Palestrantes: Chris Yalonis, VenturePad
Jose Daniel Convers, Biospen SAS
Brianna Kilcullen, Anact
Katherinne Romero, TECHO
Amanda Hsiung, U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce
Lesson: Businesses all around the world are leading the transition to a green economy. What we see is that the solutions are often already there, but they still need to be scaled up to a higher level.
This panel was opened through an introduction by Steven Carlson, who works as a Catalyzer and Interim U.S. Lead for Youth Climate Leaders (YCL). We are an international organization which trains and connects young people with opportunities to kickstart their careers in the field of climate change solutions
The moderator of this panel is Amanda Hsiung, who works for the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce. She is leading the conversation with Chris Yalonis, Jose Daniel Convers, Brianna Kilcullen, Nathaniel Cuper, Katherinne Romero and Amanda Hsiung. This specific panel will be about green businesses, we are going to hear from industries of all sorts, sizes and locations across the globe.
The first one to speak is Jose Daniel Convers who is going to talk about his company Biospen SAS. This company is the first country that passed through the certification of the U.S. Green Chamber. Biospen sells sustainable, economically, socially and environmentally responsible products that create new opportunities in different countries. They want to be a green alternative to traditional laboratories. Through green chemistry and biotechnology, Biospen specializes itself in the development of products. Their project of green chemicals generates a responsible consumption and production in home care products and is recognized as one of the 5 best green businesses in Latin America. The company creates green and clean products, guided by a policy of generating decent employment, gender equality and compliance with human rights throughout their supply chain. Biospen is also actively trying to protect wildlife and nature. Examples include the protection of 87.500 trees, the recycling of 50.000 kg of paper and getting 20.000 kg of plastics out of circulation. This is also why the kingfisher is their symbol, because this bird is in charge of protecting rivers and the aquatic environment! Biospan also wants to encourage the economic growth of vulnerable communities, especially women. Around 2 years ago they were invited by the United Nations to help women who suffered under the violence of the guerrilla. They try to help them to create companies and get out of the war and to get more involved in society. The company works with the theory of green chemistry, the purpose of this methodology is to design chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances. Biospen uses the 12 green chemistry principles:
1) Prevent waste,
2) Maximize atom energy,
3) Design less hazardous chemical synthesis,
4) Design safer chemicals and products,
5) Use safer solvents and reaction conditions,
6) Increase energy efficiency,
7) Use renewable feedstock,
8) avoid chemical derivatives,
9) use catalyst, not stoichiometric reagents,
10) Design for degradation,
11) Real-time analysis for pollution prevention and
12) inherently safer chemistry for accident prevention.
Especially important for Biospen is innovation through collaboration. José calls out to anyone to support small entrepreneurship projects that want to change the world and want to make this world a better place for our people and future generations!
The second speaker is Chris Yalonis from VenturePad. This company could best be represented as a co-working entrepreneurship hub. Venturepad offers a workspace and open private offices, the company has already managed to bring in around 450 companies and individuals! They also offer a lot of connections to other entrepreneurs. They have a culture of sustainability and are trying to improve social equity and delivering services to underserved communities and communities of colour. Venturepad was even awarded the Green Business of the Year in the year 2018 by their local community! The company also organizes the community’s largest sustainability conference of the year, called the ‘Sustainable Enterprise Conference’. Venturepad is all about a shared economy model. As opposed to offering long-term leases, they offer month-to-month and easy workspace options for companies, start-ups and individuals. The electricity comes from 100% renewable sources through a system called ‘Marin Clean Energy’. This energy system allows them to purchase electricity through a utility that is sourcing its electricity through solar, bio, hydro and wind. VenturePad is also actively trying to reduce their footprint through bike rides, walking and electric vehicles. To continue, the company is also trying to eliminate plastics through recycling materials and compost locally at the office. It allows them to divert their waste for 95%! Another mentionable aspect is the furnishment made out of upcycled wood and bamboo, just like the paperless operations of the company. VenturePad also has ongoing programs for the community and members to promote social equity and sustainable practices. Chris explains Venture Pad’s sustainable business case for sustainable practices through some data that has been gathered. VenturePad found that people could save operational cost through deploying sustainable technologies or efficiency measures (e.g. saving water), that 73% of corporate leaders believe that customers are attracted to sustainable companies, that 42% of the consumers is willing to pay extra for products and services from sustainable companies, that 31,5% of the people nowadays want to work for a company that makes a positive contribution to society, and that employees are more productive when they are in healthy buildings. Venturepad especially looks at the at the 4 W’s of efficiency: Watts (e.g. install LED’s), Wheels (e.g. compressed workweeks/flextime work), Waste (e.g. minimize packaging, using renewable resources) and Water (e.g. water-less landscaping). They have a climate action plan for their county called Drawdown Marin, based on Paul Hawken seminal book ‘Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming’, which looks at the 100 most effective technologies and tools to reduce carbon emissions and draw carbon out of the atmosphere. Chris encourages everyone to see how they can make a positive impact, either through their local government or through non-profit companies or organizations and educational groups. If you would like to better understand how you can turn your organization into more sustainable practices or how you can get active in the climate actions plans in your community, Chris invites you to reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The next panellist is Brianna Kilcullen, the founder of Anact, which is short for the ‘Simple Act of Creating an Impact’. Their latest act has been to disrupt the textile and home goods industry by creating a sustainable towel. Brianna has a lot of experience, she worked in more than 100 factories all over the world, which made her see how negative and harmful the textile industry is to people and the planet. Brianna talks about this moment when she was working in El Salvador and she saw the factory floor with all the workers and resources from all over the world (e.g. yarns from Europe and fabrics from Asia), which made her realize that we have no idea about our global footprint through these global supply chains when we are innocently buying clothes. Until today, we are also not designing textiles for life yet through a circular model, but through a linear model (produce-use-dispose). This is part of the reason why she started Anact. Something she always tries to share with people that are implementing sustainable initiatives is that you don’t need to have a title or a certain job role. It’s all about the mindset, you don’t have to wait, it starts with you! The towel that Anact designed is made out of 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton. Brianna chose hemp because it naturally resists the growth of bacteria and because it is more sustainable (e.g. more water-efficient). Brianna designed it when she was living in San Diego and she didn’t have a washer or dryer, which resulted in a ‘mildewy’ smell of the towels. As there were no sustainable options yet for her, she decided to design her own product connected to the 17 SDGs. All of the products on the website show the impact in regards to water savings and all of the other savings that they had. Today, Anact has saved over 3 Olympic size pools of water!! Right now they are doing a carbon neutral pilot program, where you can direct or redirect to certain carbon offsetting programs through each purchase. Anact also wants to connect with other activists, not only in the textile industry, but across different industries. An example is a drive-in event about the Black Lives Matter movement to raise awareness about other changemakers and their social-environmental platforms that they are tackling. Brianna finishes with some advices: 1) Look for jobs where you can apply a sustainability mindset, 2) Ask where your clothes come from, 3) Buy local and sustainable and 4) You can’t control others, but you can control yourself, and 5) watch the documentary ‘The True Cost’, about the impact of the textile industry. If you are interested to be a volunteer, you can send Brianna an email at email@example.com
The second to last panellist is Nathaniel Cuper, the founder and CEO of the company Patagonian Cells. This company is trying to rediscover and produce the natural ingredients that we use in our everyday products, but in a sustainable way. Nathaniel shows a picture of a field of lavender, a product that is used in a lot in fragrances, soaps, food supplements, drugs and perfumes. All these products use plant ingredients, these are very small molecules that enhance our health/bodies and we all love them: They make us feel good, pretty, smell good and improve our health! The problem that we are currently facing today is the global and increasing demand. In Order to keep up with the consumption, we are currently extracting millions of tons of plants from the earth. This extraction does not only imply huge amounts of land, but also water, pesticides and plant extinction. There are over 15.000 plants at risk of extinction because we use the products that we love every day! So what if we could change the way we grow these ingredients? We need to find a smarter, and especially cleaner way to grow the plant-based ingredients that we need for our products. Patagonian Cells believes in the power of nature, in the power of these plant cells. The plants possess special molecules called ‘plant stem cells’, we can use these cells through the use of biotechnology to produce exactly what the market needs. So how can we make a green business out of this? We could go from traditional agriculture with large areas of land to cellular agriculture. Instead of using a lot of land, water and pesticides, we can now just take one plant and grow the molecules we want in a petri dish in the laboratory. These molecules are growing quite easily, which makes it easy to scale up the production to keep up with the demand in a sustainable way. Society could make the step from ‘big resource-intensive agriculture’ to cellular agriculture. The purpose of Patagonian Cells is to increase our health and to protect nature. The company believes that if we make this biotechnology mainstream, we can save the natural world! This is especially important since we don’t know the consequences yet of losing certain plant species, so it’s time to do something!! Nathaniel finishes his part with an invitation for everyone interested to share some ideas or exchange information to send a message to: Nathaniel@patagoniancells.com.
The last one to speak is Katherinne Romero, she works for TECHO. She is a professional in efficiency and construction. She is also a volunteer leader of communication in environmental and sustainable development program in a Colombian NGO and associated consultant at the Colombian Green Chamber. Today she is going to explain one case about a project of TECHO in Botogá. The program integrates sustainable practices with volunteer programs in different areas around the city. The program receives financial help from companies with the same purpose, that is, to reduce poverty and promote climate action in informal settlements. The environmental and developmental program of TECHO is making projects focussed in waste management, food security, water management, the right to the city and environmental education. The program has been organized with 80-90 people with combined activities in both community and management. For example, small groups of people are supporting communities, communications, volunteer management, fundraising and thematic trainings. The projects are mainly focussed on poverty, qualityeducation, genderequality, sustainablecities/communities, cleanwater/sanitation, and climateaction. Specific examples of projects include: Eco walls. gardens, reforestation, waste management, circular economy and ecotourism. These programs are a mixture of not only climate action, but also of ecosystem values and social values. If anyone is interested in supporting one of these projects, Katherinne suggests you to contact the Executive Director of TECHO Colombia!
About the Day of the Climate Professional:
The Day of the Climate Professional (DCP), celebrated on November 24, is an annual date to celebrate and catalyse the professionals accelerating solutions to the climate crisis. The 2020 inaugural edition was marked by an all-day virtual summit—networking activities, workshops, keynote presentations, interactive Q&As, and more—fostering reflections and actions on the interdisciplinary of climate change, its urgency, and the importance of working to tackle it through varied professions and sectors of society. Learn More.