Take sustainability action where you are

Thought leaders encourage environmental protection at World Environment Day panel

Forest mist nature

Since 1974, the United Nations has encouraged environmental awareness and protection every June 5 on World Environment Day. 

As part of the global observance, Arizona State University’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability sponsored a roundtable discussion between corporate thought leaders on Friday called "Taking Action Where You Are."

Google Sustainability Officer Kate Brandt leads sustainability across the search engine giant's worldwide operations, products and supply chain. Previously, she served as the nation's first chief sustainability officer, promoting sustainability across all U.S. government operations.

Google tries to build sustainability into everything they do, Brandt said. They are the only major company operating as a carbon neutral business, and they have built $7 billion in clean infrastructure like data centers.

“We have gained some very interesting insights,” Brandt said.

From Google’s point of view, awareness is spreading. Brandt cited a 4,000% increase in searches for “how to lead a sustainable life.”

CaSondra Devine is head of enterprise sustainability at Wells Fargo and Company. She leads a team that works with key stakeholder groups to deepen the integration of sustainability as a core business practice across Wells Fargo and throughout the communities where they work and live.

Wells Fargo is one of the nation’s largest investors in real estate.

“The more we can do individually, the bigger an impact we will have collectively,” Devine said, citing practices like turning off electricity when you go to sleep.

Devine also commented that about a third of all food is wasted every year. “What can we do to minimize that?” she asked. “All these things in sustainability make an impact together.”

Bruno Sarda is an ASU faculty member in the School of Sustainability and president of the top climate research provider in the world. He was named one of the "most influential sustainability voices in America" by the Guardian and was also chosen by Environmental Leader as one of the top 50 sustainability leaders in the U.S. for 2017.

Sarda is also the president of CDP North America, an international nonprofit that drives companies and governments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard water resources and protect forests. Working with institutional investors with assets of $96 trillion, CDP leverages investor and buyer power to motivate companies to disclose and manage their environmental impacts. More than 7,000 companies with more than 50% of global market capitalization — “anything smaller than a country, basically,” Sarda said — disclosed environmental data through CDP in 2018.

“At the end of the day, businesses are only as resilient as the places we do business in,” Sarda said.

The discussion concluded with an announcement by Devine and Christopher Boone, dean and professor at the School of Sustainability, on a new sustainability project presented by Wells Fargo and powered by ASU.

Top image from Pixabay

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