Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact

June 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact Jim Giles Fri, 06/26/2020 – 01:00 One of the most significant projects in sustainable food in 2020 was unveiled last week. The news is important partly because of the company involved: CPG behemoth Unilever, which reaches 2.5 billion consumers every day through 400 brands, which range from Ben & Jerry’s to Hellmann’s and appear on shelves in 190 countries.  The other reason is that the plan is genuinely ambitious . The company is committing to net-zero emissions from all products by 2039, spending $1 billion on climate and nature projects over 10 years, and planning on labeling each of its products with information about the carbon emitted in the product’s creation. This last point is particularly significant. Consumers, especially younger adults, consistently say that climate concerns influence their purchasing. Yet this influence is diluted because most people have little insight into the emissions linked to specific products. Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. So will Unilever’s labeling decision change the way people shop? We can’t say for sure, because most consumers have never seen a carbon label. But there’s evidence for optimism. Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. There’s data on the impact of other kinds of labels, for instance. Over the past five years, several countries, including Chile, Mexico and Israel, have attached health warnings to sodas and other sugary beverages. A meta-analysis of 23 studies of these initiatives , released last month, showed the labels work: Consumers who see them are less likely to purchase high-sugar drinks. When carbon labels have been deployed, usually in small experiments, they also seem to work. Researchers at Chalmers Technological University in Sweden, for example, looked at the impact of emissions information on meal choices at their institution’s cafeteria. Sales of high-carbon meat dishes fell by almost 5 percent — a modest drop, but significant for an initial experiment based on a simple intervention.  A final reason for optimism is that while Unilever is by far the biggest food company to roll out carbon labels, it is not alone. Oatly and Quorn recently announced plans to start displaying carbon footprint data on products. Twelve food and beverage brands also have earned the new Climate Neutral certification and began displaying the associated label. Put all that together, and it looks like Unilever’s move could trigger structural change. But before I get carried away, let’s look at two factors that could undermine its impact. First up is the label itself. In an email, Rebecca Marmot, Unilever’s CSO, told me that her company is focusing on collecting footprint data and will turn to the labels once that’s in place. How Unilever eventually communicates carbon levels will be critical. How big will the label be? Where will it appear? Will consumers be able to make sense of it? It won’t be an easy challenge. Space on food packaging is extremely tight, and consumers are already exposed to multiple labels relating to sustainability. (457, by one count ). The second issue is cost. Of those 457 labels, organic is probably the most well known. Demand for organic food has shown double-digit growth in many recent years, yet it still accounts for around only 5 percent of U.S. food sales and less than 1 percent of planted acreage. Cost is critical here: Surveys show that organic food has a 7.5 percent premium, with some goods, including milk, eggs and bread, costing close to twice as much.  This is a reminder that for many consumers, cost trumps environmental concerns. In a way, though, that’s what makes the Unilever announcement so exciting. We’re talking here about the company behind Knorr, Lipton and Magnum. These are not niche brands targeted at affluent, sustainability-minded consumers willing to pay more. By introducing carbon labeling into everyday products found in the biggest chains and the smallest corner stores, Unilever is testing whether environmental concerns resonate with a much, much larger segment of consumers. This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. Topics Food & Agriculture Marketing & Communication Food & Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff 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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Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact

How Black environmentalists are organizing to save the planet from injustice

June 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

How Black environmentalists are organizing to save the planet from injustice Rachel Ramirez Fri, 06/26/2020 – 00:30 This story originally appeared in Grist;  and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalistic collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story . “I can’t breathe.” These were among the final words that George Floyd and Eric Garner gasped before their deaths at the hands of white police officers. That plea has become part of the current rallying cry for racial justice and an end to police brutality in the United States. But for Black people living near industrial facilities, the phrase has an additional layer of meaning: a reminder of their disproportionate pollution burden. “While many in power seemed surprised that COVID-19 is killing twice as many Black Americans, those of us in the environmental justice movement know that the health impacts of cumulative and disproportionate levels of pollution in our communities have created underlying health conditions that contribute to our higher COVID-19 mortality rates,” said Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, said at a virtual press conference in mid-June. Shepard is part of the National Black Environmental Justice Network (NBEJN) , a national coalition of Black environmental justice groups and grassroots activists founded in 1991. Although the network took a hiatus in 2006 after executive director Damu Smith died , the network just announced that it’s making a comeback against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed calls to fight racial injustice. We see these environmental rollbacks as not just fast-tracking project permits, but as a fast-track to the emergency room and cemeteries. The network’s mission sends a clear message: Environmental injustice is not a single issue. Rather, it’s a constellation of issues including discrimination in housing, jobs and healthcare. It’s impossible to untangle Black communities’ current risks from America’s long history of racist policies and practices. Discriminatory policies such as banks’ government-sanctioned refusal to approve home loans and insurance for people in communities of color, also known as redlining, forced Black families into neighborhoods more likely to be exposed to industrial pollution and extreme heat . Now these same communities face a surge in unemployment and poverty rates as a result of the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic, and they also are  disproportionately dying from the novel coronavirus as a result of a lack of health insurance, unequal access to test sites and higher workplace exposure via employment in essential services. As if that weren’t enough, a recent Harvard study also found a link between air pollution and death from COVID-19. Given the systemic conditions that disproportionately expose Black people to the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other worsening crises, NBEJN members — including the network’s co-chairs, environmental justice pioneers Robert Bullard and Beverly Wright — say they are looking to bring in Black lawyers, engineers, leaders and other experts to join forces to help create an equitable green stimulus package, take on the fossil fuel industry and fight the Trump administration’s seemingly endless orders to weaken environmental protections . “We see these environmental rollbacks as not just fast-tracking project permits, but as a fast-track to the emergency room and cemeteries,” said Bullard, an author and professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University. “The NBEJN is about dismantling systemic racism, and we’re talking about turning the dominant paradigm on its head.” Network leaders say COVID-19 recovery legislation could be an opportunity for lawmakers to pass a robust green stimulus package that would focus on environmental justice. Such a green stimulus package, the coalition said, needs to address core issues of systemic racism by, for example, providing green jobs to communities of color. NBEJN is needed today to fight these conversing threats and underlying conditions that are denying Black people the right to breathe and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enjoyed by white America. “Green stimulus packages often only look at protecting the world, but not protecting people like us,” said Wright, executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. “Any stimulus package dealing with transportation to housing or whatever they’re talking about doing will have to include us and need to be viewed with equity and justice lenses.” Even if an equitable green stimulus package makes it through Congress and the White House, there still will be a lot more work to be done. Bullard said that even if the Democratic party wins the presidential election or takes control of the Senate, it will take time to reverse Trump-era environmental policy damages, including the country’s withdrawal from the 2016 Paris Agreement. Even then, he added, policymakers will need to take additional steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions and center frontline communities. And NBEJN leaders say the network will stick around to make sure those steps are taken. “Racism is baked into America’s DNA,” Bullard said. “NBEJN is needed today to fight these conversing threats and underlying conditions that are denying Black people the right to breathe and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enjoyed by white America.” Pull Quote We see these environmental rollbacks as not just fast-tracking project permits, but as a fast-track to the emergency room and cemeteries. NBEJN is needed today to fight these conversing threats and underlying conditions that are denying Black people the right to breathe and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enjoyed by white America. Topics COVID-19 Policy & Politics 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 Shutterstock Tverdokhlib Close Authorship

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How Black environmentalists are organizing to save the planet from injustice

The 2020 GreenBiz 30 Under 30

June 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

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

Bioplastic made from fish scales wins international James Dyson Award

June 18, 2020 by  
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Single-use plastics are a growing problem for our planet, but they have also become a mainstay for people around the world. How can we replace the plastic bags, wrappers and more that plague us? One student has come up with a novel plastic alternative that also happens to avoid the use of virgin materials. This innovative bioplastic is made with materials otherwise destined for disposal — fish parts. Lucy Hughes, a product design student at The University of Sussex, aimed to source materials from the waste stream when she began working on her senior project. With guidance from a tutor, Hughes discovered a fish processing plant called MCB Seafoods, where she took a tour to learn more. During that experience, Hughes learned about the discarded remnants of fish processing including offal, blood, crustacean and shellfish exoskeletons and fish skins and scales. She got to work right away to figure out how she could turn this waste into something useful. Related: W?KE LifeProof phone cases use recycled ocean-bound waste The result is MarinaTex, a bioplastic film made primarily from fish scales and skins and bound with an organic binder. Creating MarinaTex required a lot of trial and error, but the result is more than a polymer; MarinaTex is biodegradable plastic sheeting that is versatile and naturally decomposes in 4 to 6 weeks in a home compost environment. It required over 100 different experiments to get the right combination before Hughes entered the product into a competition and won the 2019 International James Dyson Award for her efforts.  MarinaTex is best suited for single-use applications such as wrapping sandwiches, replacing the little plastic sheeting around the opening in tissue boxes or substituting for the plastic, transparent window in artisan bread loaf bags. Claiming to be stronger than mainstream LDPE, MarinaTex can also become a durable, biodegradable alternative to plastic bags. According to the website, “The organic formula does not leach harmful chemicals and can be consumed, causing no harm to wildlife or humans.” MarinaTex is currently still in development and not yet in the marketplace for order. However, if you’d like to keep up with the progress, you can receive updates via email newsletter. + MarinaTex Images via MarinaTex

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Can eating cicadas solve the sustainable protein problem?

June 16, 2020 by  
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Have you ever considered eating insects as a source of protein? If your answer is no, now may be the time to reconsider. According to a  study  by the University of Copenhagen, eating insects is more sustainable than eating livestock. The same study shows that there are over 2,000 species of edible insects, though some are rare. Thankfully, some edible insects are easily available in numbers large enough to supplement global protein needs. One of the insects seen as a possible remedy for global protein needs is the cicada. Cicadas are safe to eat and among the most nutritious insects. These insects are rich in protein and can be harvested in large numbers during their breeding seasons. The argument for eating insects A shift from eating livestock to consuming insects could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the U.N., the global livestock industry makes up about 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. Consuming fewer livestock products can thus help reduce the effects of greenhouse gases on the environment. Further, some edible insects are richer in protein than livestock protein supplies. For instance, crickets are 20 times more efficient as protein sources compared to cattle. As  The Balance SMB  reports, cricket harvesting produces 80 times less methane than cattle rearing. If we are serious about conserving the environment, now is the time to consider shifting our dietary preferences. Another reason to consider eating insects is that they thrive on organic matter and require much less food than livestock. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), insects consume just two pounds of food to produce one pound of meat. This contrasts starkly with cattle , which have to consume at least eight pounds of food to produce one pound of meat. While the conversation about eating bugs might not be an easy one, the merits outweigh the discomfort. The U.N. is now calling on meat processing firms to start considering bugs for burgers. Bug meat could easily be used in most processed foods without consumers noticing the difference. Why cicadas and why now? Cicada re-emergence has spurred the conversation about eating them. According to an  NPR publication , millions of cicadas are expected to emerge from the ground this year. In most parts of the United States, over 1.5 million cicadas per acre are expected to emerge. Regions that can expect a high influx of cicadas include southwestern Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia. The cicadas that will be emerging belong to a special brood that only shows up once every 17 years. While cicadas are not harmful to humans and do not bite, they present a different challenge. Cicadas chirp — a lot. This presents a noise problem, considering that over 1.5 million of these insects could emerge from an acre of land. According to Eric Day of  Virginia Tech Department of Entomology , the biggest concern that the people of Virginia should worry about is managing the noise. Once the insects set in, they will be busy day and night, and they are likely to cause excessive noise. This year’s cicadas come with more vigor than most annual cicadas. This special brood only appears once every 13 to 17 years. They last appeared in 2003 in parts of the eastern U.S. If you live in regions that are prone to cicadas, you can learn about their mapping by looking at this  cicada mapping site . How to eat cicadas Considering this influx of cicadas and the issues with livestock, there are many benefits to eating insects . For these reasons, more people are now shifting from mainstream protein sources to sources such as cicadas. If you have never tried eating insects, you might find the suggestion of eating cicadas absurd. However, insect-eating is not something new and is a practice that should be embraced. According to a  Live Science publication , over 2 billion people eat bugs regularly across the world. This means that about a quarter of the world already consumes insects. Given that insects are a good source of protein and considerably cheap, they provide nutrition to many people. In fact, many scientists are now looking at insects as the future of nutrition . All this considered, it may be in your best interest to try eating some bugs. If you are going to eat cicadas, here are a few tips to help you prepare and enjoy your delicious bugs. First, blanch your cicadas. Cicadas are wild insects and may come in contact with harmful microorganisms . Chefs recommend boiling cicadas for five minutes to get rid of impurities from the soil. After boiling your cicadas, dump them in a cold water bath to remove the legs and wings. If you do not mind the legs and wings, skip this step. There are many options for cooking and flavoring cicadas. For cicada scampi, place a cooking pan on medium heat and sautee the cicadas in butter, garlic and basil. Cook your cicadas for about five minutes or until they are crispy. You can also marinate cicadas if you want them juicier. Try an overnight Worcestershire sauce marinade, then sautee them for a tasty meal. Once you’ve tried cooking your cicadas, you can also prepare them as a sweet dessert. Serving them dipped in chocolate makes a great treat. The bottom line For most people who have not tried eating cicadas, this is foreign territory to explore. However, those who have tasted cicadas say they are tasty, with a nutty/earthy flavor. They cook similar to shrimp and can be consumed alongside most dishes that are normally served with white meat. If consuming cicadas can help the environment, we should all give it a thought. Cicadas are easily available and much healthier than most meat. There is nothing wrong with trying out a bug diet if it’s for the better. Images via Pixabay, Sharon Hahn Darlin , and istolethetv

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Can eating cicadas solve the sustainable protein problem?

Latest spill increases worries about Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline

June 16, 2020 by  
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A major spill last Saturday has renewed Canadians’ worries about the Trans Mountain pipeline. Up to 50,000 gallons of crude oil flooded Sumas First Nation’s land in Abbotsford, British Columbia, spilling over an aquifer that supplies the community’s drinking water . “We cannot continue to have our land desecrated by oil spills,” Sumas First Nation Chief Dalton Silver said in a statement issued by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC). This is the fourth spill on his community’s land in 15 years. Related: Dakota Access Pipeline placed under environmental review The cause is still under investigation, but may be connected with a fitting on a piece of pipe attached to the main line, Trans Mountain said in a statement . “Clean-up is well underway with trucks and crews working around the clock,” the company said. “The free-standing oil has been recovered and is being transported to an approved facility for disposal. The site has permanent groundwater monitoring in place and air monitoring continues. Monitoring has not identified any risk to the public or community.” While the company claimed to be working with Indigenous communities on cleanup, Silver told CityNews 1130 that Trans Mountain had not updated him about restarting the pipeline’s operation. “That they’re up and running Sunday afternoon, my sister just read that to me off her phone. That was the first I heard of it, so there you go with the openness and transparency,” Silver said. “I would really rather hear it from those at the incident command post.” Environmentalists and many First Nations communities oppose plans to triple the capacity of the pipeline, which carries oil from Alberta to the Pacific coast. They worry about threats to Indigenous sovereignty and clean water supplies. Increased tanker traffic could also harm already endangered orcas. “We conducted our own assessment of Trans Mountain using leading science and Tsleil-Waututh’s Indigenous law that concluded that oil spills are inevitable, can’t be fully cleaned up, and have devastating effects,” Chief Leah George-Wilson of Tsleil-Waututh Nation said in the UBCIC statement. “This most recent spill is another reminder that the risk is too great to accept. The Trans Mountain pipeline has already spilled more than 80 times since it began operating. This is why we continue to fight the Trans Mountain Expansion in the courts.” Via EcoWatch Image via Jim Black

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Latest spill increases worries about Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline

Scientists discover "pristine" fresh air in a unique location

June 10, 2020 by  
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It is difficult to think of a place on Earth where the air has yet to be contaminated by human activity. From metropolises like New York and large cities like Mumbai to even small villages, human activity has affected the natural air we breathe. However, a recent publication from  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences  shows that there is still one place on Earth with “pristine” air. The Southern Ocean , an area south of 40 degrees latitude, has been identified as one place on Earth where the air has not been contaminated. According to the publication, scientists have established that the air in this region is dominated by bacteria emitted in sea spray. Researchers used this bacteria as a “diagnostic tool” in the study. Essentially, findings from this study show that the air of the Southern Ocean is free of aerosols resulting from human activities. This makes the Southern Ocean one of the rare places where you can breathe pristine air. The study leading to this discovery was conducted by Colorado State University and used data collected by R/V Investigator, an Australian research ship. The R/V Investigator is operated by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. In sampling the air, the R/V team collected samples from the marine boundary, which is in direct contact with the ocean water. The exercise mainly included collecting airborne microbes and analyzing them with source tracking, DNA sequencing and wind back trajectories to establish their marine origins. According to Colorado State University Scientists, the results of the samples from the Southern Ocean were very different from those in subtropical and Northern Hemisphere oceans. In those waters , the air quality is largely influenced by anthropogenic aerosols from the Northern Hemisphere. As the R/V team found, the process of sampling the air over the Southern Ocean can be difficult. The air was so clear that the team had little DNA to work with. Given that the sampling process included DNA tracking, the team struggled to collect the data needed to conclude the study. The news of fresh air existing on a planet dominated by human activity is good news for all humanity. It shows us that there is hope in our conservation efforts. Even though human activities are causing harm to the environment, some gains can be attained if we keep pushing for a better environment. + Cosmos Images via Pexels

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Scientists discover "pristine" fresh air in a unique location

Discarded COVID-19 masks are now littering seas and oceans

June 10, 2020 by  
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In May, the French nonprofit Opération Mer Propre reported collecting several used face masks within waves of the Mediterranean Sea. According to the organization’s report, there has been a surge in “COVID waste”, including masks, latex gloves and plastic hand sanitizer bottles, in the past 3 months. Unfortunately, this only compounds a waste problem that has been around for many years. According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), over 13 million metric tons of plastic waste go into the oceans each year. UNEP predicts that the amount of waste dumped in the oceans will increase up to 10 times the current amount in the next 15 years. However, the UN report did not anticipate a situation where people around the world had to use face masks on a daily basis. The pandemic now complicates all efforts geared toward a safer and more sustainable environment. Related: How to safely dispose contaminated gloves, masks, wipes and more According to Joffrey Peltier of Opération Mer Propre, dozens of face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer bottles were found at the bottom of the sea among other plastic waste. Opération Mer Propre is one of many organizations concerned about the fate of the environment after the coronavirus pandemic . “Soon there will be more masks than jellyfish in the waters of the Mediterranean,” said Laurent Lombard of Opération Mer Propre. Now, Opération Mer Propre and other organizations are calling for a more cautious approach to the use of face masks and other medical tools. Environmental activists are championing the use of reusable face masks and more washing of hands instead of wearing latex gloves. The oceans are already overwhelmed with plastic waste from our normal lifestyles. If we keep on pumping medical waste into the environment, we risk pushing thousands of ocean species to extinction. In the words of Peltier, “With all the alternatives, plastic isn’t the solution to protect us from COVID.” Via The Guardian Image via Noah

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Discarded COVID-19 masks are now littering seas and oceans

New map exposes secrets of Antarctica’s green snow

May 28, 2020 by  
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Antarctica’s peculiar green snow is spreading, according to researchers who have created the first large-scale map of microscopic algae growing on the chilly, southernmost continent. As the climate warms, snow algae is becoming a more and more important terrestrial carbon sink. “This is a significant advance in our understanding of land-based life on Antarctica, and how it might change in the coming years as the climate warms,” study leader Matt Davey, faculty member of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences, said. “Snow algae are a key component of the continent’s ability to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.” Related: Antarctica reaches record high temperature The study’s researchers, from University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey, explained the lay of the Antarctic land. “In the limited terrestrial ecosystems of Antarctica , all photosynthetic organisms will make a significant contribution to the ecology of their habitat,” the scientists wrote in their paper, which is published in Nature Communications . With only about 0.18% of Antarctica’s continental area ice-free, there’s very little exposed ground for traditional vegetation. Thus, evolution got creative and developed snow algae. Expeditions in the 1950s and 1960s first described the green and red patches on and below the snow surface. Since then, researchers have learned that Antarctica’s diverse algal species are important for nutrient and carbon cycling. “Considering that a single snow algal bloom can cover hundreds of square meters, snow algae are potentially one of the region’s most significant photosynthetic primary producers, as well as influencing nutrient provision to downstream terrestrial and marine ecosystems ,” the researchers wrote. Researchers combined their own measurements on the ground with satellite images taken between 2017 and 2019 to map the algae. They found that algae grows in “warmer” areas along the Antarctica coastlines and west coast islands, where temperatures in the continent’s summer months rise just a hair over 0 degrees Celsius. Marine birds and mammals also influence the algal distribution, as their excrement is a natural fertilizer. More than 60% of algal blooms were within 5 kilometers of penguin colonies. Lead author Andrew Gray explained, “As Antarctica warms, we predict the overall mass of snow algae will increase, as the spread to higher ground will significantly outweigh the loss of small island patches of algae.” + Nature Communications Via University of Cambridge Images via Gray, A., Krolikowski, M., Fretwell, P. et al. / Nature Communications (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License)

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New map exposes secrets of Antarctica’s green snow

Risk, doubt, and the burden of proof in the climate debate

May 16, 2020 by  
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Risk, doubt, and the burden of proof in the climate debate Barbara Freese Sat, 05/16/2020 – 14:20 Excerpted from ” Industrial-Strength Denial: Eight Stories of Corporations Defending the Indefensible, from the Slave Trade to Climate Change ” by Barbara Freese, published by the University of California Press. © 2020 by the Regents of the University of California. The above is an affiliate link and we may get a small commission if you purchase from the site. The Hubris of Denial: Risk, Doubt, and the Burden of Proof There are many reasons why the risks of climate change would not fully register in the human mind. In addition to the denial-provoking gravity of the threat, climate change is not the type of risk our minds evolved to detect. It is gradual, and it derives largely from the familiar and widespread practice of burning fossil fuels. It is something we all contribute to and cannot just blame on enemy evildoers. And it manifests as natural phenomena like heat waves, droughts, fires, storms and floods; we need experts, assessing global data and long-term trends, to tell us if what is happening is truly unusual. As such, climate change just does not provoke the sense of threat we would get from a stalking tiger, a hostile attacker or an eerie and unrecognizably novel situation. All these factors surely make it easier for climate deniers to internally deny the risk and to convince others to do the same. But what exactly are they still denying? The Heartland Institute has for years hosted conferences where climate deniers talk to each other and the media (events known to critics as “denial-paloozas”). At one such event in 2014, speaker Christopher Monckton surveyed the room and declared that everyone there agreed that humanity’s “emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases have contributed to the measured global warming since 1950.” His point was to make it clear that “we are not climate change deniers.” Monckton also predicted additional CO2-emission-driven warming in the decades ahead, though less than the consensus predictions. (He undermined his bid to appear reasonable, though, when he went on to berate the media for ignoring facts that “go against the climate Communist party line.”) What continues to define these people as “deniers” in my book is their unshaken belief that climate change is simply no big deal and there is no reason to go out of our way to prevent more of it. “There is no need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and no point in attempting to do so,” as one recent Heartland document succinctly put it. One reason people might be confused about how much climate deniers actually accept about the science is the vitriolic rhetoric of so many of them. Only two years before this conference, Heartland had issued its press release saying that manmade global warming was a “fringe” view (held by mass murderers, etc.) and that still believing in it was “more than a little nutty.” After this conference, in 2016, Heartland’s science director gave a speech titled “Man-Caused Global Warming: The Greatest Scam in World History” (rather than one called, say, “Man-Caused Global Warming: We Agree We’re Causing It But Predict Less Warming Than Others Do.”) [node:field-gbz-pull-quote:0] Charles Koch is among the deniers who accept that our CO2 emissions are causing global warming, but he is confident the climate is “changing in a mild and manageable way.” It is worth noting here that evidence from psychological studies suggests that the experience of power promotes “illusory control” — that is, a belief among power holders that they can control outcomes that are actually beyond their influence. Contrast Charles Koch’s view with that of one of the pioneers of climate science, Columbia’s Dr. Wallace Broecker. He is winner of the President’s National Medal of Science for, among other things, shedding light on the abrupt climate changes of earth’s distant past. The “paleoclimate,” he says, shows that the “Earth tends to over-respond. . . . The Earth system has amplifiers and feedbacks that mushroom small impacts into large responses.” He does not view climate change as mild and manageable. On the contrary, he says, “The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks.” It is worth pausing here to appreciate the breathtaking hubris of this now-dominant strain of climate denial. These deniers accept that humanity’s pollution has disrupted a fundamental, complex and awesomely powerful planetary system with a history of violent shifts, yet they express complete confidence that the global changes we are inadvertently unleashing will be harmless, even beneficial. It is a bit like a pregnant woman who, after learning that a drug she is consuming causes sometimes devastating chromosomal changes, especially as it accumulates in the body, continues to consume it in ever greater quantities, somehow confident her baby will only benefit from the resulting genetic mutations. Maintaining such wholly unfounded confidence (and selling it to others) requires spinning every uncertainty your way by keeping the burden of proof perpetually on those pointing to a climate threat. Sometimes this spin is explicit, like when the Global Climate Coalition argued in 1996 that “the scientific community has not yet met the ‘burden of proof ’ that greenhouse gas emissions are likely to cause serious climatic impacts.” More often, it is implicitly built into the conversation, as it was in so many other public debates, like those over leaded gas, ozone and tobacco. And because there is no discussion of who should initially bear the burden of proof, there is also no discussion of whether to revisit the question and shift that burden once the evidence reaches a certain point. Whoever does not bear the burden of proof gets the benefit of the doubt and thus has an incentive to exaggerate or manufacture doubt. The tobacco industry responded to this incentive (“doubt is our product”) as do climate deniers. A recent analysis of decades of ExxonMobil’s climate change communications by Harvard science historians Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes found that while 80 percent or more of the company’s internal documents and peer-reviewed papers acknowledged that climate change is real and human-caused, only 12 percent of its paid “advertorials” aimed at the general news-reading public did so. Instead, 81 percent of these ads raised doubts. [node:field-gbz-pull-quote:1] Oil and gas executives were recently reminded of the value of raising scientific doubt by Rick (“win ugly or lose pretty”) Berman, who explained in his secretly taped 2014 presentation that “people get overwhelmed by the science and [think] ‘I don’t know who to believe.’ But, if you got enough on your side you get people into a position of paralysis about the issue. . . . You get in people’s mind a tie. They don’t know who is right. And you get all ties because the tie basically insures the status quo. . . . I’ll take a tie any day if I’m trying to preserve the status quo.” Imagine how different the climate debate would be if — after decades of analysis and mountains of data pointing to extreme danger — we now finally shifted the burden of proof and started demanding that climate deniers prove the safety of continued pollution. Where is the proof that we can safely raise atmospheric CO2 to levels not seen on earth for millions of years, since long before humans existed, when the earth was much warmer and seas far higher? What is your alternative explanation for the melting ice, shifting ecosystems, growing extremes and other evidence of warming? Show us the sophisticated computer models that accurately simulate the climate system, that factor in ongoing pollution, and that still show a stable future climate with no significant risk of catastrophic changes. Demonstrate precisely how we can be confident that pushing CO2 levels higher will not trigger the feedback systems that in Earth’s past have repeatedly amplified small changes into extreme planetary transformations. Those urging us to heedlessly continue down our current polluting path would need to show evidence of virtually complete scientific consensus, including assurances from all the major scientific academies and relevant scientific societies throughout the world, that pushing CO2 concentrations ever higher was safe. (We would not, however, insist on agreement from all scientists, even those who were the most financially and ideologically invested in the opposite conclusion, because that would be ridiculous.) And wherever there was a gap in our knowledge — about exactly how our complex climate and life on earth would react to these unprecedented changes — that uncertainty would not make us feel safer. We would understand that it increases risk because what we don’t know can hurt us. Pull Quote Maintaining such wholly unfounded confidence (and selling it to others) requires spinning every uncertainty your way by keeping the burden of proof perpetually on those pointing to a climate threat. Whoever does not bear the burden of proof gets the benefit of the doubt and thus has an incentive to exaggerate or manufacture doubt. Topics Risk & Resilience Books Risk Disaster Recovery Collective Insight GreenBiz Reads Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Anya Douglas Close Authorship

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