Eco-tourism company Banyan Tree Group plans expansion in 2021

April 6, 2021 by  
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The Banyan Tree Group is celebrated globally for its commitment to sustainable practices in the hotel industry. This company goes above and beyond by sponsoring environmental clean-ups and educational programs in its host communities, establishing restoration zones near its properties and even donating surplus food to locals who may need it. Now, Banyan Tree Group has announced a global expansion for 2021 that includes adding 35 properties over the next 3 years. “Our robust momentum in business development and pipeline of new openings this year will continue to accelerate Banyan Tree Group’s international presence as we chart and connect guests to new awe-inspiring destinations,” said Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings. “As a global independent hospitality company, we remain positive and resilient. As an evolving multi-branded ecosystem with Wellbeing and Sustainability at our core, we set our eyes on the global front to strategically grow our brands to global reach and range, amidst the extended travel recovery.” The new properties span across eight destinations in three regions. The group will be adding new openings in Asia, where it already has extensive experience, along with new destinations such as Qatar in the Middle East, Greece in Europe and Mozambique in Africa. Related: Qatar to create 16 sustainable floating hotels for World Cup In March, Bayan Tree Group expanded into Quzhou of Zhejiang Province, Southern China , known for being the hometown of Chinese philosopher Confucius. The property features views of the Qu River and the famous Deer Park Peninsula. Later in the year, it will open Nanjing Garden Expo in the natural hot springs-rich Tangshan of Jiangsu province. The next stop will be Angsana Corfu in Greece, marking the company’s first property in Europe. Two Indonesian properties set in Bali will follow in May and July, one highlighting wellbeing facilities and organic farm-to-table dining and the other focusing on indoor-outdoor living with a “no walls, no doors” concept. In Q4, October and December, Banyan Tree will debut its new luxury properties in Qatar, Cambodia and Mozambique. Each will feature its own unique character, with the Mozambique property located near Africa’s largest marine reserve. + Banyan Tree Group Images via Banyan Tree Group

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Eco-tourism company Banyan Tree Group plans expansion in 2021

Students design skateboard wheels made from chewing gum

March 26, 2021 by  
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Chewing gum: it’s a type of plastic pollution that we’re just not talking about enough. Most modern chewing gums are made from synthetic plastic polymers that don’t break down or biodegrade. That means when you toss your used chewing gum on the sidewalk or stick it underneath a bench, you’re littering. Not only that, but chewing gum is commonly mistaken for food by wild animals (especially birds), causing them to choke or die. Two design students from the L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique in France are imagining ways to combat this silent pollution problem creatively. Hugo Maupetit and Vivian Fischer have created a concept that turns used chewing gum into skateboard wheels. Related: Sam Kaplan unwrapped 500 sticks of gum to create futuristic geometric structures They got the idea while brainstorming for a designed-focused way to tackle the gum pollution issue in urban areas. “We thought, why not take this characteristic waste of the city and use it to make it greener,” Maupetit and Fischer told Inhabitat. “The bold colors and texture of chewing gum is the perfect fit for use in skatewheels.” The idea is to bring the gum from the streets back to the streets in a sustainable way. The students envisioned a fictional partnership between Mentos, one of Europe’s biggest chewing gum producers, and Vans Europe, a popular manufacturer of skateboarding shoes and accessories. The students’ project proposes a line of vibrant skateboard wheels sold by Vans that uses old gum collected from the streets. How would they go about collecting the gum? According to the students, Mentos would install “gum boards” in urban areas to help spread the word and inspire passersby to stick their used gum to the signs instead of tossing it elsewhere. The gum would then be cleaned, molded with a stabilizing agent and stained with natural dye to form the base of the wheels. “Our initiative is supposed to clean the streets in a sustainable way. That is why we invented a system that will transform used wheels and turn them into new ones,” the students explained. “No more waste is created and the material stays in use.” + L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique Images via Hugo Maupetit and Vivian Fischer

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Students design skateboard wheels made from chewing gum

Students design skateboard wheels made from chewing gum

March 26, 2021 by  
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Chewing gum: it’s a type of plastic pollution that we’re just not talking about enough. Most modern chewing gums are made from synthetic plastic polymers that don’t break down or biodegrade. That means when you toss your used chewing gum on the sidewalk or stick it underneath a bench, you’re littering. Not only that, but chewing gum is commonly mistaken for food by wild animals (especially birds), causing them to choke or die. Two design students from the L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique in France are imagining ways to combat this silent pollution problem creatively. Hugo Maupetit and Vivian Fischer have created a concept that turns used chewing gum into skateboard wheels. Related: Sam Kaplan unwrapped 500 sticks of gum to create futuristic geometric structures They got the idea while brainstorming for a designed-focused way to tackle the gum pollution issue in urban areas. “We thought, why not take this characteristic waste of the city and use it to make it greener,” Maupetit and Fischer told Inhabitat. “The bold colors and texture of chewing gum is the perfect fit for use in skatewheels.” The idea is to bring the gum from the streets back to the streets in a sustainable way. The students envisioned a fictional partnership between Mentos, one of Europe’s biggest chewing gum producers, and Vans Europe, a popular manufacturer of skateboarding shoes and accessories. The students’ project proposes a line of vibrant skateboard wheels sold by Vans that uses old gum collected from the streets. How would they go about collecting the gum? According to the students, Mentos would install “gum boards” in urban areas to help spread the word and inspire passersby to stick their used gum to the signs instead of tossing it elsewhere. The gum would then be cleaned, molded with a stabilizing agent and stained with natural dye to form the base of the wheels. “Our initiative is supposed to clean the streets in a sustainable way. That is why we invented a system that will transform used wheels and turn them into new ones,” the students explained. “No more waste is created and the material stays in use.” + L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique Images via Hugo Maupetit and Vivian Fischer

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Students design skateboard wheels made from chewing gum

Can C-suite paychecks save the world?

March 9, 2021 by  
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Can C-suite paychecks save the world? Joel Makower Tue, 03/09/2021 – 02:11 Last week, the fast-casual restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill announced a new policy that ties executive compensation in part to environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics.  Going forward, 10 percent of the annual incentive bonuses for corporate officers — essentially, anyone with day-to-day responsibility for running the company — will be tied to the company’s progress toward achieving such goals as improving diversity, creating more opportunities for advancement amid Chipotle’s lower ranks and increasing the organic, local and regeneratively produced food served in its restaurants. Chipotle is the latest company to spice up its executive pay packages to include social and environmental goals. In January, Apple announced it will incorporate ESG metrics into the annual cash incentives for company execs, using a formula to either decrease or increase bonus payouts by up to 10 percent. The goal, per the company’s proxy statement : “to further motivate Apple’s executive team to meet exceptionally high standards of values-driven leadership in addition to delivering strong financial results.” What in the name of fringe benefits is going on? Linking executive bonuses to sustainability metrics is making waves. But is it making a difference? At long last, companies and their largest investors are recognizing that climate change, diversity and other sustainability issues represent risks to profits and productivity, and that companies that proactively manage these risks are better run and thus more attractive investments. And where investors go, corporate boards of directors quickly follow in the form of carrots and sticks for a company’s top brass. The trend to link ESG metrics to executive pay is a departure from traditional compensation packages, which have relied almost entirely on financial measures — earnings per share, revenue growth and other factors. Now, nonfinancial metrics are being folded into the mix, with a strong emphasis on climate change and diversity and equity issues. The trend is just ramping up, especially in Europe, where the main focus is on climate change. U.S. companies are still mostly at the starting gate. A 2020 analysis of company public disclosures by Willis Towers Watson found that while about 11 percent of the top 350 European companies have linked greenhouse gas emissions to their executive incentive plans, only 2 percent of U.S. S&P 500 companies have done so, as Willis’ Nidia Martínez and Ryan Resch wrote recently on GreenBiz. But a few U.S. companies have stepped up. In 2019, Clorox set a goal to tie executive compensation awards to elements of its ESG goals for members of its executive committee, including for the chair and CEO, although it hasn’t yet announced details on how it will do this, according to Andrea Rudert, its associate director for ESG stakeholder engagement. Starting this year, McDonald’s is linking executive bonuses to increased hiring of “women and historically underrepresented groups.” At Starbucks, compensation for top execs is tied to corporate diversity , with the goal of having at least 30 percent of corporate workers who identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color by 2025. Moving the needle Will all these incentives change anything? In theory, yes. In practice — well, it’s hard to tell. There’s no clear data that companies with sustainability-related executive comp packages perform better in either ESG or financial metrics. One reason is that it’s early days, with many of these policies just kicking in. Adding sustainability into the mix still can move the needle. Whereas most financial metrics are short-term, with a strong emphasis on quarterly or annual performance, most sustainability metrics are by their nature longer-term. And while many of these metrics can be tracked on a quarterly basis, progress in sustainability usually plays out over years. To the extent that ESG metrics lead the C-suite to think longer-term, they could be a positive influence. Moreover, linking executive pay to sustainability can send an important signal through the company, its industry and the corporate world in general that these issues are vital to business success. And to the extent that these early adopters create a bandwagon, social and environmental metrics will increasingly will become an expectation of investors. In many sectors, they already are. Initiating such measures does present some challenges, such as identifying metrics material to the company and its sector, creating stretch goals that demonstrate real progress and establishing time periods that engender meaningful change. And there’s disagreement among large institutional shareholders about which ESG metrics should take preeminence. But these are all surmountable, as the first wave of leadership companies is showing. One good resource: The Aspen Institute recently published a white paper, Modern Principles of Sensible and Effective Pay , designed “to advance fresh thinking in boardrooms about executive compensation given new market priorities, shifting public attitudes towards equity, fairness and the role of business, and fundamental changes in the role of the CEO and executive teams.” In the end, the question remains: Are these executive compensation plans making a difference or are they a check-the-box activity that’s more symbolic than substantive? As I said, there’s no clear evidence either way. And what, if anything, does all this have to do with the much bigger issue of skyrocketing executive pay relative to those further down the corporate ladder? After all, for the millions living paycheck-to-paycheck, the relatively modest compensation adjustments of those at the top are, at best, laughable. In 2019, the ratio of CEO-to-typical-worker compensation in the United States was 320-to-1, up fivefold from 61-to-1 in 1989, according to the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute . It’s no secret that the rich keep getting richer while the poor stay poor. To the extent that executive compensation is also determined in part by reducing the earnings gap between those at the top and bottom, we’ll begin to see a fairer and more just economy, one that could provide a multitude of sustainability benefits to both people and the planet. I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote Linking executive bonuses to sustainability metrics is making waves. But is it making a difference? Topics Finance & Investing Corporate Strategy Leadership GreenFin Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage via Shutterstock

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How 12 Emerging Leaders are embarking on sustainability career journeys

March 8, 2021 by  
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How 12 Emerging Leaders are embarking on sustainability career journeys Deonna Anderson Mon, 03/08/2021 – 01:40 In early February, more than 1,200 sustainability professionals gathered online for GreenBiz 21. And each day after the mainstage talks and panels, a few of my GreenBiz Group colleagues and I hopped onto Zoom to convene with 12 students and young professionals poised to become sustainability leaders of the future . From marketing to engineering, the GreenBiz 21 Emerging Leaders represent a variety of professions in the sustainability field. The program aims to elevate, cultivate and support the next generation of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) leaders in sustainable business. During the three-day event, they hopped into roundtable discussions, offered insights in the event chat and learned about the ever-changing sustainability field. “GreenBiz 21 reaffirmed that there are multiple paths when navigating a career in sustainable business,” said Anna Koskol, an Emerging Leader who serves as an environmental educator at Hudson River Park Trust in New York City. “It was reassuring to see people like me, from various backgrounds, working so passionately for a more sustainable world.” To learn more about the Emerging Leaders’ experience at GreenBiz 21, we asked them the following: At this point, how has attending GreenBiz 21 helped you learn about the sustainable business career path, from navigating to overcoming the barriers that exist for you and your peers? Was there anything particularly impactful that happened during your time at GreenBiz 21? What made you hopeful or inspired during GreenBiz 21? Below are the responses from 11 of the 12 Emerging Leaders, lightly edited for clarity and length, and presented in alphabetical order by last name. Kristina Chu  Senior Environmental Analyst, Gradient  GreenBiz 21 brought together so many different organizations and individuals sustainably transforming business, allowing me to see that everyone has a unique career path. I very much left feeling like I have the power to ensure my future career aligns with my values for sustainability and justice. Furthermore, I learned that I am not alone in my mission to create a greener, more equitable world. Attending conferences like GreenBiz 21 serve as perfect soil and ground to grow meaningful connections and partnerships! I was deeply moved by the keynote session ” Why Advancing Equity is Everyone’s Job ” with Jarami Bond, Michele Moore and Kimberly Lewis. [ Editor’s note: Jarami Bond is the chief storyteller at Bond Studio, a visual storytelling company, and senior advisor for the recently launched nonprofit GreenBiz.org . Michele Moore is the CEO of nonprofit Groundswell. And Kimberly Lewis is the CEO of Havenz Network. ] It was beautiful and empowering to see female leaders center friendship and solidarity in the movement towards equity. One phrase that has stuck with me in the past few weeks following the conference is: It is about the process, not the end goal.  I am inspired by my fellow Emerging Leaders. Our calls at the end of each conference day showed me that we stand in solidarity, and the future is bright. We hold such beautiful, collective power to think critically, show up with empathy and build towards liberation and justice. I am grateful and honored to be a part of this new community. Natalie Gray Systems Specialist, Omnidian GreenBiz 21 was a whirlwind event. For me, it reinforced the notion that all of us — whether sustainability specialists, Indigenous advocates, city employees, Emerging Leaders — are individuals using our circles of influence to affect the changes we believe will benefit life on Earth for generations to come. I’m happy to see these circles of influence increasing for many deserving thought leaders as a result of GreenBiz conferences and networks.  When I worked in the Mayor’s Office of Policy and Innovation at the city of Seattle, I would often hear the phrase, “Nothing about them without them,” meaning not to work on a project without engaging the people it would impact directly. Too often, we explain our work in environmental sustainability “for the sake of our young people” or “for the next generation” or say “we have to get everyone on board to make it work” but then fail to engage with the young people and the “everyone” we claim we are working for.  Giving those most impacted the resources they need to do the work — people with the drive, the flexibility, the imagination to innovate — not only invests in the longevity of your company and life on Earth but reminds us that young people are not just the leaders of tomorrow, as we often say they are, but the leaders of today, too. Anna Koskol  Environmental Educator, Hudson River Park Trust GreenBiz 21 reaffirmed that there are multiple paths when navigating a career in sustainable business. Listening to the stories of GreenBiz 21’s speakers and my peers in the Emerging Leaders cohort, I learned about the interests, obstacles and motivations that led each of us to this point in our careers. It was reassuring to see people like me, from various backgrounds, working so passionately for a more sustainable world. GreenBiz 21 allowed me to experience firsthand the power of diverse representation in the sustainability field. I believe wholeheartedly that a key to preparing tomorrow’s leaders for a greener future, especially BIPOC youth, is to expose us to the fullest spectrum of [science, technology, engineering and math] careers and leaders. I look forward to sharing these stories and career opportunities with the youth interns that I mentor at Hudson River Park to help embolden them to be their wildest dreams. I was particularly interested in the discussions around plastic packaging and waste throughout the event. Plastic pollution is a problem greatly impacting the health of NYC waterways. Hudson River Park has therefore prioritized efforts to reduce plastic pollution through a program called Park Over Plastic that educates and empowers our park community to combat plastic pollution together. While leading Park Over Plastic, we have faced innovation gaps or times when there isn’t a viable replacement for some single-use plastics. At GreenBiz 21, I was encouraged by speakers discussing ideas for creating a circular economy and prioritizing a systems approach as a financially, environmentally and socially smart business model. Overall, I was most inspired by the organizers and members of the 2021 Emerging Leaders cohort. I am grateful to have met such passionate, supportive people, and I feel all the more prepared to be a change-maker in my community. Together we can do more! Jessica Levine Strategic Engagement Coordinator, The Recycling Partnership At GreenBiz 21, I learned that businesses are starting to focus more on people — both employees and the communities they serve. When considering strategic objectives, I learned that businesses are focusing on how they can be proactive rather than reactive. Businesses are either beginning to or refining their processes around investing their best resources to positively influence not just the economic impacts but social impacts of their business. Businesses are propelled to consider how their business objectives and performance impact not just their target audiences but all people.   In addition, businesses are recognizing that supporting their people (staff) can result in a diversity of thought that is much needed and desired innovation in all levels of business. My takeaway from this is that my perspective and voice matters, and it’s important that I speak up and out when inspired to because I can make a difference.  During the conference, I was also inspired by the fact that I was not the only young professional passionate about understanding the intersection of [diversity, equity and inclusion] and sustainability and taking action toward equitable systems change. I felt inspired and empowered to catalyze systems change in my sphere, knowing that I have the support of a community made up of passionate movers and shakers, trailblazers, allies, activists, advocates and community members. These industry stakeholders want to make change happen for good. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the GreenBiz 21 cohort of Emerging Leaders and look forward to pursuing continued growth and learning through the opportunity. Danii Mcletchie  Environmental Systems Engineer, Campbell’s Soup The speed networking sessions allowed me to meet so many different people who were tackling sustainability from their own angle. I was able to get great advice from people who have made strides in the career path that I’m currently in, and I know some of those connections will last for a lifetime. As I’m at the beginning of my sustainability journey, the best piece of advice I was given was to look for ways to make any job I do sustainable, rather than just looking for a job with “sustainability” in the title. These small words have completely changed my outlook on how I was approaching things and reminded me not to get caught up in buzzwords.  It was very inspiring to know that from emerging innovators to large corporations to young entrepreneurs, there were people from different walks of life, continuously working to create a positive sustainable impact so that humanity has a chance of surviving in a better way. Emerging Leaders meet with GreenBiz staff during GreenBiz 21 conference. Are you a student or early-career professional who is interested in the circular economy? Applications for the Circularity 21 Emerging Leaders program are open until May 17. Apply here . Camille Minns  Assistant for Climate & Energy, Ceres The sustainability and climate space has always been of interest to me, and I have no doubt that this is where I want to develop my career. This is a broad and dynamic field with numerous opportunities and approaches, and I’m proud to work in this area. I’m a staunch intersectional environmentalist , and I believe that companies should work to become the same. If they are to be considered sustainable, businesses must ask themselves, “What are we sustaining?” If it is not healthy communities and the planet, but instead the same systems and behaviors that have placed us in this precarious situation in the first place, then we’re on the wrong track. There may not be many people who identify as I do in this space, but that’s changing and therefore, I won’t stop learning, lending my voice and doing my part. I believe this [is] also the feeling of the cohort of authentic, brilliant Emerging Leaders I was fortunate to be a part of. This cohort is a microcosm of the young people out there asking the critical questions, innovating and disrupting spaces, and speaking up. The discussions we had, the passion and ideas are all inspiration and fuel to keep me going. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations on climate action and social justice, regenerative agriculture and the need to rethink plastics. The launch of GreenBiz.org , however, was one of the more impactful parts of this conference. I love any opportunity to see more BIPOC in the environmental and sustainability field, and spaces like this play a tremendous role in making that happen. Aayushi Mishra Scientist, EA Engineering There were quite a few impactful events that took place during the three-day conference. I met with dozens of interesting people, ranging from students to company CEOs. Regardless of the seniority of the individual, each individual had intelligent, articulate and thought-provoking questions and ideas. We kept extending our sessions to continue discussing ways to make systemic changes, and at the end of each conversation, one thing was clear — while the sustainability/ESG/CSR sector is booming, the people making up this subset are unique. We want to question every process that we have normalized and understand ways to make it more sustainable. Up until now, this was something I’d assumed would happen one day in the near future. Attending this conference proved that the “near future” is now. I feel hopeful about businesses embracing the concept of a circular economy. This was one of the key areas discussed throughout GreenBiz 21 — it was particularly interesting to see how many unique ideas people had during breakout sessions and in the one-on-one networking times. It was repeatedly emphasized that while recycling is an excellent way to combat waste management, simply stopping there isn’t enough — purchasing durable items and reusing them is a more sustainable way of living. One of the sessions I attended, Sewing Circular: Strategies in the Fashion Industry, discussed how people can transition away from “fast fashion” towards more resilient pieces of clothing that would last several times longer. GreenBiz 21 made me hopeful about our global society adapting and shifting from a linear to a more circular economy. Michaela Ritz Production Assistant, Gotham Greens Attending GreenBiz 21 as an Emerging Leader made clear to me that I would love to start my sustainability career doing on-the-ground fieldwork at a grassroots level, implementing the tenants of sustainability with members of a place-based community. In hearing from small groups and big companies, the common strand was the need to build relationships, foster respect and meet people where they are to value the knowledge they carry inside them. My impression is that starting at the foundation and building upon what is established is the best way to build trust and promote broader cooperation in our sustainability goals.  My fellow Emerging Leaders all share that desire, and it was encouraging to know I now have 11 other passionate and thought-provoking young professionals to call on; they have the drive and curiosity to build professional networks and living spaces we want to see exist in an ideal world. Listening to my peers revealed that barriers are only as limiting as we give them the power to be, because if I ever feel alone in an experience or setting, I know they have probably lived a similar experience and overcame it. We all are aware that learning from each other and honoring our differences is a great asset to be leveraged in solving challenges that seem overwhelming. GreenBiz 21 for me raised more questions than it offered answers, but that is the beauty of being invited into a forum where you can grow. Hearing Indigenous perspectives was a memorable and critical part of GreenBiz 21 for me. Beyond diversity and inclusion discussions, it was eye-opening to be confronted with how even our best intentions in achieving sustainability can be limited due to warped understandings and socially ingrained narratives. Colonialism, commercialization and co-option are still present in today’s sustainability structures, and I found it refreshingly honest to hear that brought to the fore. So many individuals, in grassroots orgs and major corporations alike, are well-intended to do good in the world but this can’t exist without introspection and paradigm shifts. Listening to Tara Houska, Sherri Mitchell and Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin afforded the opportunity to hear from those who have a historical legacy in this work, and GreenBiz 21 made those connections possible. [ Editor’s note: Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation) is the founder of Giniw Collective, an Indigenous women, 2-spirit led grassroots, frontline effort to protect the planet. Sherri Mitchell is the founding director of the Land Peace Foundation, an organization dedicated to the global protection of Indigenous land and water rights and the preservation of the Indigenous way of life. And Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin is president of the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance, which has the mission to scale up regenerative agriculture supply chains. ] During the rapid networking sessions, I interacted with so many people from different parts of the world who were joining the conference at different times of the day, from home, work, in between commitments, and while supervising children. In this difficult time for society and our planet, I am reminded that there are plenty of dedicated, hopeful and talented people who are committing themselves to making sustainability a reality every day, even in the face of big setbacks and limited time. There is always a brighter horizon and something to look forward to.  Juliae Riva Student at University of Oregon, Planning, Public Policy & Management & General Social Sciences The GreenBiz 21 conference was a much-needed uplifting, motivating and inspirational three days. I loved having the opportunity to meet people from around the world, who are also passionate about finding solutions to climate change. Through speaking with my fellow Emerging Leaders, I learned that the sustainable business world is filled with the constant pursuit for new knowledge and information to guide our actions. From learning about plastic in oceans to tree equity and racial justice, my passion for sustainability deepened, and I was in awe of peoples’ pursuits. Being in a community where everyone has one common goal and passion was incredibly inspiring to me, especially given that everyone is taking different routes to tackle various problems. I am so appreciative that I was able to listen and learn, and have my eyes opened to the greater sustainability community. Everyone I met was kindhearted, welcoming and supportive — and it left a profound impact on me that I will carry with me as I graduate from college and start my sustainability career. Sydney Thomas Corporate Citizenship & Sustainability Reporting Fellow, DTE Energy I found the entirety of the GreenBiz 21 conference to be impactful, despite the challenges of a virtual environment it fostered connection and learning in a way I haven’t experienced this year. In particular, the networking platform, providing the opportunity to hear career advice and connect with leaders in sustainability, was wonderful. Most importantly, meeting the fellow Emerging Leaders was a rare opportunity to connect with other young professionals across the country during COVID-19. Additionally, I found the sessions on circular economy influential on my current work, reminding me to look at the entire value chain of operations. Considering how to reduce Scope 3 emissions, helping suppliers go on your sustainability journey, and how to reduce the impact of the life cycle of your products, while encouraging your consumers to uptake sustainable behavior change as well. Each and every keynote speech during the conference left me feeling inspired. The keynotes echoed the overwhelming demand from communities, consumers and even investors for sustainable, equitable change. There was a tremendous call to action, not just inspiring messages from all the keynotes, and most moving [call to action was] from Sherri Mitchell, Tara Houska and Dr. Katharine Wilkinson from the All We Can Save Project . [ Editor’s note: Katharine Wilkinson is co-founder and co-director of the All We Can Save Project .] I also felt hopeful by the repeated acknowledgment of privilege, not just by individuals, but corporations, including Microsoft. Learning about their ambitious emissions targets, not only to be net-zero but carbon negative by 2030, removing the carbon emissions they have generated since their start in 1970. As told by Vanessa Miler-Fels, [director for energy innovation and impact at] Microsoft, “Those who can afford to move faster, and go further, should do so.” I’m hopeful that other corporations will recognize their privilege and ability to set and accomplish increasingly ambitious targets. Coco Wang Digital Marketing Specialist at Changing Habits Solutions Attending GreenBiz 21 provided me an industry insider view into sustainability. Though business leaders often express the increasing demand for future leaders in sustainability, there exist many barriers for ambitious and passionate young professionals like my peers and I [when it comes to] understanding how we can best make a positive impact. Through roundtables and panel discussions, I learned the specific struggles in sustainable business; whether it is the climate knowledge gap or making sense of various reporting standards. Identifying these current issues allowed me to better understand my role in accelerating our path to sustainability. Additionally, my experience at GreenBiz 21 reaffirmed my passion for corporate governance, strategy, equity and youth leadership. Another take-away from GreenBiz 21 for me is a strong feeling of hope and inspiration. From my day-to-day work and social media feed, I can’t help but get frustrated and disappointed by how much our world is not doing what is necessary to save the planet. But that has changed after connecting with my peers and young leaders who share these frustrations and aspirations for a better world. There is a whole lot that young leaders can mutually learn, share and support in this emerging community, and I am inspired to lead our community to enact this potential. Putting Black and Indigenous people as well as youth in the forefront of this conference has also demonstrated the industry’s openness to learn and unlearn. Environmental issues are complex and sustainability is no-doubt difficult to navigate. But I am confident that, with our generation, our world is capable and prepared to tackle these issues head-on. Topics Careers GreenBiz 21 Emerging Leaders Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  fizkes  on Shutterstock.

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How 12 Emerging Leaders are embarking on sustainability career journeys

Air pollution caused by fossil fuels kills millions

February 10, 2021 by  
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New research has revealed that fossil fuel pollution caused approximately 8.7 million deaths in 2018. The study, published in the journal Environmental Research , was a collaboration by scientists at Harvard University, the University of Leicester, the University of Birmingham and University College London. Experts found that countries that burn fossil fuels heavily for manufacturing and transport are the most affected. Countries such as the U.S. and many developed countries in Europe recorded 1 of every 10 deaths due to air pollution. The total was also higher than global deaths caused by tobacco and malaria combined. “We were initially very hesitant when we obtained the results because they are astounding, but we are discovering more and more about the impact of this pollution,” said Eloise Marais, study author and geographer at University College London. “It’s pervasive. The more we look for impacts, the more we find.” Related: Air pollution could increase risk of irreversible blindness The researchers have also established that the rate of deaths due to pollution is significantly lower in Africa and South America. They found that there are direct links between air pollution from burning fossil fuels and ailments such as heart disease, loss of eyesight and respiratory ailments.  According to Karn Vohra, a graduate student at the University of Birmingham and one of the researchers, the focus was on discovering the impact of pollution on specific populations. They looked at specific regions and used 3D modeling of pollution data to get more precise results. “Rather than rely on averages spread across large regions, we wanted to map where the pollution is and where people live, so we could know more exactly what people are breathing,” Vohra explained. This is not the first study to link loss of life or disease with air pollution. According to a recent academic  publication , the average global life expectancy would increase by more than a year without fossil fuels . A 2019 study by Lancet estimated that 4.2 million people die annually due to air pollution. The new findings place the figure much higher than previous studies, and some experts believe that the impact might even be worse than that presented by the latest report. + Environmental Research Via The Guardian and CNN Image via Juniper Photon

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Air pollution caused by fossil fuels kills millions

GM airs funny electric vehicle commercial during Super Bowl

February 10, 2021 by  
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While people rooted for the Kansas City Chiefs or Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday, General Motors waged a war with greater implications. The foe? Norway . General Motors’ war isn’t directed at the Norwegian people but at beating them for global leadership in electric vehicles sales. For a commercial that aired during the Super Bowl, the auto company recruited actors and comedians Will Ferrell, Kenan Thompson and Awkwafina (Nora Lum) to play three Americans ready to fight Norway for EV supremacy. The commercial is part of GM’s “Everyone In” ad campaign designed to bring electric vehicles into the mainstream and increase North American sales. Related: GM pledges carbon neutrality by 2040, expands electric fleet So far, the Chevy Bolt has been General Motors’ EV offering. But in the last few months, the company has introduced the new Cadillac Lyriq SUV and the GMC Hummer EV. Hummer fans may be able to buy an electric model by the end of 2021. The Lyriq will likely go into production late next year. Both of these vehicles are featured in the Super Bowl commercial. General Motors has promised 30 models at a variety of price points coming out over the next four years and plans to sell only electric vehicles by 2035. “We feel like this transition is one that will protect all of our futures,” said Dane Parker, GM’s chief sustainability officer. “And it will help us create a future that will benefit not only the planet but the people.” So why take on Norway? More than half of cars sold in the Scandinavian country are electric, compared to about 4% in the U.S. General Motors was careful to prepare Norwegian leaders in advance of airing the commercial. The officials must have had a sense of humor about it, because part of the commercial was even filmed in Norway. Ultimately, the Super Bowl ad pokes fun at Americans, not Norwegians. Especially the ending, which mocks Americans’ notoriously bad grasp of geography when Will Ferrell winds up in Sweden while Awkwafina and Thompson find themselves on a snowy road in Finland. + General Motors Via Motor Biscuit and CNET Images via General Motors

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GM airs funny electric vehicle commercial during Super Bowl

Nordic unveils LEED Gold-targeted visions for Indias greenest airport

February 10, 2021 by  
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Architecture firms Nordic, Grimshaw, Haptic and STUP have unveiled competition-winning designs for the passenger terminal of Delhi Noida International Airport (DNIA) at Jewar, an ambitious LEED Gold -targeted project that could become “India’s greenest airport.” Designed to combine efficiency and hospitality, the airport design will set sustainable benchmarks for airport terminal buildings in India, from its goal of net-zero carbon operations to the infusion of lush green spaces throughout. When complete, the Delhi Noida International Airport will serve as a new gateway to the state of Uttar Pradesh in the quickly developing industrial region between Delhi and Agra. The winning design for DNIA was selected from a three-phase design competition between June and August 2020, during which the invited architecture teams prepared, collaborated and presented their airport designs remotely. The consortium winners were selected by Zurich Airport International (ZAIA); the public limited company signed a concession agreement with the Government of Uttar Pradesh to develop DNIA in the fall of last year. Related: Singapore’s jaw-dropping new airport has the world’s largest indoor waterfall In addition to raising the bar for sustainable airport design, the competition-winning proposal will also help shape Jewar as a future aviation city and include flexible expansion options with a target goal of 30 million passengers per year with minimal environmental impact . Lush landscaping will surround the airport grounds; plants inside the terminal will bring a hint of nature into the light-filled airport. “We are pleased to partner with Nordic, Grimshaw, Haptic and STUP to design this long-envisioned strategic project at Jewar,” says Christoph Schnellmann, CEO of Delhi Noida International Airport. “The team created the winning design with an efficient layout, convincing design language, multiple high-quality areas, spaced out with lush greenery with a balanced concept for both energy savings and a tangible sense of sustainability. The team demonstrated their proficiency in complementing customer comfort with sustainability, timeless design with flexibility for future needs. We will work closely with the team to ensure a design with everything available that a passenger expects at a world-class airport.” + Nordic Images by Tegmark

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IKEA purchases forested land in Georgia for conservation

February 4, 2021 by  
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The Ingka Group has acquired over 10,800 acres of land in southeastern Georgia to protect it from developments. Ingka is an investment group of the Swedish retail firm IKEA , which has several stores in the U.S. The group announced on January 14 that it will be purchasing land close to the Altamaha River Basin in a bid to conserve it. “We truly believe responsible forest management is possible and we see that a large part of our responsibility towards the land we own — and by extension the planet — is to restore forests and plant more than we harvest,” Krister Mattsson, managing director of Ingka Group, said. “In all our properties nature conservation is important. In this particular U.S. investment in Georgia, first it is important that the land cannot be broken up into small units and it remains forever forestland.” Related: IKEA offers open-source design for Bee Homes The land was acquired from a nonprofit conservation group, The Conservation Fund. The forest is home to many species of plants and animals, including the endangered longleaf pine and the gopher tortoise, which need to be protected by keeping the forest intact. Before the arrival of Europeans in the U.S., the forest covered about 90 million acres. However, due to land clearing for development, fire suppression and agriculture, only  4% of the forest remains .  After purchasing the land, Mattsson promised that Ingka Group will continue supporting the local timber industry. The group also plans to open the forest for recreational purposes. “We are honored to work with Ingka Group and applaud its dedication to preserve and enhance forest quality in the U.S. and Europe,” said Larry Selzer, president of The Conservation Fund. “Well-managed forests provide essential benefits, including clean water and important wildlife habitat, as well as mitigating climate change.” Ingka Group has been at the forefront of championing environmental conservation. The group has so far purchased about 613,000 acres of forested land in the U.S., Latvia, Estonia, Romania and Lithuania. Besides the recent purchase, the group also owns land in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama and Texas. Mattsson explained, “For all the forests we own, our commitment is to manage them responsibly, to preserve and increase the quality of the forests over time.” + Ingka Group Via CNN Image via David Mark

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IKEA purchases forested land in Georgia for conservation

The social cost of carbon could help shape stricter climate policies

February 4, 2021 by  
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On President Joe Biden’s first day in office, he ordered a review of an obscure but important number: the social cost of carbon. According to climate economist Gernot Wagner, this is “the single most important number that nobody has ever heard of. It’s one of the most important questions in public policy that will define life on this planet.” Everybody knows that transitioning the entire world to run on sustainable energy will cost a lot of money. But the social cost of carbon is what it will cost for us not to make these important changes. If we keep destroying the planet’s habitability with rising temperatures and seas, extreme weather that decimates crops, and pollution that ruins the air and water, eventually humans will pay much more. Related: Princeton study shows possibility for a carbon-neutral US Former President Barack Obama assembled a working group to figure the social cost of carbon after a 2007 Supreme Court decision allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases. In 2010, the group calculated its initial range of estimates. When Obama left office, the estimated social cost of carbon was $52 per ton in 2020 dollars. But in one of Trump’s many reversals of Obama policies, he axed the working group. His administration came up with its own way to calculate the social cost of carbon involving only the U.S. instead of taking a global view. By the time the Trump administration’s experts had finished massaging the numbers, the social cost of carbon was down to somewhere between $1-7 per ton. This allowed for many of Trump’s regulatory rollbacks to make economic sense. Biden has called for a new working group to set an interim social cost of carbon within 30 days and a final figure by the beginning of next year. Some experts say the number could shoot up as high as $125 per ton. “The social cost of carbon in the United States has already influenced other countries,” said Tamma Carleton, an environmental economist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “ I’m confident that if we put in the time and energy to update that number and bring it closer to the frontier of science and economics, that other countries will do the same.” Via National Geographic Image via Pexels

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