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Earth Day 2019: Thoughts from ESG Leaders

For this year's Earth Day, we asked various ESG leaders about their thoughts on April 22 - here are their perspectives.
By Leon Kaye
For this year's Earth Day, we asked various ESG leaders about their thoughts on April 22 - here are their perspectives.

For this year's Earth Day, we asked various ESG leaders about their thoughts on April 22 - here are their perspectives.

We made a decision here at TriplePundit not to have special “Earth Day Coverage,” as we believe every day should be one in which we are conscious about our impact on people and the planet. We did, however, ask various leaders in the ESG (environmental, social and governance) sector for their thoughts about today. And with that, let their words speak for themselves:

“Every Earth Day is important, a reminder of the enormous and growing pressure that our way of life places upon our one planet. But this one really stands out for three reasons. Firstly, we’ve gone through a tipping point of scientific evidence, definitive proof of the climatic, pollution and biodiversity harm that we are causing. Next, we have a response from people that’s saying enough is enough, we need profound change, whether through protest or the ballot box. Finally, we are just months away from the start of the 2020s, the decade where we must make a conscious choice to scale rapidly the sustainable solutions and technologies (from renewables to diet, a circular economy to wellbeing, preventing deforestation to embracing human rights) that exist already and bend the arc of our pathway to a sustainable one.”

- Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business Plan A, Marks & Spencer

“First: environmental sustainability challenges are generally shared across an industry leading to common practices and shared concerns. The next logical step is collaborative partnerships that can scale solutions through the supply chain. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste is a classic example that combines expertise and resources across a supply chain for potentially substantive impact. Second, innovative partnerships that turn one company’s waste into another company’s asset is another opportunity to invent “we” solutions. For example, Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, has partnered with Dominion Energy to form Align Renewable Natural Gas to capture methane released by hogs.”

- Barie Carmichael, Senior Counselor, APCO Worldwide; Batten Fellow, Darden School of Business University of Virginia, Co-Author, Reset: Business and Society in the New Social Landscape 

“This Earth Day, I'm reflecting on the statistic that less than 3 percent of philanthropic giving in the U.S. goes to protecting the environment. In the face of climate change, the rollback of protections for public lands, and threats to critical ecosystems like coral reefs and our oceans, we have a role to play, from our long-standing corporate sustainability agenda and commitment to responsible sourcing, to our strategic philanthropy to support marine conservation and abandoned mine reclamation. But the sheer magnitude of today’s challenges requires collaboration. No one funder, nonprofit, government or company alone can protect our oceans, stabilize our climate, or conserve our wild places. I urge leaders in business, philanthropy and government to consider how they can best sustain the Earth's natural environment—and put both their sustainability practices and philanthropic dollars towards strategic partnership to make a long-term, meaningful impact.”

- Anisa Kamadoli Costa, Chairman and President of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation;| Chief Sustainability Officer at Tiffany & Co.

“As a risk pro, director and advisor, my attention is on the $30 trillion invested in ESG for a sustainable future. From climate change to human capital, investors understand that the modern corporation has materiality coming from emerging risks. I recently returned from Paris where the Center of Safety & Health Sustainability held a summit on focusing and disclosing people’s safety in the workplace sustainability agenda. As much as we named it “Earth Day,” it really is people’s day—our air, water, soil and well-being all depend on a healthy earth. Directors are working to meet these new expectations from activism from investors, employees, clients and more. This activism will move the earth and people back to a healthy state of well-being.”

- Fay Feeney, CEO, Risk for Good

“Earth Day 2019. It’s unfathomable to me to see where are today given all the promises that were made at Rio+20 back in 2012 ... But I am optimistic when I see the hundreds of thousands of youth around the world standing up for change and doing so loudly. The relatively new public awareness about the detrimental problems caused [by] plastic pollution is also reassuring. And hearing Noble Prize nominee Greta Thunberg’s passionate plea gives me hope. In January at Davos, she told a silenced room that she wants leaders to 'behave like our house is on fire, because it is.' And we all must wake up to this fact BEFORE 2020.”

- Susan McPherson, Founder and CEO, McPherson Strategies, a social good and corporate responsibility consulting firm.

Image credit: Suzy Hazelwood/Pexels

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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