In an indoor Roman theater, the M.S. Sustainability Management Student Association of Columbia University (SUMASA) hosted a full house event at Casa Italiana during its annual sustainability symposium, for fifth consecutive year.
For Driving Sustainability Who’s Responsible?, a hands-full of panelists addressed the advances NYC’s had in the enhancement of the city’s resiliency and the most recent ideas on innovation and corporate social responsibility.
These were some of the most interesting and discussed ideas during the all-day event:
Steven Cohen, Executive Director at The Earth Institute of Columbia University, emphasized on how much more we need to know about the planet to be able to guarantee a sustainable living. “We need to protect nature for our own sake. It’s not just to defend all plants and animal rights, it’s not just for the ecosystem. It’s also for us, because we depend on them”, he added.
He considered environment protection and sustainability management as key elements in economy growth in a short term and the development of managers and leaders in these areas as a responsibility of today educational system and academia.
“We need to develop a new way to work this system, to manage the world, and it’s obvious that we can’t do things like we have been doing them all this time”, he explained.
During the Reshaping Corporate Innovation panel, the VP for Delos Solutions and Living, Peter Smith, stated Millennial employees are asking more from companies and work places, based on their interest, most likely. related to the “green movement”.
Marisa Buchanan, ED Sustainable Finance at JP Morgan Chase, added international and local norms, discussions and regulations drive corporate behavior, which “leads to the need of transparency, even for service providers”.
Senior Director Global Sustainability for BD, Ellen Kondracki, considered corporate social responsibility has been focusing in a “four wall strategy: energy efficiency, wast reduction, water use efficiency, employee awareness on sustainability. Futher? Yes, go look outside.”
Ralph Bianculli, Jr., Managing Director at Emerald Brand, considered corps are in an “early inflection point” when it comes to the adaptation of private sector to sustainable values. “There’s not enough sense of urgency. Ether you go for the social manner or the environmental one, sustainability comes first and we can do good on both ways.”
Advancing Resilient Cities Panel
As interesting and entertaining as Steve Clemons himself, the Editor-at-Large of The Atlantic moderated the panel to be considered the best part of the event.
During the discussion, the Chief Sustainability Officer for MTA-Bus section, Collette Ericsson, expressed NYC residents have “one of the lowest carbon footprint, if you use public transportation” and put in advance that NYC buses will go electric next year, hoping to have heard citizens put pressure at the Governor’s office on the carbon emissions reduction. “Customers are just not asking for it.”
While Miguel Sossa, Co-lead Smart Cities NA at Accenture, explained that New Yorkers will not address these types of situations until their needs have been addressed.
“In order to make people understand sustainability and think about this you have to connect with them, acknowledge their needs and blend your priorities in the matter. Talk to them about their problem and solve it; not a bigger, a global issue.”, he determined.
Allen Herhkowitz, President for Green Sports Alliance, spoke about the need to address sustainability based on science but not as a scientific matter. “17% of the US’ population is interested in science. More then 60% is interested in sports.” On infrastructure, Allen considered NYC has to build new and renovate thinking of Climate Change and Resiliency.
Sossa and Amanda Stevens, Manager in Environmental Research for NYSERDA, emphasized the urgency to push people to think further to mitigate the out coming shock and stress from human activities and natural disasters.
Of common interest, they considered Latinos and Hispanic populations are more interested in sustainability and are active members in corp and governmental sectors.