Have you noticed that every year we seem to be breaking more weather records (hottest day, hottest month, coldest month, wettest month etc.)? Extreme weather is becoming more frequent, even to the point that in 2020, we ran out of names to give hurricanes that ravaged various coasts around the world, and in 2019, the city of Cape Town had one month of water reserves left before becoming the first city to ever run out of water, when fortunately, the drought finally ended. We are all aware of the issues… but what can we do to help?
The ‘Two Degrees Celsius Limit'
In 2009, the “Two Degrees Celsius Limit”, was agreed upon at the UN Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen. According to the Copenhagen Accord, preventing the earth from warming by more than two degrees Celsius would require the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions within 141 nations and in more than 950 businesses.
On paper, this looks great. But what does it mean for us “mere mortals”? As the World Economic Forum points out the “business has a vital role to play in curbing its effects by limiting carbon emissions”, but success isn’t just about action from individual companies. To truly work, this transformation needs to also be incorporated at a personal level. As business leaders or as employees, we can all play an important role in respecting the '2-degree Celsius limit'.
5 ways to make a difference
Here are 5 ways in which we, as individuals, can make a difference:
1. Creating Awareness:
Awareness is the foundation to achieve any kind of transformation or change. Being aware of the issue, the situation and the options is an important part in the path towards action in lowering the greenhouse gas emissions. Knowledge is key in creating this awareness!
In today’s digital age, where information is readily available, awareness is fortunately growing through social media and other activities. Greta Thunberg for example has single-handedly made a massive impact in this regard. However, we are not all Greta’s, and yet we can do a lot as well. Many community engagement activities exist where you can get educated and educate others.
Some tips you can consider:
- Many communities organize “Clean Up” volunteering days where you can help pick up trash along the side of the road, to make the environment less toxic and polluted. You could also organize this as a company “team-building” activity in the light of for example Earth Day or the Sustainable Development Week.
- Define SDG/Climate related goals for your company in which your team/employees can actively contribute. Get everyone to define their own personal SDG/Climate related goal that contributes to the overall company SDG/Climate goals and make it part of the evaluation process.
- Based on the SDG/Climate related goals above try to “gamify” the experience, by creating SDG challenges/competitions and monitor the results for your company, in your team, for yourself.
2. Changing your mindset:
With the aim of successfully moving towards a low carbon future, we need to fundamentally rethink our approach to business. A paradigm mindset shift needs to take place. And as mentioned above, it all starts with awareness. From awareness, actions will develop. Once actions are implemented the mindset will change and new habits will form.
Some tips that you can implement at work to create new environmentally friendly habits:
- use less paper and print smarter,
- switch off the lights when leaving for a longer period and unplug laptop chargers,
- invest in office plants,
- change the way you commute: car-pooling, ride-shares, electronic cars, bikes, trains, bus, and even zoom calls instead of driving can all help make a difference,
- buy eco-friendly office supplies,
- support green vendors.
3. Limiting your carbon footprint:
There are so many innovative new ideas being developed every day in places all around the world, that by looking outside of the traditional scope, and working without boundaries, you will realize how many of these innovative ideas regarding low-carbon products, processes, and technologies can be adopted and implemented in your own company.
No matter what your business is or does, new processes can be created, adapted or developed to limit your carbon footprint, especially if you work together within the company.
Tips to achieve this:
- build lean business processes and set up continuous improvement as a goal,
- cut out any unnecessary transportation routes and buy flights using websites such as FlyGRN,
- use Scrum or Kanban processes to improve effectiveness and sustainability of the logistics processes,
- make sure that waste materials are divided in the proper way and create ‘recycle’ waste bins around your company,
- use apps like Too Good To Go to rescue food waste.
4. Making technology your friend:
An increasing number of technological creations are being developed to help the environment. Becoming aware of what is available and learning how to use such technologies and data to manage natural resources in a more sustainable way, can make a huge difference in working towards the “2-degree Celsius Limit”.
Some of the tips to consider:
- invest in electric cars and passive buildings,
- use apps like Constellation, Eco-eye or My Earth to save electricity and utilities,
- use smart thermostats which allow you to control the heating and air conditioning,
- make more use of meeting technologies like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet to limit business trips.
5. Moving towards sustainable-friendly investments:
The investment world is also changing. An increasing amount of banks are making sustainable efforts or offering a sustainably focused alternative investment option. Supporting companies that are trying to find new ways to invest private-sector money in the low-carbon economy can also encourage other companies to follow suit, and then it becomes a simple question of demand and supply.
Some tips of companies that are working on this:
- invest and work with companies like Triodos bank here in the Netherlands – which wants to ensure a more positive impact on people and society through responsible banking, or globally, by checking out the list of 217 signatories that have signed up to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking.
- use TreeClicks browser extension to invest in tree planting projects.
Jane Goodall summarized it perfectly in her quote: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” So, our challenge to you is to decide to make a difference… take up the challenge and implement some of these tips in your own working environments!
Do you want to deepen your knowledge?
If you would like to know more about these types of initiatives on a deeper level, you can always consider delving further into this topic through an additional degree or short course. At MSM we offer various alternatives, depending on your situation:
- The Master in Management: although a generalist degree aimed at young high potentials, the program has a strong sustainability element both in the curriculum (e.g. Sustainability-focused Group Project) and extra-curricular SDG-related student competitions.
- The MSM MBA goes even deeper into this topic, not only offering the same extra-curricular SDG-related student competitions, but also offering courses and assignments related to CSR and sustainability throughout the curriculum. In addition, the MBA students can focus their final thesis project on a sustainability related issue via a consulting project for a company. The MSM MBA also includes a Specialization Phase, of which one of the specialization themes includes International Business and Sustainable Development.
- This MSM MBA specialization in International Business and Sustainable Development is a 2-week intense course, composed of 4 modules, and can also be taken as a “summer course” separately, if you don’t have the time, financial means or ambition to invest in a full MBA right now.
If you want to know more about what MSM is doing to make an impact, or if you want to read more about MSM’s sustainability related activities, you can do so via our MSM PRME Report.
You can also check out our blog section on the website in which we regularly cover SDG related blogs highlighting MSM’s SDG related activities in our education and capacity building projects, and SDG related activities by our students and alumni.
SDG Change-Maker Scholarship
If you are already very sustainably oriented, it is worthwhile noting that since this year, MSM has created an MSM SDG Change-Maker Scholarship. You can find more information regarding this scholarship via this link. If you would like more information about MSM, our programs or our scholarships, please don’t hesitate to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org