Earth Week Chronicles: Investor Engagement During Earth Week

Earth Day serves as a yearly reminder of our impact on the environment and the pressing need to invest in a sustainable future. Amidst a changing climate (literally and figuratively), we as a people must deepen our understanding of our role in addressing these challenges urgently. 2023’s Earth Week: “Investing in Our Planet” was designed to drive this awakening, with EARTHDAY.ORG’s Earth Day Live webinars bringing leaders together, emphasizing crucial environmental issues, and actionable solutions.

EARTHDAY.ORG’s Earth Week began with innovative solutions addressing the fashion industry’s waste crisis, stressing a circular economy and textile recycling to reduce production. Co-founder of Sortile Constanza Gomez showcased a tool for efficiency when identifying the composition of clothes, and President of Circ Pete Majeranowski presented his groundbreaking molecular recycling technology.

Driving Green Innovation

Governments globally enacted significant green policies in 2022, yet most are not on track for greenhouse gas (GHG) neutrality by 2050. Below are a few examples of how governments, businesses, and citizens can help push green innovation and practices.

  • The private sector should focus on creating value for both their organizations and society through green innovation and practices, as they possess the capability to bring about significant and rapid change.
  • Governments should incentivize citizens, businesses, and institutions to drive innovation and support public interests, creating a foundation for a sustainable global economy. Green energy initiatives improve energy security and address necessary environmental challenges in combating climate change.
  • As voters and consumers, individual citizens are crucial in promoting sustainable solutions across sectors. Their shared will and voice are vital for driving essential climate change mitigation, restoration, and adaptation efforts.

During last year’s Earth Week, U.S. government officials and environmental advocates convened to stress sustainability, environmental law integration, and the importance of civic engagement for fair climate solutions. Real-life examples such as The Earth Bill, were shared by representatives like Sophie Phillips, Ravinder Bhalla, and Robert Hogan, highlighting a comprehensive approach to invest in our planet.

Kathleen Rogers, Johnny Dabrowski, and Max Falcone from EARTHDAY.ORG met with leaders from Earth Uprising, COP 28, Education International, and Global Partnerships for Education (GPE) to emphasize that education is central to tackling climate change. 

2023 Earth Week recap

Earth Week 2023 was all about investing in our planet, with a focus on engaging governments, institutions, businesses, and citizens to do their part. Five themes were established:

  1. Biodiversity

Addressing biodiversity loss and climate change goes hand in hand, providing essential services like food, medicine, and economic value. Ecosystems also play a vital role in regulating climate, natural hazards, and other environmental factors, highlighting the importance of preserving nature. 

While climate change could become the primary driver of biodiversity loss if global warming exceeds 2°C, recent initiatives like COP15 have brought more attention to these issues, pushing governments and communities to prioritize nature conservation and restoration.

  • Water – End Plastics 

Plastic pollution is pervasive across the globe, posing threats to wildlife and potentially human health. Efforts are underway for an UN-negotiated treaty to address this issue. In the ocean, plastic waste breaks down into tiny particles called microplastics due to factors like sunlight, wind, and waves. These microplastics are found globally and are consumed by fish and other seafood meant for humans, impacting nearly 700 species, and causing fatalities from ingestion or entanglement. 

  • Energy – Climate Literacy 

Conserving energy in offices helps combat climate change by lowering overall energy use and carbon emissions. This reduced reliance on fossil fuels slows global warming and its impacts like rising sea levels and extreme weather.

  • Waste – Global Clean-Up

The World Bank predicts a 70 percent surge in yearly waste production by 2050. Globally, 11.2 billion tons of solid waste are gathered annually. On average, each person generates about 4.4 pounds of solid waste daily, with office items like coffee cups, Styrofoam plates, and non-recyclable plastics being significant contributors.

  • Food

Agriculture has a notable environmental footprint, with substantial freshwater use, high GHG emissions, extensive land requirements, and potential land degradation affecting biodiversity. Around 70 percent of global freshwater withdrawals, approximately 26 percent of GHG emissions, and roughly half of habitable land are linked to agriculture, leading to significant land use changes from natural to agricultural areas.

Disregarding food-related emissions undermines our efforts to meet global climate targets. 

Even if we were to eliminate non-food-related emissions entirely starting tomorrow, emissions solely from food production could still pose a challenge in limiting temperature rise to below 1.5°C.

Contrary to the notion that shifting to a plant-based diet would increase land use for crops, three-quarters of agricultural land serve livestock needs, yielding only 17 percent of global calories and 38 protein of protein. The remaining quarter for human-consumption provides the bulk of calories and protein, indicating that reducing livestock production would reduce land usage while maintaining nutritional value.

Expanding agricultural land diminishes biodiversity, driven not only by demand but also by the adverse effects of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Soil health, vital for carbon sequestration and combating climate change, relies on diverse species within the ecosystem.

While progress has been made in enhancing global environmental literacy, there’s still much work needed, underlining the importance of global leaders investing in education to foster #green jobs and economies worldwide.