Circular business model lessons from IKEA, REI and Eileen Fisher

February 26, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Circular business model lessons from IKEA, REI and Eileen Fisher Deonna Anderson Fri, 02/26/2021 – 00:30   Moving from a linear business model to a circular takes time, effort and trial and error. But it also has its hidden benefits. “It can help you with some operational efficiencies. It can also position you to be sort of a company of the future, and also, frankly, tackle the environmental challenges that we have of our consumption model,” said Tensie Whelan, director at New York University’s Stern Center for Sustainable Business, at the end of a conversation that she moderated about circular business models at GreenBiz 21 .  Whelan led a conversation with leaders at REI, IKEA and Eileen Fisher, each of which are embracing circular practices in some parts of their businesses. For REI, transitioning to a circular model seems inevitable so it’s doing the work now. “REI, as a company, we believe that this broader kind of shift to a more circular economy is something that the world is really going to have to do over the next 10 years,” said Ken Voeller, director of circular commerce and new business development at REI. “And it’s also a shift that’s going to take many forms. There’s resale, there’s rental, there’s designing products with circularity in mind. It’s not really like there’s a silver bullet.” I think resale is still quite innovative and continues to morph and change and [there’s] still quite a limited number of brands that are doing it. Here are four lessons about implementing and iterating circular business models from these retailers. 1. The nuts and bolts of resell sound simple on paper But they’re more complicated in action.  “There’s a lot to think about, as it relates to how do you want to build the infrastructure to support a more circular economy. And then how do you want to build the capability to support it,” Voeller said, noting that the effort aligns with the company’s broader business aspirations, including halving its carbon footprint by 2030. REI has been partnering with Trove (formerly Yerdle) to work out the kinks and operate its resell program in an effort to become more circular. “As we think about the things that we can do as a company to continue to grow revenue, without necessarily growing environmental impact, our circular businesses really hit that sweet spot of being able to do both of those things,” Voeller added. In order to make a circular economy work, a company needs a lot of partners. For REI, while Trove is one of those partners, in a sense, so are the customers that return items for the recommerce program. 2. Engaging customers before they step foot into a store IKEA, known for its flat-packed furniture, has launched buyback programs in select markets. Debuting on Black Friday 2020 , the program was temporarily launched in some countries where IKEA operates, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia. And IKEA U.S. is looking forward to launching such a program in the future, after it’s able to wade through state regulations. The program is part of the company’s journey to become more circular. Here’s what the process looks like for a customer interested in selling furniture back to IKEA: Complete an online form about the piece of furniture Receive an payment offer from IKEA Drop off furniture at the store Receive payment from IKEA in the form of a voucher IKEA will sell item in its bargain section “We wouldn’t be asking a customer to lug in a big bookcase that maybe they have sitting in their basement that they haven’t used, just to see if we’ll buy it back from them,” said Jenn Keesson, sustainability manager at IKEA U.S., during the GreenBiz 21 discussion. At the time of the Black Friday announcement, the company noted that any items it is unable to resell will be recycled. “It’s really an end of life solution. … I’m sure that all of us can think of an item in our house that we haven’t gotten rid of, but we’re still not using. So we were excited to be able to offer this solution to our customers in the U.S.,” Keesson said. 3. Presenting customers with all their options Since clothing company Eileen Fisher launched its takeback and resale program Renew in 2009, it has collected 1.5 million returned garments, according to Cynthia Power, director of Eileen Fisher Renew. “I think resale is still quite innovative and continues to morph and change and [there’s] still quite a limited number of brands that are doing it,” Power said. “It’s exciting to keep trying to figure out how to make it better and how to keep the most garments in use for as long as possible.” Since clothing company Eileen Fisher launched its resale program Renew in 2009, it has taken back 1.5 million garments. Photo by melissamn on Shutterstock. Eileen Fisher Renew has been experimenting with the larger main brand in some of its retail stores to display new products alongside used products, design samples and remanufactured products. “We’re really trying to give the customer a view into all the different life cycles of our clothes,” Power said. 4. A gateway for customers — new and old For both Eileen Fisher and REI, the recommerce work each company is doing seems to be getting the attention of people who’ve never shopped with them before. “We really see the renew program and resell in general as an opportunity to bring in a new customer who, whether it’s price point or environmental values, or whatever the customer likes, offers them a new way into the brand,” Power said. “We’ve definitely seen a significant percentage of new customers purchasing from Renew who haven’t necessarily purchased from the main line before.” A circular economy will not just be resale, and it will not just be rental. It will be resale, and rental and circular products designed from the ground up. Voeller of REI noted a similar trend at the outdoor recreation company and added that its resell program also offers an opportunity to develop a different type of relationship with existing customers. “We really view the supply side of our recommerce business as a really interesting retention tool to keep customers engaged with REI and continuing to turn to us for their outdoor purchases,” he said. “They’re able to say, ‘I’ve got this backpack that’s been in my closet for three years. I’ve used it twice. I really don’t need that. Why don’t I trade that into REI, and I’ll get credit to apply towards the thing that I really do want?’”  And while most of the conversations and strategies between these business leaders focused on resale, they know it’s not the only circular business model. Companies that want to be more circular likely will need and want to take multiple approaches to get there. “A circular economy will not just be resale, and it will not just be rental. It will be resale, and rental and circular products designed from the ground up,” Voeller said.    Pull Quote A circular economy will not just be resale, and it will not just be rental. It will be resale, and rental and circular products designed from the ground up. I think resale is still quite innovative and continues to morph and change and [there’s] still quite a limited number of brands that are doing it. Topics Circular Economy GreenBiz 21 Business Development Recommerce GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Ikea, REI and Eileen Fisher are banking on a circular model to propel them into the next era of commerce.//Images by  Graeme Dawes ,  Eric Glenn and  Helen89 on Shutterstock.

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Circular business model lessons from IKEA, REI and Eileen Fisher

This chic, wooden electric scooter is carved from chestnut

February 19, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Imagine a comfortable, fashionable electric scooter made from sustainable materials that doesn’t sacrifice quality. Thanks to a collaboration between designer Mikiya Kobayashi, automotive manufacturer Aisin and wood furniture manufacturer Karimoku, this concept for the ILY-Ai wooden electric scooter promises just that. While the three-wheeled, personal electric scooter is mainly meant for use in large public spaces such as malls and event halls, its shape allows it to blend into nearly every type of venue. With three wheels for optimum balance and mobility, a soft, padded leather seat and a safety sensor, the ILY-Ai scooter is super comfortable and completely user-friendly. Related: The pros and cons of electromobility The body is carved out of solid chestnut wood, one of the stronger of the natural hardwoods . According to the designer, chestnut wood is about 75% lighter than white oak and lasts longer thanks to its natural ability to resist decay. The combination of aluminum, a highly recyclable material, in the design helps complement the smooth, unpainted wooden exterior. While the work of Karimoku and Kobayashi is observed aesthetically through the curved wooden body, the expertise of Aisin’s engineers is hidden inside. The latest in electric vehicle technology under the hardwood includes a safety sensor to bring the entire vehicle to a complete stop automatically in case of unforeseen obstacles, especially handy if the rider becomes distracted. The team that put this concept together is highly qualified for the next biggest thing in functional, fashionable electric mobility. Tokyo-based Mikiya Kobayashi is known for minimal shapes and natural materials , specifically wood, in his designs. The relationship between the designer and Karimoku spans 13 years, when the two collaborated on a furniture collection together. Aisin, which is partly owned by Toyota, specializes in a wide range of energy-related products for the automotive, lifestyle and wellness industries. + Mikiya Kobayashi Photography by Yosuke Owashi via Mikiya Kobayashi

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This chic, wooden electric scooter is carved from chestnut

From the boardroom to Wall Street, ESG is crucial for financial resilience

February 18, 2021 by  
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From the boardroom to Wall Street, ESG is crucial for financial resilience Julia Travers Thu, 02/18/2021 – 00:45 The ongoing shift to center ESG is driven by multiple forces. Chief among them are a rising demand from the public for transparency and purpose in business and a growing awareness among corporations that sustainability is integral to financial health, according to participants at GreenBiz 21.  As diverse business stakeholders adjust to the climate crisis, social justice movements and a global pandemic, sustainable investing tactics are increasingly proven to benefit companies’ stability and profitability. In the first, COVID-stricken quarter of 2020, 89 percent of Morningstar’s ESG-screened indexes outperformed their broad market equivalents. And ESG-focused investment funds took in a record $347 billion in 2020. Among the many timely conversations during GreenBiz 21 were sessions that explored how boards can govern amid disruptive risks and the view of ESG from Wall Street. Both conversations framed ESG as crucial for financial survival and success. How boards can manage disruptive risk Two key takeaways from a discussion about board-level responsibility for ESG issues were that ESG fluency is an essential component of successful contemporary risk management for boards, and that, while boards have made some progress toward embracing sustainability principles within their purview, they still have a way to go. The speakers agreed more boards must recognize that ESG metrics and financial concerns are not disparate.  Veena Ramani, senior program director of capital market systems for Ceres, said “companies, particularly large companies, are really, really, really good risk managers. But the problem is, data out is only as good as data in — environmental and social issues are not being processed through the enterprise risk management systems, through scenario analysis. So obviously, the board is not going to get the analytics to make smart decisions. I hope people realize that they need to have a broader approach to risk management and broaden the scope of what goes up the board.”  I think the partnership with the CFO is incredibly important, the partnership with investor relations because sustainability goes to the heart of performance. To emerge from the pandemic and survive long term, ESG needs to be integrated into everything that a company is doing from a strategic and operational perspective, noted Douglas Chia, former executive director of The Conference Board ESG Center and now president of Soundboard Governance. Are boards ready to take on this task? Kathrin Winkler, a former CSO, CW Partners consultant and GreenBiz editor at large, asked, “Are boards ESG-literate?” “Largely, probably not,” responded D’Anne Hurd, independent trustee with Pax World Funds and former senior financial management executive at GTE and PepsiCo.  While Hurd has seen some progress in this regard, the first question she often receives from board members is, “What is ESG?” She said, “They better wake up,” mentioning that consumers, suppliers, employees and investors are pushing for greater ESG fluency and action.  Ramani said the Biden administration’s priorities will push ESG even further into the foreground. Both Hurd and Ramani pointed to a class offered by Ceres and Berkeley Law, “ESG: Navigating the Board’s Role,” as a relevant resource.  The view from Wall Street The importance of embracing the confluence of the ESG and financial realms is a trend Martina Cheung, president of S&P Global Market Intelligence and S&P Global, increasingly sees in her work. She noted in a GreenBiz 21 keynote interview: “Whether it’s climate risk, social equity governance and stronger representation from government … as we see that play out; the real effects of that on the markets, on companies’ performance, on sectors … our clients are turning to us and saying, ‘What information do you have that can help us as we have to make decisions, as we have to comply with regulations, as we look to raise capital?’” One important factor is the movement to standardize ESG reporting, according to Cheung. She thinks achieving a single set of standards is still a few years away but pointed to some promising convergences. Among them, the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation’s proposal to develop ESG standards is “critical,” Cheung said.  One way sustainability professionals inside big companies can help investors traverse the ESG path is by spending more time collaborating with their peers in the corporate finance function, she said. “I think the partnership with the CFO is incredibly important, the partnership with investor relations because sustainability goes to the heart of performance.”  Pull Quote I think the partnership with the CFO is incredibly important, the partnership with investor relations because sustainability goes to the heart of performance. Topics Finance & Investing Corporate Strategy ESG GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Collage based on Unsplash images

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From the boardroom to Wall Street, ESG is crucial for financial resilience

EVs are just one part of sustainable transportation

February 17, 2021 by  
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EVs are just one part of sustainable transportation Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 02/17/2021 – 01:15 Want more great analysis of electric and sustainable transport? Sign up for Transport Weekly , our free email newsletter. While electric vehicles hold big promise in 2021, another aspect of decarbonizing transportation could get major support this year: reducing car driving. Cutting down on car trips isn’t about guilt-tripping folks into abandoning cars. Many of us need to use cars. It’s about providing much better opportunities, infrastructure and incentives for alternatives to driving including walking, biking, micromobility and public transit, as well as better options for remote work and urban housing. Two transportation-related silver linings of the COVID-19 era are: Many cities quickly adapted to shelter-in-place orders by offering new mobility opportunities. Slow streets programs opened up roads for pedestrians and bicycles, while cities opened up parking spaces for outdoor dining, helping small businesses.  Companies that can do so are making plans to embrace policies that could make remote work permanent for substantial portions of their workforce. For example, Salesforce announced last week its plan for flexible work schedules that offer some employees the opportunity to work entirely at home (wherever home happens to be). As transportation leader and general badass Janette Sadik-Khan put it last month during a conversation at Micromobility World :  The pandemic revealed the streets that we always needed. Back in the day, Sadik-Khan helped then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg successfully remove cars from Times Square, and launched New York’s bikeshare program, as Commissioner for the New York City Department of Transportation. Today, she advises mayors of cities around the world as a principal of Bloomberg Associates, a philanthropic consultancy created by the ex-mayor. Now that, strangely enough, 2020 has primed cities to make choices about better streets for people (instead of just cars), 2021 is a prime opportunity to keep the momentum going by building back with lower-carbon transportation infrastructure. And that’s not just about EV infrastructure. A lot of this work will be about creating better and more bike lanes, a major boost in funding for public transit (President Joe Biden is pledging $20 billion) and even encouraging city transportation incentive tools (such as congestion zones and tolls). In the world of transportation, sometimes it’s the non-tech ideas and solutions that could have a big effect on decarbonization. Sadik-Khan is bullish about the newly appointed federal Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg. And you should be, too. She described him as “a secretary that looks at streets as more than moving cars.” “This is going to be a new ‘road order’ and a new era,” she said.  Sadik-Khan also explained why having a former mayor as DOT Secretary is “extremely important.” “He understands what cities need,” noting that mayors get in the weeds on budgets and community buy-in for new infrastructure projects. Buttigieg also just nominated another former NYC Commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, as his DOT Deputy Secretary.  While I spend a lot of my time reporting on the rise of electric vehicles, and the emergence of new climate-tech innovations, in the world of transportation sometimes it’s the non-tech ideas and solutions that could have a big effect on decarbonization. Protected and expanded bike lanes are not a tech solution. Better-designed rapid bus routes are not a tech solution.  Sadik-Khan explained it like this: The smart mobility innovation of this century is not going to be using tech to reduce traffic congestion. It’s going to be about building a city where you don’t have to drive in the first place. At the Micromobility World event, I got to moderate a conversation focused on Scaling Unsung Climate Champions: 2-Wheelers (check out the video if you’re interested); it featured transportation leader Dan Sperling and Formula E driver Lucas di Grassi, among others. What stuck out to me from this conversation is that transportation options such as micromobility are not widely seen as climate solutions compared to electric passenger vehicles. And really they should be.  Yes, I’m caught up in the excitement and idea that the internal combustion engine vehicle is finally being replaced by the electric car. But a whole other set of solutions — some not sexy and some controversial — will help continue to decarbonize transportation and help us move more off of a reliance on all types of cars, too. Pull Quote In the world of transportation, sometimes it’s the non-tech ideas and solutions that could have a big effect on decarbonization. Topics Transportation & Mobility Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A slow street scene from Oakland, California. Courtesy of City of Oakland

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EVs are just one part of sustainable transportation

Introducing GreenBiz.org, a new nonprofit for BIPOC professionals

February 16, 2021 by  
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Introducing GreenBiz.org, a new nonprofit for BIPOC professionals Joel Makower Tue, 02/16/2021 – 02:11 Last week, during GreenBiz 21, Jarami Bond — a new colleague but an old friend — announced the launch of a new nonprofit “that exists solely to nurture and empower BIPOC professionals to accelerate a just transition to a clean economy,” as he described it. It was a moment of deep pride for all of us. The nonprofit, spun out of the for-profit GreenBiz Group as an independent entity, was born of our longstanding efforts to counter the overwhelming whiteness of the sustainable business profession — and sustainability overall — but was energized by the events of last summer, as the topic of racial justice burst from the margins to the mainstream across the United States and beyond. GreenBiz.org is the response to a range of confounding challenges so many of us have voiced in both public and private settings. Among them: Why aren’t there more Black, Indigenous and people of color — BIPOC, in today’s argot — working in sustainability? Speaking on behalf of the predominantly white corporate sustainability movement, how can we, individually and collectively, better engage, serve and learn from communities of color, the tens of millions of our fellow humans who may not look like us? Where are the opportunities to lift BIPOC voices, to elevate and amplify the ideas and proven solutions from communities outside our sphere? Perhaps we need to create a bigger sphere. I believe that in light of the empathy that exists at the core of our work, we as sustainability professionals must continue to be linked arm-in-arm with BIPOC communities. I’ll let Bond describe the purpose of this new organization, pulling from his moving and passionate presentation at GreenBiz 21. (You can watch his entire 10-minute talk here . Click on the Tuesday keynote, starting at 41:00 on the video.) Bond began by sharing his own story, as his childhood love for the environment turned into a career path, starting at Interface, the iconic flooring company. Along the way, he said: I recognized that something huge was missing, something that I felt was integral to our field accomplishing the big, bold goals it was chasing after. And that missing link was people that looked like me, Black- and Brown-melanated souls. Throughout his time in both college and Corporate America, Bond said, “I grew used to being the only Black person in my class or on my team — the face of the race, navigating microaggressions and flagrant assumptions, wrestling with double consciousness, challenging those who wanted me to conform to majority culture, and trying to posture myself constantly to defy the stereotypes, even challenging those who tried to suppress my blackness to make themselves more comfortable, or make a caricature of it for their own entertainment.” Jarami Bond speaking to the GreenBiz 21 audience. Amid his personal struggles, Bond saw an opportunity to align his profession with his passion: I believe that in light of the empathy that exists at the core of our work, we as sustainability professionals must continue to be linked arm-in-arm with BIPOC communities, with the stakeholders at the front of the march advocating for equity and justice. We need all hands on deck. In parallel, as my colleagues and I at GreenBiz Group began to sketch out the vision for a new nonprofit, I knew exactly who to enlist to help. As a strategic adviser to GreenBiz.org, Bond is leading the efforts to stand up this organization and to articulate its purpose, as he did so eloquently last week: We envision a vibrant ecosystem of individuals, organizations and communities working symbiotically to transform our field culturally and dismantle environmental injustice. We will convene companies, nonprofits, activists and community stakeholders to bolster the resilience of disadvantaged and marginalized communities. We will foster belonging and support the career development of BIPOC sustainability professionals. We will help fund BIPOC social entrepreneurs spearheading startups and small businesses focused on innovating toward a clean economy through an intersectional lens. We will support creators of color telling stories about the emerging clean economy through that same intersectional lens. We will also create spaces for BIPOC sustainability professionals to build community fostering deeper connection and support. He concluded, as he began, on a personal note: “I am over-the-moon excited because I’ve been working to create what I and so many in our space have been dreaming of for so long. … I truly believe that our field will be different because this nonprofit exists.” We are over-the-moon excited, too — about the potential for this new organization to open the sustainability tent far wider than before to include voices and faces not traditionally heard and seen within the mainstream business community. And to — finally — harness a far broader swath of knowledge, wisdom and experience about what it means to live in a sustainable world. And how we can all get there together. Much more to come as GreenBiz.org takes wing. For now, we welcome interested parties: funders; strategic partners; and professionals excited about the new entity’s vision and goals. Sign up for updates here , or email Bond directly: jarami@greenbiz.org . I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote I believe that in light of the empathy that exists at the core of our work, we as sustainability professionals must continue to be linked arm-in-arm with BIPOC communities. Topics Social Justice State of the Profession Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Introducing GreenBiz.org, a new nonprofit for BIPOC professionals

The world-changing potential of STEAM-powered youth

February 11, 2021 by  
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The world-changing potential of STEAM-powered youth Shana Rappaport Thu, 02/11/2021 – 00:01 For more essays and articles by Shana Rapport, sign up for VERGE Weekly , one of our free newsletters. The last time I profiled a young technologist working to change the world, she went on to be honored as Time Magazine’s first Kid of the Year . Just sayin’ — we know how to spot a rising star. On that note, meet Danielle Boyer, who promises to be no exception. An Indigenous educator, inventor, author and environmental activist, Boyer has, at age 20, already accomplished more than most adults to increase diversity, accessibility and affordability in the STEAM education space — science, technology, engineering, art and math.  If you care about accelerating an equitable clean economy, then you need to care about STEAM — specifically, the woeful underrepresentation of women and people of color working in these industries, and the disparate access to quality STEAM education that precedes it. Research shows that having a diverse workforce not only drives innovation and market growth , but also underscores the significant risks of perpetuating inequities when people of color are left out of creating the products and services we all use.  If we are to leverage the full potential of science and technology to address our most pressing global challenges, the people developing these solutions must represent society as a whole. Image Credit: Drawn by Danielle Boyer, Founder and CEO of STEAM Connection That’s why Boyer is working to solve this problem by getting to the root — ensuring that young people of color, particularly girls and those in Indigenous communities, have access to quality STEAM education. I caught up with her recently to talk about technology innovation and environmental education. The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length. Shana Rappaport: Your work is rooted in the belief that ensuring equitable access to environmental education and engineering opportunities is a social and environmental imperative. Why is that? Danielle Boyer: I believe that every child has the potential to be an Earth Innovator — someone who uses their unique talents, interests and skills to benefit our Earth. Giving kids skills in technology, engineering and science to use in their lives as innovators, activists and changemakers is so important. Us youth are the ones who are being affected the most by climate change, and we need, as I say, all of our superpowers to fight it. Each of our superpowers are different and can contribute to positive change, but we must be taught how to use them.  Unfortunately, not every child has the opportunity to discover their superpower, because they don’t have access to learning technical skills — skills that will not only transform their future, but the future of our Earth, too. Underserved communities are isolated from learning these important skills, leaving these kids at a huge disadvantage.  I’ve centered my mission around providing resources to these kids with an emphasis on youth of color and girls, especially in Indigenous communities, like my own. I think that we all deserve to learn what our superpowers are and to be given the opportunity to use them. Rappaport: Talk a little bit about the organization that you founded, STEAM Connection , and how initiatives such as your flagship program, Every Kid Gets a Robot, are designed to fulfill your mission. Boyer: I founded the STEAM Connection in January 2019, which wasn’t that long ago. Our work brings accessible, affordable and diverse STEAM education to children all around the world, and it has been such a cool journey. I work with a team of all minorities — we’re all students in STEAM and we work to bring things like robotics, classes and more to youth.  One of my favorite projects is called Every Kid Gets a Robot , which is a robot that I invented — it costs less than $20, is made out of biodegradable and recycled materials and I send it to kids for free in 12 countries, which is insane. The robot has been to more places than I have. I’ve used it to teach kids skills on everything from electrical engineering to computer science to mechanical engineering. I absolutely love the robots.  Each of our superpowers are different and can contribute to positive change, but we must be taught how to use them. All of these initiatives matter a lot to me, because I’m able to use them to supplement the environmental and STEAM classes that I teach. It’s been so much fun, because I’ve been able to reach tens of thousands of kids now, along with the 35 youth robotics teams that I mentor.  One of my most recent initiatives is called Hands-On Techie Talks — it’s a podcast that I started with my 13-year-old mentee, Vinaya Gunasekar, which is crazy — she’s 13! We started a podcast for kids to bring resources for environmental innovation in a hands-on way to kids during the pandemic, and it has been so much fun. Rappaport: What are your impressions of how Gen Z views the role of technology innovation in accelerating solutions to environmental problems? Boyer: This is a really interesting question — because honestly, when I was 10 years old and got started, I had never used a computer before. Things have changed so much since I was a young kid.  Technology now drives everything that Gen Z does. But, I often think that many young kids don’t necessarily see environmental activists as designers, programmers and scientists. Many of them see activists as media figures who lead protests — and while that certainly is an aspect of it, I think that it puts them off because it may not suit their interests, or they may not see environmental role models who look like them.  Showing kids that they can use their skills right now affects how they see themselves and their potential impact, and everyone needs to play an active role in our Earth. We need people to design robots that clean up oil spills. I believe in doing more than just advocating for a solution, but also being an active part of creating ones, too.  For me, that looks like education that creates well-informed innovators with an emphasis on robotics — because, like I encourage my students to do, I’m using my own unique skillsets to do what I can to benefit our Earth. And I’m close to their age, too. Rappaport: What kind of support can the private sector provide to you, and to Indigenous communities, either as corporate partners or as intergenerational allies? Boyer: I’m always excited to answer this question, because businesses hold the key to so much change. They’re able to solve so many problems that we see in our communities, and they have so much potential for impact — no matter the size of the company.  I don’t think you necessarily need to have an environmental activism program or initiative at your organization to make important change. I believe that people should start with supporting young changemakers in their own communities — and, on theme with our discussion, to use their own skills. For example, are you a financial adviser? Use your skills to help a young person who’s trying to start their nonprofit. Are you in marketing? Help someone who is creating an online platform and needs to get their platform out there.  To find these youth, I suggest getting involved in nonprofits that cater to students, especially ones engaged in Indigenous issues. We Indigenous peoples take care of 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity in rainforests, and in community lands we store at least 24 percent of above-ground carbon in the world’s tropical rainforests. A lot of people don’t know that. I recommend checking out organizations such as the American Indian Science and Engineering Society to see how you can get involved and be engaged as a mentor, a role model and a leader. Image Credit: Drawn by Danielle Boyer, Founder and CEO of STEAM Connection Pull Quote Each of our superpowers are different and can contribute to positive change, but we must be taught how to use them. Topics Social Justice Youth Indigenous People Environmental Justice GreenBiz 21 Featured Column On the VERGE 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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The world-changing potential of STEAM-powered youth

Ocean-based sequestration heats up

February 1, 2021 by  
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Ocean-based sequestration heats up Jim Giles Mon, 02/01/2021 – 00:30 This article originally appeared in the State of Green Business 2021. You can download the entire report here . Over the past few years, as companies have come under steadily increasing pressure to tackle climate change, nature-based solutions have emerged as a particularly exciting method for shrinking corporate carbon footprints. Investing in forests can be a win-win that both sequesters carbon and regenerates nature. That’s why one recent survey recorded almost $160 million spent on forest offsets in 2019. And a newer option, soil carbon, also is generating investment from multiple corporate sectors . Yet another natural sink absorbs about as much carbon dioxide as our planet’s soils and forests combined: the world’s coastal and ocean waters. Until recently, ocean sequestration, also known as blue carbon, attracted little attention outside academic and think-tank circles. We might be at a turning point, however, because a handful of forward-looking corporations, conservation organizations and startups recently have accelerated efforts to store carbon in marine systems. Thanks to their work, companies of all sizes soon may be able invest in ocean sequestration. One pioneer in this area is Shopify, an e-commerce company that has committed to spending $5 million annually on innovative clean technologies. Shopify’s first round of investments , announced in September, includes Running Tide, a company based on the coast of Maine. Running Tide’s core business is oyster farming, but CEO Marty Odlin is planning on a new revenue stream: growing kelp and sinking his crop in the deep ocean.  “Once it goes down below 1,000 meters, it’s not coming back up, because the pressures are so great,” Odlin told Fast Company . “So you can get at least 1,000 years of sequestration. More likely, it will turn into oil or sediment and be sequestered on the geologic timescale — millions of years.” Once it goes down below 1,000 meters, it’s not coming back up, because the pressures are so great. At Running Tide, engineers will use the Shopify investment to build kelp-growing platforms, which they will launch into ocean current systems selected as having the right temperature and nutrients to support kelp growth. The platforms will be kept afloat by buoys designed to biodegrade once they reach the deep ocean, at which point the kelp will fall to the ocean floor, taking its carbon with it. Running Tide will measure the carbon sequestered in the process and sell credits on the carbon markets. Shopify also made a bet on Planetary Hydrogen , a startup that aims to produce “green hydrogen” while simultaneously capturing carbon and healing the ocean. The process begins with a twist on existing green hydrogen technology, in which renewable energy is used to power the production of hydrogen from water, a reaction that produces no carbon. The Planetary Hydrogen team adds a mineral salt to the process, leading to the creation of a waste product — a mineral hydroxide — that binds with atmospheric carbon dioxide. The final step involves adding the bicarbonate compound that results from this reaction to the ocean, where, because the substance is alkaline, it helps counter climate-caused ocean acidification. According to the company’s calculations, the process can capture and store 40 kilograms of carbon dioxide for every kilogram of hydrogen produced. “Our fuel may be the greenest on Earth,” boasted Greg Rau, Planetary Hydrogen’s chief technology officer, at GreenBiz Group’s VERGE Carbon conference last fall.  The catch? Let’s start with costs. Green hydrogen costs two to three times as much as the conventional alternative, and Planetary Hydrogen’s fuel is even more expensive. In most markets that probably would be the end of the story, but the carbon-negative status of Planet Hydrogen’s product means that it could earn credits from schemes such as California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard — enough credits, Rau believes, to make it a cheaper option than other forms of hydrogen. Before that happens, his team will have to scale up the technology, which it plans to do using Shopify’s investment. A pilot plant should come online in 2022, according to Rau. Another challenge facing both Planetary Hydrogen and Running Tide is the issue of permanence. For a credit to be traded on carbon markets, an established certification body — Verra and Gold Standard are two leading examples — needs to sign off on the process used to store the carbon. Among other things, the certifier would assess how long the carbon is likely to stay sequestered. The biology and chemistry of the deep oceans suggest that kelp and bicarbonate could offer a better guarantee of long-term storage than, say, forests. But collecting the data needed to demonstrate that will be challenging given the vastness of the oceans and the fact that this is a new frontier for certification bodies. “We need to rethink the basis for calculating the carbon benefits of these projects,” Carlos Duarte, an expert in marine ecosystems at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, said at VERGE Carbon. Given the uncertainties, many companies will wait before investing in emerging ocean projects. But there are more established blue carbon options that are better understood. In 2018, for instance, Apple announced that it would back a project to protect and restore 27,000 acres of mangrove forest on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. According to Conservation International, one of the NGOs behind the project, mangroves and other coastal wetlands can store up to 10 times more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests. Apple will purchase carbon credits generated by the project, generating a new income stream for the 12,000 local people whose livelihoods depend on the mangroves. Pull Quote Once it goes down below 1,000 meters, it’s not coming back up, because the pressures are so great. Topics State of Green Business Report Oceans & Fisheries Carbon Removal Nature Based Solutions Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Forests of giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, commonly grow in the cold waters along the coast of California. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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Ocean-based sequestration heats up

Let’s rid our work environments of the toxic smoke of dysfunction

January 25, 2021 by  
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Let’s rid our work environments of the toxic smoke of dysfunction Chris Gaither Mon, 01/25/2021 – 01:30 Before he saw the smoke, he felt it in his throat. It tasted foul. It curled into his nose, his mouth, his lungs. He looked up from his computer. His colleagues were tapping at their keyboards. The smoke hovered around them. He walked to his manager’s door. “This office is filled with toxic smoke,” he said. “Yes,” she said. “Don’t worry. We have a plan.” “What will you do?” he asked. “Install new ventilation? Move us to another space?” “No,” she said. “We’ve hired you an executive coach to help you develop strategies for dealing with the toxic smoke.” “But I don’t want to deal with the toxic smoke,” he said. “I want to get rid of it.” “Work with the coach,” she said. “Leave a few minutes early today. Get a massage. You’ll be okay.” We must approach our personal sustainability challenges as a problem with our ecosystem. I heard this parable last year, before the pandemic, from a fellow executive coach. It lodged in my gut. I realized that so many of my coaching clients — in big corporations and small nonprofits, sustainability teams and sales departments — were asking me for help dealing with the stress and dysfunction of their organizations. They were breathing the same toxic smoke as everyone around them. Sometimes they were, themselves, pumping that toxic smoke into their work environments. Yet they were suffering alone, trying to solve it alone. Just as I did during my hectic career leading teams at the Los Angeles Times, Google and Apple. If anything, the pandemic has increased the pressure on us to deal with this suffering in isolation. But here’s the thing: Avoiding burnout is not simply a matter of individual responsibility. It’s a leadership challenge, and we are all leaders. Throughout this Sustainable You series for GreenBiz, I have encouraged you to tend to your personal sustainability so you can do great work on behalf of the planet. This kind of self-care remains critical. But it’s insufficient. As environmental sustainability leaders, you are, by nature, systems thinkers. You identify root causes. You craft upstream solutions. You see the forests, not just the trees, and work to improve the ecosystems so the individuals in them can thrive. So, let’s approach our personal sustainability challenges as a problem with our ecosystem. To get to the root cause of the smoke, we need to think bigger. “You can’t expect people to adopt healthy lifestyles when their work environments reinforce or even cause poor habits,” says Jeffrey Pfeffer, an organizational-behavior professor at Stanford University. Pfeffer is the author of the 2018 book, “Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance — and What We Can Do About It.” He writes that companies have created elaborate systems for tracking their progress on environmental sustainability, but they seem to have forgotten to measure the human sustainability of their own employees. Current management practices harm employee engagement and job performance, Pfeffer says, and they increase employee turnover and healthcare costs. There’s even more at stake. To solve global, complex challenges like the climate emergency, racial injustice and species extinction, we must be adaptive leaders. We need to be mindful. Creative. Intuitive. Curious. Willing to experiment, learn and redesign. Open-minded and open-hearted. That’s so hard to do when we’re burned out. Organizational culture is a living, breathing thing. We draw from it, and we feed into it. We’re constantly creating it together. So, when everyone around us is stressed out, exhausted and closed off, it’s easy to shift into that same mode. Our mirror neurons, those evolutionary tools that help us build nourishing social connections, pick up on those signals and encourage us to be like the others. To suffer with the rest. I know this feeling well. I have held, deep in my body, the physical and emotional distress that burnout carries. We can work this way for a while, but eventually we deplete our energy and fall apart. As an executive leadership coach, I have supported many individuals to the other side of this burnout, where they’ve refilled their energy reserves and brought their creativity back to life. I’ve also followed my intuition upstream, seeking the origins of the toxic smoke. I work with full teams and their leaders to help them shift organizational culture: to slow down, reflect on what really matters, call out harmful behaviors, give themselves permission to embrace a more wholesome way of working. Healthy people, healthy planet A healthy earth depends on healthy people. To heal the planet, we must first heal ourselves. So, my fellow leaders, let’s set an intention to cultivate human sustainability in our organizations — for the sake of our employees and the communities and natural habitats they’re working to protect. Let’s look for the toxic smoke curling through our Zoom meetings, our email inboxes and Slack channels. Let’s name it, get curious about where it came from, chase it down to its source. Let’s pay close attention to the tone we are setting for our teams. The moods we are carrying into our interactions. The behaviors we are modeling. The harmful ways of being that we are introducing or accepting. Let’s check in on each other. Let’s work to understand how others in our groups are experiencing the world, how they might be suffering differently from us, and offer them support. Let’s talk about burnout and wellness — with our team members, fellow leaders, bosses, even our boards of directors. Let’s gather our teams. Let’s come up with, say, 50 things we could do to improve our health and happiness at work. Then let’s commit to new ways of being together. Let’s craft agreements and hold each other accountable. Instead of trying to manage the toxic smoke in our work environments, let’s get rid of it. Because only when we can breathe can we truly do this critical planetary work. Pull Quote We must approach our personal sustainability challenges as a problem with our ecosystem. Topics Leadership Health & Well-being Featured Column Sustainable You Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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How Wall Street can win on climate In 2021

January 25, 2021 by  
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How Wall Street can win on climate In 2021 Ben Ratner Mon, 01/25/2021 – 01:00 This year, financial institutions must make a significant leap forward on climate — from pledges to progress. Even amidst a global pandemic, 2020 proved climate finance and a focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are more than passing fads, with net-zero financed emissions commitments from Morgan Stanley , JP Morgan  and a group of 30 international asset managers —  Net Zero Asset Management Initiative   — with $9 trillion in assets under management. At the start of 2021, leading investors openly recognize that climate change presents a massive systemic risk and a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity. But for the vast majority of firms, the real work of implementing climate and ESG integration is ahead. With increasing public, government and shareholder attention on climate, here are three ways sustainable finance leaders will emerge in 2021. 1. Integrate climate into core business A 2050 net-zero vision may be an inspiration, but it is not a plan. To realize its ambitions, Wall Street must integrate climate into its core business, evolving its approach to capital allocation and changing its relationships with carbon-intensive industries. Asset owners will demand no less of asset managers. This transition will require a far sharper focus on short-term, sector-specific benchmarks tied to decarbonization pathways — starting with the high-impact industries that matter most for solving the climate crisis.  For example, in the oil and gas sector, investors can assess progress and pace toward net-zero by monitoring companies’ methane emissions, flaring intensity, capital expenditures, lobbying and governance. Concentrating on five key metrics over a five-year period will allow investors to distinguish climate leaders from laggards. As with other core financial issues, monitoring metrics is just the start. To advance their climate commitments, investors should pair metrics with accountability. For asset managers, corporate climate performance should strongly inform investment stewardship, proxy voting and fund construction. For banks, climate benchmarks should influence loan eligibility, interest rates and debt covenants. Wall Street knows how to set quantitative targets and factor corporate performance and risk into financial decisions — now climate must become part of the new business as usual. 2. Align proxy voting with climate goals Advancing sustainable investing in 2021 will also necessitate a shift in proxy voting among the world’s largest asset managers. Last year, BlackRock and Vanguard voted against the vast majority of climate-related shareholder proposals filed with S&P 500 companies. BlackRock opposed 10 of 12 resolutions endorsed by the Climate Action 100+ , a coalition it joined last January, and later signaled an intention to support more climate votes in future years. There’s a better way. Both PIMCO and Legal and General Investment Management supported 100 percent of climate-related proposals filed with S&P 500 firms during last year’s proxy season, sending a powerful message to CEOs about the materiality of climate risk. As asset managers around the world unveil new ESG products and brand themselves as sustainability pioneers, proxy voting will become the litmus test for climate authenticity in finance for 2021.   3. Support regulations and policies required to decarbonize While the finance community has traditionally taken a hands-off approach to public policy advocacy, industry norms are changing . Investors understand that scaling the climate finance market depends on Paris-aligned government action, and some have proven willing to engage on issues ranging from carbon pricing to methane standards . With the incoming Biden administration prioritizing climate, investors should double down on climate-friendly advocacy , supporting both financial regulations and regulations of carbon-intensive sectors consistent with a 1.5 degrees Celsius scenario. As BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has emphasized, updated regulation of the financial system is needed to help monitor and manage economy-wide climate risks. As linchpins of capital markets, banks and asset managers have a crucial role to play in pushing federal agencies to safeguard the economy from climate-related shocks. For example, supporting rigorous mandatory climate risk disclosure from the SEC and appropriate ESG rulemaking from the Department of Labor can help investors build Paris-aligned portfolios. However, investor-led policy advocacy cannot end with financial regulation. As the Global Financial Markets Association noted , reaching net-zero by 2050 involves both financial regulation and environmental regulation of carbon-intensive sectors. The right mix of emission standards and incentives can slash pollution, drive technological innovation and improve the economics of low carbon investments. Given the rise of passive index investing, supporting government action in carbon-intensive sectors is essential, as leading financial firms favor continued investment over sector level divestment. In particular, policies and regulations to cut methane emissions and flaring, to accelerate vehicle electrification and to clean up the electric grid should be top priorities in 2021. Contributors Gabe Malek Topics Finance & Investing GreenFin Investing 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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How Wall Street can win on climate In 2021

Ambitious partnerships on climate action are taking root and bearing fruit

January 25, 2021 by  
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Ambitious partnerships on climate action are taking root and bearing fruit Dominic Waughray Mon, 01/25/2021 – 00:30 Buried beneath the dour daily headlines on COVID-19 infections, lockdowns and travel bans, the latest science about our planet released during 2020 makes for tough reading. Despite the reductions in air travel and the global economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, climate change sadly has not slowed down this past year. We have only until 2030 to  get things on track  for a net-zero and nature-positive economy — this should sharpen our minds for action. Unfortunately, as the economic effects of COVID-19 cause government debts to rise sharply, there is now much less public money available for activities like climate protection or ecosystem restoration — this should sharpen our appetite for innovation. How then to make the shift to a net-zero, nature-positive economy within the decade? If there is good news, it is this: The pandemic has shown that when our backs are against the wall, incredible things are possible. The partnerships catalyzed between governments, scientists and the private sector to produce a suite of new vaccines within 12 months are a remarkable testament to our ability to innovate at scale, fast, when we feel we must. The state of the planet 2020 was, along with 2016, the joint hottest year  on record ever — closing out the warmest decade on record ever. Global average temperatures are now about 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This is getting uncomfortably close to the 1.5 degrees C cap on average warming that governments pledged to aim for when they signed the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to avoid dangerous climate change. What  scientists observed during 2020  should worry us all. In the Arctic,  temperatures  are rising at twice the global rate.  Floods  affected more than 10 million people across China, India, Nepal, Japan and Bangladesh, and there were a record 29 tropical storms in the Atlantic, with a record 12 making landfall. Unprecedented wildfires raged across  Australia  and California, with the Australia fires releasing about three-quarters of the CO2 that the country’s industry emitted in 2018-19. The key for 2021 will be to supersize the good examples of these kinds of efforts and bring them together to help shape a decade of unprecedented partnership and action to 2030. Less visibly,  more than 80 percent of the ocean in 2020 suffered marine heatwaves , providing more energy for tropical storms, as well as impacting sea life and spoiling fish harvests for the billions of people who rely on the ocean for their food and jobs. In June 2020, the United Nations warned of an impending global food crisis, the worst seen for over 50 years, noting the ” perfect storm ” playing out between these environmental changes and the impact of COVID-19, especially for poorer countries. It is no surprise then that the World Economic Forum  Global Risks Report 2021  identifies climate action failure, extreme weather and biodiversity loss, alongside infectious diseases, as the top global risks for the next decade in terms of impact and likelihood. As with COVID-19, perhaps so with climate? The climate and nature crises are now an urgent mainstream issue for many voters, especially among Generation Z. Many  institutional investors  are also seeing the risks and are shifting their money accordingly. Given these voter and investor pressures, an unprecedented level of collaboration and innovation is required among leading “real economy” players from industry, technology and finance, to work together and with government and civil society and make big things happen, fast. Promisingly, for several years, especially since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, an ecosystem of ambitious partnerships for action on climate and nature has been taking root and growing, often with the help of the World Economic Forum. We are now able to start reaping the early rewards of this harvest. For example, the  Mission Possible Partnership  gets leading heavy-industry companies, banks and governments to create investment-grade “net-zero” sector strategies in seven key areas of the global economy — aviation, shipping, trucks, chemicals, steel aluminum and cement. More than 200 companies and organizations are so far involved. This effort has the potential to tackle 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The  Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP)  gets leading consumer goods companies, waste specialists and banks to work with governments to create investment-grade plans for tackling plastic waste pollution, and then trigger the finance and projects to make it happen. Launched in 2018 with the Canadian and UK Governments, GPAP is now helping countries across ASEAN and West Africa to tackle ocean plastic waste. GPAP in Indonesia is helping the government deliver its  national target  to reduce ocean plastic waste in Indonesia 70 percent by 2025 and to be plastic waste-free by 2040. 1T.org (trillion trees)  is a partnership platform that gets leading governments, businesses, technology companies, scientists and civil society groups to work together on initiatives that will conserve, restore and grow a trillion trees by 2030. Such “nature-based solutions” like 1t.org , undertaken alongside the decarbonization of energy and industry systems, can help provide up to  one-third of the climate solution  required by 2030 to keep on track with the Paris Climate Agreement. The  1t.org United States Chapter  was launched in August 2020; so far more than 26 U.S. companies, nonprofits and governments have pledged to conserve, restore and grow more than 1 billion trees across the contiguous U.S. by 2030, and committed to supporting actions such as mapping technology and carbon finance worth billions of dollars. In October 2020 the  One Trillion Trees Interagency Council  was established to be responsible for coordinating federal government support of 1T.org in the US and internationally. These and many other examples of public-private partnerships and alliances are helping to accelerate large scale, practical action for a net-zero, nature positive economy by 2030. They connect together states, cities, provinces, civil society groups, businesses, investors, innovators and technologists. They are also connecting business leaders, technology and finance within key industrial sectors and across global supply chains, as companies work with and learn from each other. And they are spurring leadership groups such as the  Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders  to engage with politicians and decision-makers, to further raise ambition and give business confidence to governments about the pathway ahead. Leaders in this CEO group already have net-zero commitments linked to companies with at least 1.5Gt of global emissions as disclosed in 2019. In an age where transparency and authenticity are key, these partnerships and alliances work to deliver their results in line with the latest science, with the companies involved increasingly adopting disclosure and measurement systems like science-based targets and environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) metrics, such as the common  framework being developed by the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council . Coming together for impact The key for 2021 will be to supersize the good examples of these kinds of efforts and bring them together to help shape a decade of unprecedented partnership and action to 2030. Imagine if we could bring many more companies, investors and governments together into these and other “high ambition” coalitions, underpinned by the science-based targets we must meet by 2030, and designed to drive the net-zero, nature-based transition we must create: this would bring to life a real economy that works for people and nature alike and for the long term. Indeed, one of our recent  Nature Action Agenda reports , identified that such a nature positive transition could generate 395 million new jobs by 2030. That is the kind of “real economy” win-win we sorely need in our COVID recovery plan. Inspired by the incredible public-private sprints on vaccine collaboration for COVID-19 and mandated by the universally accepted United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 17 on revitalizing global partnerships for sustainable development, we must ensure that such large-scale, public-private collaboration for ambitious climate, nature and food security outcomes become mainstream during 2021. These are the partnership vehicles that can bring together industry, investors and civil society to speed and scale impact, drawing on wide networks of innovation, expertise and resources from across the real economy, at a time when public funds are scarce. To spur these efforts, official climate and biodiversity events should more deeply involve government, industry, investors, civil society leaders and other key stakeholders, and be structured as annual “accelerators” focused on scaling the system change innovation, financing, job creation and partnerships required to ensure we are on track to achieve our 2030 goals. Encouragingly, the official climate COP 26 hosted by the UK in Glasgow in November seems to be leaning in this direction. Pull Quote The key for 2021 will be to supersize the good examples of these kinds of efforts and bring them together to help shape a decade of unprecedented partnership and action to 2030. Topics Climate Change Corporate Strategy 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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Ambitious partnerships on climate action are taking root and bearing fruit

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