katie Fehrenbacher Mateo Dugand, 28  Technologist, IT Efficiency and Sustainability (EMEA), Hewlett Packard Enterprise; London LinkedIn  | Twitter At age 25, Mateo Dugand had a big job, running waste management for the United Arab Emirates. Starting out as an intern while working on his thesis about organic waste management, he rose meteorically in a few short years to a position of leadership, with 600 people behind him. Dugand, an engineer with a master’s degree in energy management, says he learns quickly, “by going on the ground, engaging [people], and not just sitting behind a computer.” Today, he works on Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s corporate sustainability team, overseeing the company’s efforts to help customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa use IT solutions to reduce their energy and water use. It’s a key part of HPE’s sustainability strategy, given that nearly 60 percent of its environmental footprint comes from customer use of its products. Dugand finds it “fascinating, working in an industry combining sustainability and technology fields that are both changing so fast, every single day,” he says. “You somehow become an expert very quickly because not a lot of people know about it.” Optimism drives Dugand, who grew up in Paris, the son of Colombian emigres. Looking forward, he says he wants to “bring his joy and motivation to solve some of the most pressing sustainability challenges,” and that he believes we’re “strongly capable” of leaving our kids a brighter future. — Meg Wilcox Arturo Elizondo, 2 8  CEO, Clara Foods; San Francisco LinkedIn  | Twitter As a Mexican from Texas, Arturo Elizondo sees food at the center of family, culture and tradition. But after witnessing the practices of America’s massive animal production industry as an intern at the Department of Agriculture, he became convinced the foods he loved needed a 21st-century upgrade. Elizondo abandoned his plan for a career in the public sector and booked a one-way ticket to San Francisco, with no job and nowhere to live.   Six years later, he is CEO of Clara Foods, a biotech food company that uses fermentation to create egg proteins without involving chickens. The potential is not chicken feed: the U.S. industry produced almost 100 billion eggs last year , and per capita consumption of eggs has increased over 16 percent in the past 20 years.   Elizondo knows firsthand that it’s almost impossible to get people to change their habits, especially around something so personal and ingrained as food. His mother and grandmother have been buying not only the same food but the same brands for decades. So he focused his company on a business-to-business model, making the right choice easy for consumers.  “If we are this niche product in the corner of a grocery store, it defeats the purpose of what we are doing.” he says. “For me, it’s the scalability and efficiency in the company that really, really drives me.” — Jesse Klein Katerina Fragos, 2 8 Manager, Sustainability and Climate Change Consulting, PwC; Montreal LinkedIn | Twitter If Katerina Fragos could grant humanity a superpower, it’s the ability to think in systems, being able to understand the complexities within an ecosystem or a city and map out unintended consequences. “If I could just have a perfectly systemic mind that’s able to make these connections … it would make all these global challenges easily digestible with the snap of your fingers,” she says. In that spirit, Fragos helps guide some of Canada’s largest, most impactful organizations toward their sustainability and ESG objectives. Her clients at PwC include corporations from the energy, transportation and retail sectors, government agencies and nonprofits with goals in biodiversity, circular economy, climate change, social inclusion and human rights. They turn to Fragos’ team for tasks such as assembling metrics for CDP disclosures, developing science-based targets, penning sustainability reports or helping a board tie emissions reductions to C-suite performance incentives. On the side, Fragos teaches a sustainability course at McGill University and offers pro bono support to help local startups and social enterprises embrace sustainability principles. Her desire to make an impact warmed up in college after hearing activist environmentalist author David Suzuki speak. Working as an account executive at Procter & Gamble, she joined and later co-led the company’s Canada sustainability network, eventually pursuing sustainability as a full-time focus. Fragos savors her dream job at PwC for the tangible change it can spark. “Any time you’re tired, you think about the possible impact and it’s so energizing. Coffee can’t do that experience justice.” — Elsa Wenzel Alyssa Harding, 29 Executive Director, Sustainable Food Trade Association; Boulder, Colorado LinkedIn   When Alyssa Harding was tapped in early 2019 to serve as executive director at nonprofit Sustainable Food Trade Association (SFTA) she was working as the sustainability and external relations manager at Justin’s, a food company in Boulder, Colorado, that makes nut butters. Harding says living in a food desert while attending university in Gainesville, Florida, where she studied environmental science, inspires her work.  While some companies have made attempts to increase access to nutritious food in these underserved areas, those efforts have so far fallen short, she notes. “If it’s outside the price point that the average person can access, then we’re still not addressing the appropriate equity that we need to be doing in these conversations.” In her previous role at Justin’s, Harding developed all of the company’s community impact programs “from the ground up.” She says her favorite initiative focused on pollinator conservation, a program that required her to engage with people on a national and local level.  “Not only were we affecting our supply chain, we were finding a way to trickle down into infrastructure and policy reform and give back to our community in a way that engaged our employees,” Harding recalls. At SFTA, which aims to build the capacity of food companies to transition to sustainable business models, Harding has the opportunity to make even more impact. One current focus: The organization is seeking ways to scale collective impact to redefine food packaging. “You can move the needle so much further with all of these players and all of these stakeholders working together. So to be able to facilitate some of that is really for me, so inspirational.” — Deonna Anderson Hana Kajimura, 28 Sustainability Lead, Allbirds; San Francisco LinkedIn   Hana Kajimura built footwear company Allbirds’ sustainability framework from the ground up after joining the organization nearly three years ago as its first full-time sustainability hire. And every day on the job looks different for Kajimura. “I think that’s what’s really unique about my role in sustainability is that it’s not just crunching numbers or creating climate strategy,” she says. “We’re testing products. It’s writing copy, storyboarding videos. And I really get to take the work from initial science all the way through to customer-facing marketing.” In 2013, while studying environmental science at Stanford University, Kujimura interned at the Environmental Defense Fund in its corporate partnerships program. While there, she says: “I really became convinced of the power and swiftness of business to bring about change, but knew very little about how a business was run or what drove CEO decision-making.” Working at Allbirds marries her experience at EDF and as a senior associate consultant, working with Fortune 500 companies on high-level business strategy, at Bain & Company, where she spent three years just before joining Allbirds.  At Allbirds, Kajimura works closely with co-CEO Joey Zwillinger and vice president of innovation Jad Finck on direct environmental initiatives. For example, on Earth Day 2019, Allbirds committed to carbon neutrality from that year forward through an internal carbon tax. Kajimura says that decision came about organically as a result of “being more or less an outsider” of both the fashion industry and corporate sustainability. “We would hear people talking about the need to be carbon neutral by 2050,” she says. “If we all agree that we have to buy offsets or insets in 2050, why aren’t we buying them today for 100 percent of our footprint?” — Deonna Anderson Matt Kuchtyak, 29 Assistant Vice President, ESG and Sustainable Finance, Moody’s Investors Service; New York LinkedIn In March, Matt Kuchtyak saw something important happening that most of us likely missed: as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, social and sustainability bond issuance was surging. For this tiny sliver of the bond market, the jump was significant, because even within the realm of environmental, social and governance investing, “the focus has always been more on ‘G’ and ‘E’ but less on ‘S’,” Kuchtyak says. Investors often view social risk — things such as poverty, inadequate healthcare and gender inequality — as less tangible and harder to measure. With the pandemic, “That’s certainly been flipped on its head,” says Kuchtyak, who started with Moody’s Investors Service as an analyst in the rating agency’s public finance unit, after graduating from Rutgers University.   Now, as a lead analyst on Moody’s ESG team, it’s his job to help investors make sense of the risks companies take when they don’t, for example, seriously consider threats posed to their business by the climate crisis or the next pandemic. Working for a credit rating agency may not be the kind of job one dreams of as a kid, the New Jersey native admits. “It’s not like being an astronaut,” he says. But there’s no doubting the sky-high impact of his role, especially as ESG investing edges into the mainstream, and Moody’s has charged Kuchtyak’s team with further integrating ESG analysis into its broader credit risk assessments.   Kuchtyak sees the ESG debt market moving toward a more holistic approach, as people realize the interconnectedness of various sustainable development issues. “I think [the COVID-19 crisis] will just help accelerate that,” he says. — Carol J. Clouse Hilda Liswani, 28 Founder and CEO, WeBloom; Zurich, Switzerland LinkedIn | Instagram Africa counts more entrepreneurs than any other continent. Yet its women have limited access to the usual support systems for startups, such as accelerator programs and funding, which is painfully clear to Hilda Liswani. She launched her first social enterprise there at age 14, and has assisted Siemens, Mastercard Foundation and the European Union with rural development projects — even accepting a youth leadership award from Queen Elizabeth II. Less than two years ago, Liswani founded WeBloom , a nonprofit grooming women innovators in Africa to be investor-ready. When a Nigerian venture capitalist told Liswani it didn’t make sense to invest in women, it spurred her on even more. Now, WeBloom is cultivating a group of Namibian “bloomers” in the circular economy and regenerative agriculture. For example, Ochanya makes chicken feed from seaweed, and iFarming enables people to invest in a farm’s output without managing the livestock or crops.  Did we mention Liswani’s day job as the Tech4Impact business development manager at the Vice presidency of Innovation at the prestigious Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne? She describes her “airport accent” as the result of straddling continents much of her life, reflecting time lived in South Africa, Ethiopia, Namibia, England, the United States and Switzerland. Her Namibian diplomat parents fought for that nation’s independence, won just before her birth. Liswani is motivated to advance sustainability before Africa stumbles too far down the developed world’s path of unsustainable industrialization. “People are experiencing climate change and environmental crises on a day-to-day basis. There is a real urgent need.” — Elsa Wenzel   Lilian Liu, 29 Sustainability Strategist, Futerra; Brooklyn, New York LinkedIn | Instagram   Before Lilian Liu’s current job as a sustainability strategist at “change agency” Futerra, she spent years in other sectors — as manager of partnerships and United Nations relations at the U.N. Global Compact, as co-founder of sustainable fashion company Fauna and as project manager for sustainable fashion at nonprofit Redress Asia, among other roles. Across these roles, Liu picked up skills she uses to help companies set and achieve their sustainability goals at Futerra. Liu says she’s very passionate about apparel, but over the years she’s thought a lot about the most effective way she can have an impact. That desire along with her global upbringing — growing up in Sweden with its egalitarian culture and spending summers in Shanghai where she saw aggressive growth that wasn’t always in balance — led Liu to her current role at Futerra. She says her multicultural background inspired her to get into sustainability and help create balance in society.  “So many industries need help and want to change,” she says. “Companies have huge impacts, sometimes more than governments because of their economic power.” On her first day on the job, Liu says her CEO told her that if they weren’t delivering change, they weren’t doing their jobs. “We’re really meant to push people and companies to make change happen, even if it’s at times uncomfortable.” While Liu was mum on the clients she’s working with, she says one of her most exciting projects so far is working with a materials innovation company. Although she’s not working in a fashion company directly, she still works with companies in that field and is thinking about ways the industry could improve by closing the loop through better waste management and recycling. That’s something Liu would fix if she had infinite resources. — Deonna Anderson Jasmine A. Lomax, 29 Manager, Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, Kilroy Realty; Los Angeles LinkedIn Jasmine Lomax grew up in the city but spent summers immersed in California’s wilderness. When she realized how we live — and where we live — is threatening the wild spaces she loves, Lomax knew she wanted to dedicate herself to sustainability.  Her passion for building — creating things and shaping the physical world — led her to study construction at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Thankfully, her two callings are a perfect pairing for building things. “It was a total accident that I’m incredibly passionate about the survival of life on earth and that our built environment has the largest impact on our planet,” Lomax says. “This is everything I want to do.” In college, Lomax led a trip to Malawi, where she worked with Habitat for Humanity to rebuild three structures washed out by monsoon rains — a reminder of how climate change impacts vulnerable communities across the globe. The trip helped shape a philosophy she carries with her today.  In her current role, Lomax works at Kilroy Realty, where she calculates and manages the Scope 3 emissions in the company’s portfolio. Scope 3 emissions — those outside of electricity and gas consumption — are both the largest source of building emissions and the most difficult to calculate.  “Buildings are pivotal in our society, but we need to find a better way to build them and operate them,” Lomax says.  — Sarah Golden Robert Luo, 24 Founder and CEO, Mi Terro; Los Angeles LinkedIn   Robert Luo’s innovative approach for addressing food waste was inspired by time spent in 2018 on his uncle’s dairy farm in China. Luo said his uncle was frustrated by the buckets of spoiled milk he threw away on a daily basis because it represented profits he could have made. “He asked me to help him find a solution to get rid of the milk waste,” Luo remembers.  That’s when the idea for Mi Terro, his social impact biotechnology company focused on turning milk waste into fibers that can be used in apparel and packaging, started to bubble up.  Before starting Mi Terro, Luo founded two other companies that eventually were acquired, including Kuyi Network Technology, an app that lets users send videos and photos without using Wi-Fi or cellular service.  For his efforts, Luo has earned a spot in the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration. Luo’s entrepreneurial spirit comes from his parents, who both have run companies of their own.  “Entrepreneurship is running in my blood,” Luo says, noting that if he were to ever leave Mi Terro, he’d likely start another company centered on sustainability and social impact. But for now, about two years after Mi Terro’s founding, Luo says the major goal for the company is to replace petroleum materials with protein-based materials made from food waste. So far, Mi Terro has done that by producing T-shirts, available on its website, made from milk waste sourced from organizations including food products giant Danone — and his uncle’s farm. — Deonna Anderson Liz Lyon, 29 Small Business and Circular Economy Manager, Plant Chicago; Chicago LinkedIn Liz Lyon believes in the value of small and mighty. While the dominant narrative of circularity centers on corporate and country leadership, according to Lyon, “Small businesses are left out of the conversation, but they have a lot to offer.” Having moved to Illinois to study public policy and environmental studies at the University of Chicago, Lyon accepted a internship in late 2013 with nonprofit Plant Chicago where she became entwined in the city’s robust local food movement that was taking root in the shadow of Chicago’s manufacturing giants. Part living lab and part business hub, Plant Chicago aims to cultivate local circular economies, and Lyon has been applying and accelerating this mission since she joined the team full-time in 2015.  Lyon established Plant Chicago’s year-round farmers market and learned from farmers and small businesses that for many, success was measured not by size but by better serving their immediate community through jobs and services. Lyon brings this idea to life by leading Plant Chicago’s Circular Economy Leaders Network, a cohort of small food businesses on the Southwest side of the city seeking to implement, measure and communicate the principles of circularity while better serving their communities.  Lyon champions a vision for local circular economies: “resources, materials, nutrients and money circulating within a local context so that as little as possible is wasted and as much as possible comes from and stays in that community.” Although the businesses she works with may have a smaller reach than the global food companies that share their ZIP code, they are a model for resource efficiency, sustainability and resilience.  — Lauren Phipps Priya Mulgaonkar, 27 Resiliency Planner, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance; Brooklyn, New York LinkedIn  | Twitter   Moving from the sweeping natural vistas of Seattle to the concrete urbanization of New York City wouldn’t cause most people to become more environmentally conscious. But for Priya Mulgaonkar, experiencing firsthand the destruction from Superstorm Sandy during her sophomore year at New York University lit the spark for a career in climate activism.   “Seeing how much devastation fell on the backs of low-income people and people of color, it just showed how starkly the inequality of climate change really is,” she recalls. “I got really passionate about environmental justice.” For Mulgaonkar, living in New York gave “the environment” an entirely different meaning. It’s not just about natural vistas and pristine mountains but also air quality, waste systems, stormwater runoff and whole urban systems.  As resiliency planner for the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, Mulgaonkar works to ensure the city is healthy for all its roughly 8.4 million residents. She partners with grassroots coalitions across neighborhoods, has led numerous large climate marches, developed proposals and campaign strategies, and even helped pass New York’s most ambitious climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act .  Through her tenaciousness and marathon conference calls, Mulgaonkar secured a mandate in the bill ensuring that at least 35 percent of state spending on clean energy benefits disadvantaged communities. “Climate change might affect everyone,” she says. “But not everyone is affected equally.” — Jesse Klein Catherine Nabukalu, 28 Project Coordinator, District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility; Washington D.C.  LinkedIn   If you’ve seen Catherine Nabukalu’s name before, it may be because she was an Emerging Leader at GreenBiz Group’s 2017 VERGE conference. More recently, she co-wrote an article about the environmental impact of the charcoal supply chain. Nabukalu first learned about the environmental impacts of that supply chain — including how it leads to vast forest loss — when she traveled to Uganda in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of her master’s degree in environmental studies at the University of Pennsylvania.  Born in Kampala, Uganda, Nabukalu had roots in the region before earning her master’s degree. Separate from the work she did in the region while in her environmental studies program, she traveled to Kumi, Uganda, to lead a reforestation effort with the Green Teso Initiative. Her team planted more than 20,000 trees at five primary schools in the region.  “Our goal was to make sure that school children have trees so that they could play under the shade in eastern Uganda,” Nabukalu says. “That is one of the things that I’m most proud of in terms of philanthropy.” The project achieved a 90 percent success rate for seedlings within five months.  Raising awareness about the energy demand associated with forest loss is one of Nabukalu’s goals. She says even more important is figuring out how to replenish the world’s forests at a faster rate than we’re cutting them down. As project coordinator at the District of Columbia’s Sustainable Energy Utility, Nabukalu focuses on helping reduce energy demand for residents, businesses and institutions throughout the Nation’s Capital, working with the account management and engineering teams to reach that goal. — Deonna Anderson Kiera O’Brien, 21 Founder and President, Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends; Ketchikan, Alaska LinkedIn | Twitter Growing up in coastal Ketchikan, Alaska, the “salmon capital of the world,” shaped Kiera O’Brien’s passions for conservation and policy. The Alaska Permanent Fund , which feeds proceeds from offshore oil drilling into residents’ bank accounts, helped pay O’Brien’s tuition at Harvard. Dividends of a different stripe are central to a climate movement O’Brien is helping build. In 2018, she co-founded Students for Carbon Dividends , enlisting campus support from a mix of Republicans and Democrats. It advocates a carbon price, which emitters pay. Proponents say that unlike a tax, it reframes climate progress away from the language of personal sacrifice, instead dangling a cash carrot to the populace. The student group’s booth had a warm reception at the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year, and O’Brien voiced its cause on CNN. “I really see this as a generational issue,” says O’Brien, who launched Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends in December to continue the work post-graduation. “Young people just have so much more at stake and are so much less constrained by old party lines.” Aspiring to a behind-the-scenes policy career, O’Brien has interned for the U.S. Senate and American Conservative Union. Soon, she’ll pursue a master’s in climate and society at Columbia University. Her hope is that there’s something in carbon dividends for everyone, and that conservatives can reclaim environmental footing they lost in the 1990s. O’Brien says she asks herself, “What can I be doing to convince my camp to sit at the table and debate what we should be doing — not if we should be doing anything?” — Elsa Wenzel Goksenin Ozturkeri, 29 Senior Associate, CohnReznick Capital; San Francisco LinkedIn | Twitter Goksenin Ozturkeri’s interest in renewable energy dates back to his childhood in Turkey, a country that has long depended on natural gas imports, primarily from Russia, for much of its electricity. When Ozturkeri was a kid — in the late 1990s and early 2000s — oil and gas prices were volatile and the threat of power outages often hung over the country’s infrastructure. At the same time, “I would hear these stories about how our country is so suitable for solar and I couldn’t understand why we weren’t pushing for it,” he recalls. Ozturkeri’s interest in clean energy continued through college, but a fateful internship at a Belgian consulting firm transformed his interest into a career ambition. The firm’s biggest client was Gazprom, the Russian natural gas behemoth, and Ozturkeri was asked to research European solar and wind policy on its behalf. “They were concerned that Europe was moving ahead on renewable energy,” he says. “Because of them and what I learned doing that research, I got into this industry.” Not seeing himself as an engineer or technical type, Ozturkeri got a master’s degree in global energy policy and finance. After graduation, he landed a job as an analyst for the investment bank CohnReznick Capital, where he serves as a senior associate, working with developers to build financial models and obtain funding from investors. “I wanted to work in a profession where I would have a direct impact on climate change,” he says. “And moving that flow of capital is as close as it gets to having a direct impact.” — Carol J. Clouse Matt Panopio, 28 Program Manager, Energy and Sustainable Operations, Amazon; Seattle LinkedIn  | Twitter Born in the Philippines, Matt Panopio grew up bouncing between naval bases in San Diego and Okinawa, Japan. That means he also bounced between typhoons and wildfires. With such a global and visceral perspective of climate chaos from a young age, Panopio doesn’t remember making the choice to pursue a career in climate change. It was always clear (although it helped that he watched Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” at peak-impressionable age). “Ultimately, it’s always just been an interest of mine,” Panopio says. “It is the most pressing issue of our time.” Fresh out of college, Panopio spent three years in the public sector, then became a consultant before setting his sights on an operational role within the private sector. “Businesses and corporations have the buying power to make lasting change beyond their operations and I saw they had massive profits that could really change carbon markets and renewable energy markets,” he says.  Today, Panopio is part of a team working towards Amazon’s ambitious climate goals. His team executes renewable energy deals; Panopio’s specialty is working with utilities to subscribe to green energy programs.  Before Amazon, Panopio was also an EDF Climate Corps fellow to Lyft, where he helped create the framework for the ridesharing company’s climate neutrality program.  — Sarah Golden Sasha Ponomareva, 28 Green Operations Specialist, San Francisco International Airport; San Francisco LinkedIn When Sasha Ponomareva was hired by San Francisco’s Department of the Environment as part of its school outreach team, she had some reservations about local government. However, after 18 months of talking to kids about recycling, composting and water conservation — and subsequently serving as director Debbie Raphael’s executive assistant — her perspective shifted. “You can grow up feeling jaded about government,” Ponomareva says, “and I really disproved that for myself. It was great to see a local government really work for its people and work on [sustainability] efforts that are valuable.” Today, Ponomareva works at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), another city department that is, in many ways, its own metro microcosm — complete with administrative employees, tradespeople and a business community. For her, learning how to collaborate and work with those diverse stakeholders has deepened her impact within the worlds of waste management and city government. Last summer, Ponomareva was part of the team that rolled out SFO’s plastic water bottle ban — the first such ban at a major U.S. airport — and she’s been an integral part of SFO’s effort to “spread the waste gospel” and to train its 1,000-plus facilities staff on waste diversion. It’s all part of SFO’s goal to be the world’s first zero-waste airport by 2021. While it’s been nearly three years since she worked under Raphael, Ponomareva still draws inspiration from her mentor.  “What inspires me most about her is her ability to listen and connect with people,” Ponomareva says, “because ultimately, you’re not getting anywhere if you’re not listening to people and hearing what they want and what’s doable.”  — Shane Downing Benjamin Price, 29 Venture Manager, Saint-Gobain NOVA; Boston LinkedIn Benjamin Price is helping a 355-year-old materials giant set the foundation for its future by embracing innovative young startups. Saint-Gobain, which supplied mirrors to the Palace of Versailles in the 17th century, sells $42 billion of construction essentials such as drywall and roofing, in addition to high-performance materials and other tools to improve indoor light, air quality and acoustics. Robotics, additive manufacturing, digital platforms, artificial intelligence, retrofits and prefabrication are all on the table. “It’s a really exciting time to be in this space,” Price says. His work within the small NOVA corporate ventures team differs from that of traditional venture capital: In addition to funding and supporting young companies, it offers access to Saint-Gobain’s massive global footprint of materials businesses and distributors. Price grew up outside Boston, and after college dove into consulting at PwC and Accenture, learning how big companies can drive change at scale. He was always interested in innovation, so in his spare time he created a “micro micro fund,” inviting people he knew to invest in startups. Pre-COVID-19, Price traveled to his company’s offices in Paris and Shanghai, spending half his time at startup events and pitch days, the other half meeting internally. He’s hoping to return to Kenya, where he spent two months several years ago. That led to serving on the board of a teacher-training and rural youth-mentorship organization, the Flying Kites School Network. Back home in Boston, he also volunteers with Caritas Communities, which provides jobs for people without homes. — Elsa Wenze Sarah Reed, 27 Program Manager, Electrification Coalition; Sacramento, California LinkedIn | Twitter Even as a child, Sarah Reed was at the forefront of electric vehicle (EV) innovation, albeit in the passenger seat of her father’s EV, one of the first in California. “Sustainability has just been part of me,” she says, “and it’s something I took with me and turned into a career.” As a 7-year-old, Reed didn’t spend much time thinking about her dad’s car, but she does remember how normal it felt. Today, as a program manager with the Electrification Coalition , which promotes policies and actions that facilitate the deployment of electric vehicles on a mass scale, she’s doing her part to elevate and expand that feeling of normalcy with local governments and universities seeking to electrify their fleet vehicles. Reed, along with her colleagues, works with more than 200 fleet managers in 42 states pushing toward a collective, electric future. Reed says those same fleet managers, including city officials, inspire her. “It’s easy to get bogged down by things that are happening nationally or internationally,” she says, “but I find a lot of strength and inspiration in what’s happening on the local and state level.” Not surprisingly, Reed’s career aspirations are centered around making EVs, such as the Chevy Bolt she recently purchased, the societal norm. “I hope to look back in many years when almost everybody has an electric vehicle, and think of when EVs weren’t commonplace,” she says. — Shane Downing Katie Riddle, 26 Sustainability Analyst, City of Charlotte, North Carolina LinkedIn When Katie Riddle majored in environmental studies and business at Sewanee: The University of the South, she envisioned a future for herself as a sustainability professional in the private sector. After graduation, she started down that path, working for the British pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline and ICF, a global consulting services company. In 2018, the opportunity arose to join the three-person team charged with leading her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, into a low-carbon future, and Riddle joined the frontlines of the climate mitigation and adaptation battle being waged by cities around the world.  “While I believe business can and does have an impact on sustainability,” she says, “I feel really passionate about the forward-thinking work being done in the public sector, especially at the local level.” The team’s first order of business was to develop Charlotte’s Strategic Energy Action Plan, which the city council subsequently approved. Since then, Riddle has served as project manager, overseeing the implementation of a plan that maps out how Charlotte will transform into a low-carbon city by 2050. Most recently, the team has been setting the stage for the development of a 35-megawatt utility-scale solar energy project, which will offset roughly 25 percent of carbon emissions from city-owned buildings over the next 20 years. The system, slated to come online in 2022, is expected to save $2 million in energy expenses over 20 years and create 428 jobs in the region, according to the city’s website. Working for her hometown may not have been what Riddle pictured in the beginning, but it “feels like a dream job to me right now,” she says. — Carol J. Clouse Mesbah Sabur, 27 Founder, Circularise; The Hague, Netherlands LinkedIn  |  Twitter Blockchain entrepreneur Mesbah Sabur learned the value of hard work as an Afghan refugee, whose family sought asylum in his adopted homeland of the Netherlands when he was just 7. He recalls the frequent advice offered by his father during the five years they lived in refugee camps before achieving resident status: “Remember that you need to earn everything you are doing.” That can-do philosophy — and his belief that it’s tough to solve big problems from inside big companies — inspired the creation four years ago of Circularise. The digital technology startup is using blockchain to create an open-source platform for sharing data across supply chains. The ambition is to improve transparency so that companies can move toward more circular production processes, starting with the plastics sector. Giant companies including Domo, Covestro and BASF are testing its approach, which they hope will help increase their use of verified recycled resins and decrease their use of virgin plastics. Better data is key to finding more appropriate applications for materials of all types, says Sabur, who earned his degrees in industrial product engineering at Delft University and co-founded Circularise fresh off earning his master’s. He also believes a reboot of industrial design principles is another pillar the circularity movement needs to embrace more vocally. “Plastics are really a material that can be used for thousands of years,” he says. “The problem is that right now, we don’t.” — Heather Clancy José Miguel Salazar Hernández, 29 Senior Specialist, Corporate Sustainability Services, CSRone (Veda International Corp.); Taipei, Taiwan LinkedIn | Twitter Growing up in San Salvador, José Miguel Salazar Hernández was quick to question the inequities he saw around him. When he was 6, he remembers asking his parents why they couldn’t invite all of the kids in his neighborhood to eat dinner together at the same table. Over time, Salazar’s early interest in social justice transformed into a desire to study business.  Salazar traveled to Taiwan thanks to a study-abroad scholarship that allowed him to get his undergraduate degree in business administration. He parlayed that into an MBA from National Taipei University of Technology. That’s where he was exposed to corporate social responsibility and the role businesses can play in serving social and environmental needs. Today, Salazar has what he calls his dream job. For the past three years, he’s worked at CSRone, a Veda international subsidiary that focuses on CSR and ESG issues, where he provides consulting services to corporate clients and helps to run an online resource center for practitioners. Despite Salazar’s admiration for his employer and his colleagues, he’d one day like to launch his own commercial sustainability startup and to potentially return to El Salvador. “At one point in the future, I would like to have the opportunity to go back and to bring the knowledge I have learned, as well as the skills, to help to develop the country,” he says. “I think that kind of [entrepreneurial] vision can be exported to other places.” — Shane Downing Daphany Rose Sanchez, 27 Executive Director, Kinetic Communities Consulting; Brooklyn, New York LinkedIn | Twitter Daphany Rose Sanchez already has experienced climate change as a matter of life or death. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy thrust a wall of brown water into her Staten Island bedroom. Sanchez clambered to the roof, where she was rescued eight hours later by boat. The first home her family had ever purchased was a total loss. Sanchez returned to the Brooklyn public housing flat where she was raised and lives today, “a tight-knit community with lots of caring people.” Her engineering professors at New York University helped assess the home’s structural damage, inspiring her to merge her technical and social service expertise to help New York City’s marginalized populations. “I’m sick and tired of our communities having to be resilient,” Sanchez says. “Why is it that they’re the ones to face the biggest threats?” In 2017, she founded Kinetic Communities Consulting, a B Corp that helps frontline New Yorkers transition away from fossil fuels through social services, energy efficiency and technical solutions. How does electrification happen in public housing? How can minority-owned contractors get their fair share of support from the state and ConEd? Such challenges are at the firm’s core. The pandemic is halting some projects while exposing the overlap on the map between historical, real-estate redlining and today’s high COVID-19 rates. Sanchez is posting resources for jobs and mutual aid online, yet points out the difficulty of engaging individuals who already live a “quarantine” lifestyle with limited digital tools. She urges businesses, when launching programs in energy and sustainability, to consider the grassroots experts and their existing infrastructure first. — Elsa Wenzel Macaulay Souza de Abreu, 26  Founder and CEO, Onisafra; Manaus, Brazil   LinkedIn Macaulay Souza grew up in a rural community in Amazonas state, Brazil. He’s a self-identified Caboclo (part-indigenous) whose parents had no formal education — that is, until his father attended school in his 40s. Souza wanted something better, so at age 14 he left home to attend high school, and later university, in the Amazonas state capital, Manaus. During university, Souza came to better understand the agricultural problems he’d observed growing up, in particular the inability of small-scale farmers to get a fair price for their products because they lacked direct access to markets. That motivated Souza to launch Onisafra , an online platform connecting Amazonian farmers directly to consumers. Farmers using Onisfra’s platform produce fruits and vegetables, or harvest brazil nuts, açaí berries and other forest products on plots smaller than 25 acres.   Souza partners with organizations such as the Amazonas Sustainable Development Agency to provide technical assistance to farmers. He’s received multiple impact investment awards from the Partnership Platform for the Amazon , which includes USAID and the International Center for Agriculture, recognizing his work as a social impact business helping conserve biodiversity in the Amazon. Ever entrepreneurial, Souza envisions expanding into other Latin American regions where farmers face similar problems. He says that the power of education to transform lives, and the novel ways technology can support people, inspire him. — Meg Wilcox Riddhima Yadav, 24 Analyst, Sustainable Finance Group, Goldman Sachs; New York LinkedIn Riddhima Yadav doesn’t wait around to be told when and how to make an impact. At 13, she started an organization called Youth for the Environment to advocate for community-level environmental initiatives. Yadav’s upbringing began in India, and later included stints in Indonesia and the United Kingdom. She witnessed firsthand the environmental issues present in these varied economies and cultures, such as water access issues in India and air quality problems in Indonesia. She says she felt “predestined” to work to connect people to a more sustainable lifestyle. Through her advocacy and her studies at Yale, the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics and Political Science, Yadav came to see the power and necessity of the public and private sectors working together. Governments can operate at scale, but the private sector is often better built for speed, and the climate crisis requires both, she says. This revelation led her to join the sustainable finance team at Goldman Sachs, where she has worked on projects including a massive report requested by the United Nations on how private finance can accelerate climate action, the formation of Ecuador’s Sovereign Social Bond and a report on how Goldman Sachs plans to invest $750 billion in sustainable projects over the next decade. Her ultimate goal: mainstreaming sustainability: “That means it moves from being a special thing to just another thing,” Yadav explains. “That sounds counterintuitive, but I think that considering sustainability factors into everything that we do, that should be routine.” Ingraining sustainability into the very fabric of society takes extraordinary effort from both the public and private sectors, and Yadav says she is on a lifelong journey to bring that to fruition. — Owen Poindexter Topics Careers Corporate Strategy Corporate Social Responsibility Sustainability Environmental Justice 30 Under 30 Collective Insight 30 Under 30 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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The 2020 GreenBiz 30 Under 30

Czech Republics first 3D-printed floating home will take just 48 hours to build

June 12, 2020 by  
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The first 3D-printed house in Czech Republic is scheduled for completion by the end of June 2020. Not only will the project, called Prvok, only take about 48 hours to build, but this floating home will also set an example for innovative affordable housing solutions for the future. The project will be printed with partially self-sustaining green technology , including a re-circulation shower, a green roof and well reservoirs for water. It is a collaboration between sculptor Michal Trpak and building society Stavebni sporitelna Ceske sporitelny. Related: This clothing tech company is 3D-printing garments to help reduce waste Once completed, the home will have been built seven times faster than conventional houses, saving up to 50% of construction costs compared to a regular building, all while reducing construction waste and carbon emissions by about 20% along the way. It is printed using a highly advanced robotic arm that moves 15 centimeters per second. To create the structure, a specially developed concrete mixture enriched with nano-polypropylene fibers, plasticizers and a setting accelerator will flow through a tip in the robotic arm. While Prvok will have the ability to float via pontoon anchor, the house will also be designed to stand on land, suitable for long-term living in both the country and the city. The nearly 463-square-foot living space will feature three rooms in total: a bedroom, a bathroom and a combination living room/kitchen. The design renderings feature a substantial green roof as well as massive porthole windows, an exposed concrete exterior and wood plank flooring for a unique, nautical appearance. According to Trpak, future owners of the 3D-printed home will be able to crush the building once it has reached the end of its life and reprint it again using the recycled material at the same location, making it long-lasting as well as sustainable. Stavebni sporitelna Ceske sporitelny hopes that the Prvok home will demonstrate the possibilities for more accessible and affordable housing options throughout the Czech Republic. + Prvok Images via Prvok

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Czech Republics first 3D-printed floating home will take just 48 hours to build

How we can fight the pandemic by embracing circularity

June 12, 2020 by  
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How we can fight the pandemic by embracing circularity Garry Cooper Fri, 06/12/2020 – 01:30 Throughout the pandemic response, a key issue has been a lack of communication and coordination to get personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies to where they are most needed, with many areas of the country suffering from severe resource shortages as a result. The only truly successful solution has been, and will continue to be, to strategically adopt two core elements of a circular economy model: reuse and resource sharing. The key goals of the circular economy are ” designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems .” Unlike in our current linear economic model, which generally discards materials once used, the circular economy enables more value to be extracted from an item by eschewing the “take-make-waste” pattern. In a situation where supply is limited, the circular model gets far more use out of the same supply. While the need for a circular economy has been growing for decades, especially as the impacts of climate change have begun to loom larger, this pandemic has caused that need to increase dramatically. Taking on the circularity principles of reuse and resource sharing — and equally important, having a more coordinated approach around those efforts — is critical for directing supplies to the places where there is the greatest need in a timely and equitable fashion. My company, Rheaply, has pivoted our resource-sharing technology to aid in this approach. In partnership with the city of Chicago, we built Chicago PPE Market , a platform that provides small businesses and nonprofits access to a network of local manufacturers and suppliers of PPE at cost-controlled rates, helping them protect their staff and prevent further spread of the virus. Within the first week of the platform going live, we onboarded 1,555 small businesses, with over 165,000 listings and 2,100 transactions for items such as face coverings, protective shields and various sanitizers. Yet we are just one company contributing to the efforts to fight the pandemic. To truly fight the virus, we must all adopt a circularity approach, sharing physical resources and human capital. Even beyond the pandemic, this approach will allow us to more efficiently and cooperatively operate as a global community. The first step is to change the way we think about the resources we have. To do so, we must do the following: Establish a community-oriented mindset.  With healthcare professionals advising “social distancing,” we are all keeping physically distant from others, even as states begin to reopen. Mentally, however, distancing is a way of making people think more about others. You distance yourself to protect everyone, not just yourself. We have to think about fighting this virus as a team effort, not as something that just healthcare professionals can do.  We also have to think about that “team” more broadly. To combat the virus effectively, the team has to be made up of your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, your city, your state, your country — the global community. For most people, the most effective way to help the team is to practice social distancing in order to prevent the spread of disease. But for those with the power to do so, it is imperative to think about the broader team and allow for human capital and medical supplies to be allocated to places where the need is greatest now, while also planning for sufficient healthcare workers and PPE to fight the virus when it spikes in new areas. Think about the resources you have that might help others. There may be other ways to help that may surprise you.  Check your cabinets . Consider what resources you might have in your home or business. If you’re a dentist whose practice has been forced to temporarily close or whose practice has a surplus of supplies that could benefit healthcare providers, consider donating or selling those items to institutions in need. If you’re a graduate student working in a lab, think about the gloves, gowns and masks you’re not currently using and donate them. If you’re not in charge of the supplies at your organization, make the case to your superiors for donating supplies. Think about your skills . Not all resources are tangible. If you’re someone who is healthy, consider how your skills could be used as resources to benefit others. One example would be people who have put their sewing skills to work to make masks. Another would be individuals who use 3D printers to make PPE . Pivot your business . If you’re a manufacturer or other business owner, think about how your business could alter its offering to make a difference. If you have the resources and access to certain supply chains, you may be able to shift to manufacturing PPE. Businesses ranging from hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer to fashion brands have begun creating masks. You might be surprised to see how your business’s strengths could be directed toward fighting the virus.  If we spread this way of thinking, both about supplies and human capital, then we can create a system where we all can rely on each other. Think about using, not owning, resources.  Question the way you think about items. Plenty of items don’t need to be owned, but instead just used for a period of time (properly decontaminated N95 masks or face shields) — you may have items that could be reused by those currently in greater need. Ask yourself, “What is the true value of idle resources that I’ve put aside?” If you’re not using an item, then it is of little value to you, whereas it may be of great value to someone else. For items that should not be reused (gloves), think about how much of these items you actually need. Ask yourself, “Do I need this many gloves right now?” In many cases, your need is probably less dire than the need of overwhelmed healthcare providers.   At the same time, we also should be thoughtful about how we treat and value the skills of our healthcare workers. Those who oversee healthcare providers can’t think of healthcare providers as belonging exclusively to certain institutions; instead, they have to think about them as having transferable skills that could provide a huge benefit to institutions and communities around the country and the world.  If we spread this way of thinking, both about supplies and human capital, then we can create a system where we all can rely on each other. If you lend a hand now, then others will be more willing to help you when you are in need. These times are tough, and it’s easy to start feeling helpless. But practicing and advocating for the principles of a circular economy are crucial ways to help. You have the power to make a difference. Let’s get started. Pull Quote If we spread this way of thinking, both about supplies and human capital, then we can create a system where we all can rely on each other. Topics Circular Economy Corporate Strategy Climate Strategy Reuse Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Rows of N95 respiratory mask, used as personal protective equipment. Shutterstock Faizzamal Close Authorship

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How we can fight the pandemic by embracing circularity

Trump allows commercial fishing in Atlantic national monument

June 9, 2020 by  
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The Trump administration announced on Friday that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which encompasses over 5,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean 130 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, will open to commercial fishing. The announcement came after the president attended a round-table discussion with commercial fishers from Maine who were concerned about the economic tolls of COVID-19 in their industry. Ocean experts are cautioning that the decision will cause comprehensive harm to the environment in the long run, especially as the proclamation will allow fishing within the monument without changing its size or boundaries. Brad Sewell, senior director of Oceans for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement that such a significant change to a monument must be done by Congress. Sewell cited that the Antiquities Act gives the president the power to protect specific natural areas, not the other way around. The 5,000-square-mile ocean monument is home to sea turtles, endangered whales, unique species of cold water coral reefs , four extinct underwater volcanoes and deep sea canyons teeming with marine life. Related: Sea turtles thrive on empty beaches during COVID-19 lockdowns The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument has been open to sport fishing but closed to commercial fishing (with the exception of the red crab and lobster) since its creation in 2016 by President Obama. Any continuing fisheries were given a 7-year transition period to end their operations in the area by 2023. The Seamounts monument has been no stranger to controversy, even before Trump’s recent decision. A year after its designation, five commercial fishing groups sued the Obama administration because they felt the president had created the monument illegally. Now, Trump’s announcement raises the question of the limits of presidential powers regarding changing the rules of national monuments altogether. National Geographic’s Pristine Seas founder Enric Sala told National Geographic that these types of national monuments are established to preserve the country’s natural and historical sites. “We need pristine areas set aside so that we can see nature as it was before we overexploited it, and understand the true impact of fishing,” Sala said. “If commercial fishing were allowed in a monument, it would become just a name on a map, and no different than any other place in the ocean.” Via National Geographic Image via NOAA

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Trump allows commercial fishing in Atlantic national monument

Stay-at-home orders increase demand for eco-friendly interiors

June 9, 2020 by  
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Lockdowns have forced many to stay home. With all that time inside, you can’t help but pay close attention to the interior details of your home. Many have turned to home improvement projects to make productive use of their time. The novel coronavirus has likewise forced many to become more health-conscious. It’s no surprise then that a joint study, administered by Harris Poll for eco-friendly manufacturer ECOS Paints , found 69% of those surveyed “have taken or plan to take action to make their home environment healthier as a result of COVID-19.” How can we make homes healthier and more eco-friendly? For one, 45% of those surveyed are cleaning the house more often. That’s followed closely by 43% who plan to “use eco-friendly paint, change air filters, add air purifiers, and/or add more plants to their home” to avoid harmful VOCs. Next, 17% are shifting toward natural or chemical-free household products, while 12% will cease using harsh chemicals as cleaners altogether. Another 10% are going to add a humidifier to their homes. Related: Scandinavian company Tikkurila debuts new paint collection to protect endangered species What are VOCs? The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines them as substances that emit gases that have adverse health effects. Their toxic fumes, for instance, can cause headaches, dizziness, respiratory irritation, visual impairments or more severe bodily reactions.  VOCs can be found in paints, varnishes, cleaners, disinfectants, air fresheners, pesticides and even hobby supplies. The use of eco-friendly paints and cleaning substances makes for a healthier home environment. So the pivot toward environmentally conscious products during the pandemic, as folks devote more time to home improvements, has piqued the interest of ECOS Paints.  “Having been in the home decor category for over 30 years, we believe this change in consumer behavior will significantly alter the industry,” said Julian Crawford, CEO OF ECOS. “Paint definitely impacts indoor air quality. ECOS Paints were originally created decades ago as a solution for individuals with chemical sensitivities, including children and babies who cannot tolerate strong odors and harsh chemicals. Today, ECOS has become a favorite among a broader market of consumers who care about creating healthier, wellness-focused living environments in their homes.” + ECOS Paints Image via Arek Socha

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Stay-at-home orders increase demand for eco-friendly interiors

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