Opinion on Earth Day

So Earth Day is today. A little history about Earth Day, Earth Day was initially held in Philadelphia. It was initiated by a group of Penn students and gathered a crowd of 30,000 around Fairmount Water Work. All over the world today, people are looking to increase the awareness of the environment.

But in my mind, I feel that today should not be a celebration, it should be a memorial day. Year after year our environment seems to get worse. We are way better at doing harm compare to doing good. Yes, we are doing good. But we are so slow compare to how fast we are consuming and harming the earth.

Thus I often like to look at today from the same perspective I look at Memorial Day. I like to go to a local park and just sit there in the spring weather and look at the surrounding to pay my respect.

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Nature’s Fortune – How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature

Mark Tereck from The Nature Conservancy recently published the book, “Nature’s Fortune – How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.” He stop by University of Pennsylvania to talk about his story and how Nature is truly a Fortune for us. Nature is interesting, it often provide more than it needs and because of this, Mark believe that nature is currently undervalued and that by speaking about environmental down into dollars and cents, he hopes to increase the value of nature and increase public awareness.

Mark’s path in the environmental sector is quite unique. He didn’t start on the environmental path until relatively late. After working in Goldman Sachs for 24 years, he had the opportunity to lead TNC to help the organization by providing a different perspective. So why would TNC hire a business person?

The environmental sector is great. Things gets done mostly by these large think tank and research based non-profits. The impacts of the environmental sector are strong and their influence in business, government, and local community is something that most people undermine. Non-profits such as TNC are founded based on donation. It is amazing how much money is provided for these organizations and there are a lot. People donate to non-profits for various reasons. People who want to see their local stream cleaned will donate to an organization that can help clean up the stream. People who want to help reduce deforestation will donate to organizations that work in the forestry industry.

But are these environmental non-profits doing all that they can? Maybe, but can they do more? Yes. Mark believes that the current situation with environmental non-profit has a strategy based on research and based on philanthropy. TNC hired Mark seven years ago because they believe that it is time to look at the environmental issues from a different perspective. TNC has an annual budget of 6 million dollars and as a non-profit, it is hard to start at the beginning of the year with zero dollars.

Environmental non-profits not only need new strategy but also need more talent and more resource. Talent and resource all need money. A newly graduate student who has the option to either join a non-profit or a private company will often choose the private company because private company can give the individual more.

Nature also needs a new slogan. The slogan that we need to protect the environment for our future generation may draw some attentions, but it will not get enough action to occur. Mark believes that by placing a dollar value on nature, people will not only pay attention but they will be willing to do something about it.

Mark gave one example, which is also in his book, on water management in Quito Ecuador. TNC propose to the water company in Quito who wants to clean up its water quality and manage flooding to build green infrastructures instead of gray infrastructure. TNC approach the company through a business case and not a philanthropic case. The term that Mark use is venture philanthropy. TNC and the water company started with just cleaning upstream water source, they planted more trees to slow down the runoff, and they created a protected area upstream and go the agriculture sector upstream to support the cause. Soon after, private sectors ranging from beverage industry to consumer goods joined the cause because they saw the returns on the investment.

Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive By Investing in Nature -

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High performing companies led by high performing leaders who… A skype conversation with Jason Jennings

I have the pleasure of meeting Jason Jennings, author of Think Big Act Small and The Reinventors – How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change, as well as various books on corporate strategy and logic on the topic of 5 top leadership secrets.

Jason started off the conversation with the claim that these five secrets are not just based on his perspective or that of his team. It is based on research and data that he collected; based on the research of 220 thousand companies, 11 thousand CEOs and business owners, tons and tons of interview transcripts and tons more of data.

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Campbell and Water Sustainability

Campbell, THE tomato company, is a forward thinking company that is tackling sustainability. It is hard to imagine that Campbell was thinking about sustainability since 1930. Campbell was one of the first company to hire a full time environmental professional in 1950. The current wastewater strategy that Campbell is working with has its foundations dating back to the 30’s.

Campbell is focusing on 5 major subjects of sustainability. Water, Electricity, waste, agriculture, and package material. With the baseline of 2007 for these subjects, Campbell is trying to achieve a very rigorous goal for 2020 in each of the 5 categories. Two main focuses that Campbell is trying to achieve is in agriculture and packaging. Packaging is one major part of the company. In 2013, Campbell was able to reduce 20,662,000 pounds of packaging material compare to 2012. Since 2009, a total of 65,000,000 pounds of material were reduced.

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Women and Environmental Leadership in Middle East – Rahilla Zafar

As an environmental student, often times I overlook the fact that not everyone is on the same page as me when it comes to environmental issues. I recently conducted a survey on student’s perspective on environmental sustainability and found that less than 30% of students at research institutes such as Penn actually understand what corporate sustainability means. It is often shocking to realize that like any professional fields, there are experts in the field and there is everyone else.

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sustainability from a verb to a noun

Sustainability is slowly transformed from a verb into now a noun. This transformation has positives and negatives. Sustainability as a noun allows it to have a place similar to that of health and safety in an organization. It can be made into a department, can be a core value of a company, a finance driving machine in some perspectives. But sustainability as a noun lose the perks of being a verb. Sustainability as a verb address the process more than the topic. Sustainability is so much engraved as a corporate value now that it is hard to move away from it.

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Challenges in BIg Data – bottlenecks after bottleneck after bottleneck. Collaboration, Technology, and Human Behavior

Data is powerful. The entire morning, I have been learning that data drives changes, it drives policies and addresses corporate policies. But data can also be problems. There are various challenges that big data can bring about. Data quantity and quality is highly distributed data source. Just think of one data point. How much water is a specific building using? Well the city has a meter, the company has a set fee, and the individual measures the water out of the faucet. Will these three numbers be the same? Well no. These data are all different and there are several bottlenecks in big data. Corporation seems like a key perspective.
How do two data source who uses different methods of data collection with different framework be compared? Is there some way to say that your data is better than mine or that mine data is more precise than yours? The grid system, like the smart energy grid. Many utilities and municipals are slowly developing their own smart grid. But is it really smart to develop these ideas separately? Would it cause a slow down if everyone needs to get together into a building to come up with the baseline?

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