Man and woman holding rubbish from ocean

Man and woman holding rubbish from ocean

Marcus Eriksen is at the cutting edge of research and raising awareness about the interaction between natural ocean phenomena with microplastic pollution. Trudy Ross speaks with him about the issues, challenges and possible solutions.

LUX: What inspired you to start 5 Gyres and dedicate your work to addressing plastic pollution in our oceans?

Markus Eriksen: In 2003, I made good on a promise to myself to one day raft the Mississippi river. I grew up near the river, and always dreamed of doing that, but when I did, I saw an unending trail of plastic pollution, flowing down America’s greatest watershed out to sea. Within a month of returning from the river, I landed a job working with Captain Charles Moore, the man who discovered the great Pacific garbage patch. Three years later, I proposed to my wife Anna Cummins while we were aboard Captain Moore’s research vessel in the middle of the north pacific garbage patch. From there, Anna and I began the 5 Gyres Institute with the goal of researching the world’s oceans to answer some big questions. How much trash is in the global ocean, where is it accumulating, what is the impact on other living things, and what can we do about it?

LUX: Could you explain what gyres are and how they relate to the issue of plastic pollution?

ME: Oceanic Gyres are normal features of the ocean defined by large-scale circulating currents. There are 11 oceanic gyres, with five of them being the subtropical gyres. That’s where floating plastic trash accumulates. The currents are driven by wind, and in the northern hemisphere they rotate clockwise, while in the southern hemisphere they rotate counterclockwise. The subtropical gyres create high-pressure systems in the middle, where the wind and waves slow down and trash accumulates. Those are what we call the garbage patches, but I would call them a Plastic Smog instead.

LUX: You have done an enormous amount of work combating the use of microbeads. Can you tell us more about this and why it is such a crucial part of your mission?

ME: In 2012, I worked with a colleague, Sherri Mason, to document floating plastics in the great lakes. What we found were abundant microbeads, which was the first evidence of microbeads documented in aquatic habitats. The publish paper became the foundation for a national campaign to rid consumer products of microbeads. We work with dozens of organizations, sharing videos, photos and press releases. We worked with Tulane law school in New Orleans to produce sample federal legislation to ban microbeads. Soon we got two senators to put a federal bill in front of President Obama, which he signed into law the 2015 Microbead-free Waters Act. We went from science to a policy solution in two years. This provided a great example for everyone worldwide about how powerful we can be when we work together toward a single goal. That successful campaign still gets referenced today as we work to eliminate single-use plastics everywhere.

LUX: You recently published a study revealing a global estimate for plastic in the oceans. How did you go about conducting this research and what did you find?

ME: We published this study in early April that identified 170 trillion particles of microplastics in the global ocean. It was a 40 year trend analysis which showed an exponential increase of plastic in the ocean since 2005. This is largely due to the fragmentation of new and older plastic items, the introduction of over 5,000,000,000 tons of new plastic in the last 15 years, And an unfortunate trend in very weak international policies to address the problem. The most recent policies of the last few decades have been voluntary and focused on recycling and Cleanup. Policies back in the 70s and 80s were more preventative in nature and they were legally binding. Right now we are working hard to ensure that the current debate about the UN global treaty on plastic kind pollution is about prevention and will be legally binding. We can’t have a weak international treaty.

To answer your question about how we did this research, we combined all of our data of sea surface sampling over the last decade with every other publicly available data on the planet. We then used our oceanographic models to extrapolate the data to the broader ocean environment. This gave us plastic particle abundance estimates per ocean basin, and collectively the whole planet.

Each data point is collected by dragging a net across the ocean surface for a specific distance, using a net with a known width. That gives you a particle count per unit area. That becomes the data that we used to feed our ocean graphic models. The fun part is that we get to sail around the world to collect this data.

 

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LUX: How can we ensure we are holding companies and producers responsible for their contribution to the problem?

ME: This gets very tricky. We need smart international policies that are preventative in nature, and embrace something called extended producer responsibility (EPR). EPR is about holding product and packaging manufacturers, responsible for the entire lifecycle of what they make. That means setting design standards so that items are easily dismantled and easily recyclable, and it also means keeping Plastic out of packaging as much as possible.

One big part of EPR is ensuring that manufacturers are using recycled plastic when they do. Right now recycling fails worldwide because manufacturers are not obligated to use recycled materials. Because virgin plastic is so cheap, no one buys recycled plastic in huge volumes. This is why recycling United States covers at less than 10%. It’s a system that is not set up for economic success. While corporations like to boast about the technical recyclability of what they make, they avoid discussion of the economic reality of making a recycling successful. To solve this problem, we would need smart legislation that requires a high percent of post – consumer recycle plastic used in all new products.

LUX: What does it mean for a plastic to be biodegradable? If I buy food in biodegradable plastic packaging, am I still contributing to the problem?

ME: Yes and no. The issue of bioplastics has become quite confusing, with some false advertising and misleading uses of terminology. First, bio-based and biodegradable packaging are very different materials. Bio-based simply means you are taking modern plants to make conventional plastics, like polyethylene and polypropylene, instead of using fossil fuels. It’s the same stuff. Biodegradable plastics are very different, but the word biodegradable means different things for different people.

Polylactic acid, or PLA, is a common form of biodegradable plastic, and has been advertised to be biodegradable by many packaging manufacturers. Most of the time it is labeled as compostable, but in the fine print states that it’s only compostable in an industrial composting facility, not in your backyard or on the side of the road. But in reality, industrial composting facilities are now rejecting PLA, because your it is not biodegrade in a meaningful time frame. Industrial composting facilities, make their money from selling compost, and PLA contaminates their compost. Unfortunately, industrial composting facilities are now rejecting every type of biodegradable plastic on the market, but things have changed.

There is a novel type of biodegradable plastic called PHA and PHB, which actually do degrade quickly, but only if they are in a thin film form. This is important because in our research we have found that thick items, like the handle on a biodegradable plastic fork, can stick around for more than a year. But, a thin film made from PHA or PHB will degrade in a couple of months in a rich composting environment.

In our recent study, we put 22 different products made from biodegradable materials into six different settings and tested their degradation over a year and a half. We were really impressed with some of the new thin film packaging that’s available.

LUX: Can you tell us about your TrashBlitz project and what you are hoping this will achieve?

ME: Trash blitz is a program that works with cities to survey their entire region to get a good idea of what kind of plastic packaging are the biggest pollutants. We give the cities the data, put together in a nice report, which they can use to present to their city Council or local plastic manufacturers. That data allows them to address plastic pollution locally. We’ve done this in many cities, like Denver, Colorado, and Austin, Texas, and most recently we did this in national parks. In each case we provide the data they can use.

Interestingly, we find that most cities have the same list of top 10 types of packaging that are the biggest polluters, like cigarette butts, bags, straws, cup, lids, bottle caps, etc.…. We hope that this bigger picture view of the biggest polluters can affect national legislative policies to illuminate single use plastics.

man on beach with ocean in background

LUX: You mention having a solution-based approach at 5 Gyres. What are the most important solutions to plastic pollution we need to be looking at as a society right now?

ME: We favor smart legislative policies. What seems to always work is when the private sector and political leadership work together on preventative solutions. This might mean getting rid of single-use plastics, like the way school districts are getting rid of Styrofoam trays in their cafeterias. We’re also seeing cities eliminate plastic straws, plastic bags, and cutlery from local restaurants.

We also favor innovators and entrepreneurs that discover new materials, new ways of designing products and packaging without plastic, and novel business practices that show how a reuse economy can work. There are some interesting new Bioplastic materials that I think can be a replacement for many thin film applications. We are also seeing some novel, business practices, like the company “Vessel” that provides stainless steel coffee mugs and beer cups that a city can circulate through different restaurants in coffee shops.

LUX: You have said that you are hopeful that plastic pollution is a problem we can solve. Do you ever find yourself losing hope or being disheartened working on these issues?

ME: Overall, I am more optimistic pessimistic, because I meet so many young, innovators and entrepreneurs. They’re trying to make solutions work.

I feel pessimistic sometimes when I see how much effort the polluters put into fighting legislation and resisting changing their packaging, products and business models. They are happy to saddle cities with the cost of managing wasteful forms of packaging. They will spend many millions on consultants, lobbyist, and PR campaigns to unravel the work of the many nonprofits trying to find solutions.

LUX: Will we ever live in a plastic free world?

ME: We will, if we want to. What I know is that the plastic out in the world today will likely be buried and become a permanent fixture of the geologic record. If we can focus on stopping to add more plastic trash to the world, then nature will in time bury at all.

We may never be a plastic, free world, because the material is useful in many applications. It’s used in many industries, technologies, makes cars and airplanes, more lightweight and efficient, but it is the single-used plastic problem that we need to address right away.

 

https://www.marcuseriksen.com/education

 

Online Editor: Isabel Phillips

 

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Reading time: 9 min
A coastline
green weeds at the bottom of the sea

Seaview Seagrass, Solent, Isle of Wight, UK, image by photographer and marine biologist Theo Vickers. © Theo Vickers

As sea levels rise due to global warming, there are tremendous challenges for the environment, coastal communities and global supply chains. Mark Rowe reports and discovers ideas, initiatives and infrastructure measures to help stem the tide

The sea is on the rise. All around the world, over the past 100 years, sea levels have risen by up to 25cm. And they are expected to rise by a further one metre in the next 80 years. The main driver of this increase is climate change, caused by humans pumping carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

This is driving sea-level rise through one reason everyone is aware of: melting ice bodies like glaciers and polar ice caps. What is less evident is that, even if all the permanent ice in the world were to melt, oceans would continue to rise as long as temperatures did, due to the physics of thermal expansion: warm water occupies more volume.

A woman wearing glasses and a shirt

Dr Joanne Williams

“We can’t reverse what has already happened,” says Dr Joanne Williams of the UK’s National Oceanography Centre. Science, in the form of thermal lags, means sea-level rises are inexorable. Water warms slowly, so, due to deep ocean heat uptake, sea levels will rise for centuries, whatever we do. “The heat is already in the ocean, the rises are locked in,” Williams continues. “But if we act now, it costs less in the long term and we can plan without having to rush. It’s easier to adapt.”

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In a 2021 report, “Coastlines in Crisis”, by Deutsche Bank Private Bank’s Markus Müller, ESG Chief Investment Officer, and Daniel Sacco, Investment Officer, the authors cautioned that “rising sea levels will put coastal populations and critical economic assets under increasing stress… substantial population displacement is not an unlikely scenario”. These are not abstract observations, and they highlight the challenges, including the human cost.

A man wearing a black top and blazer

Dr Philipp Rode

Most of the world’s populations live by water. Around one in 10 of us live less than 10 metres above sea level and 70 per cent of the world’s largest cities are in low-lying coastal areas. Roughly 40 per cent of the US population lives in coastal cities. So communities, as well as their infrastructure, trade and buildings, both residential and commercial, are all at risk, making the adoption of adaptation planning even more of a priority. As Dr Philipp Rode, Executive Director of LSE Cities, puts it, “How sub-Saharan African cities will cope is very unclear. But the story of people being forced to move because it is too risky and too expensive to live there any more is one we will hear more and more.”

“The ways in which people are vulnerable varies,” says Williams. She cites Bangladesh, where a one-metre rise would shrink the country by one-third. “Bangladeshi people are used to flooding, but in the future it will happen more often, go further upriver and affect more farmland.” Much of the farming hinterland near Williams’s own city, Liverpool, in the UK, is at coastal level. “Not a lot of people live there,” she says, “but that’s a lot of food production at risk.”

It is apparent, then, that threats from sea-level rise affect more even than coastal ecosystems and coastal communities. They affect everyone through global economics in terms of agriculture, infrastructure, real estate, tourism and global trade. And all this affects the Global North as well as the Global South, the Netherlands as well as the Maldives.

This is because critical national infrastructure, most obviously ports, but also electricity and nuclear power stations, electricity cables, and gas and sewage pipes, are often located on the coasts. Twelve of the biggest US airports are built on coastal areas, and nearly one-third of US GDP relied on the coastal economy, employing almost 55 million people in 2016. It is estimated that 20 per cent of global GDP could be threatened by coastal flooding by the end of the century. Our seas handle 90 per cent of global trade and that means if ports get battered, then cargo – from plastic toys to grain consignments – will get tangled up with knock-on effects.

Yellow and green weeds at the bottom of the sea

An Island’s Wild Seas, the Needles, Isle of Wight, UK, image by photographer and marine biologist Theo Vickers. © Theo Vickers

In the Global South, particularly, effects on sectors such as agriculture and tourism will be especially disruptive, as developing countries are most reliant on them. Saltwater inundation from flooding contaminates freshwater aquifers, making agriculture difficult, threatening food supply and making water no longer potable. That spells trouble for the people of Suriname, where almost three-quarters of the population lives five metres below sea level and most of its fertile agricultural land lies on the coastal plain. The Maldives’ highest point is just two metres above sea level, and, while it performs well compared to its small island peers, tourism accounts for almost one-third of its economy, making its people extremely vulnerable to rising sea-level shocks.

“Rising seas will not see cities sink slowly, millimetre by millimetre beneath the waves. Instead, changes are complex and abrupt,” says Rode. “Sea-level rises make other things worse. If you get a combination of flash floods, storm surges, high winds and high tides, the peak height of impacts will hit places harder. The higher sea levels are, the harder it is to get floodwater from heavy rain out of a city.”

Society does not have a great track record of awareness, let alone action, when small communities, or those from the Global South, are involved. Barranquilla is the fourth largest city in Colombia, with a population of 2.4 million. Located next to the Magdalena River, near the Caribbean Sea, it is a major port. But because of mismanagement and lack of investment in water infrastructure – it has no rainwater drainage systems, for example – it is highly vulnerable to floods and landslides. When the city floods, and it does, the roads turn into dangerous, fast- flowing rivers, sweeping away cars – and people. Sea-level rise is set to compound the situation, and while there is a push for legislation and some agreement to avoid disaster, there is no clear plan, resulting in stressed infrastructure, increased food shortages and poor, often Afro-Colombian communities, displaced to informal slums.

While the residents of Barranquilla still wait for change, the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System was created in New Orleans right after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It is the most costly flood-control system on earth and one of the biggest public-works projects in US history. Governments around the world are becoming increasingly conscious of the risks of sea-level rise and are progressively implementing adaptation measures. Shanghai’s authorities place a high value on these because, by 2050, the city is predicted to endure floods and rainfall 20 per cent higher than the global average. To lessen its vulnerability to rising sea levels, the city has built 520 kilometres of defensive seawalls. The OECD warns against complacency, however. Solutions are out there, but they will need to come hand in hand with the regulation and business climate that allows them to become viable commercially.

A man with dark curly short hair wearing glasses

Guy Michaels

Grey or technological solutions are often the direct go-to approach. London, which is estimated to have a water level increase of up to two metres in a low-emissions scenario, has its retractable barrier system, begun in 1974 and in operation since 1982. “And London can always get the Thames Barrier to do a bit more lifting,” says Guy Michaels, Associate Professor of Economics at the LSE’s Department of Economics. “In New York, which is 10 metres above sea level, you can think of ways to potentially close off the harbour.”

Tokyo created a spectacular solution in 2006. The G-Cans flood project is a huge cathedral-like underground cavern supported by 59 towering pillars. Permeable surfaces and a network of pipes divert floodwaters to a reservoir, before being slowly released to the Edo river. The price tag was more than US$2 billion and costs for defending infrastructure along other coastal cities are similarly eye-watering. “You can build defences higher, but there comes a point where you have to ask whether costs justify the outcomes,” says Williams. “When you get a one in 100-year flood, people build back. But what if that event happens again the next year, and then the year after that?”

This is where nature-based solutions come in. While many cities in advanced economies – those, remember, primarily responsible for climate change – have the means to protect themselves through technological solutions, the picture is different in the Global South, says Rode, where emphasis is more on adaptation. Barrier islands, vegetated dunes, coastal wetlands, mangrove forests and reefs are examples of natural barriers to protect shorelines.

They provide several advantages in addition to flood protection, including carbon sequestration, biodiversity restoration, fish nurseries, cultural heritage, recreational activities, tourism and spiritual benefits. Crucially for the Global South, they can be quickly adapted to the real pace of sea-level rise. Planting mangroves can lower wave heights by 71 per cent or more.

Mangroves originally lined tens of thousands of kilometres of coastlines around the world; previously mistakenly seen by humans as a type of coastal weed that could be destroyed for development, they are a good example of the upside potential of mitigation. Properly managed, mangroves store immense amounts of carbon and support a rich ecosystem of biodiversity, as well as protecting the developments on the coasts they have previously been cut from. They survive in a variety of climates and in brackish water, and planting mangroves can provide carbon credits.

Meanwhile, studies in the UK have shown how fringes of saltmarsh 40 metres wide can reduce wave height by nearly 20 per cent; at 80 metres, waves reduce to near zero. Nature-based solutions also give quick returns: estimates for annual flood-damage reduction from coral reefs exceed US$400 million for Cuba, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and the Philippines alone.

Fresh, innovative approaches to protect urban areas include creating holistic “sponge cities”, which absorb heavier rainfall. After a cloudburst in 2011 inundated Copenhagen’s main trauma hospital and caused US$1.04 billion of damage, the Danish government redesigned infrastructure to make roads and pavements more permeable, while using nature-based solutions to plant grass and lay soil to better absorb rain.

Information-gathering to facilitate decision-making is key. Many countries use Lidar, a remote sensing method that pulsates laser light across coastal areas to measure elevation on the Earth’s surface. Australia’s web portal CoastAdapt provides mapping software, coastline morphological information, guidance for decision-making in coastal climate adaptation, and local and international case studies. France, meanwhile, is one country using a combination of a tech-based approach to monitor and evaluate its progress to date, and using that to recommend the elaboration of nature-based solutions and proposals to spatially reshape coastal areas.

A coastline

The artificial peninsula whose sand, as it erodes, protects the natural beaches near The Hague © Craig Corbett

The Netherlands, with 25 per cent of land below sea level and scarred by the North Sea flood of 1953, is widely considered the gold standard, with a creative approach combining monitoring, preparation, and grey- and nature- based engineering. “It did a lot of learning, a lot of thinking,” says Michaels. Anticipating sea-level rises of one metre by 2100, its measures have included the 2003 US$70 million reconstruction project to protect The Hague by raising a dyke 10 metres above the mean water level in Amsterdam and depositing 2.4 million cubic meters of dredged sand along Scheveningen Beach, which pushed the ocean back 50 metres from the shoreline.

Meanwhile, the necessary shift to a more sustainable economy offers the opportunity to restructure many firms and their manufacturing processes. Physical damage to facilities as a direct consequence of flood events or other weather extremes interrupt production and make it hard for employees to show up at work. It makes sense that forward-thinking companies across the globe are preparing for climate change by investing in resilient structures that can resist storms, severe winds and flooding.

Coastal cities may have to be radically redesigned or risk becoming “misshapen”, as Michaels puts it. “Inland cities have development that radiates from a central business district in all directions,” he says. “For coastal cities this is not an option. Rising sea levels will further distort the shape of coastal cities, leading to them becoming misshapen and significantly lengthening the costs of commuting to work.”

Michaels is struck by how stubborn communities can be. “Between 1990 and 2010 we saw development increase by 26 per cent in city blocks prone to sea-level rises on the US east and Gulf coasts,” he says. “That was alarming. We assumed people would avoid building there – the exact opposite happened.”

Read more: YKK America’s CEO Jim Reed on creating sustainable products for less 

Thumbing a nose at climate science only partly explains this, suggests Michaels. “If you assume people have good foresight but still do it, then they’re building in riskier locations because that’s where the jobs are. It’s a trade-off.” Is there a link to the politicisation of climate change? “People who are least aware of climate change can be the most willing to take on risk,” he says, citing politically sceptical Florida. “Miami is at ground zero. The coast is long, low-lying and very vulnerable. Yet there doesn’t seem to be a wide acceptance of what is happening and many locals regard most events as ‘nuisance’ flooding.”

What will trigger meaningful long- term, joined-up action? “Disasters recede into the background quite quickly,” says Michaels. “Maybe that changes if we get a Hurricane Sandy or a Katrina every year.” Williams is more optimistic. “I see people putting the effort in. It’s important not to say things are impossible, otherwise people ask why they or their government should bother taking any steps.” Rode reckons a more fundamental societal shift is required. “Free-riding, the good life as we know it, goes far beyond levels of consumerism that are healthy for the planet. Maybe we need to rediscover the mundane, then decide whether what’s really meaningful in life is that your local river is clean enough to swim in.”

Find out more:

deutschewealth.com/dam/deutschewealth/cio-

perspectives/cio-special-assets/coastlines-in-crisis

This article first appeared in the Deutsche Bank Supplement of the Autumn/Winter 2023/2024 issue of LUX magazine

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Reading time: 12 min
People walking in and out of a building that has signs to COP28
People walking in and out of a building that has signs to COP28

COP28 closed last week with an agreement that signals the “beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era

Following the close of COP28 last week, Markus Müller, Chief Investment Officer of ESG & Global Head of Chief Investment Office at Deutsche Bank’s Private Bank, speaks to LUX about his key takeaways from the conference

LUX: Did COP28 move the dial on climate change?
Markus Müller: Yes, from my point of view it did. Look at the commitments to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 and double energy efficiency. But it is what is implied by such commitments that is most interesting. This isn’t just a matter of developing pure supply. We’re also going to have to develop markets – by changing permissions and enhancing grid connection, to mention just two factors out of many.

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We also have to recognise who can do what by when. Rapid adoption of renewables may pose the biggest challenge for the Global South. After nearly 30 years of these climate change conferences, it’s also highly important that fossil fuels have finally formally been mentioned in the commitment for a “transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy”. In statements for previous COPs, there has just been talk about reduction of harmful subsidies. This is a clear step further. The problem for countries is now to make this happen without sacrificing living standards.

Dubai and the sea from an aerial view

Global solidarity was shown at COP28 when negotiators from nearly 200 Parties came together and signed on the world’s first ‘global stocktake’ to ratchet up climate action before the end of the decade

LUX: What was your best professional moment at COP28 and why?
MM: My best professional moment was a talanoa-style dialogue with the Island Youth from Hawaii, Philippines, Palau and Samoa. It was impressive to listen to the Island Youth discuss their views and hear their take on challenges ahead. The dialogue helped me understand how disconnected the world still is on many topics – but it also revealed a lot of hope for the future. We know what to do on climate change but we have to act now.

LUX: What was the biggest disappointment and why?
MM: The biggest disappointment was that the sheer scale of event hindered effective dialogue between businesses, policymakers and NGOs. Compared to recent COPs it was simply too big – in terms of numbers of attendees and, for example, physical distance between their stalls. We could have done a better job in bringing together the “needs” with the “what” and the “how”.

People standing behind a table on a stage with DUBAI 2023 written on a screen behind them

Over 85,000 participants attended COP28 including civil society, business, Indigenous Peoples, youth, philanthropy, and international organisations as well as world leaders

LUX: Do you sense genuine momentum towards changing economic thought to take account of natural capital, or is this still an outlier?
MM: I think that nature is coming more and more towards centre-stage but it still isn’t there yet. Next year’s biodiversity COP (COP16 in Australia) should however help make it clear that if we want to tackle the climate crisis we also need to solve the biodiversity and ocean crisis. We need nature for mitigation and adaptation and we need to think more in terms of natural capital to work out how best to do this.

LUX: “Overall, COP28 did more harm than good. The environmentally damaging deals that emerged from informal meetings will do more harm than any resolutions will do good”. True or false, and why?
MM: False. What about all the positives what we all bring home from our informal conversations too? Also remember how news reporting from this and previous COPs have raised awareness of environmental issues in public discussion worldwide? COPs have normalised open discussion of topics previously seen (wrongly) as not relevant to the global citizen. We probably don’t give enough prominence to the publication of the “Global Stocktake” either. This text lays not only the pathway that nations must take to limit global warming to the previously-agreed-upon goal of no more than 2°C higher than pre-industrial levels—but also individual countries’ progress along this path.

people shaking hands at a conference

COP28 saw Parties agree to Azerbaijan as host of COP29

LUX: Hypothetical question: you are hosting one of the next COPs, and you have absolute power over the final resolution. What would it state – in a way that is both effective and implementable?
MM: I’d make three commitments. First, for Nature and Ocean to join Climate at centre-stage of policymakers’ attentions. Second, to prioritise fixing problems with the allocation of climate finance. Third, and this is very much linked with the second commitment, to put an explicit focus on fairness. Most such finance to middle-income countries for projects that reduce emissions, such as wind or solar energy.

Read more: COP28 Diary by Darius Maleki

Far less goes to the poorer countries, and even smaller amounts to help countries adapt to the effects of the climate crisis. Many participants believe that the focus of future COP meetings needs to be on a fair way to reach targets. As part of this, developed economies need to band together to financially support developing economies in the search for a new, less fossil-fuel intense development path. I think we’ve seen a change in attitudes here in recent COPs and I look forward to them delivering much more here in coming years.

Markus Müller is Chief Investment Officer of ESG & Global Head of Chief Investment Office at Deutsche Bank’s Private Bank

Find out more:  deutschewealth.com/esg

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Reading time: 4 min
Group of people in a red room watching talk sitting on chairs

people sitting on chairs on a stage giving a panel discussion

Durjoy Rahman of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation addresses the audience at the AVPN South Asia Summit

A pioneering conference in India is seeking to kick start venture philanthropy in South Asia

‘We had a strong sense that our projects had a lack of effectiveness. Add to that the lack of transparency as well as poor methods of measuring impact, and it became clear that something needed to be done.’

On a charity fundraising trip in 2002, Doug Miller realised the futility of his friends’ and his impact ventures in private equity. Unlike traditional investments, metrics were undeveloped, and methods and final impact opaque. In short, a lot of capital and time was being spent with the best of intentions but with limited results.

In response to this, Miller developed the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) in 2004 and the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) in 2011, bringing a collaborative approach to venture philanthropy through exchanges with impact investment.

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His successor is the overwhelmingly accoladed Naina Subberwal Batra, CEO of AVPN and Chair of the International Venture Philanthropy Center, proclaimed one of Asia’s Most Influential by Tatler Asia in 2021 and awarded awarded one of Asia’s Top Sustainability Superwomen by CSRWorks. Batra presided over the latest AVPN South Asia Summit in Mumbai earlier this month; it was the first of these conferences to take place in person, last year’s inaugural edition having taken place virtually. This year’s theme was ‘Bringing Fringes to the Fore”, and it brought together individual philanthropists from culture, education and social impact, and major global companies and organisations.

Durjoy Rahman, a philanthropist from Bangladesh engaged in South Asian art and culture, focused around the creative realm and cultural soft power. Speaking of the cultural world, he said that one of the missions of this Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation was to show that the cultural world “does not need to be seen or judged by the West’s historical perspective”. Durjoy said he is finding this message is finding resonance both in the rest of the Global South, and also in the traditional cultural capitals of the West.

people sitting on chairs in a red room listening to a talk

AVPN South Asia Summit brings together philanthropists, venuture capitalists and other leasers to promote the field of venture philanthropy

“It is important to lead the conversation, and to do so needs to involve a multilateral, global conversation. It’s not about doing something and broadcasting information about what we do: multiple dialogues are the way to ensure we engage with like-minded individuals and institutions around the world.”

Durjoy also spoke about how the creative realm can contribute to future-ready education; and specifically, how the creative and cultural field can play a “soft power” role in influencing international views of Bangladesh, a country only founded in 1971 which previously had a negative economic reputation but is now one of the fastest-growing economies in the region.

The same panel, moderated by Vivek Agarwal of the Tony Blair Institute, also focused on educational reform, and featured Dr. Akhil Shahani, Managing Director of The Shahani Group, Dr. Nivedita Narain, CEO of OneStage and Rakshit Kejriwal, President of Phillips Education, speaking about empowerment in employability.

With a history of philanthropic infrastructure lacking in Asia, AVPN CEO Batra is building a network, catering to models that suit the collective regional story and its challenges, moving from a purist venture philanthropy, focused on empowering voices and expanding the network at all costs.

Venture philanthropy itself is a relatively new field, pioneered in the US and now making inroads around the world. It combines elements of traditional philanthropy, where a return is measured purely on the impact of the philanthropic aims, and traditional venture capital seeking a return. There is a prevailing view now that this maximises returns on both levels.

The AVPN conference is aimed to be an interregional weaving of thought leaders and industry experts, where a collective regional story is conducive to progress as opposed to challenging it. Its brief spans culture and education, as well as sustainable development goals.

Left to right: Vivek Agarwal, Dr Akhil Shahani, Rakshit Kejriwal, Durjoy Rahman at the AVPN Summit after their talk on future-ready education

A conference on social impact and sustainable development runs the risk of empty pledges. But not at AVPN – Lavanya Jayaram, South Asia Regional Director, ensured animated conversations, with stakeholders ‘debating unique regional challenges and solutions towards charting a roadmap for philanthropy and impact investing in the South Asian region.’. Founder Doug Miller’s aversion to inaction charged the summit, which hosted over 70 speakers over 27 sessions, a variety of panel discussions, keynote speeches, workshops and ‘fireside chats’. The agenda is also interspersed with networking opportunities, encouraging an ongoing dialogue between speeches, to expand the AVPN ecosystem, with over 600 members across 33 markets and its own academy dedicated to teaching skills in impact investment.

In the wake of environmental disasters that struck the region over the past year, the 2023 summit featured panel discussions on climate resilience and energy transitions in South Asia. Speakers such as Prerana Langa of Aga Khan Agency for Habitat India, developing network based models for disaster risk reduction and biodiversity conservation, spoke particularly to this year’s floods and industrial accidents in Bangladesh, bringing investors into contact with means of making effective impact.

Read more: Cyrill Gutsch on saving the oceans through art and collaboration

A panel discussion dedicated to ‘Bridging the Borders’ and ‘Global Perspectives’ brings as one of the speakers Sanjay Gujral of Everstone Capital, a private equity firm investing across the South Asian landscape, further engaging investment in a cross cultural design. Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar also spoke about finding purpose in philanthropy.

The conference equally addressed gender gaps and supporting women within the economy through talks on gender lens investing, furthered by AVPN’s Asia Gender Network, backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which seeks to advance equality through representation in leadership positions, economic empowerment and education, just to name a few.

Through a multiplicity of sectors and regions, the South Asian Summit is driving a collective effort in sustainable development and in centralising fringe communities in the discussion. The phrase ‘catalytic platforms’ is often thrown around, and yet could not be more apt in such dynamic conversations taking place. The Summit, through the focused involvement of leaders in their fields, is set to catalyse significant change in important and evolving areas. – Olivia Cavigioli

Find out more: avpn.asia

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grass and seaweed on a sea bed
grass and seaweed on a sea bed

The Cyclades Preservation Fund runs a campaign to protect the vulnerable Posidonia oceanica meadows from anchoring. Courtesy of the Cyclades Preservation Fund

Philanthropy has a key role to play in initiatives to support ocean conservation, and in empowering communities with the ability to make a difference. Here, Darius Sanai outlines the importance of philanthropy, while Chris Stokel-Walker showcases seven philanthropic projects that are making waves

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant liked to talk about the categorical imperative: moral actions that have to be taken and do not broach any argument. Saving the oceans from further harm by humans is a prominent current example of a categorical imperative, one that would also likely receive the approval of moral philosophers from another prominent school of thought, utilitarianism, which espouses acting for the common good.

And significant positive change can be made – or, if you are a follower of Immanuel Kant, must be made – by people acting to their abilities in support of categorical imperatives. Philanthropists, such as those outlined over these pages, use their considerable means to try to make a difference in support of environmental initiatives, particularly in areas where other forms of capital are not able to work.

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The opportunities to create positive change, and leave a positive legacy, are immense. Philanthropy plays a key role, but works most effectively when it is at its most informed. The links between the chains of planetary and ocean degradation are complex. A zero-emissions container ship can transport invasive species around the world on its hull; sailing yachts destroy carbon-capturing seagrass with their anchors; recycling plastics can produce significant carbon emissions. So it is philanthropists who are as educated on the issues as they are generous, working with carefully-chosen experts, who tend to be the most successful.

A man wearing a white shirt and black jumper standing by a brick wall

Ben Goldsmith

“All across the world, small groups of committed, passionate, effective people are making extraordinary things happen, often on a shoestring budget, and they are nearly always funded by philanthropists,” says Ben Goldsmith, the British environmental campaigner and founder and Chair of environmental charity Conservation Collective. “Philanthropy is the most potent kind of funding, as it comes without any requirement to produce a financial return and has the flexibility to pay for almost any kind of work, from grassroots action to societal movement building. In the right hands, philanthropy can move mountains. This is why it is so important that those with the means to do so give away some of their money – in the most thoughtful and strategic way possible – to those at the cutting edge of changing our world.”

Philanthropic capital is critical to ocean conservation and regenerative initiat

A woman with curly hair smiling wearing a black top

Jacqueline Valouch

ives, says Jacqueline Valouch, Head of Wealth Planning & Philanthropy at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management. “Money provided by philanthropic entities for ocean conservation and regenerative projects allows for early funding, innovation and alignment with the scientific community,” she explains. “By providing much-needed seed capital, philanthropic capital can help to de-risk projects and attract more funding. In these ways, it can help companies and others to restore, renew, conserve and make bigger change.

“Philanthropists are one group of the many stakeholders needed to move the dial on crucial areas of exploration, research (including through scholarship programmes) and innovation,” she continues. “These are initiatives that would not be possible without the dedication and patience of philanthropists.”

Seven Philanthropic Projects In Ocean And Coastal Conservation

1) Deutsche Bank Ocean Resilience Philanthropy Fund
Founder: Deutsche Bank Wealth Management
This Deutsche Bank fund was announced at COP26 in 2021 and launched in 2022. The fund enables philanthropists to engage with scientists on projects to counteract damage to ocean and coastal ecosystems by supporting projects that use nature-based, rather than man-made, solutions. An advisory council of expert scientists and Deutsche Bank personnel review and select grant recommendations for projects. The first such project, the Future Climate Coral Bank, managed by the non- profit Maldives Coral Institute, aims to identify corals that are resilient to bleaching caused by warming, and create a gene bank to support global reef restoration.

deutschewealth.com/oceanfund

2) Walton Family Foundation Oceans Initiative
Founder: Walton Family Foundation
Walmart founders Sam and Helen Walton knew all too well how much the earth’s waters contribute to their supermarket’s success, and the company’s foundation has sought to help ensure the health of the planet’s water for the future. Its Oceans Initiative is supporting 14 fisheries to adopt more sustainable practices, and has lobbied in Japan, the European Union and the United States to encourage buyers to purchase more sustainably sourced seafood. “We believe that the people closest to the problem are also critical to finding solutions,” says Teresa Ish, Head of the Walton Family Foundation Oceans Initiative.

waltonfamilyfoundation.org

Read more: Richard Spinrad on moving towards a blue planet

3) Salesforce ocean Sustainability Programme
Founder: Marc Benioff
Global cloud software company Salesforce has run its Ocean Sustainability programme since CEO Marc Benioff began it in 2021. At COP26, Salesforce committed to buying one million tons of blue carbon credits and is investing $100 million in grants to The Ocean Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wetlands International over 10 years – as well as investing in 1t.org, including a Guatemalan project to support sustainable livelihoods for 400 families. “Ocean health translates to the safety of our family, loved ones and communities around the globe, and the ability for them to thrive,” says Dr Whitney Johnston, Director of Ocean Sustainability at Salesforce.

salesforce.com

4) Common Seas
Founders: Filippos and Andonis Lemos
The Lemos brothers are Greek shipping magnates – so they are aware of the biodiversity beneath the ocean surface. And they are conscious of the impact that plastics entering our waters have on the wildlife within. To help combat this, the Lemos siblings co-founded and are major donors to Common Seas, whose vision is to eradicate plastic from the oceans. Common Seas’ collaborative initiatives include partnering with governments to reduce plastic pollution; helping the tourism industry reduce its plastic use; and supporting education providers both to make their schools plastic free and to raise awareness among young people of the importance of keeping our oceans clean of pollution.

commonseas.com

children running into the sea

Common Seas incorporates education as part of their strategy to remove plastics from the oceans

5) Galapagos Life Fund
Founder: Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project
The Galápagos Life Fund (GLF) is one of the crowning achievements of the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project, a joint initiative from the independent non-profit The Pew Charitable Trusts and investor and philanthropist Dona Bertarelli. It was set up with the shared goal of establishing the first generation of large, ecologically significant and effective marine- protected areas (MPAs) around the world. The GLF converts $1.6 billion in commercial debt into a loan, capitalised by a $656 million marine conservation-linked bond, generating more than $450 million to support marine conservation in the Galápagos Islands over the next 20 years.

pewtrusts.org/en

6) Cyclades Preservation Fund
Founder: Conservation Collective
Nearly 220 islets and islands make up the Cyclades in the Aegean, which are home to a range of natural habitats being harmed by modern life. The largely female-led team behind the Cyclades Preservation Fund is part of Conservation Collective, a global network of philanthropic funds helping to preserve the natural environment. CPF programmes focus on biodiversity, education, local identity and marine conservation – all with the participation of local stakeholders. Among its biggest wins is supporting the establishment of a grassroots fishing protected area around the island of Amorgos, sustaining a local industry while keeping the marine population healthy.

cycladespreservationfund.org

bin bags piled up with plastic on a beach facing the sea

Cyclades Preservation Fund Supports the fishers of Amorgos towards their vision for seas with more fish and less plastic

7) Plastic Free Ibiza and Formentera
Founder: Ibiza Preservation
Ibiza is a major hub for tourism, which buoys up the economy but has significant environmental impacts. In the west coast, there are 4.5 million pieces of microplastics in every square kilometre of sea – 30 times more than elsewhere in the Mediterranean. Nearly three-quarters of the waste collected on Spanish Mediterranean beaches is plastic. Set up in 2018, Plastic Free Ibiza and Formentera, promoted by Ibiza Preservation, is made up of 14 main members including local non-profits, and aims to eliminate single-use plastic in the islands by supporting citizens, administrations and businesses to promote sustainable practices. Initiatives include the certification of local companies as plastic-free.

plasticfree.es/en

This article first appeared in the Deutsche Bank Supplement of the Autumn/Winter 2023/2024 issue of LUX magazine

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People sitting at tables in front of a large window overlooking a city
A pedestrian area with white parasols and a view of a city

Adrian Bridge, opened Porto’s Cultural District, WOW, in 2020

Starting his career in the British Cavalry Regiment, Adrian Bridge moved to Portugal in 1994 and is now CEO of The Fladgate Partnership, which produces Taylor, Fonseca, Fonseca-Guimaraens, and Croft Ports. Here, Bridge speaks to LUX’s Leaders and Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh about being a driving force behind wine tourism in Porto and developing the city’s new Cultural District WOW
a man in a suit holding a glass of port

Adrian Bridge

LUX: What do you think your training at Sandhurst taught you?
Adrian Bridge: The military teaches a great deal about leadership and confidence. You also learn to make decisions based on the available information, no matter how imperfect. However, in planning action it is in the details where success lies. That requires breaking down a problem to its parts and thinking through all of the details. I believe that all business is about the detail and that is where success lies.

LUX: How would you say this has influenced your dynamic style of leadership?
AB: The moto of Sandhurst is ‘Serve to Lead’ and I strongly believe in leading from the front. This creates a company culture where everything should be possible. I do not ask people to do things that I would not do myself. I think that this allows us to push forward, to take risks, to do things that others might not attempt.

A bar with a decorated ceilings

Angel’s Share is the name given for evaporation process that takes place when wine is ageing in barrels. It is also the name of the WOW wine bar

LUX: Why is the house so good at innovating?
AB: To me, innovation is all about pushing boundaries. To remain at the top, you simply can’t sit still. You have to continuously question, push and evolve or someone will overtake you.

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Established in 1692, we are one of the oldest companies in the world simply because we don’t sit still. We are continuously expanding and innovating to appeal to both new and existing audiences. We have a reputation for quality and excellence that has been built up over time and continues to be sustained through the generations.

One of our best examples of innovation has to be the creation of Croft Pink; the first ever Rosé Port. We launched this product in 2008 with the goal to introduce Port wine to a younger generation. In 2011 we continued to expand this concept and launched a canned “ready to drink”- Rosé tonic.

 grapes in boxes and woman picking through them

The Fladgate Partnership produces Taylor, Fonseca, Fonseca-Guimaraens, and Croft Ports

LUX: Oporto is already a UNESCO World Heritage City, so what was your vision for WOW?
AB: Porto is a beautiful city full of history, charm and culture – all of great significance to Portugal’s identity. The vision of WOW was to bring a totally new set of cultural concepts to Porto and in this way offer quality content to the region.

We wanted this to be a game-changing space for both locals and travellers that really celebrates the culture, gastronomy, history and industries of Portugal. WOW is as educational as it is fun. To achieve this, we needed to make sure this was a dynamic district that featured regular exhibitions, unique events and seasonal experiences.

A lit up walkway with rocks on either side

The District is over 55,000sqm and includes 8 museums and experiences and 11 restaurants and bars

LUX: What does an immersive experience offer that can complement the traditional vineyard visit?
AB: One of the reasons WOW originally came to be was in response to the booming number of visitors coming to Porto – demand that we helped to create by building The Yeatman – and the lack of experiences that Porto had to offer. To appeal to this market, we continuously try to ensure that there is something new for people to do and see in the district. Technology really allows us to engage with guests in a more interesting and meaningful way.

After the traditional vineyard visit, I would definitely suggest spending a day at WOW. It’s a good idea to choose one or two museums, do a workshop at The Wine School or at The Chocolate Story – the chocolate museum, enjoy a typical dish in one of our restaurants, appreciate the sunset in our Angel’s Share bar while drinking a Port Tonic and stay to be amused by the video mapping in our main square.

steel factory with chocolate dripping

The Chocolate Story Museum

LUX: What is a sustainable vineyard model and how are you working to secure the future of viticulture?
AB: We are committed to protecting the environment and the future of our vineyards and the Douro Valley where our family has produced Port wine for centuries.

Our sustainable model incorporates a number of techniques and strategies which work together to create a balanced, diversified and sustainable vineyard environment. The basis of the model is the construction of narrow terraces each of which supports only one row of vines.

People sitting at tables in front of a large window overlooking a city

The view from Angel Share’s Wine Bar

This model was awarded the prestigious BES Biodiversity Prize in 2009, which recognises achievement in the fields of conservation and environmental sustainability.

In order to encourage industry change on a global level we established the Porto Protocol – the wine industry’s climate action network. Since our first summit in 2018, we have brought together more than 230 wine and wine adjacent companies from 22 countries to share solutions to combat climate change in the wine industry.

LUX: This year you have opened a new museum with a ground-breaking exhibition from TATE at the Atkinson Museum, what was the strategy behind that?
AB: The vision of WOW is to bring a totally new set of cultural concepts to Porto. The new exhibitions, especially the Atkinson Museum, reinforce this destination as a “must visit” hub for international travellers.

At the centre of WOW is the Atkinson Museum. Originally built in 1760, we have meticulously restored and modernised the space to meet international museum standards and attract exhibitions from the international art pool.

A sculpture of a hand pouring wine into a glass

Adrian Bridge has a private collection of 2,000 vessels and glasses which tell the story of  the evolution of drinking vessels from earliest civilisations to the present day with some of the collection dates back to 7,000BC

Our most recent exhibition, The Dynamic Eye was produced by the TATE Collection and featured over 100 works from 63 artists – this was the largest number of works travelling from TATE to Portugal. This is an amazing example of the quality of major exhibitions we are bringing to Gaia.

The idea is to bring new and different major international exhibitions, such as The Dynamic Eye, every year.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

LUX: How can cultural philanthropy shine a light on the house values?
AB: As a family business, we are built on a set of strong shared values. We are continuously seeking opportunities that align with our core values. At the moment, one of my key priorities is sustainability in the wine industry and coming up with new ways to create new industry practices.

a blue map on the floor in a room that looks like a boat

Porto Region Across the Ages Museum

LUX: What would you like to be remembered for?
AB: When I came to live in Porto in 1994, I came to into a Port Wine Trade that was very traditional. Our company helped to consolidate that industry and lead it forward, not least with the innovation of various new styles of Porto. This was an achievement and in doing this I hope that I will be remembered for helping to enhance one of the greatest wines and wine regions in the world. This also includes putting Porto on the map as a destination and through that work we have helped to stimulate the development of the town and create jobs and wealth. However, I will probably just be remembered for altering the city centre through the construction of The Yeatman and WOW.

Find out more: fladgatepartnership.com

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grass and a large pond with mountains in the distance
grass and a large pond with mountains in the distance

Cooper Lake, Alaska. The creek draining the lake is coloured red by tannins from the surrounding vegetation. The 30 x 30 initiative to protect such sites is supported by The Nature Conservancy via the US government’s America the Beautiful initiative © Stuart Chape/TNC Photo Contest 2021

The oceans have an increasing potential to provide food for a global population. The challenge is how to do so without harming the planet or its people. Chris Stokel-Walker discovers ideas, organisations and investors helping aquaculture towards a sustainable future

The ocean is an essential pillar of planetary life, sustaining and feeding billions worldwide. Quite aside from its ability to capture and sequester harmful emissions, our planet’s waters are a major driver of keeping us alive – for drink and for food. Three billion of us depend on wild-caught and farmed seafood as a primary source of protein – which makes it vital that the ocean is kept as a bountiful natural resource.

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Aquaculture is the breeding and harvesting in water of fish, shellfish and other marine life. It is underwater farming, in short, and it is crucial to humankind. “Aquaculture is an essential food source, especially in our changing climate,” says Danielle Blacklock, Director of the Office of Aquaculture at the United States’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “Globally, aquaculture supplies more than 50 per cent of all seafood produced for people to eat – a percentage that will keep rising. And expanding domestic aquaculture presents important opportunities to bolster climate– smart and resilient food systems.”

Making sure those food systems are resilient and impervious to climate issues is important – because the population keeps growing. “We must come together and problem- solve how to feed people within the sustainable limitations of our planet,” continues Blacklock. “Within that frame, aquaculture becomes a leading method for ensuring nutritious protein is available for families today and in the future.”

Seafood is incredibly nutritious. It is full of vitamins and minerals that can help promote healthy growth, with large volumes of protein, vitamins D and B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. Promoting the cultivation of seafood is certainly vital, but that cultivation needs to be done in the right way. Globally, humans’ appetite for seafood and fish has had negative impacts on the marine environment. So aquaculture needs to be practised sustainably from top to bottom. This includes looking at the types of feed used, tackling waste and making production methods more sustainable.

a woman with short hair wearing a necklace and smiling

Karen Sack

This is a particularly urgent challenge when you consider that aquaculture is as big as the global beef industry. “We’ve been fishing out our oceans on an industrial scale since the end of the Second World War,” says Karen Sack, Executive Director of the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA), which brings together different stakeholders worldwide to promote a sustainable and equitable blue economy. In the course of the past decade or so, says Sack, the proportion of our seafood farmed from aquaculture has outstripped that of wild-caught fish. “Part of that is because of industrial overfishing, which includes the wasteful and damaging discards that result from this,” she explains. “Part of it is because of the development and operation of agricultural techniques that have been pushed into the ocean and coastal space.”

 

A man wearing a suit and tie

Robert Jones

The latter can be a good thing – if done well. In terms of emissions and water use, the resource intensity of farming the oceans is more efficient than producing animal protein on land for human consumption. “When we look at the global challenge to 2050, we need to produce more food with fewer resources, and aquaculture offers that opportunity,” says Robert Jones, Global Lead for The Nature Conservancy’s Aquaculture Program. The problem is that, historically, the demand for more food more quickly has meant that industry has built many aquaculture projects to produce as much seafood as possible in as small a space and quick a time as possible – and damn the consequences. It’s a problem that’s out of sight, out of mind for many: 90 per cent of aquaculture farming occurs within Asia, meaning that many consumers do not see the harmful impact that intensive, industrial farming has on the environment.

Take, for instance, the early development in the 1950s and beyond of what the industry calls “carnivorous fin fish” – or what most of us would call salmon, tuna and other big fish that feed on other fish. That and shrimp farming was industrialised at scale, without considering the impact on broader marine life. Shrimp farming can be hugely destructive to coastal ecosystems, while any farmed-fish development can result in pollution and the overuse of antibiotics to try to prevent disease within stocks, causing wider harm.

green grass and weeds coming out of a pond with a hill in the distance with blue skies and small white cloud

Wetlands at Valles Caldera National Preserve. New Mexico’s Rio Grande and its tributaries supply water to more than half of New Mexico’s population. To maintain the clean water supply, The Nature Conservancy’s Rio Grande Water Fund is restoring forests upstream that have been lost to fires © Alan W Eckert/TNC

It doesn’t need to be that way. Aquaculture is necessary not only because it can be a sustainable food source, but because it can help prevent wild fishing from negatively affecting sea populations. “We need to protect those marine resources and ensure sustainability going forward,” says Jones. “There is a maximum amount that our oceans can provide, in spite of being so vast, covering 70 per cent of our planet and providing food for billions of people.”

While doing things right isn’t always easy, it is certainly possible. “We have seen an amazing growth in potentially sustainable aquaculture,” says Sack. “If we’re looking at mitigating risks, the key is the type of farming undertaken and where it’s undertaken. We need to ensure aquaculture isn’t at an industrial scale that requires antibiotics or nutrients that could harm both the species and the ecosystems where the farms are situated.”

Current developments in sustainable aquaculture include looking at healthy seaweeds and bivalves, such as nutrient-dense oysters and mussels. These can feed people and clean ocean waters without requiring any animal feed or antibiotics. It is also important to engage with the local community around which those more intensive farming activities are based, and make sure that any benefits brought about from sustainable alternatives are ploughed back into the area, protecting mangroves and stone buffers and seagrasses that make our oceans what they are.

Coastal and marine flora aren’t only important for maintaining marine biodiversity. They are also a food source in themselves. Seaweed production more than tripled between 2000 and 2018, with more than 35 million tonnes now being produced annually worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United States, “increased cultivation and utilisation of seaweed are expected to be important pillars of sustainable food security and a robust aquatic economy in the coming years.”

Read more: Richard Spinrad on moving towards a blue planet

But making it a sustainable pillar of the blue economy is a challenge. Almost all seaweed production – which accounts for half of marine aquaculture production worldwide – occurs in just nine countries in Asia, where expertise to prevent disease among the crop is not always advanced. Making sure that seaweed farming takes place sustainably, harnessing the potential to diversify the submarine environment rather than bringing disease and industrial production to the seas, is critical.

The responsibility for ensuring that global aquaculture is viable lies not just with the companies doing the farming, but with those bankrolling them. Sack believes the opportunity for investing in sustainable aquaculture is just starting. “There are opportunities to make some money and do good, but you need to exercise some caution, do due diligence and look for impact funds with a firm track record, so that you don’t perpetuate a status quo that isn’t sustainable,” she says. We only have one planet, after all. And we need to make sure it stays around for all life to live on.

Find out more:
noaa.gov
oceanriskalliance.org
nature.org

This article first appeared in the Deutsche Bank Supplement of the Autumn/Winter 2023/2024 issue of LUX magazine

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A cliff overlooking the sea
A cliff overlooking the sea

The conservation of Cape Foulweather Headland on the Oregon coast, an initiative supported by the Biden-Harris administration through NOAA. © Shutterstock

Richard Spinrad is a pivotal figure spanning politics and academia in the US. As Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the veteran oceanographer has the demanding task of guiding policy around maritime sustainability. Michael Marshall speaks with him about challenges and opportunities

“An environmental intelligence agency” is how Richard “Rick” Spinrad describes it. He is referring to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US government agency (of which he is Administrator) that has responsibility for the oceans. The NOAA produces data and predictions around climate, atmospheric conditions, ocean health and protection for fisheries and marine animals – “environmental intelligence” that helps fuel sustainable economic development. One of the biggest challenges that Spinrad and NOAA face is helping to improve the way the oceans are managed so that marine resources are used sustainably. Spinrad’s goal is to maximise NOAA’s impact by ensuring its environmental intelligence reaches those who need it most, so they can respond to the challenge.

Spinrad has spent more than 40 years studying the ocean. He obtained a PhD in 1982 from Oregon State University, his early research tracking how light behaves as it travels deeper into the sea and encounters clouds of drifting sediment. Subsequently, he moved between academia and government. He held roles at universities including Oregon State and was NOAA Chief Scientist under President Obama. On Earth Day 2021, President Biden nominated Spinrad as Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of NOAA, putting him in charge of the agency.

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Spinrad arrived at NOAA at a time when public awareness of the environmental crisis, including threats to the oceans, had become greater than ever before. “We are seeing much savvier consumers,” he says. “There’s an increased change in consumer behaviour around being green and trying to figure out products that are not doing harm to the environment.”

A man wearing a suit with an American flag behind him

Dr Richard Spinrad, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. Courtesy of NOAA

Alongside the shift in consumer behaviour is the intensifying political pressure to solve environmental problems. “There is a generational push right now,” says Spinrad. “The youth of the world are much better organised and much more active, in a very constructive manner, than I have ever seen in my career.” Activists including Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate have driven climate change to the top of the agenda, pressuring governments to act.

On top of this, the impacts of climate change are increasingly evident. “What’s happening in the world is accelerating,” says Spinrad. “Whereas 10, 20 years ago, people tended to talk about what’s going to happen at the end of the century, now we’re starting to see impacts that are imminent and affecting market values and people’s attitudes today.”

In the United States, the result has been two landmark pieces of legislation passed by the Biden-Harris Administration: 2021’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). NOAA has key roles to play in implementing both. The BIL, formally the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is a sweeping statute providing $1.2 trillion funding, $550 billion of which is new. The aim is to improve infrastructure in projects related to highways, railways, broadband access, clean water and electricity grids. The IRA is similarly ambitious. One focus is to support and boost domestic clean-energy production. Alongside such priorities, IRA provides much of the funding to support BIL programmes.

A white ship in the sea

NOAAS Thomas Jefferson, an ocean survey vessel, at work. Courtesy of NOAA

Between them, BIL and IRA are providing more than $6 billion for NOAA. This will primarily support three initiatives: better climate data, preparing coastal communities for climate change and better stewardship of fisheries. Ongoing projects include the restoration of coral reefs at Maui Nui in Hawai’i, constructing a living shoreline on Ossabaw Island in Georgia and the conservation of Cape Foulweather Headland on the Oregon coast.

It is a big advance, but Spinrad emphasises that it is a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed. “We are already seeing roughly a 10:1 proposal pressure,” he says. “The demand far exceeds the supply with respect to resourcing.” That means the money to support ocean conservation can’t just come from the government: it also has to come from the private sector.

“There is an investment opportunity,” says Spinrad. To encourage that, in July 2022 Spinrad hired Sarah Kapnick as NOAA’s new Chief Scientist. Kapnick has a background in climate science: she has studied the impacts of climate change on snowfall, the North American monsoon and tropical cyclones. She also has extensive experience of economics and finance: she has been an investment-banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, and her previous role was Managing Director at JP Morgan, with responsibility for climate and sustainability strategy for asset and wealth management.

“Science has shown how important healthy oceans are,” says Kapnick. “We know that disruption to the oceans has knock-on effects for society, including business. It affects ports, it affects supply chains. As a result, investors are increasingly interested in trying to figure out how to invest in these things.” The scale of investment needed to protect the oceans requires “an all-hands-on-deck approach,” adds Kapnick. “In financial terms, there are different layers of financing to achieve all these goals.”

A woman wearing a tweed blazer

Dr Sarah Kapnick

It will sometimes require blended finance, in which governments, the private sector and philanthropists come together.

Philanthropists are stepping up. “We are seeing some extraordinary developments,” says Spinrad, referring to “major players” who are getting into ocean conservation. Some, such as Julie Packard, daughter of one of the founders of Hewlett Packard, have supported ocean sustainability initiatives for decades. Others, like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, are more recent entrants. In 2020 Bezos founded the Bezos Earth Fund, which will spend $10 billion on protected areas by 2030. In July 2022 it announced $50 million of awards for marine conservation. This included $30 million to create a network of marine-protected areas off the coasts of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama – linking biological hotspots over an area of 500,000 square kilometres.

Perhaps the most dramatic recent example of environmental philanthropy was the decision by Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor-clothing company Patagonia, to give away the company. In 2022, Chouinard announced that Patagonia would radically change its structure. It will continue to operate as a for-profit company, but its profits will go to a unique trust and non-profit organisation that will support environmental efforts, including ocean conservation. “Chouinard’s action with Patagonia would, I suspect, result in a lot of people opening their eyes to the vast proportions of what is needed for climate action,” says Spinrad.

coral reef under water

The restoration of coral reefs in Maui Nui, Hawai’i, an initiative supported by the Biden- Harris Administration through NOAA. © Renee Capozzola

The challenge for NOAA, as Spinrad sees it, is to get more people and companies involved in ocean sustainability – and that, he says, means working with organisations whose priorities are, on the face of it, different to one another. “The burden, if you will, is on the scientific community to get out more,” says Spinrad. NOAA has started a series of engagements and partnerships with diverse groups including the public-health community, the medical community, real-estate companies and the insurance industry. “We are learning to communicate in their terms, rather than trying to force them to speak in ours,” he says.

For example, earlier in 2023 NOAA announced a project to help support the climate needs of insurance companies. In partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF), NOAA will create the Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC), focused on modelling catastrophic impacts and risk assessment of climate change. The idea is to create decision-making tools for the insurance industry, enabling them to factor in risks from climate change, such as sea-level rise and increasingly intense tropical storms, when making financial decisions. NOAA is also conducting research to predict how sea-level rise will impact housing markets.

Such tools will help enable insurance companies to avoid investing in companies and infrastructure set to be threatened by climate change, or at least to charge higher premiums, thereby discouraging the building of non- resilient infrastructure. Working with such a varied group of players represents an ongoing challenge for NOAA. “We have more homework to do to understand how to better communicate these issues,” says Spinrad.

Read more: Enric Sala on working to protect vital areas of the ocean

“One of our pillars is maintaining scientific integrity and having people trust us,” says Kapnick. “We don’t tell you exactly what you have to do; we provide the facts that allow the decision-makers to make those decisions.” At a time when climate change and other environmental issues are reshaping the world in which we all live, being able to forecast, based on scientific evidence, is crucial. “At NOAA, prediction is at the heart of what we do,” says Spinrad. After that, it’s up to us all.

Find out more: noaa.gov

This article first appeared in the Deutsche Bank Supplement of the Autumn/Winter 2023/2024 issue of LUX magazine

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Reading time: 7 min

Small Pacific island nations like Tuvalu are at most risk of rising sea levels due to climate change; COP27 last year created a Loss and Damage Fund to alleviate their plight, but no funding has yet been forthcoming

There is a major issue with meeting our sustainability goals: the financial and structural support is, in many cases, just not there. Deutsche Bank’s Markus Müller explains to Darius Sanai what needs to happen to close the gap

LUX: What is the sustainable financing gap and what is the biggest problem we face for bridging it?
Markus Müller: It is usually defined as the difference between the cost of meeting United Nations Sustainable Development goals (SDGs) and the amount of investment actually being delivered. Big numbers are common here but we need to put them in perspective – the latest OECD estimated the annual financing gap is 3.9 trillion USD, but this is much smaller than global GDP of around 100 trillion USD. The biggest problem isn’t the size of the gap, but making sure that investment projects and systems are viable. Bringing down borrowing costs and making sure there’s a level playing field for investments are big parts of this.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Financing sustainable development should be a priority. But is short-term thinking still making it difficult?
MM: I wouldn’t blame the sustainable finance gap simply on short-term thinking. I think most people are rightly uncomfortable with how close we are to the planetary boundaries, and this is spurring action: we aren’t just leaving this to future generations. Fixing the finance gap now needs innovation, an ability to break free of current ways of thinking and a clear view of where we want to be. Returns and cost of capital remain key issues.

Houston, Texas is attracting new technological investment due to incentives created by the US Inflation Reduction Act, which is in effect a green subsidy

LUX: You have observed that our international social infrastructure for dealing with global collaborative action (the UN, and the economic institutions arising from Bretton Woods) are from another era. Do they need to be updated?
MM: Existing international institutions provide good framework to support transformation. They can cooperate in new ways with other bodies if necessary – note President Macron’s Global Financial Pact summit earlier this year. This is a matter of evolution, not replacement. Look at the discussions, for example, around how to repurpose IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDR, invented back in 1969) to support biodiversity and other initiatives.

LUX: The climate crisis – or triple planetary crisis – requires global nations’ collaboration on a probably unprecedented scale. But is such collaboration now more difficult in our increasingly multipolar world?
MM: Collaboration is fragile by nature, but it is still possible in a multipolar world. We start from a base point where the world’s resources – financial, material, natural – are unevenly distributed. Developing economies have more physical resources (for example, metal and minerals deposits) so it may make sense for them to collaborate. But if developed economies want to participate in these discussions, they must deliver more real support. This is often lacking: for example, there have been no inflows into the Loss and Damage Fund agreed on at last year’s COP.

At COP27 in Egypt in 2022, world leaders agreed to take tangible steps towards alleviating the climate crisis, but it remains to be seen whether they will be executed

LUX: Are you optimistic that the US, EU, Russia and China (for example) will agree on and enact workable policy solutions to counter the climate crisis? What would be significant markers of progress?
MM: Yes, I am. We have seen one important, recent example of this: major technology disputes between the U.S. and China did not stop the two sides meeting for climate talks. This shows that environmental issues do not have to become a destructive bargaining chip in broader trade or investment disputes, although we should not ignore the fact that environmental operating standards do have an impact on competitiveness and thus trade tensions. For me, the key marker of progress is continued discussion and agreement to stay within overall multilateral environmental policy targets.

LUX: If we are indeed entering a more unstable era (in terms of global climate and related issues like biodiversity), do the fundamentals of policy making need to change in order to accommodate constant change?
MM: I think this is a matter of learning how to overcome unforeseen challenges, rather than simply accepting instability. As our understanding of environmental issues and how to tackle them gets better, policy will change. The fundamental shift may involve us stopping seeing policymaking as proceeding along an inflexible straight line. We need to be more flexible and accept that policy may zig-zag. Policymakers’ ability to adopt to changing knowledge to find optimum solutions should be seen as an indication of strength, not weakness.

China, one of the world’s biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, has recently cleaned up its urban pollution and has agreed to restart formal climate change talks with the U.S. as of November 2023

LUX: Past successes like the Montreal Protocol were one-time events. How can we ensure more sustained policy progress?
MM: I don’t think we should think of policy advances as one-time “successes”. In reality, we often don’t know the real impact of policy agreements for many years. Some agreements that are hailed as successes at the time – for example, the Aichi goals of 2011 – have subsequently proved insufficient to meet the challenge at hand. The importance of agreements is really that they drive us, one uneven step at a time, towards better environmental outcomes.

Read more: Marküs Muller on the economy and biodiversity

LUX: How important are subsidy and protection programmes for transition technologies, and can they be harmful?
MM: It’s important to distinguish between different sorts of policy support. There are good and long-standing arguments for the support of “infant industries”, in the economics jargon, but we have to be careful that this does not slide into protectionism as these industries mature. U.S. support via the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is giving us a good preview of transition policy support, and what really determines where new industries locate and thrive. (Consider why Houston is attracting new technologies and Miami is losing out, for example.) Ultimately, it’s all about kickstarting specific industries that will really work.

Markus Müller is Chief Investment Officer of ESG & Global Head of Chief Investment Office at Deutsche Bank’s Private Bank

Find out more:  deutschewealth.com/esg

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A woman wearing a black top standing next to a white and black wall
children in yellow tops playing with a big silver ball

ArtOutreach public sculpture tour for students

Mae Anderson, serves as the chairman of Art Outreach, a non-profit organisation committed to promoting art appreciation and nurturing the connections within Singapore’s art community. Mae’s contributions extend to her role as the Head of Philanthropy Services Asia at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, where she collaborates with clients to bring their philanthropic visions to life

LUX: How has your personal philanthropy informed your corporate role?
Mae Anderson: My experiences in the philanthropic sector have reinforced for me the importance of aligning business values with social responsibility. This is essential to benefit the communities we serve and to enhance the reputation and sustainable values of the organisation. Corporate philanthropy is not just a matter of financial contributions; it is about creating meaningful, sustainable change by strategically leveraging resources and expertise. I prioritise building strong relationships with nonprofits, community leaders, and clients who share our commitment to making a positive difference. This collaborative approach has proven instrumental in developing effective philanthropic strategies that maximise our impact.

A woman wearing a black top standing next to a white and black wall

Mae Anderson, , posed against a mural by Singaporean artist, Chris Chai

LUX: Why was Art Outreach founded and what were the early successes?
MA: Art Outreach was founded to introduce art appreciation into Singapore’s education system, particularly in elementary schools where the focus was primarily on art making, and where there was a lack of emphasis on art appreciation, compounded by a shortage of trained art teachers and limited exposure to the humanities. 20 years on, there have been significant changes in the education landscape In the early stages, our volunteers were trained to deliver free art lessons to local classrooms and played a crucial role in enriching students’ visual literacy and cultural awareness. These early efforts successfully addressed the need for art appreciation, fostering a greater understanding of cultural diversity and societal dynamics among young learners, addressing a crucial need in the education system while adapting to the changing educational landscape.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What is behind the wave of interest in cultural philanthropy in Singapore and the South Asia region?
MA: There are several interconnected factors. First, there is the desire to preserve and celebrate cultural heritage. In an increasingly globalised world, people recognise the importance of safeguarding and promoting their unique traditions, arts, and history, fostering a deeper connection to one’s roots and a sense of cultural pride. The region’s economic growth has played a pivotal role.

A man holding a film camera standing around people

Level Up by curator, John Tung, one of a series of professional development workshops run by Art Outreach. In this workshop, participants learned the finer points of art installation

The rise of the middle class with disposable income opens doors, and as people become more financially secure, they seek meaningful ways to give back to their communities and support cultural initiatives that resonate with their values and aspirations, further fuelling the interest in cultural philanthropy. Governments in the region have introduced policies and incentives to drive private investment into cultural projects and institutions. Further, cultural attractions draw tourists , enhancing exchequers and soft power, Finally, the emergence of the mega-wealthy 1%, catalyses support for cultural initiatives and leads collaborations.

blue flower lights hanging in the dark

Benedict Yu, from 生 Rebirth as part of 醉生夢死 erosion, his solo exhibition at Art Outreach in August 2021

LUX: How has Art Outreach evolved an ecosystem for all stakeholders?
MA: As explained, we began by seeding art education within local elementary schools set about creating an art landscape. We extended our reach to communities through public programmes, discussions, and tours. This made contemporary art more accessible and relatable to local audiences. We support emerging artists through initiatives like the IMPART Art Prize to offer holistic support and foster the development of artists championing Singaporean art.

Two women standing by a wooden table with objects in glass frames on the table

Artist, Berny Tan (left), and curator, Kirti Upadhyaya, against Berny’s artworks from Along The Lines Of – her solo exhibition at Art Outreach in August 2023

From 2024, our Art Outreach Summit will offer artists mentorship, networking opportunities, and a platform to showcase their work, as well as practical programmes such as installation and lighting. More strategically, we enter into public and private partnerships around events and activations. So we serve the range of stakeholders.

children in green and white uniform sitting on the floor with their hands in the air

ArtOutreach primary school classroom programme

LUX: What is the role for private collectors of contemporary art in Singapore?
MA: Private collectors are custodians of cultural heritage, preserving and showcasing contemporary artworks that provide insights into the evolution of artistic expression and cultural trends. Through their acquisitions, they are patrons of emerging talents and established names, pushing the boundaries of artistic expression, opening their homes or private exhibition spaces to the public, elevating the profile of Singaporean art on the global stage and fostering educational and cultural exchange. Finally, the donation of artworks or funds to cultural institutions and nonprofit organisations, has a lasting impact on the sustainability of the arts ecosystem.

people standing by an escalator on a mezzanin

ArtOutreach Art In Transit Tour, Promenade Station. This is a walking tour of the artworks installed in Singapore subway stations

LUX: How should art philanthropists plan so they give effectively?
MA: Effective art philanthropy begins with a clear mission and values aligned with the art landscape and national priorities. Philanthropists should thoroughly research organisations, projects, or artists that match the mission, and then identify gaps and areas where their contributions can make a difference. Establishing clear, measurable goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) can guide their philanthropic efforts and evaluate impact. Philanthropists can diversify their giving portfolio and consider strategic partnerships with like-minded organisations to amplify their impact and bring diverse perspectives.

Children wearing costumes

Art Outreach children’s art workshop

They should assume longterm commitment to foster lasting change and address evolving needs within the arts community. It is critical to implement systems for measuring impact, remain adaptable, and be responsive to changing circumstances or emerging needs in the arts landscape.

Read more: Aliya and Farouk Khan on the Malaysian contemporary art scene

Actively engaging with artists, cultural institutions, and the broader arts community allows philanthropists to stay connected, and they must adhere to ethical principles, be transparent, and respect artists’ rights. You should consider legacy and tax planning and remember that public engagement can inspire others to support the arts.

A woman playing with string on a tapestry hung on a wall

Textile Artist,Tiffany Loy, against her artworks from Lines In Space, her solo exhibition at Art Outreach in January 2023

LUX: How can connectivity and data help in scaling the impact regionally?
MA: Data analysis empowers philanthropists to understand specific regional needs and priorities, to identify areas where their contributions can maximise impacts, and to connect with local organisations and initiatives. By collecting and analysing data in real-time, they decide where best to allocate resources. By collaborating, donors leverage their resources more efficiently, engage directly with regional communities, scale effectively, advocate, share experience, measure impact, and together drive long term change.

LUX: What is your personal advice to a client embarking on their philanthropy journey?
MA: Trust in your passion and purpose. Philanthropy is about making a positive impact on the causes that matter most to you. Sustainable change takes time so persevere. Finally, stay humble and open to learning and let that inspire your growth as a philanthropist.

Find out more: artoutreachsingapore.org

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Diver in coral reef

Pristine Seas team member, Alan Friedlander, sampling in the remote reefs in the northernmost region of the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve

After a number of years writing about ocean conservation as an academic, Enric Sala decided he wanted to take a more active role in protecting our seas. Here he tells Trudy Ross about his Pristine Seas project, which combines exploration and research to conserve the world’s oceans

LUX: What inspired you to dedicate your career to researching and protecting marine ecosystems?
Enric Sala: As a little boy, I grew up dreaming to be an ocean explorer and swimming in the Mediterranean, which was pretty much devoid of life. But one day I dived in a marine reserve where fishing was banned, and there I saw all the abundance of life that was missing from the sea of my childhood. That day I understood that if we give nature space, it can heal itself – and decided to work on protecting the ocean.

LUX: You made the jump from working in academia to being a full-time conservationist 15 years ago, because you wanted to stop ‘writing the obituary of the ocean’ and instead start looking at solutions. What were the biggest challenges you faced when making this career change?
ES: The biggest challenges are several. First, there is a large lack of awareness that we are overexploiting the ocean to a dangerous point beyond which it may never recover. Second, entrenched interests with strong political connections, like oil companies and the industrial fishing lobby, oppose more ocean protection. But despite these challenges we’ve been able to show that marine protection benefits not only marine life, but also people and the economy.

Pristine Seas team assembling deep sea camera onboard the ROU 23 Maldonado, South Atlantic Ocean Uruguay

LUX: Can you tell us more about your Pristine seas project and share some of its primary goals?
ES: Pristine Seas works with local communities, Indigenous Peoples and governments to protect vital places in the ocean, for the benefit of humanity. To date we have helped to protect 26 areas across the ocean, from the poles to the tropics, covering a total area over twice the size of India. Our goal is to contribute to the global target of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What criteria do you use to identify and select areas for the Pristine Seas project, and how do you assess their ecological importance and conservation potential?
ES: We always support local conservation efforts, which can be divided in two categories: areas that are still near pristine and need to be protected before it’s too late, and areas that are somehow degraded but, if highly protected, they would deliver big gains for marine life, food and climate. Our approach is science-based, using global databases on marine life, fishing and carbon, and our own data collected during our expeditions to these vital ocean places.

The Pristine Seas team was invited by the government of Niue and Tofia Niue to help the island community survey its underwater environment in an effort to ensure the long-term sustainable use of resources

LUX: Can you discuss any recent discoveries or achievements from your expeditions that have improved our understanding of the marine ecosystem?
ES: Coral reefs suffer from ocean heat waves, which kill enormous amounts of corals. But we found that coral reefs can bounce back from these warming events if they are fully protected and harbor large abundances of fishes. It is the fishes that keep the reefs clean and allow the corals to return. Without the big and abundant fishes, dead corals are smothered by seaweed forever.

LUX: How do you engage with local communities and stakeholders when establishing marine protected areas through the Pristine Seas project?
ES: We always support local efforts to create marine protected areas through our research, storytelling and economic analysis. We work with local scientists to assess the health of their marine environment, provide local communities with cost-benefit analysis of protection, and advise them on how to implement their desire to protect more of their waters.

Kiribati’s Southern Line Islands where Pristine Seas launched a three-week expedition in 2020
LUX: What role do you see technology playing in marine conservation, and are there any specific technological advancements that have greatly enhanced your research or conservation efforts?
ES: Technology is key to allow us to explore the deep sea and remote areas, including satellite monitoring of illegal fishing – these have been instrumental developments to enhance our work. But technology and data alone are not sufficient. We actually need people to care. This is why we use our films and storytelling first, to inspire people to fall in love with their ocean – and then we provide the scientific and economic data to support action.

Dr. Enric Sala, photographed at NG Headquarters in Washinton, DC

LUX: How can governments and policymakers be encouraged to prioritise the protection of marine environments, especially in areas beyond national jurisdictions?
ES: For governments and policymakers, the easiest encouragement comes from the fact that ocean protection is good business! If we protect an area from fishing and other damaging activities, marine life comes back spectacularly. Fish abundance increases on average by 500% within a decade. Fish grow larger and produce many more babies, which helps to replenish nearby areas and helps local fishers. And when the fish come back, divers come in, supporting jobs and bringing in more economic benefits. Therefore, highly protected areas are a triple win. That’s what happens in countries’ waters. Beyond national jurisdiction, it is not as easy because many countries have to agree to protect an area.

Read more: An interview with Blue Latitudes: can oil rigs help save the ocean?

LUX: Pristine Seas has helped to create 26 of the largest marine reserves on the planet. Can you tell us about three of these areas which you find most fascinating, and which you would encourage our readers to look into?
ES: This is like asking parents which of their children they love the most! There are many wonderful places we have explored and helped to protect. A few examples are the kelp forests off the southern tip of South America, the pristine coral reefs of the southern Line Islands, and the offshore islands of Cocos (Costa Rica), Malpelo (Colombia) and Darwin and Wolf (Ecuador).

In March 2012, Pristine Seas, in cooperation with the PEW Charitable Trusts, undertook a month-long expedition in the four Pitcairn Islands

LUX: In your opinion, what are the most significant threats facing our oceans today, and how can we effectively address these challenges on a global scale?
ES: Overfishing, global warming and pollution are the major threats to ocean life. Overfishing is the easiest to solve, through responsible management of fisheries and protected areas. Solving pollution will require society to develop a circular economy without waste. And global warming is the most difficult of all, but it all comes down to halving our carbon emissions every decade to 2050, and to protect and restore more of nature so it can absorb much of our excess carbon pollution in the atmosphere.

LUX: Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of marine conservation, and what would you like to see accomplished in terms of global efforts in the next decade?
ES: All the nations in the world agreed in December 2022 to protect 30% of the global ocean by 2030. We have a target. Let’s make it happen.

All images by Manu San Félix, courtesy of National Geographic Pristine Seas

Find out more: www.nationalgeographic.org/pristine-seas

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Baby whales gathered together in the sea
Baby whales gathered together in the sea

Pilot whales in the Pelagos Sanctuary, which was co-created by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation

As awareness grows of the need for a sustainable blue economy and for ocean restoration around the world, LUX invites thought leaders and experts to nominate their choice of individuals, non-profits and financial and investment wizards, whose efforts are helping save the planet’s troubled waters
A woman holding a jacket over her shoulder

Nathalie Hilmi

Dr Nathalie Hilmi, Senior Researcher at the Scientific Centre of Monaco, nominates:

Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation
This international non-profit organisation is the only foundation in the world headed by a serving head of state. It was founded by His Serene Highness Prince Albert II in 2006 with the mission of protecting and advancing the health of our planet for future generations, with a focus on biodiversity, climate, renewable energy, oceans and water resources. In addition to funding hundreds of projects, the foundation has set up initiatives to be a driving force in these fields, operating in the Mediterranean Basin, the Polar regions and the least developed countries. It works with scientists, other NGOs and world leaders, and has branches in 11 countries.

fpa2.org

Meri Foundation
I like the work this non-profit foundation is doing for the planet and our environment, promoting scientific research and environmental education on ecosystems in Chile and around the word. It has a vision of inspiring communities to consider a sense of belonging in their ecosystem environment, promoting a society in harmony with the planet. Its philanthropic engagements are stunning.

fondacionmeri.cl

A man wearing glasses and a black suit with a white shirt

Marküs Muller

Markus Müller , Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Chief Investment Officer at Deutsche Bank’s Private Bank, nominates:

Anna Katharina Meyer
Anna Katharina identifies global challenges and launches tangible initiatives, with a focus on sustainable finance and accounting, renewable energies and entrepreneurship. Describing herself as a founder, activist and scientist with heart and soul, she combines professional competences with scientific ones and is shaping discourse on a sustainable and inclusive future with expertise.

unitedsustainability.com

trees in a swamp

Heritiera fomes mangroves in Sundarbans, West Bengal, India. Sundarbans is a national park and biosphere reserve; carbon-storing, coast-protecting mangroves are an essential component of nature-based solutions

Rayne Sullivan
Co-Chair of the Youth Advisory Council at Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Rayne represented the US at the inaugural UN Youth4Climate summit in Milan in 2021, advocating for Hawai’i and Oceans. Rayne is also pursuing a JD programme at Stanford, with a focus on the nexus between climate science, responsible AI and traditional knowledge systems, to empower frontline island communities in developing nature-based climate solutions.

soalliance.org

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

A woman wearing a necklace and black top

Marie Claire Daveu

Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of International Institutional Affairs at Kering, nominates:

Conservation International
This NGO is a leader not only in its science-led work around the world, working on the ground to protect and restore nature, but also for its influence on global policies and within the business community. Its expertise when we set up the Regenerative Fund for Nature together was indispensable and its dedication to achieving a wide-scale impact on nature is to be applauded.

conservation.org

A man wearing a blue shirt holding fruit in his hand standing by a crate of fruit

Hugo Clément, from his docu-series, On the Front

Hugo Clément
The media has a significant role to rally awareness and support for the climate and biodiversity crises. French journalist Hugo Clément has brought these crises to the public through documentaries and investigative journalism, where his pursuit of the truth has uncovered corporate greenwashing. His long-time activism around animal rights has also brought this often overlooked topic into the spotlight. His dedication is far-reaching and he stands by his principles, which we need in our society today.

@hugoclementk

A man wearing a black top and blazer, with his arms folded

Chris Gorrell Barnes

Chris Gorrell Barnes, founding Partner of Ocean 14 capital and co-founder of Blue Marine Foundation, nominates:

Por el Mar
Martina Sasso, founder of this dynamic new Argentinian NGO, has used creativity and communications to advance a ban on open-net salmon farming in Argentina and delivered extraordinary wins by creating pivotal marine-protected areas in the region. I can see that Por el Mar will deliver outstanding conservation gains for the ocean in the next few years.

A penguin by the sea

Megallanic penguin at the Monte León National Park in Santa Cruz, part of a project supported by Por el Mar

porelmar.org

SyAqua
This, our first investment at Ocean 14, is a platform for our mission to transform shrimp farming. US and Asia-based SyAqua is a leading provider of genetics and tech in shrimp breeding. It provides farmers with virus-resilient broodstock, so reducing environmental externalities and make shrimp farming more sustainable.

syaqua.com

A man standing next to trees and grass wearing a suit

Christian Lim

Christian Lim, Managing Director of Blue Ocean, SWEN Capital Partners and Co-Chair of 1000 Ocean Startups, nominates:

Anne-Sophie Roux
Roux is a young but powerful voice in the global movement against reckless deep-sea mining. She and the Sustainable Ocean Alliance have been instrumental in changing the position of several governments, including in France and Switzerland. As founder and CEO of Paris-based Tenaka, she and her team have worked with partners to develop corporate responsibility programmes and nature-based solutions for ocean conservation.

people standing together weather pink t-shirts

Members of the Tanzanian Fisheries Research Institute being trained in environmental DNA collection for eBioAtlas, as devised by NatureMetrics

tenaka.org

Kat Bruce
In 2014, scientist Kat Bruce co-founded NatureMetrics, the world’s leading eDNA company. Its mission is to democratise measurement of biodiversity for different species through technology, to better align nature and markets. Disclosure: we have invested in NatureMetrics.

naturemetrics.com

A woman holding a microphone doing a presentation

Karen Sack

Karen Sack, Executive Director of Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, nominates:

Whitney Johnston
As the company’s first Director of Ocean Sustainability, Whitney leads Salesforce’s work on sourcing high quality blue-carbon offsets. Based in New Mexico and a climate scientist and oceanographer by training, she is a leader in developing high-quality blue-carbon principles and a key shaper of the Blue Carbon Buyers Alliance, companies committed to purchasing high-quality blue-carbon credits.

salesforce.com

small boats on the sand lined up next to eachother

Traditional line-fishing boats from the southernmost tip of Africa. The non-profit Abalobi supports small-scale sustainable fishing

Serge Raemaekers
Serge is co-founder of Abalobi, a South African non-profit aiming to elevate small-scale fisheries through technology, and empower them for social, economic and ecological sustainability. The name Abalobi means “fisher” in the isiXhosa language, reflecting its fisher-led nature. Abalobi has developed a digital platform connecting fishers directly with consumers, creating a more transparent and equitable value chain. Serge’s vision is to create thriving small-scale fisheries worldwide to feed the world sustainably, provide meaningful livelihoods and contribute to healthy ecosystems.

abalobi.org

A woman wearing a black top

Jessica Hodges

Jessica Hodges, Lead in Investment Management and Wealth ESG at Deloitte UK, nominates:

Net Purpose
Samantha Duncan’s London-based organisation is brilliant and was highly commended in the Finance for the Future Awards in 2021. It is a platform to facilitate impact measurement for investors and make it easy for people looking to invest, by collecting, cleaning and structuring data from thousands of global sources. This ensures a more transparent and rigorous approach to assessing the impact of portfolio companies.

netpurpose.com

A warehouse with good and machinery on the ground

LED lighting for a German warehouse, installed by UrbanVolt and financed by the Solas Sustainable Energy Fund

Solas Capital
Zurich-based Solas Capital is a specialist investment advisory firm founded and managed by Sebastian Carneiro and Paul Kearney, both professionals from the energy-efficiency financing sector. The company’s mission is to support the move to a carbon-neutral society through innovative financing. By understanding both the funding needs of energy-efficiency and self-consumption PV infrastructure projects, and the requirements of institutional investors, Solas Capital bridges the gap between investors and projects.

solas.capital

A woman giving a speech at a podium

Cathy Li

Cathy Li, UN Youth Advisor, nominates:

Klima Action Malaysia
This climate justice NGO was founded by youth activist friends of mine who work on the linkage between human rights and climate change. It promotes a rights-based approach to a just and equitable world and the climate emergency. KAMY works to empower vulnerable communities, including indigenous groups, women and youth, to participate in climate governance and decision-making.

klimaactionmalaysia.org

A woman with a fringe wearing glasses and a black shirt

Jennifer Morris

Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, nominates:

Vizzuality
Data is critical, but unless business leaders, policymakers and society understand it, its ability to drive change is limited. With offices in Cambridge, Madrid and Porto, Vizzuality is working on creating data visualisation and mapping tools. We need innovators like Vizzuality to help tackle the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, and we’re excited to see how its work on projects like Trase, which maps global supply chains leading to deforestation, and Marxan, the open-source spatial-planning software, can lead us to a nature-positive, net-zero future.

vizzuality.com

A man wearing a suit and tie

Ted Janulis

Ted Janulis, founder and Principal of Investable Oceans, nominates:

Lea d’Auriol
Lea is founder and Executive Director of London-based Oceanic Global, and she and her team made World Ocean Day a
global phenomenon. Lea has pioneered new programmes and methods of engagement, including Oceanic Global’s Blue Standard, a set of tools to help businesses eliminate plastics. Lea also always reflects light on others to acknowledge their contributions.

oceanic.global

A man underwater wearing scuba diving equipment and a wetsuit, taking notes

Titouan Bernicot, founder of Coral Gardeners, monitoring the health of corals growing in the nurseries. Once mature, the corals will be planted back onto damaged reef to bring back life and biodiversity

Titouan Bernicot
Titouan, founder and CEO of Coral Gardeners in French Polynesia, was drawn to action by seeing coral bleaching as a teen surfer in Mo’orea. He has built a community-based organisation that has grown and planted over 30,000 corals in French Polynesia. Their new goal: engage the public to help plant a million corals, and develop tech to accelerate coral restoration around the globe.

coralgardeners.org

A bald man smiling wearing a suit and tie

Professor Connel Fullenkamp

Connel Fullenkamp, Professor of the Practice of Economics at Duke University, and co-founder of Blue Green Future, nominates:

Partanna
Cement production is a major emitter of carbon dioxide. While some firms are working on carbon-neutral cement products, California-based Partanna has developed a carbon-negative cement from brine – a desalination waste product – that captures carbon while it cures. This makes it possible to build homes in the developing world that generate carbon credits for their owners.

partanna.com

A house with a flat roof and sunshine around it

Rendering of a prototype home in the Bahamas made with Partanna’s carbon-negative cement

Belinda Bramley
Pivoting to environmental consulting from accounting, Belinda brings business sense and the ability to speak the language of companies and markets to a field that needs it. She can analyse the needs of a project, organise it and build the case for funding it. She currently supports Hinemoana Halo Ocean. I predict she will become the chief architect of many sustainability projects.

conservation.org/aotearoa/ hinemoana-halo

Read more: Rapha CEO Francois Convercey on diversity and sustainability in cycling

A man smiling wearing a white shirt and grey jacket

Dimitri Zhengelis

Dimitri Zenghelis, Special Advisor to the Wealth Economy project at the University of Cambridge, nominates:

Kingsmill Bond
I recommend energy strategist Kingsmill Bond for his work on low-carbon transition at the US-based Rocky Mountain Institute. He has always been ahead of the game in predicting the speed with which we will adopt renewables and other clean technologies.

rmi.org

A mosaic style painting in different shades of blue and red

Winds of Change, by Sarah Bond for Rocky Mountain Institute

A man wearing a white shirt, pocket handkerchief and a grey suit

Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel, founder and CEO of Alta Capital, an award-winning sustainable real-estate developer based in Hong Kong, nominates:

Eric Ricaurte
Founder CEO of Greenview, Eric is a pioneer in sustainable hospitality, starting in South America more than 25 years ago and building Greenview into a leading consultancy. Through his leadership, he has engaged some of the largest hotel groups in the world.

greenview.sg

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A pink jellyfish in blue water
A pink jellyfish in blue water

Summer Compass Jellyfish. Photo by Theo Vickers

The protection of biodiversity is becoming a key topic in the sustainability sector. Now we need to measure our economies’ effects on biodiversity fairly and effectively, says Markus Müller in an interview with Darius Sanai
A man wearing glasses and a black suit with a white shirt

Marküs Muller

LUX: How do we measure our effect on biodiversity, or compare worms with whales?
Markus Müller: We need to find metrics that account for local specifics but are globally comparable. There is a parallel with economic activity, because humans live, produce and consume locally, yet we have found global metrics to measure the economics of human interactions.

LUX: What is the most important measuring tool in the context of nature?
MM: One important metric is the Mean Species Abundance indicator, or MSA, which identifies the impacts of an economic activity on the mean species in a designated local area. It indicates the abundance of native species in a disturbed ecosystem relative to undisturbed ecosystems. Another measure is the Biodiversity Intactness Index, or BII. Both can help us obtain information around an ecosystem’s ability to deliver the ecosystem services we depend on, and understand the influence of economic activity on nature.

LUX: But won’t the MSA in a desert have a different metric to one in a rainforest?
MM: The ingredients are different, but it is about the amount of species. We have business activity in a location and from that we get data on its pressure and impact. That shows how the MSA is clustered according to the activity in terms of climate change, land use, nitrogen deposition, hunting, road disturbance and fragmentation.

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LUX: Is the metric accepted universally?
MM: It is getting more recognition by various institutions and participants. However, our goal should not be to have a universally accepted metric for its own sake; it should be on accounting for local specificities with a methodology that, in principle, can be applied globally. It is not 100 per cent perfect, but, given the need for urgent action, as made clear by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, I advocate not waiting till scientists have the perfect metric.

LUX: How will the metrics affect business?
MM: When we know the effect of a business activity on the MSA, we will then know the biodiversity cost of the activity, and we can bring that into the decision-making process around it.

LUX: Is the aim to have a tax or other regulation on businesses that affect the MSA?
MM: Yes. The disclosure of a company’s MSA would allow the market to better price its exposure to nature– and climate-related risks, and take these factors into account for a valuation.

LUX: Would it work like carbon credits?
MM: Biodiversity credits are not comparable to carbon credits in a key sense because, other than for the actual removal of greenhouse gas emissions, carbon credits are used to compensate for current carbon use. Biodiversity credits must be purely an incentive not to destroy biodiversity, not to offset its loss. We can use economic incentives, such as reduced taxation, or a market system in which participants exchange credits.

LUX: How will the nature market develop?
MM: It will likely develop as we’ve seen equity or fixed-income markets develop. I would add the caveat that we should never monetise nature, but understand its value and what it gives us, so we can protect the value that ecosystem services provide, while enabling their uninterrupted flow. We need to prioritise the intactness of nature.

three pink seahorses in the sea

Photo by David Clode

LUX: How will governments regulate this?
MM: It is a question of the governance of nature. If we do not know how to govern nature, we also do not know what kind of mechanism to use to manage and assess its governance. For example, effective governance also means you need to include local communities into the responsibility of governing these resources.

LUX: Is there the desire among governments and voters to make this happen?
MM: On the one hand I think, yes; on the other, it requires uncomfortable decisions. So we need to remind ourselves again about economics and diminishing marginal utility. Humans will act in a familiar pattern for as long as the marginal utility is positive. We only change when it is no longer possible to proceed as we were.

LUX: Will listed companies make decisions based around biodiversity incentives?
MM: Yes, regulation is going in this direction. We see it with 30 by 30 – the initiative to create protected areas across 30 per cent of Earth’s land and sea by 2030. More than 100 countries are signed up. This development must not be limited to a specific region like Europe, we need a joint framework; even better, a joint narrative.

LUX: Is there a risk that companies make decisions based on one factor – biodiversity at the expense of carbon emissions, say?
MM: Yes, this is a risk of sustainability. We see it as a goal but, like economics, it is not a goal but a tool. Ideally, my role will be redundant in 20 years, as sustainability will be incorporated into everything. I think, in time, MSA or BII will be comparable indicators to CO2 emissions.

Read more: Leaders on Leaders: the people saving our planet

LUX: What would you say to an investor who says, “I just invest to make money”?
MM: I would say this way of thinking belongs in the past. We have to acknowledge that a high negative impact on nature is a financial risk as well as an environmental one. Nature-based risks – and opportunities – will materialise and have an impact on a portfolio. Companies not taking these into account, through an adaptive strategy, will have to pay a higher price in the future.

LUX: In five years, will a private-equity fund take MSA into account in decision-making?
MM: Yes, I believe so. I think it will play an increasing role in impact investing, but it will also play a role in the consumer-goods space.

LUX: If you were in charge of the world, what would you ask people to do?
MM: Go back to our roots. Think local, act global. Take account of nature, because we are a part of it. It is naive to disregard the system we are dependent on. We can’t do that any more.

Markus Müller is Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Chief Investment Officer at Deutsche Bank’s Private Bank

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Teahpoo Bubble, 2 August 2017, Teahupoo, Tahiti, French Polynesia. © Ben Thouard

As Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, a central pillar of Patricia Scotland’s diplomatic work is to help the group of 56 Commonwealth countries – many with historical links to the UK – adapt to the impacts of climate change. It is an issue she knows all about

Scotland first became familiar with the effects of climate change in August 1979, when she was 24. In that month Hurricane David, a category 5 tropical storm, made landfall in her country of birth, Dominica, in the Caribbean. “It was one of the biggest category 5 hurricanes we’d seen,” she says. The damage was devastating: Dominica’s capital, Roseau, was described as “resembling an air raid”. Around three-quarters of Dominica’s population were made homeless and three-quarters of banana and coconut crops were destroyed.

“I remember it so graphically,” says Scotland. “My father, who was a very skilled carpenter-builder, left the UK and went to Dominica for months to help rebuild, because people had no houses and nowhere to stay. And it was a great shock.”

At the time, it was assumed that such severe storms would occur perhaps once a lifetime. But, owing to climate change, they may be becoming more frequent, as Scotland is only too aware, following two further disasters related to climate-change hazards. In August 2015, Tropical Storm Erika caused severe damage in Dominica and neighbouring countries. Then, in 2017, came Hurricane Maria.

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“It was the biggest hurricane the world had seen at that point,” remembers Scotland. Another category 5, Hurricane Maria encompassed the entire nation. “Everyone on the island was impacted,” she says. Dominica is thought of as a natural idyll with lush green vegetation, but when Scotland visited that year she barely recognised it. “Even the bark from the trees had been removed. I remember looking at one tree – it had one leaf and everything else was brown.” Decades of development, from bridges and schools to roads and houses, had been ripped from the ground and dumped in the sea.

Four decades on from her initial experience, the challenges, says Scotland, are to be ready for hurricanes and storms. “How can we build resilience while also mitigating the issue of climate change more broadly?” she asks. Today, these challenges, which also include encouraging financial institutions to step up and get creative, have become part of Scotland’s job.

Patricia Scotland was born in Dominica in 1955, moving at the age of two with her family to London, UK, where she still lives. In the 1970s she obtained a law degree and was called to the bar, and in 1991 she made history by becoming the first black woman appointed to be what was then a Queen’s Counsel (QC), marking her as an elite lawyer.

Later, in the 1990s, Scotland entered the UK government, holding a number of posts related to law and diplomacy, including a stint as Attorney General, the government’s most senior legal adviser. Her post came to an end in 2010, when the UK government changed. Then, in 2016, Baroness Scotland took up her current role as the sixth Secretary- General of the Commonwealth, a post she holds until 2024.

The Right Honourable Baroness Scotland

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of countries, many of which were once part of the British Empire. Established following decolonisation to maintain the links between the countries, today there are 56 members. Commonwealth states are on the front lines of climate change, says Scotland.

Of the 56 countries, 33 are small states, and 25 of those are small island developing states. “We’d rather call them ‘big blue ocean states’,” she says. “Some of them have [marine] jurisdictions larger than the largest big land states.” These states are heavily exposed to sea-level rise and tropical cyclones, and many depend on marine ecosystems such as coral reefs – which are also threatened by climate change.

Extreme weather events such as hurricanes will keep happening, but, as Scotland points out, we can reduce the impacts if we take action. There are two major approaches to climate change, which go hand in hand: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation means cutting greenhouse-gas emissions as much and as fast as possible, so the climate changes as little as possible. Alongside this, adaptation means helping countries and communities become resilient to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. Communities that have adapted suffer fewer deaths and less damage from extreme weather events, and recover more quickly and thoroughly. But adaptation costs money.

In 2009, developed countries promised to finance adaptation programmes in developing nations. They committed to provide $100 billion per year by 2020. “It was a bold recognition that this was necessary in order to assist those member states that had not contributed to the creation of the crisis,” says Scotland. “This was a real question of equity and fairness, because they were the ones who were going to have to adapt and mitigate a situation that they had not created.”

However, the promise was broken: even in 2023, annual adaptation funding is far short of $100 billion. “Although the world made that commitment, it didn’t actually identify how the $100 billion was going to be raised,” says Scotland. Worse, some governments were still contesting the reality of climate change. “That seems unreal now in 2023, but it was very real in 2009.”

And today, the adaptation bill has gone up, partly because of inflation, and partly because the delay has meant more urgency and more severe impacts. A 2021 UN Environment Programme report estimated just how much money is required annually for environmental projects, including adaptation. The bill comes to more than $500 billion per year. Other estimates are even higher. The bill for climate adaptation and other environmental needs will keep going up the more we delay, but there is a silver lining, says Scotland. Investing in adaptation reduces future costs and will enable the global economy to grow more. “This is a real invest-to-save,” she says.

The challenge is mobilising the money. It’s a multi-pronged challenge, but innovative financial strategies are a “really important” part of the solution, says Scotland. Several strategies have been proposed, and she says governments and funders should cast a wide net. “It’s not either-or, it’s all of them. People tend to say, ‘we’ll do this or we’ll do that’. It’s not ‘or’, it’s ‘and, and, and’.”

The Crack, 8 September 2017, Teahupoo, Tahiti, French Polynesia. © Ben Thouard

One useful form of finance is debt restructuring. Many developing countries have significant debts that reduce their ability to pay for new projects and make it harder for them to raise money from elsewhere. Countries like Dominica took out loans to pay for infrastructure, but when the hurricanes destroyed the infrastructure the government still had to pay the debts. “You still have that high level of indebtedness, but then you have to build back better [to become resilient],” says Scotland. “The costs are two or three times higher, but you’re burdened with the last debt with no relief.” This creates a “terrible cycle”.

To tackle this issue, multiple initiatives are helping countries manage or reduce their debt. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the G20 countries created a Debt Service Suspension Initiative. This relieved the debts of dozens of low-income countries, helping them to fight the pandemic, but it expired in December 2021. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth offers its member states a number of tools to manage their debts. The more that low-income countries can control their debts, the more money they will be able to raise for adaptation.

A related concept is a debt-for-nature swap. Here, a country has some of its debt written off, and, in exchange, the government commits to undertake environmental-protection initiatives, which can include climate adaptation. The Seychelles, a Commonwealth member, is a prominent success story. In the 2010s, the country set out to convert $21.6 million of its national debt into nature programmes. These included financing for climate adaptation by improving management of coasts, coral reefs and mangroves – all of which protect against tropical storms and rising seas, and provide other ecosystem services.The country also protected some of its waters.

Read more: Jean-Baptiste Jouffray on the future of the world’s oceans

Scotland says it’s essential to help countries obtain the climate money that is out there. “Most of the countries, unfortunately, that are most in need are least able to get access,” she says. Often they are told that they do not have enough empirical data to support their application, or that they haven’t followed arcane bureaucratic procedures. Scotland compares it to Waiting for Godot. In response, the Commonwealth has created a Climate Finance Access Hub, which provides expert advisers to help countries navigate the application processes. “We’ve already delivered into the hands of our small developing member states $70 million,” says Scotland. The pandemic caused delays, but more is coming. “We have over $420 million worth of projects in the pipeline.”

For Scotland, it’s creative and collaborative projects like these that will ensure countries adapt to climate change. “I believe we can do this,” she says. “This is a matter of choice.”

Perhaps it should be no surprise that an organisation like the Commonwealth, which has such a mix of countries among its members, is ahead of the curve on tackling climate change. Back in 1989, three years before the Rio Earth Summit, where countries agreed in principle to stop climate change, the Commonwealth issued the Langkawi Declaration on the Environment. The declaration highlighted “the serious deterioration in the environment” and called on governments to commit to “sustainable development”. More than three decades later, everyone else is catching on.

Find out more: thecommonwealth.org

This article was first published in the Deutsche Bank Supplement in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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A wave crashing into the sea
A wave crashing into the sea

Photo by Ben Thouard

To achieve the Paris Agreement target of net zero by 2050, the world needs to shift to green infrastructure – now. In part 1 of our two-part series on making that change, Claire Asher shows how the public and private sectors can speed the move from fossil fuels to green energy

Giving up our addiction to fossil fuels will be the biggest energy transition the modern world has seen. It will require rapid changes to our energy systems and huge investments from both the public and private sectors, and it will be essential to ensure a liveable climate for generations to come.

A man with grey hair wearing a black t-shirt

Roberto Schaeffer

The first steps in this transition are already underway. By redesigning systems, such as heating and transportation, to use electricity rather than liquid or gas fuel, we gain the flexibility to generate that energy from a variety of sources. “Everything that can be electrified will have to be electrified,” says Roberto Schaeffer, Professor of Energy Economics at the Energy Planning Program of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Our future energy portfolio will likely include a mixture of wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, biofuels and nuclear energy, tailored regionally to match local availability, as well as social and political priorities.

“Our total energy use will decline significantly as we electrify transportation and heating,” says Anthony Patt, Full Professor of Climate Policy at the Institute of Environmental Decisions (ETH) in Zurich. Nevertheless, global electricity demand will likely rise as we transition, to replace existing coal- and gas-fired power plants and to replace fossil fuels used in transportation and heating. “We’re going to need a lot of new power, a lot of investment into wind and solar,” he says.

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In the short term, growing energy demands will be eased by improving efficiency. “There’s capital needed in the near term to help reduce energy wastage,” says Alice Miles, Head of Infrastructure Specialists at DWS Group asset managers. “It sounds a lot less glamorous, but there needs to be investment to upgrade to more efficient air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration systems, better insulation and better boilers.”

Balancing Supply and Demand

Compared with fossil fuels, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric provide a less consistent output that varies daily and seasonally, so matching energy supply with demand will be challenging. The most obvious solution is to store energy for later use, but installing batteries to store electricity is not cost-effective. “If you’re thinking about storing power from one season to the next, it becomes almost prohibitively expensive,” says Patt.

A man wearing a grey blazer and white shirt

Anthony Patt

Scaling up battery storage will also place pressure on global supply chains. Current battery technology relies on specific minerals, such as lithium and cobalt, which are produced in only a few countries, including China, Bolivia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although renewables promise increased energy independence, Schaeffer warns that, “with the energy transition, we may become even more dependent on a few countries because of the need for these materials.”

An alternative to large-scale energy storage is large-scale energy grids. “We need a grid that is bigger than our weather systems to balance out the regional differences in production,” says Patt. Weather systems alter wind speeds for days at a time, at the scale of hundreds of kilometres, so this will mean “moving from a national model of electricity planning to a more European model, and with a lot of grid interconnections,” he explains. With the right continental-scale planning and grid infrastructure in place, “you could install enough wind and solar in the right places, so that we wouldn’t have to store electricity,” adds Patt. However, this may be politically challenging.

Building a Diverse Energy Portfolio

“The number of sectors where it is cost-effective to electrify has only been increasing,” says Patt. But there are exceptions, such as the steel and chemicals industries, aviation and shipping. Alternative fuels will be needed to reach net zero in these sectors.

Biofuels, such as bioethanol or biodiesel, are one such alternative. “Biofuels can be engineered to produce exactly the kind of molecule we need for a plane or a ship, meaning that you don’t need to adapt,” Schaeffer suggests. “Similarly, some oil refineries can be adapted to also co-process biomass.” This has the further advantage of mitigating the inevitable obsolescence of existing infrastructure. However, the role of biofuels will likely be limited by competition with food crops for available fertile land and fresh water.

Synthetic fuels, produced directly from water and carbon dioxide using solar energy, could be used as an alternative to fossil fuels for sectors such as long-haul air travel and shipping. But these technologies are not yet fully mature.

A third option is hydrogen, although currently most hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels. “Really, the only sustainable option is so-called green hydrogen, which uses renewable power to split water into hydrogen and oxygen,” says Patt. This method could be used in chemicals industries that require extremely high temperatures, or as a replacement for coal in the steel industry. Elsewhere, Patt believes hydrogen’s role will be limited. “It’s going to be much more efficient to just use electricity,” he explains.

Climate Change Threat to Energy Infrastructure

Energy infrastructure was designed to withstand climate and weather conditions experienced over past centuries, but the coming decades will bring more extremes, meaning that current infrastructure will be operating outside its tolerance levels more frequently. For example, sea-level rise poses risks to coastal fossil-fuel extraction and processing infrastructure, such as oil and natural-gas platforms and refineries; increasingly frequent and severe storms can damage energy transmission lines, such as overhead electricity pylons; extreme heatwaves and drought could impact the water-based cooling systems used by coal and nuclear power plants.

Existing infrastructure may need to be adapted to cope with these extremes, and new infrastructure will need to be designed to withstand the new normal. “We have to build infrastructure that’s going to be capable of dealing with a new world,” Schaeffer explains.

There is, however, an irony in some cases. “Renewables seem to be much more vulnerable to climate change,” Schaeffer says. This is because they rely on natural processes that may be disrupted as the climate changes, such as rainfall and air currents that drive hydroelectric and wind turbines. “It is paradoxical that fossil fuels are more reliable in the face of climate change,” he adds. Changing weather patterns may reduce hydropower output, by making dry spells drier and overloading the system during the wet season. However, computer simulations by Patt and colleagues suggest that the impact of climate change on total energy output from wind and solar will be small.

bubbles under the sea

Photo by Ben Thouard

Creating the Right Regulatory Environment

“From a technical point of view, the energy problem is solvable,” says Schaeffer. Renewable electricity is now the cheapest source of power in most regions, and estimates suggest that it could satisfy 65 per cent of the world’s energy needs by 2030. However, new infrastructure means large and long-term investments.

“The critical thing is to create a regulatory environment in which anybody investing in renewable-energy production knows they’ll make money,” says Patt. An example would be government incentive schemes, such as feed-in tariffs, which guarantee a fixed price per unit of renewable energy. “These remove the issue of market volatility, which has been a major impediment to new investment in the power system,” says Patt. “Solar and wind are cheap enough now that these policies don’t have to be expensive, but they are important to remove market volatility and guarantee a positive return on investment.”

Read more: Markus Müller on the links between the ocean and the economy

Recent global crises have underscored the need for a global energy transition. “There has really been a shift in mindset,” says Miles. “There were a couple of things that drove that change and crystallised the focus. The war in Ukraine was one, both in terms of the huge increase in the cost of energy, but also energy security, particularly in Europe; COVID-19 was the other.”

With increases in oil and gas prices, disruptions to global supply chains, concerns about energy security and the impacts of climate change becoming increasingly visible, more businesses and investors understand that the energy transition is not only needed, but presents a valuable opportunity. “In the EU alone, it’s estimated that the green transition will cost €350bn, of which €250bn will need to come from non-government sources,” explains Miles. “Investors increasingly recognise the opportunity to support the energy transition while generating an attractive return.”

How to scale up to net zero

To achieve the Paris Agreement target of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, green-energy solutions not only need to happen, but need to scale up fast. This urgency presents opportunities for investors hoping to support the energy transition and see a positive return on their investment. “I think private capital will play a huge role in taking businesses with proven business models and proven technology, but which need scale, to the next level of growth,” says Alice Miles, Head of Infrastructure Specialists at DWS Group. “Without scale, a lot of these initiatives are just a drop in the ocean.”

A woman with brown hair wearing a black top with sheer shoulders

Alice Miles

The infrastructure for generating renewable energy, such as wind and solar, tends to have high initial investment costs, but relatively low operating and maintenance costs. Once operational, renewables projects can sometimes provide investors with stable revenue that is relatively sheltered from price volatilities. For example, power purchase agreements (PPAs) between electricity generators and consumers such as utility companies, set a fixed price per unit of electricity over a multi-year time frame, offering stability and de-risking revenues for the generators. However, in other scenarios, investors may be exposed to energy price volatility without recourse to protect themselves.

“There’s a virtuous relationship here, because there are investors with capital to deploy who want to see a good return, and then there are companies with proven technologies that need to scale,” says Miles. “Both of those parties can win – and we can all win – by finding the right way to route capital to the companies that can make an enormous contribution to the energy transition story.”

This article was first published in the Deustche Bank Supplement in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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A leopard
A river with marshes around it

The Syväysjoki peatlands within the Koitajoki Basin, Finland. Peatlands like this have been damaged through drainage, peat-mining, and planting for commercial forestry © Mika Honkalinna/Snowchange.

Financier, philanthropist and environmentalist Ben Goldsmith explains how environmental conservation became such an important aspect of his life and why it should be at the forefront of all philanthropists’ agendas

I am lucky enough to be raising a family on a former dairy farm in an area of low agricultural productivity, in South Somerset’s Selwood Forest. Until the Victorian era, a great mosaic woodland stretched across this landscape, from Bath to Wells and down to Frome. This was a landscape of extraordinary natural abundance and vibrancy, in large part on account of the grazing, browsing, rootling and dung of the free-roaming hardy pigs and horned cattle that were turned out by villagers into the forest. These were of course proxies for the wild boar and aurochs of an even earlier age, keystones of the forest ecosystem.

People walking on marshes collecting parts

Solent Seagrass Champions restoring seagrass meadows on the Isle of Wight © Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trusts/Blue Marine Foundation

Recently, alongside two neighbours, we decided to set about reviving the lost woodland. We tore out fencing, switched to native cattle in far lower numbers, rewiggled streams and revived ghost ponds. As the field shapes have begun to dissolve into the landscape, and little patches of crab apple, hawthorn and willow have begun to emerge everywhere, the results have been both startling and magical.

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Life has poured back in; the birdsong in spring is at times overwhelming in its intensity, a string of dammed pools created by beavers along the bottom of the valley now abounds with amphibians and dragonflies, the open areas are a riot of wildflowers and tiny chirruping crickets. By comparison, the surrounding landscape seems silent, drained of colour.

hands holding a baby turtle

A baby Hawksbill sea turtle in White Sands, Canash Beach, St.Vincent. Photo by Stephan Hornsey

Immersing myself in this transformation has brought me a greater sense of joy and meaning than anything I’ve done in my life. The natural fabric of the world, in other words that vast life support system on which we depend utterly for everything we have and everything we do, is quite simply blinking out all around us. And yet, here in Selwood, I have seen first-hand that nature rebounds with astonishing intensity and speed. All we need to do is give it the chance. In the grand scheme of things, this is not expensive to do. So why are philanthropists, large and small, not grabbing the opportunity to participate in a movement that is at the same time so vital and so rewarding? Owning land is a niche privilege which appeals to some; but participating in the restoration of nature need not be.

A seal in the sea smiling

The critically endangered monk seal. In Turkey the project is establishing marine protected areas along 500 km of coastline. Artificial nesting platforms have been constructed, which are increasing the monk seal’s breeding success © Fauna & Flora

Just 3% or so of all the money given away philanthropically is directed towards the protection and restoration of the natural environment. Almost ten times as much is given to the arts. Happily though, modest amounts of environmental philanthropy, well directed, is capable of catalysing great change. Lisbet Rausing’s marvellous Arcadia Fund has created an Endangered Landscapes Programme, which dishes out grants of up to €5 million towards the long-term restoration and protection of Europe’s largest remaining intact landscapes. The money is geared towards piecing ecosystems back together, reintroducing missing species, and perhaps most importantly, establishing long-term local prosperity arising from richly abundant nature. It works. Great swathes of Europe are coming back to life as a result of this one programme.

fishing nets hanging on a tree on a beach

Questelles beach, St.Vincent successfully hatched hawksbill nests in 2022. Photo by Stephan Hornsey

Sir Christopher Hohn’s Children’s Investment Fund Foundation has made huge contributions to the Foundation for International Litigation on the Environment, as well as underwriting the spectacular growth of Client Earth. These two organisations are using the law all across the world to win key environmental battles on everything from air pollution in cities to the protection of old growth forests. Each successful case sets a precedent which makes the cost of trashing nature that much higher for companies or governments which might be tempted. This is game-changing work.

horses running in the woods

Reintroduction of large herbivores in the Danube Delta, including König horses, is restoring dynamic ecological processes in the floodplain © Andrey Nekrasov/Rewilding Ukraine

Meanwhile, the big idea of Conservation Collective, which I chair, is that people are far more likely to give their time and money towards restoring nature in the place that they love. There are now twenty locally-focused Conservation Collective foundations across the world, from Barbados to the Balearic Islands, Devon to the Dalmatian Coast. Each one of these is comprised of a dozen or more supporters who give in the thousands rather than the millions, their money strategically distributed to the most effective grassroots restoration and activist initiatives in the place that is closest to their own heart.

Read more: Kering’s Marie-Claire Daveu on the future of sustainability

Vultures are recovering from near extinction in Cyprus, new forest corridors in Sri Lanka are enabling leopards to move between protected areas and the ban on killing sea turtles in St Vincent and the Grenadines is being enforced by local monitors. The network is growing beyond our wildest imaginings, because playing a part in the dramatic recovery of nature is hugely appealing, and ultimately addictive.

a leopard walking

One of Wilpattu National Park’s dominant male leopards, the Kumbuk Villa Male, doing his morning rounds. Photo by Yanik Tissera

Every important victory that has been secured, from the saving of the whales in the 1970s to the turning of the tide on the destruction of the ozone layer in the 1990s, has happened because of small groups of passionate, brilliant people – supported by the generosity of philanthropists large and small. Giving a small amount each month to one of these organisations is a meaningful, radical and powerfully rewarding act, one which far too few people in our society have discovered.

A family sitting on the ground by a river

Ben Goldsmith and his family

The three most effective things any one of us can do towards fixing this, the mother of all issues, and moving our civilisation into a new age of harmony with nature are: to vote with nature in mind; to buy stuff mindfully; and to choose a nature organisation to support with whatever regular amount you can afford. Once you start, you won’t stop. And when your children or grandchildren one day ask you what role you played in all of this, you’ll have an answer for them.

Find out more: conservation-collective.org

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People looking at fabrics on a table
materials hung up mannequins

Sustainable samples at Kering’s Material Innovation Lab, Milan

When Kering, the French luxury conglomerate that owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta, introduced a radical sustainability programme just over ten years ago, the rest of the industry was bemused. Now the group is seen as visionary. Marie-Claire Daveu, the group’s Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer, who oversaw the programme and introduced the first EP&L in the luxury industry, speaks to Darius Sanai about what happens next
A blonde woman wearing a black turtle neck and a white coat

Marie-Claire Daveu

Darius Sanai: How has fashion progressed in sustainability in the past ten years?
Marie-Claire Daveu: I see a big difference. I joined Kering in September 2012 and I think [Kering CEO] François-Henri Pinault was really pioneering. We were a little bit alone when we spoke about this topic and about how we can measure what we do. For us, from the start, it was really key to have the same approach to sustainability that we have for financial commitments – to have KPI metrics and competitive targets. Now, if we look around, we can see more and more that there is better awareness from many companies. The data and the challenges linked with climate change and biodiversity are now well known and recognised by the majority of companies.

The outside window of a Gucci store

Gucci, one of Kering’s iconic brands

DS: Are words being backed up by action?
MCD: Yes, and we need to act operationally. Here are two examples. First, the Fashion Pact [a fashion-industry initiative created by French President Emmanuel Macron and François- Henri Pinault, presented at the G7 in 2019]. We now have more than 250 companies involved, and we have been able to put in place a Collective Virtual Power Purchase Agreement, to buy renewable energy together. Another example is the Regenerative Fund for Nature that we created with Conservation International, linked to regenerative agriculture.

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DS: Will regenerative agriculture become mainstream in fashion?
MCD: It is difficult to say what the future looks like, but I hope so. I think it’s reasonable because you have positive impact on the environmental side and you take the community into account. It’s different to conventional agriculture, and also to organic agriculture, which sometimes can be challenging for communities. You have to accept it takes time because the transformation takes at least three years. For companies like ours, that use cotton, silk and wool, you have to also create a sustainable supply chain.

People looking at fabrics on a table

The Kering Material Innovation Lab team at work in Milan

DS: How can companies with fewer resources match your idealism?
MCD: I don’t think I am idealistic. I’d say I am optimistic, not idealistic. I try to be pragmatic. I am conscious about the challenges, about the issues. My strong conviction is, if you are a company and you do not include this topic in your strategy, I think it is questionable whether the company will survive. Take energy, for example. Energy is crucial to a business model. If you don’t think about efficiency you will have a problem. So we link back – if more and more investors and analysts pay attention to this topic, it will be a challenge to have access to credit if you do not. You will be able to compare companies against each other with metrics.

DS: President Biden just overturned the recent Congress ban on using ESG metrics in investment. Is there still a danger that support will just be in the EU?
MCD: One of the key criteria is that all over the world, consumers are speaking about these things. We won’t have the choice. It is better to anticipate and be well prepared. It is very interesting to see that even in some countries where the regulation and the policies are different, private companies themselves are investing in what we call ESG criteria. Even in countries where the regulation is different, it is still in their interests.

A forest with a stream running through it

View of a Kering reforestation programme in Guyana

DS: So what is the biggest challenge?
MCD: The big challenge is the question of speed. How fast will we be able to transform the business model to make the ecological transition and to really integrate and scale the topic? I don’t have the answer today, because I think it will take us a few years to do this.

DS: Is there a governance issue in less developed economies?
MCD: We have to maximise our operational involvement on the ground for our projects. Each time, we identify an NGO that is global but also local to follow the project and to be really involved, so we can ensure that what we have planned is really implemented on the ground. That’s not a perfect answer, but we want to be sure that what we decide to do becomes a reality. It’s really key to identify the right partner to do this. If I am in Mongolia, I need to know I have the right partner on the ground and, if not, I will come in from Paris and check.

The outside of a Balenciaga store

Balenciaga, another of Kering’s most renowned brands

DS: Do luxury consumers make decisions based around sustainability?
MCD: I am convinced that, for the luxury customer, sustainability is part of the quality, part of the reason they buy a luxury product. For them, it is important that the raw materials are being produced in a way that pays attention to people and the planet.

Read more: Fausto Puglisi Interview: Refashioning Roberto Cavalli

DS: Do consumers understand, say, the link between biodiversity and climate change?
MCD: Do people always make those connections? No, but they are very aware of climate change – they see and live it. It is now something that has already happened. True, sometimes there can seem a distant connection between buying a product and the impact on the environment or biodiversity, and some people will say that their impact is nothing compared to that of a factory. But really, I see a change. The new generation are afraid of what is happening, and we speak more and more about what is happening. It was not the case before, but today, everyone has something to say about the topic.

Find out more: kering.com/en/sustainability

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Two men standing next to a blue statue of a person
Two men standing next to a blue statue of a person

Oliver Wenden, Vice President & CEO of the Prince Albert II Foundation standing with artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar next to his specially created human-sized enamel sculpture. Photo by David M. Benett

Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation held a joint event with Cap Ferrat based artist, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, to launch the opening of Behnam-Bakhtiar’s solo show ‘Ocean’ at the the foundation’s headquarters, Villa Girasole. The partnership for the show was formed to raise awareness and funds for the conservation of the planet, and specifically the oceans

Olivier Wenden, Vice President & CEO of the Prince Albert II Foundation, noted,  “Sassan’s talent is quite unique. I really love the discussion in his colourful paintings between abstraction and figurative scenes. They also open a discussion between traditional art, symbolic of the Persian mosaic, and modernity.

A half red, half blue painting

Sassan’s commitment to help raise awareness for the preservation of the planet through his talent and art is very essential. In addition to scientific messaging, we need to convey new ecological narratives that are more directly connected to our hearts.”

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Three women wearing blue, black and white dresses standing between two men

Left to right: Cesc Fàbregas, Natalie Imbruglia, Daniella Fabregas, Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar and Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar. Photo by David M. Benett

When Wenden was asked about his favourite piece he chose the ‘Towards the Ocean’ painting, saying that it “conveys a central question about the place of the ocean in our life. The ocean is our best ally in tackling the issue of climate change, and at the same time it needs all our attention because it is threatened by many human induced pressures. We can’t save our future without saving the global ocean.”

A blue painting

On his show Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar said “If the energy of the ocean had a romantic dance with my own artistic energy, the result would be these site specific works created for the historic Villa Girasole, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.”

A group of people standing outside an entrance arch into a buildng

The guests who attended the private view of ‘Ocean’. Photo by David M. Benett

Read more: The Special Relationship of Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Ali Jassim

Behnam-Bakhtiar chose to partner with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation because their “vision on progressing ocean and planetary health is unmatched.” As a true believer in their mission, he is “proud to be teaming up with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.”

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar‘s exhibition will be on display at Villa Girasole from June 30th to September 15th 2023

 

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A black and white image of huge waves about to crash into the sea
An underwater vortex of waves in the sea

Photo by Ben Thouard

Creating a sustainable blue economy – meaning we can invest in businesses directly related to the oceans while avoiding negative impact – is one of the most important tasks on humankind’s to-do list. Below, LUX speaks with Muriel Danis of Deutsche Bank about the challenges. Chris Stokel-Walker also speaks to entrepreneurs trying to make a positive impact in the ocean space

Muriel Danis on building investment opportunities in the sustainable blue economy

A woman wearing a white shirt

Muriel Danis

One of the challenges faced by investors interested in the sustainable blue economy is that it is an emerging landscape. “It’s a very nascent space,” says Muriel Danis, Global Head of Product Platforms and Sustainable Solutions at Deutsche Bank’s International Private Bank. “There are few products dedicated to the blue economy. What we see more often, especially in the private markets space, is a broader, impact approach to investing, with a sub-allocation for ocean-based investments.”

Danis is overhauling the products at Deutsche Bank by making sustainability a central part of the tenet. She is incorporating ESG qualitative and quantitative factors into the product development process to meet regulatory requirements and help identify “best in class” managers and solutions. That is easier said than done. Most liquid products available today focus primarily on what Danis calls a “do no harm approach”: they tend to exclude from investment portfolios any sectors or activities that have a materially negative impact on the oceans. However, in private markets there may be more product opportunities able to deliver material and measurable positive outcomes. “We are seeing a number of VC funds that are directly investing in technologies and capabilities that protect marine biodiversity,” says Danis. “By targeting overfishing, ocean pollution and climate change, they are supporting a sustainable blue economy.”

A black and white image of huge waves about to crash into the sea

Photo by Ben Thouard

“We think this will be an expanding universe,” adds Danis. That’s partly driven by investor demand, and partly by increased policy action. A good example is the recent UN High Seas Treaty, which aims to place 30 per cent of the seas into protected areas by 2030. This will support increased finance flows into sectors of the sustainable blue economy impacted by the 30 x 30 agreement. “As the market becomes more mature,” says Danis, “we will see more need for financing to support the transition of business models to what I would call a blue or green model.”

Danis is spearheading that transition by making connections to blue economy pioneers. One such opportunity was the DB x ORRAA Ocean Conference hosted in 2022 in Mallorca. In the first conference of its kind, Deutsche Bank invited a range of companies and their founders, including some of those featured below, to demystify the sustainable blue economy and show how private capital can help achieve positive ocean impact at scale.

Entrepreneurs on creating businesses for the good of the oceans

A new generation of individuals are setting up companies worldwide to radically overhaul how we interact with our oceans, and help save our planet while building a sustainable economy

A woman wearing a black top and glasses

Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz

Replacing ship engines with sails
Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz
Co-founder, bound4blue, Barcelona

Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz always wanted to be a doctor. “I thought the only way to do good in theworld was to save lives,” she says. But a chance conversation with a teacher who suggested engineering changed her path.

Muñoz became an aeronautical engineer, working on planes and space shuttles before pivoting to the maritime industry. That aerodynamic expertise helped when she launched bound4blue with her co-founders. The challenge was to overcome the shipping industry’s fuel-consumption problem – shipping alone accounts for 2.5 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions.

“I think engineering can help solve today’s hardest problems, make sustainability profitable and be something that can be developed and implemented,” says Muñoz. The company has developed a wind-propelled eSAIL that can reduce emissions by up to 40 per cent, and which it has tested on three ships. “The intention is for around 80 per cent of the global fleet to benefit from this type of solution,” she says.

bound4blue.com

Marine-friendly robotics
Liane Thompson
Co-founder, Aquaai, California and Norway

A woman with long wavy hair

Liane Thompson

As a journalist for The New York Times, Liane Thompson used to travel the world. Once, while she was in South Africa, she reported on an entrepreneur called Simeon Pieterkosky. Little did she know then that she would reconnect with Pieterkosky around a decade later in 2014 to develop Aquaai.

The husband-and-wife’s marine-robotics company builds affordable Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), which it calls Nammu. These are shaped like fish and are used to gather environmental data deep underwater, without intruding on the marine life living there. The AUVs are 3D printed and come installed with off-the-shelf cameras and sensors – deliberately so, says Thompson, so that people can build their own in communities that need them most.

And that need is ever increasing, says Thompson, “given superstorms, floods, the proteins and food sources coming out of underwater farming, and the need to protect marine habitats and corals.”

aquaai.com

Biodiversity-friendly coastal concrete
Ido Sella
Co-founder, ECOncrete, Tel Aviv

A bald man wearing a white shirt

Ido Sella

Marine biologist Dr Ido Sella has been fixated on the impact of coastal construction on the marine environment for more than 20 years. His bugbear? Concrete, as it doesn’t support the same biodiversity as other substrates. In an ideal world, natural reef would mark out ports and create promontories – but that won’t happen. So Sella worked to develop a material that would be better than the concrete used in 70 per cent of coastal infrastructure.

And so, in 2012, ECOncrete was born. A decade ago, the company started experimenting in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. The findings were shocking: the mix itself was an issue, as was the surface and the structural strength. ECOncrete solves all three problems: its Admix can be added to regular concrete to provide a better chemical balance for marine life, its texture agents help marine life cling to the structures and their moulds help create ecological niches and strengthen the structures.

ECOncrete is now used in breakwaters and ports globally. “There is a real drive from the industry to look for these solutions,” says Sella.

econcretetech.com

The curve of a wave and the blue sky

Photo by Ben Thouard

Large-scale coral regrowth
Sam Teicher
Co-founder, Coral Vita, Freeport

A man with a beard wearing a white t-shirt and shirt

Sam Teicher

At the age of 13, Sam Teicher gained a scuba- diving certification. “I’ve loved the ocean and nature my whole life,” he says. “As a kid from Washington D.C., I grew up imagining I was going to become a coral farmer.” Teicher studied the environment and climate change in college, then grad school. It was through working at a friend’s NGO between courses that he was first introduced to coral restoration – and it became his life’s work.

Coral Vita, the company Teicher co-founded in 2019, grows coral 50 times faster than it would grow in nature – so it can be replenished as modern life diminishes our reserves of the natural resource. Started with a $1,000 grant from Yale, where Teicher and his co-founder met, Coral Vita is now behind the world’s first commercial land-based coral-reef farm, in Freeport, Grand Bahama, where the coral grown is being used to replenish the reef. In 2021, the company won Prince William’s inaugural Revive Our Oceans Earthshot Prize. “We hope to kick-start the whole restoration economy,” says Teicher.

coralvita.co

Biodegradable packaging and materials
Jack Sieff
Corporate Development Manager, Polymateria, London

A man sitting down with his hands on this lap wearing a suit

Jack Sieff

Plastic waste is a major problem for the world’s oceans, strangling marine life and jeopardising biodiversity systems. There is now an estimated 30 million tonnes of plastic waste in the world’s sea and oceans.

Founded in 2015 by Jack Sieff’s father Jonathan, Polymateria has developed biodegradable alternatives to plastic. In 2020, Polymateria reached a major milestone, achieving certified biodegradation of the most commonly littered forms of plastic packaging in real-world conditions, all without creating the harmful microplastics the world is seeking to avoid. “Since the launch of that standard, we’ve seen a domino effect,” Sieff says, as many countries are adopting similar standards.

Polymateria’s biodegradable materials are now utilised in items such as masks and wipes, along with other uses. The company raised £15 million in its Series-A funding before the pandemic hit, and is about to close out a Series-B round, bringing in a further £20 million.

polymateria.com

Autonomous sailing fleet that creates power
Ben Medland
Founder, DRIFT Energy, London

A man wearing a back suit and white shirt

Ben Medland

Engineer Ben Medland didn’t know how to answer when his eight-year-old son asked him, “Daddy, why is the climate broken? And how can we fix it?” Medland’s son had been reading about a recent COP conference, and had noticed that the nearby wind farm just wasn’t moving. What could be done? Medland vowed to try to change things by turning the 70 per cent of the planet that traditional renewables don’t reach – the world’s oceans – into an energy source. He admits that it is a “crazy” idea, but it is one that works.

DRIFT, founded in 2021, creates sailboats, augmented with turbines, which will go through the water, guided by AI to inform them of the most beneficial route to pick up power. The tides themselves generate energy into the turbine, which is stored onboard as green hydrogen using a process called electrolysis.

Better yet, that onboard green energy can then be used wherever the sailboats end up docking – bringing green energy to the parts of the world that need it the most.

drift.energy

This article was first published in the Deustche Bank Supplement in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Photo by Tim Marshall

Ahead of World Ocean Day, LUX speaks to Jean-Baptiste Jouffray, researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, about his work on the Anthropocene, the blue acceleration, and why saving our oceans must be a collaborative effort
boy in a grey polo neck

Jean-Baptiste Jouffray

LUX: The use of the word Anthropocene has only become widespread in the scientific community fairly recently, but it’s now a key focus of your work. Why is this terminology important?
Jean Baptiste Jouffray: The Anthropocene is often described as this new period or epoch or era where humans have become a dominant force of planetary change, with profound impact on, not just the climate system, but also all sorts of ecosystems and the functioning of the earth’s system. It’s essential to my work as an analytical framework. It’s more than just entering a discussion about whether it’s a geological epoch, which means agreeing when it starts exactly. Does it start after WW2 when we start using radioactivity? Does it start exactly 2000 years ago? Does it start 10,000 years ago when we started to have agriculture and other things? I think it is more important to use it as an analytical framework, rather than focusing on those types of questions. It’s often characterised by unprecedented speed, scale and connectivity across sectors, across people, across regions, across socioeconomic contexts. What do these things mean? How do we make sure we move forward in a more sustainable and equitable way? I think that’s the power of the Anthropocene, in my work at least. Others focus more on the geological aspect of it and the question of whether it is the next geological era after the Holocene or not.

LUX: You say that in your work you use inter- and transdisciplinary approaches, which is a method which is becoming more prevalent across STEM fields. Would you say that this is particularly important when researching sustainability?
JJ: Absolutely. That’s because I think sustainability is a different kind of science. It has been described as a science for which the real test of success will be implementing its knowledge to solve the big societal challenges. So, in that sense, I think sustainability science is about translating knowledge into action. It’s not just about creating knowledge for the sake of it, but really creating knowledge, and ideally co-creating knowledge amongst multiple stakeholders to solve the problems we’re facing. Sustainable science is often said to be problem-driven and solution-oriented, and in that sense you need more than just one discipline. You have to synthesise knowledge across academic disciplines.

Beyond academia, you also need to engage with different societal actors, be it governments, NGOs or the private sector, for instance. It’s true that the coproduction of knowledge should also lead to co-operation in the designing of solutions and their implementation. If it’s just a top down thing, scientists in their ivory tower and the rest of the world, it’s not going to work.

Photo by Ivan Bandura

Photo by Ivan bandura

LUX: You have been involved with SeaBOS, the organisation involved in creating a dialogue between corporations and experts in sustainability. Obviously businesses are becoming more engaged with science, but how are they really doing this and do you think we have a long way to go?
JJ: Yes we do. But it’s good that we have started somewhere. I think SeaBOS is an example of what I just described, it’s scientists coming together with businesses and trying to co-produce knowledge, agreeing on what the challenges are and discussing what the possible solutions could be. It’s really that kind of science-business dialogue that has been a really fascinating experience. I think this is because, ultimately, it is a dance between those two entities; you have to compromise somewhere. For example, scientists usually like to see more results or ambitious time goals, and then the business side also have to deal with the reality of their own operations and what is feasible. You have to adapt to the other side, and this is a really exciting prospect.

We need collective and collaborative action across the whole supply chain. It’s not just miscellaneous companies and scientists: we need the financiers involved, we need governments to set up the right regulatory landscapes to incentivise better practices, and consumers need to be aware of it as well. So it is really that collective and collaborative approach that can accelerate sustainability.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Is it realistic to expect consumers to understand the science and the environmental impacts behind their purchases? Do they need to?
JJ: They need to understand it in order to add another dimension of pressure in what I just described in terms of collaborative and collective action. I think consumers have a role to play, but whether they should have the sole responsibility, I don’t think so. In an ideal world, as a consumer you would enter a grocery store and only have sustainable products to choose from, you wouldn’t have to choose between a sustainable version and an unsustainable version, often with a price premium for the sustainable one, which brings more difficulties.

I think for this question it is a yes and no. Yes, they do have a role to play, and we’ve seen it in boycott or buycott campaigns which have had a really strong influence on industry. One of the most widespread mechanisms used by companies is certification or labelling of products, and we do see that it has an impact, but also limits. If you do a survey and show maybe half a dozen labels to a random, average consumer or customer in the grocery store, they will recognise some that do not exist. This was actually done in the context of seafood when consumers were presented with labels; they were recognising some of the legit ones as well as some that were totally made up.

Photo by Ivan Bandura

LUX: How do you see the relationship between science and governmental policy and what role do you think researchers should play in shaping policy and decisions?
JJ: Speaking from my own field of sustainability science  I think scientists have a really big role to play. This goes back to this example of staying in your ivory tower and publishing papers and then moving onto the next one, without really caring what happens next. I think that model of operating – again, for sustainability science, I want to make that distinction because I think there are a lot of applied or fundamental sciences that are different and that we need for the sake of them. But in the context of sustainability, it has to operate with the ambition to translate that knowledge into action, and that means communicating it to different stakeholders, like the private sector, but certainly to governments so that policy decisions are evidence based. That’s really what the IPCC is about in the context of climate change.

On the other hand, however, this doesn’t mean we always need to wait for science to act. I think there is a double-edged sword to big organisations like the IPCC, and that’s why several of the scientists who have been engaged for years in the IPCC and various reports, have publicly said this will be their last report. They will not contribute anymore because it gives the impression that we need to wait for the next report to have more information to act upon, when in fact we have all of the information we need to know in terms of the urgency of the situation and to know the solution to it, and therefore we need to act.

LUX: Can you explain what is meant by ‘blue acceleration’ and what this means for our oceans going forwards?
JJ: The term blue acceleration is something we coined very much in the spirit of the Great Acceleration idea and concept by Will Steffen, who recently passed away and was a giant of science. He used the term of the Great Acceleration to describe an exponential growth. The growth usually starts in the Industrial Revolution, but it really takes off in the mid-50s after WW2. You see across economic and socio environmental variables with population, GDP, deforestation, CO2 emissions across the board, you see that really rapid, exponential growth. Of course, it has its consequences, and it’s often one of the most iconic illustrations of the Anthropocene.

If we go back to the notion of the Anthropocene, how do you visualise, how do you embody the Anthropocene? It could be with those graphs of the Great Acceleration and our work focused on how that relates to the ocean specifically. If we take that lens and look at what happens in the ocean, it looks very similar. So that’s the interesting parallel, that’s why we called it the blue acceleration, because you see a rapid increase across a wide range of sectors. There are multiple increasing uses of the ocean for food, for energy, for materials, and for space as well.

If you look at marine aquaculture or agriculture for instance, it’s one of the fastest food production sectors in the world. If you look at shipping, the volume of goods transported by containers has quadrupled over the past 20 years and more than 1,000,000km of submarine cables have been laid on the sea bed. Undersea cables account for 99% of all international telecommunications that are happening in the world; it’s cheaper, more reliable, faster and safer than satellites.

Offshore wind is another example, one of the most promising marine renewable energies and the only one so far to have been scaled up commercially. It has increased 500 fold in the past 20 years. What the blue acceleration is, in essence, is a new phase of humanity’s relationship with the ocean that is characterised by this rapid increase at the onset of the 21st century, so very recently.

Photo by Danny Copeland

LUX: Can you tell us about the Ocean 100 project?
JJ: The Ocean 100 really speaks to the blue acceleration. If you acknowledge that acceleration and that growth across all sectors, you see that there is a scramble for the sea. Then the question is, who is racing? Or, if you look at it another way, who is left behind?

The Ocean 100 is looking at the big companies, particularly in the private sector, who are involved in ocean based industries. What you see is that a handful of companies often control a really large market share of the sector. For instance, the top ten oil and gas companies in terms of offshore production are responsible for more than half of total offshore production. If you look at the 10 largest companies in cruise tourism, they are 93% of the global market share, so really highly concentrated in terms of revenues. We look at those companies within sectors, and we look at it across sectors just by revenues, to see who are the largest of the largest across ocean industries. That’s the Ocean 100. The 100 largest companies by revenues.

What’s striking is that 47 out of the 100 are oil and gas companies, and 9 of the top 10. It’s a reality check because there is a mismatch between the aspiration of a blue economy, a sustainable and equitable ocean economy, and the reality of today’s extraction where oil and gas is by far the largest industry in the ocean today. The project identified who they were and in a subsequent effort, tried to engage in dialogue. So similar to what SeaBOS has managed to do within the seafood industry, they engaged in dialogue with some of those industries to see what they could do together across industries that they couldn’t do alone within their own sector.

Read more: Markus Müller on the links between the ocean and the economy

LUX: You recently completed your PhD. What is next for you?
JJ: I’ll keep doing it, I’ll keep going at it! I’m just starting a position at the Stanford Center for Ocean Solution, whose mission is to translate knowledge into impact across a series of initiatives. I’m very keen to keep looking at the ocean economy and trying to look at how we make sure it becomes a blue economy. It’s often used synonymously; people think of the blue economy as the ocean economy. I like to make a distinction. The blue economy right now is very aspirational, it would be a sustainable and equitable version of the ocean economy. But the reality that we’re dealing with today is very much a dark blue ocean economy.

I will be looking at the ocean economy, trying to make sense of it, increasing transparency, but not just for the sake of transparency. Transparency on its own is not enough. What you need is accountability as well. Trying to identify the levels of accountability in ocean economic sectors and leverage points to change. Who can set the right incentives? I believe the financial sector has really strong power to create incentives for industry, as do governments. You need a regulatory landscape. It’s not going to happen out of altruism as much as we could wish for this, it’s not how we operate. You need the regulation to be in place to incentivise better practices, and we’re going back to collective action. I think diving into that is something that I’m really keen on.

Photo by Danny Copeland

LUX: In 10 years’ time what changes do you hope to see in the world as a result of your research and the initiatives that you’ve worked on?
JJ: In 10 years’ time we’re past 2030, so we’ve either delivered or not on the Sustainable Development Agenda. So far it doesn’t look that good to be entirely honest, I don’t know if we are on track for delivering.

But I hope we will have got to a point where governments have been bold enough to set in motion the policies that will enable change. We can’t just stick to business as usual with a few incremental changes here and there, or a couple of long term targets that make everyone feel good.

More specifically, when it comes to the financial sector, I really like to think of financiers as either enablers or gatekeepers in terms of their potential influence. I would like to see them enable capital to flow towards sustainable activities. What’s striking in the ocean domain is that SDG 14 is the least financed goal of all of them. The SDG 14, life below water, the ocean SDG, is the least financed over the past ten years. Only 1% of the total value of the ocean economy has been invested into sustainable activity. In 10 years’ time I would hope they do more to fill that gap and enable more sustainable investment.

At the same time, regardless of that ocean finance gap, you have that blue acceleration that is exponentially increasing. This means that capital is going to those sectors, one way or another. That’s where I think of financiers as gatekeepers. Ideally financiers would take the sustainability criteria into consideration in their financial decision. It’s not the norm, but I hope it will be in 10 years’ time. Loans by default should be sustainability linked instead of the other way around, because suddenly that means companies have an incentive, a very tangible incentive to perform from a sustainability perspective.

Find out more: stockholmresilience.org/jouffray

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Reading time: 13 min
a blue wave crashing
a blue wave crashing

Image by Ben Thouard

With Ocean Week upon us, LUX speaks to Karen Sack, a leading voice in the ocean economy, about how only action and investment from the Global North can allay the effects of global warming on the world economy – and its most valued nations
A woman with short short hair wearing a necklace and t-shirt

Karen Sack

LUX: What is the fault line between the Global North and the Global South?
Karen Sack: If we look at the world from an ocean perspective, the most biodiverse areas today are in the developing world. They are around the coasts of developing country waters, and, in particular, the waters of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). These are also the countries that have created the most Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). So there is a stress between these countries and those that support other activities, such as subsidising vessels that exploit distant waters, going to faraway places and fishing in destructive ways.

LUX: What about the societal effects of climate change?
KS: This is a growing concern for developed countries, as they see the impact of climate change through the migration of people who are leaving these vulnerable coastal developing states and SIDS. These people are at risk because their livelihoods are compromised – there are no more fish to catch. They move to cities, but the cities don’t have the infrastructure to support them. This leads to international migrations, as we see with Central America up to North America, Africa into Europe, and in Asia, too. Suddenly, these issues are beginning to have international implications. It will be far more cost-effective for developed countries to invest in coastal and ocean resilience in developing countries and SIDS, than to leave it and have to deal with the consequences of the climate crisis.

Lots of white and green small fish in the sea

LUX: How can this investment be driven?
KS: The issue of broader investment is where we at Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA) are focused. There is a huge challenge in driving investment towards a sustainable blue economy into these countries of the Global South. Transactions are often too small for private-sector companies, and there’s risk because of the credit status of the countries or because of climate events. So we’re not seeing the investment that’s needed to help fundamentally shift the way developing countries are able to work. For example, many SIDS in the Pacific have to sell their fishing resources to foreign fleets so they can earn foreign-exchange dollars to pay for diesel fuel, so they can power their economies.

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There’s this constant vicious cycle, and there are huge emissions, both transport emissions and direct emissions from burning fuel. If we shift all those islands to renewable energy, we break existing dependencies, and it doesn’t cost that much money. One Pacific island estimated it will cost $180 million to shift completely to renewables. They cannot find the money because they don’t have the credit rating and they don’t have the in-house resources. You have to break all those cycles to work forward quickly, and I hope that’s what we can do through ORRAA. As a multi-stakeholder alliance, with multilateral banks, private banks and insurers on board with us, as well as civil society, academics and countries themselves, we can get people around the table to solve problems. We can help develop de-risking mechanisms, such as insurance or public-sector guarantees, to incentivise private-sector banks to invest into countries, which could help reduce or eliminate their dependence on fossil fuels.

blue sea

LUX: Do we in the media have a role to play?
KS: Of course. We all work in silos, where we don’t join the dots between our functions. So we need to join the dots and think about how important it is to shift to renewables from fossil fuels, how that helps to build resilience, and how that incentivises investment and credit ratings, building biodiversity-positive outcomes and climate resilience for 250 million climate- vulnerable people. We must change our mindsets.

LUX: Is government regulation required?
KS: Government action is essential, but for the private sector to wait for that is not in its long- term self-interest. We need to see action now. For example, in the US, the development of a natural-capital accounting methodology is being worked on, so businesses can account for their impacts on natural capital and disclose those impacts, and then investors can think about what that means for investment portfolios. The same is happening in France and China.

LUX: What needs to happen next?
KS: First, we need to get some of the largest banks and asset managers to sit down with the multilateral banks and organisations like the US government’s Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and talk about what is key for them in terms of de-risking their investments. Is it a guarantee, business- interruption insurance or another mechanism? The multilateral banks need to step up and provide those mechanisms, so we can crowd more financing into these sectors. The second thing is building capacity in these countries to enable the establishment of laws and regulations that will create a stable investment environment, so that these types of financing mechanisms can emerge. The third ingredient is for the private sector to recognise that we need to finance the “missing middle” – investments from $2 million to $10 million in small island countries where entrepreneurs are doing all they can to build sustainability, but cannot move from seed funding into product development or into the next stage of evolution of their companies.

a ribbed brown coral under the sea with the sun shining through the water

LUX: Aren’t the interests of, say, the Maldives different to Brazil’s?
KS: When we speak about Least Developed Countries and SIDS, I think they speak with one voice. They are all looking for these types of opportunities. When we look at countries further up the development chain, such as Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, there are different incentives. However, entrepreneurs in those countries have the same challenges, and that is something we need to focus on.

Read more: Markus Müller on the links between the ocean and the economy

LUX: What can happen this year?
KS: There’s a major opportunity, given the change in leadership at the World Bank, to focus on the biggest challenges facing the Global South, and there is no question that the two biggest challenges are the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis, both underlined by the unsustainable debt crisis. The private sector also needs to focus on investing in sustainable blue- economy opportunities – feeding that missing middle. At ORRAA, we’re working with some of our partners to develop a fund to deploy $150 million into investable opportunities in developing countries to build that sustainable blue economy. The third piece is we have to think outside the box to finance the landmark Global Biodiversity Framework agreed at COP15 in Montreal in December 2022. How do we protect 30 per cent of the planet by 2030? What kind of finances can be mobilised to do that, so that countries are not going into debt to build back biodiversity? We have to break the log jam around the climate-finance issue in terms of loss and damage. And we have to do it now.

Karen Sack is Executive Director of Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA). She was speaking to Darius Sanai

This article was first published in the Deustche Bank Supplement in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 6 min
waves crashing in the sea and rocks on the sea floor
waves crashing in the sea and rocks on the sea floor

Fishes, 24 March 2019, Teahupoo, Tahiti, French Polynesia. © Ben Thouard

Markus Müller discusses how the ocean, biodiversity, the global economy and the world of finance are inextricably linked – and proposes what should be done now to make business fit for a nature-compliant future
A man wearing a suit

Markus Müller

Economics is deeply bound to nature. Portfolio managers in finance often think they invented the idea of diversification. I hate to disappoint them, but it was created by nature first. Nature, like economics, invented diversification for risk protection and to provide the breeding ground for development. If everything stayed the same, there would be no development – this is true for nature and true for economics.

According to some estimates, half of global GDP is directly attributable to nature. Some industries, such as construction, agriculture and manufacturing, use nature’s output to create economic output, and are therefore heavily nature-dependent. The biodiversity of nature is also essential to economics, because the wide assortment of living things provides crucial ecosystem services to the economy. These services range from providing fresh air and clean water to producing food. Nature provides everything that humans consume.

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The ocean plays a big part in biodiversity, as two-thirds of our planet is covered with water and more than 95 per cent of that is ocean. If we allow our ocean ecosystems to be depleted, we create risks for nature, for humanity, for the economy and for social stability. Human life is heavily dependent on ocean ecosystems and, if we let them deteriorate, the services we need to live and thrive will not be there. We would lose the critical services the ocean provides, such as the natural governance of carbon sequestration and temperature regulation. It is all one connected chain.

There are a myriad of links between nature and economics. The ocean is a great example of this, and an example of how we undervalue nature in our economic thinking. For instance, do we really understand the financial impact of having 40 per cent of the global population living near the coast with the threat of rising sea levels? Have we really taken into account how vital water is for our livelihoods and do we have an economic model that accounts for this?

 orange coral underwater

Although our understanding of ocean economics has developed, there is still a long way to go. However, we do know enough to start taking action. Some may ask, why is it important to finance the blue economy? The real question is, how do we use finance to transform our current non-sustainable and non-equitable blue economy into a sustainable and equitable one? First, we have to be clear about the goal: to have a sustainable and equitable blue economy and a nature-compliant economic model. Creating such a model is the equivalent of the economics behind building and operating a railway infrastructure. To build a functioning train network first requires a railway system, which is too expensive for private markets to install and is the kind of cost that only a government can afford – but the trains can be provided and financed by private companies.

We need to enable the ocean to deliver its ecosystem services. Many ocean assets need to be protected in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and they are unlikely to generate an investment return. This means assets in MPAs are not suitable for a market system; rather, it becomes a governmental and societal responsibility to protect them and ensure they are not being depleted or overused. Governance is key for this to be successful.

Finance can be a tool that then helps achieve the goal for a sustainable and equitable blue economy. Global financial markets can play a role by providing a premium to companies that operate in the blue economy. In time, these companies that account for the impact that the ocean has on their economic activity can become more profitable and have more stable profit generation than other businesses. Those businesses that do not account for the ocean may find they are at risk: a reputational risk, a physical risk, even a liability risk. Financial markets can also provide indirect support to sustainable companies that understand how their value chains are impacted by the ocean. This is also part of ocean finance.

fish swimming around coral in the sea

In this new economic model, firms link self-interest to the health of the natural machine. CEOs understand their dependency on the ocean and are therefore aligned for protection. This happens through transparency, disclosure and data flow. Regulation provides a framework, which can be supplemented by the private sector if needed, as regulators can’t do everything. The risk to watch out for is using key performance indicators (KPIs) that are not globally or locally accepted in financial markets. Here again, regulation is an enabler.

Companies that are directly involved in the blue economy should employ local people and redistribute the accrued margin to the local communities, based on the understanding that nature needs time to recover. This would be both sustainable and equitable. Self-interests will drive this and it will happen at the local level, bottom up, before eventually forming global coalitions. An economy, or society, works from an agreement of self-understanding. Thus, if humankind can reach an agreement that fossil fuels are not the way forward, then society will find a way to abandon fossil fuels. However, if there is not such an agreement, then global treaties will not be signed.

Read more: 3Sun Gigafactory’s Eliano Russo On The Clean Energy Transition

Literacy in the systemic value of natural capital is incomplete, especially in financial markets. It follows a similar path to the understanding of climate change from the past 40 years. But it is growing. We must now act on propositions such as those outlined here to build the nature-compliant economy of our future.

Markus Müller is Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Chief Investment Officer at Deutsche Bank’s Private Bank

Find out more: deutschewealth.com/esg

This article was first published in the Deustche Bank Supplement in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 5 min
people standing together in different coloured outfits gathering for a photo with a pink champagne case
people standing together in different coloured outfits gathering for a photo with a pink champagne case

Left to right: Darius Sanai, Audrey bazin, Maria Sukkar, Frédéric Rouzaud, Rita Kamale, Nadja Swarovski and Brandei Estes

A crowd of the leading movers and shakers from the worlds of art and sustainability gathered at the Nobu Hotel in Portman Square to celebrate the Louis Roederer Photography Prize 2023, created by our sister company Quartet Consulting. High-profile guests included Guy Weston, Ina Sarikhani, Brandei Estes, Jessica Hodges, Maria Sukkar and Nadja Swarovski, among many others

A woman wearing a blue blazer and white t shirt holding a glass of champagne

Carrie Scott

A man wearing a hat with a beard on a screen next to a pink case of champagne

M’hammed Kilito giving his video message to the audience having won the award

A woman wearing a red top standing next to a woman wearing a black top

Left to right: Maria Sukkar and Ina Sarikhani

The Prize, now in its second instalment, was established by LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai and Louis Roederer CEO Frédéric Rouzaud under Quartet Consulting, to recognise outstanding contemporary photographers with a focus on sustainability and environmental issues.

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Thirteen art world luminaries from across the globe were each asked to nominate three photographers to submit their works. An esteemed panel of judges including Maria Sukkar, Maryam Eisler, Brandei Estes, Alan Lo, Audrey Bazin, Nadja Swarovski, Sophie Neuendorf, Azu Nwagbogu and the Chair, Darius Sanai, then selected six entrants to make up the shortlist, which was then narrowed down to three finalists.

Three men wearing suits and the man in the middle holding a pink case of champagne

Left to right: Darius Sanai, runner up, Yasuhiro Ogawa and Frédéric Rouzaud

Three women standing together with two on either side holding champagne glasses

Left to right: Brandei Estes, Nadja Swarovski and Carrie Scott

three women standing with a man for a photograph

Left to right: Ilaria Ferragamo, Maria Sukkar, Franck Namy and Véronique Namy

This year’s finalists were the exceptional Hengki Koentjoro, M’Hammed Kilito and Yasuhiro Ogawa, each with a unique take on the awe-inspiring landscapes and tender humanity surrounding the issue of sustainability. They all received a magnum of Cristal, made by Louis Roederer from 100% biodynamically farmed grapes, and their work will be displayed at the White Box, Nobu Hotel Portman Square, London, from 11th May until 1st June.

M’Hammed Kilito was announced as the winner by Frédéric Rouzaud in the Nobu Bar to an excited throng of guests for his series ‘Before It’s Gone’, a meditation on the issue of oases degradation currently taking place in Kilito’s home country, Morocco.

an art gallery with photographs on the wall

The works of the finalists on display at the White Box Gallery at the Nobu Hotel London, Portman Square

champagne bottles in an art gallery

The Prize is run by the Fondation Louis Roederer to raise awareness around sustainability issues through photography

Upon receiving the award, Kilito commented: “I would like to say how absolutely honoured to receive the Louis Roederer Prize for Sustainability. I am so honoured to receive the Prize because I believe it is a very important one, highlighting the work of visual storytellers, and the issues of climate change and sustainability which are very close to my heart.”

 

Read more: Rock legend Graham Nash on collecting photography

Two men standing next to women wearing pink and red

Left to right: Durjoy Rahman, Darius Sanai, Audrey Bazin and Maria Sukkar

A woman wearing a red coat holding a glass of champagne standing next to two men in shirts and blazers

Left to right: Nadja Swarovski, Frédéric Rouzaud, Darius Sanai

A bald man wearing a scarf standing next to a women with her hair in a bun wearing a purple floral top

Left to right: Michel Ghatan and Helen Ho

The exhibition of the works of  M’hammed Kilito, Hengki Koentjoro and Yasuhiro Ogawa are on display at the Nobu Hotel London Portman Square until 1st June

 
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Reading time: 8 min
A room filled with lights and technology
A room filled with lights and technology

3Sun Gigafactory opened in 2011

Eliano Russo is Head of Enel Green Power’s 3Sun Gigafactory in Catania. Here he speaks to Samantha Welsh about the way the factory works, its benefits on the local community and the clean energy transition
A man wearing a white shirt and black blazer

Eliano Russo

LUX: What is a photovoltaic cell and how does it work?
Eliano Russo: Solar cells are the heart of solar power generation systems. A photovoltaic cell is a device that can convert the energy of solar radiation into electricity through the photovoltaic (PV) effect. This effect is possible since photovoltaic cells are usually made of semiconductor materials (the most diffused is silicon), which have weakly bonded electrons. When the light of the sun hits the PV cell, the electrons of the semiconductor receive energy from the light’s photons and are then able to move. The movement of these electrons through the metallic contacts of the cell produces an electric current. PV cells are assembled into photovoltaic panels that find applications in several fields.

LUX: What are the peculiarities and advantages of the technology 3Sun offers?
ER: 3Sun offers cutting-edge technologies in solar cell and PV module (or panel) manufacturing. Our solar cells are based on bifacial silicon heterojunction (HJT) technology, which offers several advantages over the most widespread technologies on the market. Moreover, our PV modules are manufactured in Europe with sustainable materials derived from a regulated supply chain.

A man wearing a green jumper working in a factory

3Sun Gigafactory combines research and innovation to produce new-generation photovoltaic modules that support the Enel Group in guaranteeing clean and renewable energy

Continuous innovation in pursuit of the highest level of cell efficiency is a fundamental value as we strive to maximise the effective transformation of the sunlight that hits our panels into energy. HJT technology is characterised by high performing photovoltaic modules with low degradation and in early 2020 our HJT cell achieved a world record efficiency level of 24.63%.

The double-sided structure of the solar cell allows solar radiation to be captured via direct light on the upper surface, as well as reflected or diffused light on the lower side. “Bifaciality” also guarantees extra power output even with cloudy conditions where the amount of diffused light is quite high. The solar cell is also very resilient to thermomechanical stresses thanks to the temperature during the manufacturing process that does not exceed 200°C, which also allows for thinner solar cells to be manufactured, , thus reducing the use of silicon and cutting costs.

LUX: What are the benefits for the solar supply chain and the European energy sector in general?
ER: For Europe, the photovoltaic sector represents one of the main enabling technologies to accelerate a sustainable and competitive energy transition. To reach its decarbonisation goals, in Europe we need to achieve 600 GW of installed solar capacity by 2030, which requires building and installing an additional 440 GW. On the other hand, in order to increase the continent’s energy independence and reduce risks related to external geopolitical factors, it is important not to become overly dependent on supplies from other geographies.

A solar panel

Italy’s HJT Photovoltaic Panel

Today, a large part of the photovoltaic industry supply chain is still concentrated in the Asian market, especially in China, where there is also less emphasis on environmental, energy and labor standards compared to those in Europe. Therefore, the creation of a European photovoltaic industry that can guarantee our energy security and independence while upholding those standards represents a strategic priority. In order to achieve this, we must invest to reshore the solar PV supply chain in Europe as we did in Catania, Sicily with the construction of what will be the largest solar gigafactory on the continent.

LUX: What is the potential impact for local communities?
ER: One of the most important positive impacts for the local community as a result of the factory’s expansion is the employment opportunities for Sicily, increasing local direct and indirect employment. In 2022, 50 university graduates were employed, while the selection process for an additional 100 is currently underway, as well as the selection for hiring 550 secondary school graduates. With the new hires, who will fill technical and operational positions in areas such as production, maintenance, auxiliary services, product quality and plant operation, 3Sun’s team, which already includes more than 200 people, will reach about 900 people in total. In addition, 3Sun will also generate a total of 1,000 indirect jobs, including current ones, by 2024. . These numbers mean a lot in terms of employment for a territory like Sicily, especially for young people. In some cases this means young people who have had the opportunity to return home after years of working abroad, excited to be able to contribute to the realization of a project as important as this one.

Technology in a glass box

Bifacial solar panel production at the 3SUN Factory

LUX: How essential is political collaboration to clean energy transition?
ER: It simply cannot be done without it. Our current climate policies are the direct consequence of a political commitment that we took together as Europeans and, more widely, as countries committed under the Paris Agreement. The challenge of climate change is global, it affects everyone, and the response can only be global. A strong, collective, political commitment is needed to tackle a problem of this magnitude. But the political commitment must also be matched in the private sector along with the actions of each and every one of us as individuals.

LUX: What is the role for regional partnerships in tech innovation?
ER: We will be the largest European PV factory, basing our manufacturing on the most advanced technology processes, materials, and design. We carried out a robust research and development phase in collaboration with the most important research institutes and development companies in Italy, Europe and the US. In fact, 3Sun has triggered the most advanced research consortium in Europe with renowned partners such as CEA-INES in Chambery (France), Italian Institutes such as IIT, CNR, ENEA, as well as European and Italian universities. The strict collaboration with the research centers is also witnessed by the presence of very advanced research labs within the industrial complex of 3Sun and in the nearby Enel Innovation Hub and Lab, which hosts research institutions and start-ups. The concentration of research institutes and industries in a few kilometers also encourages important exchanges and generates a very fruitful environment for the development of innovative ideas not only in the PV field. Beyond research collaborations we also work with a wide range of subcontractors in the supply chain of strategic and innovative materials as well as of advanced industrial support and maintenance processes.

A woman working in a factory

The first HJT cells were produced in February 2019 and mass production began in August 2019

LUX: Please share the aims of Project TANGO
ER: TANGO is the acronym for iTaliAN pv Giga factOry, the name of the project through which we are creating an industrial-scale production facility for the manufacturing of innovative, sustainable and high-performance PV modules at Enel Green Power’s 3Sun solar panel factory in Catania. In April 2022, under the framework of the European Commission’s (EC) first Innovation Fund call for large-scale projects, EGP and the EU signed a grant agreement that contributed to the development of TANGO, a facility that will have a production capacity of 3 GW per year by mid-2024. Of our total investment of around 600 million euros, the EC has contributed up to 118 million euros and around 70 million euros came from the Italian National Resilience and Recovery Plan.

LUX: How is the 3Sun Gigafactory in Catania innovating to leading the transition to green energy?
ER: Our production capacity of 3 GW, which we will reach in 2024, will make us the largest production facility in the photovoltaic industry in Europe. However, our contribution to the energy transition is not only quantitative but also qualitative. The values that guide us are innovation and sustainability, two pillars that enable us to create a high quality product made in Europe.

A solar panel in front of a blue board

3Sun Gigafactory represents a model that could be used all over the globe

LUX: Can you accelerate performance to be sure of meeting targets?
ER: We won’t ever stop innovating. The architecture of the 3Sun HJT solar cell is highly compatible with the so-called Tandem structure in which a perovskite top cell is coupled with a silicon bottom cell, the top cell utilises the blue component of the solar spectrum and transmits the red component to the silicon solar cells. The 3Sun tandem structure, that we call “Tango Technology”, allows the solar cell to reach higher efficiencies, well above the theoretical limits of silicon solar cells. 3Sun is developing innovative technology with the aim of increasing solar cell efficiency, achieving more than 30%.

LUX: Longer term, how do you see 3Sun Gigafactory model developing?
ER: 3Sun Gigafactory represents a model that could be replicated elsewhere in Italy, Europe and other parts of the world. As outlined previously, in order to accelerate the energy transition and ensure energy independence and security in Europe, it is necessary to build a European ecosystem of highly efficient solar PV module manufacturing.

Find out more: enelgreenpower.com/3SUN-factory

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Reading time: 7 min
A woman with brown hair wearing a pink dress
A woman with brown hair wearing a pink dress

Kelly Russell Catella

For International Women’s Day we are spotlighting Kelly Russell Catella, Head of Sustainability and Communication at COIMA, a major Italian real estate fund manager. COIMA has total investments of 5.5 billion euros with a declared focus on large scale sustainable urban planning. Here, Catella speaks with Samantha Welsh about making cities vibrant, accessible and healthy for all and the importance of an environmentally conscious city for a community

LUX: How did you start your journey on driving better approaches to sustainability in city-making?
Kelly Russell Catella: COIMA has always been very focused on quality and sustainable development since it was founded nearly 50 years ago. My own professional journey in the industry first started coordinating the first Italian Urban Land Institute chapter in Italy until our family established in the Fondazione Riccardo Catella in 2005. The Foundation is a not-for-profit institution with the mission to improve the quality of urban life and promote the culture of sustainability in cities. Since then, I’ve also been responsible for leading sustainability at COIMA, which is a value we truly believe in and is integrated deeply in the process of our value creation for all stakeholders.

One of our most important projects is Porta Nuova in Milan, one of the largest urban regeneration projects to have taken shape in Europe. Last year it became the first urban neighbourhood in the world to achieve both the LEED and WELL certifications for Community. These are the leading global certifications related to sustainability, health and wellbeing of buildings and communities. Achieving this ‘world first’ was for us a real endorsement of our approach, which is about focusing on the long-term sustainability of the entire neighbourhood, not just specific buildings. We find it key to think about the place, the whole community, and how the transformation fits into the context of the needs of the wider city.

LUX: Why was pursuing LEED and WELL certification for Porta Nuova so important?
KRC: Creating more liveable, healthy communities and places where people are in contact with nature, culture and beauty is what really drives our daily effort. Achieving the LEED and WELL for Community ratings for Porta Nuova is a validation that we worked to deliver on our promise to create a genuinely sustainable community in a measurable way. It is also about constantly challenging ourselves to do more, to push the bar higher and set new benchmarks in the industry.

a park with a view of a building covered in plants

Biblioteca degli Alberi Milano (BAM), the public park in Porta Nuova

While certifications and ratings are important to measure and prove the positive impact of a project, it is vital that we do not fall into the trap of a superficial ‘box ticking’ approach to sustainability; they are not an end in themselves, they are part of a wider methodology to create a comparable standard. It comes down to all of us to show genuine leadership in the transition to the low carbon economy – passion and commitment to deliver positive social and environmental impact and transparency in reporting.

LUX: The Bosco Verticale towers in Porta Nuova have become a global icon and the face of the new more eco-friendly Milan. Do they provide a prototype of more sustainable development for other cities?
KRC: At the time the Bosco Verticale – literally vertical forest – was the first project to integrate trees on such an ambitious scale. There are 780 trees and 16,000 shrubs and plants across the two residential towers, which is equivalent to around 20,000 m2 of forest. In many ways the development gets better with age, as the trees grow and mature and the benefits to the residents multiply – from regulating the temperature of the building to enhancing mood and wellbeing. Our partner on the project, the visionary architect Stefano Boeri, is now taking the vertical forest concept to other cities, including Dubai and Eindhoven, creating a new generation of high-rise urban buildings completely covered by the leaves of trees and plants.

purple flowers and A building covered in plants in the distance

Bosco Verticale at Residenze Porta Nuova

It is now seen as a sustainable model for the future of tall buildings. Working with Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Stefano Boeri Architetti we are taking the concept further at Porta Nuova with Pirelli 39, a mixed-used project which includes the sustainable refurbishment of an existing building and the development of Torre Botanica. The buildings base is connected to the Biblioteca degli Alberi Milano (BAM) or “library of trees” – the public park and botanical garden that serves as a natural oasis and community engagement hub of Porta Nuova.

LUX: How has the public-private partnership with the Municipality of Milan been game-changer in terms of enabling a more sustainable approach?
KRC: Sustainable city making is not possible without strong partnerships. We are very fortunate to have had sensitive administrations for consecutive mandates in the Municipality of Milan that shares the vision to create a more sustainable, green city, designed around people, rather than cars. They shared our vision to make Porta Nuova a fully pedestrianised neighbourhood centred around the natural environment presented in BAM.

Through an innovative public-private partnership between the City and COIMA, the Fondazione Riccardo Catella has been responsible for the management, security, maintenance and cultural programme of the BAM since July 2019. This is the first ever public-private partnership agreement for the management of a public park in Italy and it would not have been possible without the strong long-term commitment and understanding by both parties.

LUX: What strategies for Porta Nuova have you found particularly effective at a human level to help foster a sense of community and a sustainable ecosystem?
KRC: Fundamentally, we believe in placing nature and humans at the centre of all our developments and that this approach leads to real value creation. It is important to listen to people to understand their vision for the urban space in their communities and ensure that our designs can improve their quality of life. For example, at BAM we produce a diverse programme of more than 250 cultural moments and activities each year for residents, workers, and visitors.

This has a big focus on wellbeing and has a range of activities dedicated to senior citizens. We had actually planned to suspend the outdoor program in the coldest months of January and February and resume in March. Instead the group that meets every week asked us to continue saying it was the best morning of their week because they got together, socialized, had coffee after, so of course we kept the programme running over those months.

I know it seems small but when you are managing at a neighbourhood level in the centre of a city, listening to your end user of the public space helps create a type of community which we feel will be resilient over time. This what we mean by focusing on the long-term sustainability of the entire neighbourhood, not just specific buildings. The park and the rich cultural programme work together to create a sense of community – and furthermore, with the Fondazione we would like to create a sustainable business model for this kind of public-private partnership that could be replicated in other parks in other cities across the globe.

LUX: In your approach to the development of the Olympic Village 2026 at Porta Romana, how important is sustainability including ensuring a enduring legacy?
KRC: We are working with Fondazione Milano Cortina and the Italian Government to set a very high standard regarding sustainability for the Olympic Village and we hope the legacy will become a template for a more sustainable approach to future Olympic Games (and global sporting event) development. It will also leave a positive legacy for Milan. After the Games, the village will be transformed into affordable student accommodation, with 1,700 beds, addressing a major shortage of modern student accommodation in Milan.

aerial shot of lit up buildings

Plans for the 2026 Winter Olympic Village at Porta Romana

The student accommodation will sit within a wider urban neighbourhood including affordable housing, co-working facilities, community amenities, public spaces and parks and gardens. The Olympic Village Plaza will become a neighbourhood square, with shops, bars and restaurants at street level, and space for farmers’ markets and moments open to the community. If the Games are to be the success story that we all envision, environmental and social impact must be a driving force behind those plans.

LUX: How are you ensuring the Porta Romana project will be implemented to minimise environmental impact?
KRC: The Olympic Village itself actually only comprises only around 15% of the total investment in the regeneration of the former Porta Romana railway yard, so you can understand the scale of the project. Our vision for Porta Romana, together with the partners of the project Covivio and Prada Holding, is that the district will be grafted into the surrounding neighbourhoods, becoming a vibrant, green, sustainable and healthy place that is wholly part of the city, where work and leisure activities will be at the centre of life in the neighbourhood.

People growing green plants

Plans for community gardening within the public park at Porta Romana

Working with the architects selected for the masterplan – Outcomist, Diller Scofido + Renfro, PLP Architecture, Carlo Ratti Associates and ARUP – and with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), winner of the Olympic Village tender, Porta Romana is designed to have near zero environmental impact. It will also include a wide central park and gardens designed by Elizabeth Diller, the landscape designer of the New York Highline, with a ‘suspended forest’, which could become a new major tourist attraction in Milan. Altogether around half the site will be gardens or greenspace. Through this approach we are working to ensure the project sets the bar even higher in terms of sustainable urban development

LUX: How important is technology in creating sustainable neighbourhoods and communities?
KRC: Technology has a big role to play in delivering a sustainable scheme, whether through gathering and measuring the sustainability performance of the buildings or increasing community engagement and participation in initiatives on a neighbourhood level. At Porta Nuova we are piloting a ‘smart’ neighbourhood project, with an infrastructure of sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices capable of acquiring information in real time about the behaviour of users and their needs and the quality and performance of the infrastructure in the district.

This works alongside the Porta Nuova Milano neighbourhood app, which allows users to interact with buildings and access an extended range of services within the residential, office, retail and public spaces. The aim is to facilitate people’s lives and at the same time build the sense of community and encourage more environmentally conscious behaviour. We are also supporting a tech accelerator programme on site at Porta Nuova, called HabiSmart, with start-ups focused on transforming real estate through technology. The startups are hosted in the COIMA HQ and they are able to test their prototypes within the Porta Nuova district. This enables them to get real-time feedback from the field, accelerating the process of development and scale-up.

LUX: Is there one sustainable project you think is low cost and particularly impactful that could be scaled globally?
KRC: The built environment accounts for around 40% of global emissions. If the industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world, behind China and the US. We are in an emergency and time is running out. We now have the technology to deliver zero carbon in operations during the life of the buildings, but we need to look much more closely at the reuse of existing buildings to reduce the currently unavoidable embodied carbon emissions generated through the construction process.

a street with trees and two tall buildings

Pirelli 39, with La Torre Botanica and the Pirellino Tower

We need to change mindsets so that the first principle is to examine whether an existing building can be modernised and refurbished rather than demolished, as we are doing with the Pirelli 39 project that will see the existing 1960s Pirellino office tower refurbished to create a highly sustainable modern office building created out of the existing structure and standing next to La Torre Botanica.

Retrofit, reuse, repurposing, wherever possible, and integration of biodiversity in the urban projects is what we must all seek to do more. We need to stop viewing sustainability as an additional cost, but as integrated into the core of the business model that can mitigate risks and maintain returns long term while contributing to a healthier environment and a more cohesive social surrounding.

Find out more: www.coima.com

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The multi-project developer, Red Sea Global has launched two new brands to push forwards its sustainability ethos into one of the world’s most regenerative destinations, The Red Sea and Amaala

Last year, Red Sea Global declared that it was going to create subsidiary businesses with a focus on sustainability. Subsequently, the launch of WAMA and Galaxea were announced. WAMA is responsible for creating rejuvenating  water sport experiences such as stand-up paddle-boarding through mangrove forests, to sailing through the Red Sea’s soft swells. Galaxea’s focus is solely on diving, for guests to see the life below the waters and to educate people about the prevalent coral in the Red Sea.

A sail boat in the sea

Last year, after an eleven month research study of the Al Wajh lagoon, a  rich diversity of habitats, flora, and fauna were found.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

These include a significant number of endangered and critically endangered species such as the Halavi Guitarfish, Hawksbill Sea Turtle and Sooty Falcon, as well as a thriving, eight-meter-high single coral colony estimated to be around 600 years old.

A person using a row in a yellow kayak

“These brands have been created with sustainability at their core and will continue to build on our ambition to deliver a regenerative approach to tourism development and operations. It is our hope that eventually they will become standalone brands operating at destinations around the world,” says CEO of Red Sea Global, John Pagano.

A person swimming in a wetsuit under the water surrounded by coral

Along with the launches of WAMA and Galaxea, Red Sea Global also announced its partnership with The Ocean Race. This came out of their mutual passion for ocean health and their aim to drive regeneration of life in water and on land.

Read more: Art Dubai opens in support of South Asian artists

The Ocean Race has worked very closely with sailors throughout its history, and the partnership is not only intended to benefit the  natural environment, but also to help inspire the next generation of Saudi sailors.

Find out more: www.redseaglobal.com/amaala

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A ginger model with a wearing a white shirt with a camera next to her head
A ginger model wearing a brown and grey robe with her hand on her head

A portrait of the multitalented Lily Cole

The model and campaigner talks to Ella Johnson about environmental action, NFTs and how fashion can never be truly sustainable

1. What was your first piece of eco-activism?

Without it being intentionally connected to environmentalism, I guess it was campaigning against fur and turning vegetarian as a kid.

2. Why are you an “accidental entrepreneur”?

I’ve never resonated with the idea of business or entrepreneurship. I just have ideas and business has been a good vehicle for executing them, so it’s “accidental”. Perhaps “incidental entrepreneur” is a better way of saying it, as it’s an incidental by-product of following ideas.

3. What is the aim of your 2020 book and ongoing podcast, Who Cares Wins?

To draw attention to climate solutions and to foster a culture of diversity, dialogue and collaboration.

4. Who would be your ultimate guest for the podcast?

Thich Nhat Hanh. Aware it is too late for that.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

5. Why should we take an intersectional approach to environmentalism?

Because all our issues are interconnected and interwoven, both social and environmental. And because the key to embracing biodiversity involves embracing diversity on all levels, such as cultural diversity and diversity of thought.

6. The Queen asks you what to do. What do you tell her?

I ask her to listen to, support and champion indigenous voices. 

7. What was your greatest revelation while researching your book?

That we could halt global warming, draw down more than 15 years of carbon emissions, enhance global biodiversity and essentially stop the sixth mass extinction through a very simple, and technically possible, action: stopping most animal farming.

A child sitting on a sofa with tights on and a sign over her neck that says 'Don't Wer Fur'

Cole, aged around 10, with an early activist fashion statement

8. Can we really stop global heating?

As above, and through many other solutions I look at in Who Cares Wins. Although it might not be possible to stop global heating in the short-to-medium term, we can potentially stop it in the longer term. And we can lessen the extent at which it accelerates, so it’s not too late to do something.

 9. Fashion can never be sustainable. True or false? 

If Adam and Eve swapping out fig leaves for, say, maple-tree leaves, was fashion, then yes, it can be. If most fashion remains made up of petrochemicals – 70 per cent of new fabrics are composed from plastic – and using non-circular business models, then no, probably not.

10. Why did you move to Portugal?

My daughter’s father is Portuguese and it felt like a good move to be closer to his family during the pandemic. Then I fell in love with the country: good nature, weather and people.

11. Have you ever bought an NFT?

Interesting question. I nearly did, as one was originally attached to a tapestry artwork I bought by Éva Ostrowska.

12. What’s your favourite building?

Sant’Ivo in Rome. The floor plan has a weird shape, like a bee. When Borromini drew the plans, he had to put the centre of the compass outside the ecclesiastical space to make it, which some interpret as a nod to the new idea that Earth was not the centre of the universe.

13. Tate Modern or Pompidou?

Tate Modern.

14. Is success about talent or effort?

It takes both, I’d think.

15. Which fictional character would you most want to have dinner with, why, and where?

Ada, from the novel by Nabokov. To pick her brain and play her games. On a sun-kissed beach.

Read more: An Interview with KAWS

16. What next, creatively?

Writing, writing, writing more.

Season 2 of Lily Cole’s Who Cares Wins podcast is available to stream now: lilycole.com/podcast

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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yacht in turquoise water and green island behind it

yacht in turquoise water and green island behind itAino Grapin is CEO of Winch Design, an international design studio for luxury planes, homes and most famously, yachts. Here, Grapin speaks to Samantha Welsh about the increased focus on sustainability in yacht design and the special requests of next generation yacht owners

1. What was the founding vision for Winch Design 36 years ago?

Drawing inspiration from Andrew’s own passion for sailing and the sea, Winch Design first began in 1986 by focusing its creativity on sailing and motor yachts. With a 36-year heritage in superyacht design, our studio is now creating projects across land, air and sea.

The challenge we set ourselves for each day is to realise the dreams of our clients. Their aspirations are, in themselves extraordinary in their sophistication and scale, inviting a creative response that has to be both unique and full of imagination.

A house which has been lit up inside

2. Deeply embedded at the outset in environmental and social responsibility, how is the company working to meet UN sustainable development goals at studio level?

Andrew had a genuine interest in sustainability very early before it became such a hot topic and has driven that passion into the business. We have created our own ‘Life Worth Living’ plan to care for people and the planet through four key pillars: protecting our air, land and sea, caring for our communities, leading our industries and transforming our business. We have also partnered with the Water Revolution Foundation and signed their Code of Conduct, committing to prioritising sustainability throughout our entire supply chain.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

At studio level, we have a dedicated sustainability specialist whose responsibility it is to research, source and test, not only materials, but suppliers too. They manage a resource matrix of sustainable suppliers that analyses and tracks their methods of sourcing, manufacturing and application of each material to check it meets the correct criteria.

3. Data shows the average age of a boat buyer has decreased by over ten years since the pandemic, what does this new generation want from a luxury fit-out?

We are seeing an increase of younger owners, who are typically more in-tune with the effects of climate change and ocean pollution and are more likely to request or be open to innovative and sustainable yacht design.

In terms of interiors, younger clients do not like the high-gloss and dark wood finishes which are typically associated with traditional yacht interiors. Natural textures and experimental finishes are more popular with younger clients.

a white yacht int he sea

Younger clients are also asking for more informal social spaces, a step away from formal dining and entertainment styles traditionally found. This is showing that guests really want to switch off when they’re at sea. Clients are staying on board longer and require more multi-functional spaces.

Explorer yachts are also gaining popularity with the younger crowd. Clients want to be able to navigate around the globe for extended periods of time in a 7* environment. Their yacht must be able to thrive in any environment, no matter how harsh.

4. At project inception, how do you persuade clients to make sustainable choices?

We make sure to introduce all of our clients to sustainable options right at the start of the process. The choice of sustainable materials becomes a part of the narrative of the project and we educate our clients to understand that sustainable options don’t mean you have to compromise on luxury.

Wooden samples with patterns on them

5. Where are you focusing your design energies?

Alongside sustainability factors and the increased popularity in explorer yachts, we are seeing an increased focus on the use of glass on yachts. Huge expanses of glass are being used, to bring the outside in and allow clients to feel immersed in their surroundings. This yearning for a connection with nature has also led to the increase in more refined, natural interiors, with open grain woods, soft, light furnishings and even living walls of greenery.

Read more: Markus Müller on Nature Economy

We have no set house design style and as a result each project we complete is totally unique. Currently we are working on a variety of projects across our yacht, aviation and architecture studio. These include VIP submarines, the world’s largest twinjet plane and the OWO (Old War Office) penthouse.

a yacht in the sea with an iceberg behind it

6. What do clients most want from their time at sea?

Our clients want time to switch off, enjoy time with their family and friends and explore new destinations in complete privacy.

Find out more: winchdesign.com

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A woman wearing a white dress standing next to a lit up tree in a desert
A woman wearing a white dress standing next to a lit up tree in a desert

Build your future-facing autumn wardrobe with these innovative eco pieces. Compiled by Ella Johnson

A pleated nude colour bag

Founded in 2019 in New York, vegan brand Alkeme Atelier combines the four elements (earth, water, fire, air) to make something new. This Water Moon Satchel is made from a scratch-resistant vegan leather, with a polyester lining made from 10 recycled plastic bottles.

A white shirt with a dark pattern on the sleeves and sides

This silk-twill Chloé shirt was designed with the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, the print inspired by an agate from its archives. It was made in partnership with Madagascan supplier Akanjo, certified by the World Trade Fair Organisation for prioritising employee pay.

chloe.com

Wide leg blue jeans

The New-York based, Uruguayan-born sustainable-luxury designer Gabriela Hearst has teamed up with E.L.V. Denim – a London brand that upcycles post-consumer waste denim – to create the chic 1970s-inspired Foster Jean, produced in East London.

gabrielahearst.com

off-white trainers with writing on the side

These genderless grape-leather sneakers by digital-native sustainable brand Pangaia are made with waste from the Italian wine industry. Responsibly produced in Portugal using water-based glue, their natural cotton laces come with 100 per cent recycled plastic tips.

pangaia.com

red cropped puffer coat

British label Stella McCartney – a mainstay of the ethical and sustainable fashion scene – has created this stylish puffer jacket, the fabrication of which majors on 100 per cent forest-friendly viscose. It looks as cool in the city as it does in high-performance environs.

stellamcccartney.com

red sunglasses with transparent lenses

Based between Byron Bay, LA and Paris, vegan eyewear label Velvet Canyon makes its frames from acetate, which is derived from cotton and wood pulp. These retro sunspecs come with recyclable lenses, a vegan-leather pouch and one per cent of profits go to charity.

velvetcanyon.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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An electric Mercedez on a road by the sea
a blonde woman wearing a black dress

Charlize Theron wearing Chopard’s responsibly mined diamonds at Cannes

The new buzz phrase for business is “profit with purpose”. So how are leaders in the luxury and consumer industries facing the need to adapt to increasingly stringent sustainability criteria? Interviews by Ella Johnson and Candice Tucker

For brands, ensuring that consumer and luxury products comply with standards for Environmental, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) factors can be tough. How much water pollution do your steel suppliers create? What is the carbon footprint of your distributor in South America? How does the main supplier of your fasteners treat its staff?

These questions are becoming paramount for any company expecting to survive and thrive in the coming decades. Consumers are increasingly asking if products are sustainably created, if brands treat their staff and suppliers ethically. A company may still make profits on the back of a high-carbon footprint now, but it is far less likely to be able to do so in 10 or 20 years time.

We spoke to industry leaders across sectors for their insights into succeeding in a new era.

JEWELLERY
CAROLINE SCHEUFELE
Artistic director and co-president, Chopard
In 2013 Caroline Scheufele launched Chopard’s Journey to Sustainable Luxury, an in-house programme that committed the Swiss luxury jeweller to responsible sourcing. The brand has also forged a philanthropic relationship with the Alliance for Responsible Mining, helping gold-mining communities achieve Fairmined status.

LUX: Chopard’s engagement with ESG predates that of most jewellery houses. How did it start?
Caroline Scheufele: As a family-run business, ethics have always been at our heart. More than 40 years ago, my parents developed a vertically integrated in-house production system and invested in mastering all crafts internally. This means the full traceability of our gold supply chain is guaranteed through our operating model. It is based on a closed-loop system that also enables us to recycle pre-consumer gold scraps or “production waste” in our gold foundry.

LUX: How do you ensure responsible sourcing?
CS: In 2018 we became the first jewellery and watch maison to commit to using 100 per cent ethical gold for our watch and jewellery pieces. It is a bold commitment, but one we have to pursue if we are to make a difference to the lives of the people who make our work possible.

LUX: How does research help?
CS: Our R&D works to make our raw materials and production practices more sustainable. One example is the creation of ethically produced Lucent steel, which took four years research. It’s an alloy made from 70 per cent recycled metals and is 50 per cent harder than other steels. It also helps minimise our carbon footprint.

LUX: Does your model help or hinder creativity?
CS: Working with responsibly sourced material stimulates my creativity. The Insofu emerald, which we presented in Paris Haute Couture Week 2022, was discovered in the Kagem mine in Zambia and is one of the most important gems found for weight, quality and traceability. By buying a raw stone, we can follow its entire journey to final creation. Our craftspeople will cut the raw emerald and collect all the cut gems. We will then incorporate sustainability into our creations through eco-design thinking.

LUX: What does it mean for the future of luxury?
CS: True luxury comes only when you know the handprint of your supply chain.

chopard.com

AUTOMOTIVE
MARKUS SCHÄFER
Chief technology officer and member of the board of management, Mercedes-Benz Group AG

An electric Mercedez on a road by the sea

Mercedes-Benz’s Vision EQXX, its most energy- efficient car ever

Under Markus Schäfer, Mercedes-Benz has embarked on an electrification plan that will see battery electric vehicles (BEV) in every segment by the end of 2022, and an all-electric fleet by 2030. It is the first premium automobile manufacturer whose climate objectives have been verified by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI) in line with the Paris Agreement.

LUX: What are the challenges of sustainability in the automotive sector?
Markus Schäfer: Our main ambition has always been to build the world’s most desirable cars. At the same time, our framework is changing dramatically, so we are rethinking our entire business model, with sustainability as our guiding principle. Our goal is to take the lead in electric driving and car software. And we will make our new car fleet CO2-neutral by 2039 – along the entire value chain and life cycle. It is a giant challenge, but for our brand it is also exciting.

LUX: Are luxury and sustainability compatible?
MS: Luxury has different meanings for everyone. In essence, it is simply about being completely at ease. Now it includes knowing your products and services helps reduce our footprint. For us, luxury is linked to setting new technological standards, and the age of sustainable and software-driven mobility gives us opportunities to do so. We think it will also make us interesting for new, younger customers who live a mindful-luxury lifestyle. At Mercedes-Benz, we want to combine our traditional strengths – innovation, safety, design, and comfort – with mobility that is sustainable and utterly intuitive. Luxury has always been a part of our DNA, and a driver of innovation.

LUX: If everyone moves towards electrification, what will differentiate your products?
MS: We think digital and sustainable innovations will be the top USP in luxury cars. With our Vision EQXX technology-programme prototype, we achieve more than 620 miles (1,000km) on a single battery charge. We are also increasing the use of recycled materials and researching new sustainable materials – we will use almost totally CO2-free steel in various models from 2025. With innovative car software we can offer customers the gift of time: we were the first car manufacturer to gain approval for conditionally automated Level 3 driving, without any safety compromises.

mercedes-benz.com

FASHION
MARIE-CLAIRE DAVEU
Chief sustainability officer, Kering

A shop with products in glass draws

Kering’s Material Innovation Lab, the brand’s sustainable- materials hub in Milan

It was in 2011 under Marie-Claire Daveu that French luxury-goods group Kering introduced its innovative Environmental Profit & Loss (EP&L), an initiative to quantify environmental impact across the company’s operations and supply chains. It is now standard practice elsewhere.

LUX: Can collaboration help green transition?
Marie-Claire Daveu: Even a big company is not big enough to change a paradigm – it has to cross-fertilise with peers. For us, collaboration is in the DNA of our sustainability strategy. When we speak about sustainability, it includes being an open source and sharing our best practices. It is also about working with other sectors. It’s why we’re part of the One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B) coalition, which includes food companies and the likes of Unilever. You may question why we have joined it, but regenerative agriculture is as important to us as it is to the food industry. Both of us take our raw materials from nature. We have the same origin.

LUX: Why did Kering invest in the vintage fashion platform Vestiaire Collective in 2021?
MCD: We were quite disruptive to go into vintage. It was our way of proving that purpose and profit go together. For us, it is interesting to have a seat on the Vestiaire board and see how we can develop a green e-commerce. There are new challenges with packaging, transportation and how we engage with customers. We are only at the beginning, but I think the idea of a second life will evolve in luxury and beyond.

LUX: Should leadership come from the top?
MCD: Sustainability is becoming more important to consumers and shareholders, but there is so much to do that, unless leaders prioritise it, you won’t do it. Luxury leaders must push for it both inside and outside their direct ecosystems.

LUX: Can fashion ever be sustainable?
MCD: You have to give people hope and solutions. I believe in a circular economy, upcycling, recycling – a 360 approach. With nature it’s about equilibrium. You have a problem if you take too much. But if you give nature the possibility to regenerate itself, there is no issue.

kering.com

TRAVEL
SVEN-OLOF LINDBLAD
Co-chair and founder, Lindblad Expeditions

A whale in the sea

A moment on Lindblad Expeditions’ Antarctic humpback observation trip

Sven-Olof Lindblad is an Ocean Elder whose work combines marine conservation, education and eco-tourism. Lindblad Expeditions has been at the forefront of environmentally sensitive expedition travel since its founding in 1979, raising more than $19m for conservation and scientific research and forming a strategic alliance with National Geographic.

LUX: Are there opportunities in sustainability?
Sven-Olof Lindblad: The more people think about sustainability, the more valuable the natural assets become that travel companies need to run their businesses. If you place more emphasis on protecting coral reefs, companies that want to incorporate coral reefs as part of their travel offering will have something that is more valuable and meaningful to travellers. But there are economic impacts to sustainability which makes things expensive. Some businesses don’t care enough yet because they think their audiences don’t, particularly in mass tourism where every dollar spent becomes significant. So companies have to believe, as I do, that sustainable behaviour is important, otherwise they are making decisions that, on the surface, do not make economic sense in the short term.

LUX: Do the wealthy have a responsibility to travel more responsibly?
SOL: I’m not that black and white. I might be sitting on my own private yacht now, but I’m on a research mission in Panama for a month interacting with Panama’s government to figure out how to evolve responsible tourism there. One of the most effective ways of doing that is by taking a boat, exploring the coastlines. Is that bad? I think it is using a boat to positive effect. There isn’t technology at the moment that allows us to eliminate burning carbon entirely, so we offset everything we do.

LUX: How do your expeditions ensure meaningful action in sustainability?
SOL: We take a lot of action in a variety of forms. We have a fund where we raise and distribute approximately $3m per year to conservation, activities, education and exploration. But it is also meaningful to engage people, making it possible for them to have experiences in the natural world that inspire them to think differently about natural assets. They can then change behaviours in their own lives or even create certain changes of action in their spheres of influence. That’s important, too.

world.expeditions.com

YACHTING
JAMIE EDMISTON
Chief executive, Edmiston; chair, Levidian
Yacht brokerage firm Edmiston has collaborated with climate-tech business Levidian to bring its LOOP decarbonisation technology to yachting. The device is expected to deliver significant benefits to battery technology, paints, coatings, and desalinisation systems in the maritime sector.

LUX: What are the biggest barriers to the decarbonisation of yachting?
Jamie Edmiston: Nearly all yachts burn diesel in their engines, so, until someone comes up with a suitable alternative engine, short-term innovations have to be in cleaning the emissions before they enter the atmosphere. Medium-term, we have to find other fuels than diesel, whether powered by battery or hydrogen.

LUX: How is Edmiston innovating in the sector?
JE: We have become involved with the climate-tech business Levidian, which has developed a LOOP device that takes methane, the main constituent of natural gas, and turns it into carbon, graphene and hydrogen. Around 40 per cent of the carbon is removed just by that one process, which means that all the gas being used is already decarbonised by 40 per cent. That makes a big impact. The LOOP device will not necessarily power a yacht, but the application we see is producing hydrogen at the source where it is needed. You can put that reactor in a factory, or a shipyard, where you’re taking methane and burning it, to decarbonise the gas that comes in. Moving hydrogen is complicated, but this way you can convert the natural gas into hydrogen at the source, where it is required, and then put it straight into whichever vehicle needs it.

LUX: How can yachting innovations benefit the maritime sector as a whole?
JE: Yacht owners are prepared to invest money, time and resources into developing new technologies – whether that be diesel- electric propulsion, or hydrogen-ethanol battery technology – within the maritime space, and this can ultimately find its way into commercial shipping. Yachting is the crucible of innovation for the maritime industry.

edmiston.com
levidian.com

SPIRITS
KIM MAROTTA
Global vice president of environmental sustainability, Beam Suntory

A man working in a tequila agave field

Pioneering low water-usage agave fields, for Beam Suntory tequila brands

In 2021 spirits behemoth Beam Suntory – which counts Courvoisier and Sipsmith among its repertoire – launched Proof Positive, a holistic, $1bn commitment to promoting positive endeavours in nature, consumer and community across its businesses.

LUX: Where do the challenges lie in decarbonising the spirits sector?
Kim Marotta: The main issues in the sector are in water, transport and packaging. Water presents an enormous opportunity for positive environmental impact, and we have established water sanctuaries in Kentucky at Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam. We’ve also set out an extensive programme of peatland water sanctuaries in the Scottish Highlands, not to mention our pioneering work in the tequila industry, where our Casa Sauza brand has the lowest carbon footprint and water usage. With transport, there is a fantastic opportunity for the sector to influence and partner with logistics groups to ensure everyone is working together for more sustainable methods of transport. Brands around the world are also looking at how to make their packaging more sustainable, whether that is in conducting a lifecycle analysis on every piece of packaging, as we are doing, or prioritising right weighting to minimise materials usage and waste, or even the total redesign of bottles, which we did this year with Courvoisier.

LUX: How can companies move their ESG agendas beyond reporting and compliance towards business enablement?
KM: Companies should not be afraid to set out the most ambitious targets they can, even if the specific road map isn’t totally clear. Whether they are unsure if the technology is there or what the commitment to R&D might be over the next few years, the solution is simple: set aggressive targets, make the necessary investments in technology to hit those targets and commit to accountability and transparency, showing evidence of progress along the way. If companies aren’t setting aggressive targets, they aren’t going to make the impact they can.

beamsuntory.com

CONSUMER GOODS
REBECCA MARMOT
Chief sustainability officer, Unilever
When consumer-goods giant Unilever introduced its Sustainable Living Plan in 2010, it became a benchmark for corporate sustainability. Under Rebecca Marmot, the company has also made interventions in the Paris Agreement and in the creation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

LUX: What is essential to the success of a company’s ESG agenda?
Rebecca Marmot: Success relies on everyone being on board. We need to draw on the ingenuity and experience of experts and peers across the globe to meet our sustainability targets. We know that pioneering new practices requires partnership, so we also need to shun silos in favour of systems thinking. For example, at Unilever we take a holistic approach across both climate and nature, because we recognise that action to solve one crisis can help to address the other.

LUX: How is Unilever working to eliminate Scope 1 and 2 emissions – those generated by your operations?
RM: One of our biggest challenges is that the lion’s share of our emissions are outside our direct control. About 60 per cent come from raw materials and packaging. To reach our target, we are working across our value chain and engaging suppliers, partners and consumers in our decarbonisation journey. We can’t control how long consumers spend in the shower or how they source their energy, but we know consumers do increasingly want to align their purchasing power with their values. We want to make it easy for them to choose our trusted brands, knowing that they are made with respect for people and the planet.

LUX: Is there a risk that those who are last to take on the costs of a green transition will be winners in the short term?
RM: Without action to make supply chains sustainable, companies won’t be able to source the raw materials they need, and operations will be stalled by floods and extreme weather. Laggards will also be hit by taxes on carbon and virgin plastic – these are coming down the line.

unilever.com

CLIMATE TECHNOLOGY
HEATHER CLANCY
Editorial director, Greenbiz; co-host, Greenbiz 350 podcast
GreenBiz 350 is a weekly podcast delivering stories on sustainable business and climate tech. Co-host Heather Clancy specialises in chronicling the role of technology in enabling corporate climate action and the transition to a clean, inclusive and regenerative economy.

LUX: How should companies be balancing the ‘E’ and ‘S’ of ESG?
Heather Clancy: Corporations are not spending enough time thinking about how environmental justice is embedded into their corporate sustainability strategies. There is still a huge disconnect between a company’s corporate perception of what environmental justice means and how it acts as a business.

LUX: What role can early-stage climate tech play in decarbonisation?
HC: Small, innovative companies have the opportunity to really innovate and become the new suppliers for larger companies – for example by producing alternative materials, such as mushroom-based packaging to replace plastic or Styrofoam. It is not coincidental that there are so many corporate venture funds now that are focused on climate technologies, because these corporations are going to benefit from that innovation when the company goes public down the line. The digitisation of sustainability is also really important, because it is becoming part of the financial infrastructure of the companies themselves. These kinds of tools can help people make investments in other climate technologies more easily.

LUX: What’s the biggest barrier to scaling up climate technology?
HC: If there’s one thing that we really are lacking from corporations, it is their voice on supporting sustainable policy.

LUX: What should the wealthy be doing?
HC: They should model better behaviour and put their money where it counts. The wealthy can help small businesses get on the ESG bandwagon, for example. Buying from these companies will enable them to make the vital shift to greener practices.

greenbiz.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 15 min
Woman in a white and black top holding a pink case of champagne standing next to a man in a blue shirt and black blazer
A group photo of women and two men on either side of the group

Louis Roederer CEO Frédéric Rouzaud, Prize judges and LUX contributing editors Maria Sukkar and Maryam Eisler, Prize winner Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah, judges Carrie Scott and Brandei Estes, and LUX proprietor Darius Sanai

Philanthropists, art collectors and sustainability leaders gathered in London for the awarding of the inaugural Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability, masterminded by LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai under the aegis of Louis Roederer CEO Frédéric Rouzaud

Two women and a man smiling for a photograph

Sir Guy Weston, Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah and Ina Sarikhani Sandmann

A blonde woman wearing a green coat reading a catalogue

Clara Hastrup

Two women looking at a camera smiling

Maria Sukkar and Maryam Eisler

A woman and two men laughing

Simon Leadsford, Richard Billett and Olivia Capaldi

A man holding a champagne glass wearing a green t shirt and black jacket

Olu Ogunnaike

A woman holding a copy of LUX

Cheryl Newman

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Woman in a white and black top holding a pink case of champagne standing next to a man in a blue shirt and black blazer

Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah and Frédéric Rouzaud

A woman wearing a blue scarf and coat standing next to a woman in a green coat and another woman wearing a black suit

Lady Alison Myners, Maryam Eisler and Samantha Welsh

A man wearing a black jumper, white shirt and blue blazer

Justin Travlos

A woman wearing a peach coloured coat and black bag looking at a picture on a wall

Emilie Pugh

Woman in a white and black top holding a pink case of champagne standing next to two men in shirts and blazers

Darius Sarai, Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah and Frédéric Rouzaud

A woman in a white dress giving a talk

Alexandra Tilling

A woman in a multicoloured top standing next to a woman in a grey dress

Maryam Eisler and Angela McCarthy

pictures on a white wall

The shortlisted works of the Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability

Vinly on a window that says The Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability

The awards ceremony for the Prize was held at Nobu Hotel London Portman Square

A woman with blonde cornrows wearing black holding a champagne glass

Péjú Oshin

A woman in a black jumpsuit showing another woman an artwork

Hoda Shahzadeh and Candice Tucker

A man in a white shirt

Ola Shobowale

A man and woman holding pink cases of champagne

Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah and Jasper Goodall

Find out more: louis-roederer.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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A blonde woman in a black top and blue shirt standing by a book shelf with her hand on her hip
A blonde woman in a black top and blue shirt standing by a book shelf with her hand on her hip

Alice Audouin at the Art of Change 21 office

The Paris-based polymath has spent nearly 20 years enabling an ecosystem in which art and environmental concerns meet in meaningful and magical ways. Alice Audouin tells LUX about supporting a new generation of artists who invite us to consider nature via work of intense imagination. Interview by Anne-Pierre d’Albis Ganem

LUX: How would you describe yourself?
Alice Audouin: I work in contemporary art and sustainability as a curator and consultant. I’m also chair and founder of the not-for-profit organisation, Art of Change 21, which supports emerging eco-conscious artists via exhibitions and prizes. We bring artists to each COP conference; for COP26 in Glasgow, 2021, John Gerrard created Flare, about the ocean burning.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What are you up to as a curator?
AA: In September 2022, I curated an exhibition in Brussels at the Patinoire Royale Galerie Valérie Bach, connecting art and environmental issues, and a major show of Lucy + Jorge Orta, marking their 30-year anniversary. My last show was ‘Biocenosis 21’ in Marseille. We showed 14 global artists at the world’s biggest biodiversity meeting.

An exhibition with an installation of a boat in the middle

Views of ‘Novacène’, Lille, 2022

LUX: And there is the superbly titled ‘Novacène’.
AA: Novacene is a book by the late James Lovelock, the scientist who proposed the Gaia hypothesis, which was the first time scientists had said Earth is a kind of living creature. We were inspired by his predicted utopia of the Novacene, a new era of cooperation between nature and human, aided by technology. It follows the current geological era, the Anthropocene, during which human activity has changed the climate. We have created a group exhibition that runs till 2 October at the Gare Saint Sauveur, Lille. Our 20 artists include Julian Charrière, Otobong Nkanga and Zheng Bo. ‘Novacène’ looks at ideas in technology, interspecies relationships, energy and agriculture – a kind of new world I designed with my co-creator, Jean-Max Colard.

LUX: You also contributed to Art Paris 2022.
AA: I was invited to be a guest curator on art and the environment. It was a chance to show how, for the new generation of artists, the eco crisis is not just a theme but part of their world.

LUX: Was this momentum there when you began?
AA: I started my work in 2004 at UNESCO with ‘The Artist as a Stakeholder’, so I’ve been doing this work for 18 years. When I began I had 100 artists and it was difficult to find artists who considered global or environmental issues, but now I have 2,500 artists in my database. I was in a position to witness change, which I think came to the art market maybe five years ago.

A woman and man standing in front of a piece of art on the wall

Alice Audouin with curator Alfred Pacquement at the Art Paris Art Fair, 2022

LUX: What is the artist’s role in the eco crisis?
AA: I don’t like to say artists should have a role. Their role is to be artists. But many conceptual artists, or artists who deal with their epoch, will cross environmental issues. Of these, many like to bring awareness, even solutions. Lucy + Jorge Orta purified water in Venice, pushing the idea of art with pieces that propose solutions. When they sell a drawing about the Amazon, the collector receives a certificate of a kind of moral ownership of 1sq m of forest. So they consider biodiversity as well as buying a drawing.

LUX: The artists involve people.
AA: Helping us think about our era – how we consume, our relation with time, resources, values, geopolitics – is very big now. Noémie Goudal works with paleoclimatology and proposes we reconnect our short individual time on Earth with long geological time. That’s important, because her art is also one solution to our relationship with nature.

LUX: Should artists not use plastic?
AA: We will see a revolution in materials. Tomás Saraceno, Gary Hume and our patron Olafur Eliasson are finding solutions to making – and moving – art. In-situ production is growing, too. For ‘Novacène’, two artists in Asia with complex installations gave us guidelines and we made them by distance. But I want to add caveats: if we over-reduce the means of artists’ production we will just have dead wood from a forest. If you say concrete is bad let’s drop it, you lose works. So we are in a transition period, as we look for green alternatives.

An exhibition with tree barks and a painting of a sunset on the wall

Views of ‘Novacène’, Lille, 2022

LUX: Tell us about biomimicry.
AA: It’s the idea nature provides and inspires. New art materials, such as mycelium mushrooms and algae, come from biomimicry. Chloé Jeanne, a laureate of the 2021 art prize I did with Ruinart, creates eco materials that are a kind of living creature. It involves the idea of care that, again, a collector continues. Eco design further explores how to create not only from the living but with the living. Tomás Saraceno’s Hybrid Web sculptures, for example, are co-created with spiders; Olafur Eliasson talks of interconnection. Many artists’ utopia now is not to work alone and compete, but to be together to create and cooperate.

Read more: Artist Precious Okoyomon on Nature & Creativity 

LUX: When did your interest begin?
AA: I was far from nature as a child, and I studied art history and interned at a gallery. But then I studied environmental economics, after which I was hired by a bank for a sustainability project. They talked of stakeholders, and I thought why don’t you talk of artists as such? I knew climate change was huge and I believed it would manifest in contemporary art. And it did.

Find out more: artofchange21.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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A large coral in the dessert
A man standing on a pebbled beach wearing a white t-shirt, black jeans and a long coat

Portrait of artist Shezad Dawood at the sea’s edge in East Sussex

Shezad Dawood is seven years into ‘Leviathan’, a mammoth multidisciplinary project centred around our changing oceans. Maisie Skidmore visits the artist in his Hackney Wick studio to learn more about this monumental undertaking

Shezad Dawood is not one to back down from a big idea. “When I first called the project ‘Leviathan’, my partner asked, ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’” the artist says.

It was 2015, and London-based Dawood had begun to draw connections between the perilous journeys migrants were making across the Mediterranean, dominating the news at the time, and the environmental changes taking place under that same sea’s surface. He started speaking to environmentalists, oceanographers, political scientists, neurologists and trauma specialists, bringing together elements of their research on climate change, marine ecosystems, migration and mental health into the beginnings of what would become ‘Leviathan’ – a 10-part film cycle that also encompasses virtual-reality works, paintings, sculptures, textile pieces, talks and symposia featuring scientists and other thinkers. Inaugurated at the Venice Biennale in 2017, seven years on, ‘Leviathan’, the title taken from Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 work and the biblical sea monster of the same name, continues to gather momentum.

colourful cut outs with red dolphins on top

Disposable Mementoes (Dolphins), 2018

As an artist who is drawn to examine huge systems – language, history and legend being a few – the ocean had an irresistible draw for Dawood. “I make the slightly glib comment that calling this planet ‘Earth’ is a mistake, because it’s predominantly water,” he explains. “All life originates in water. Our human bodies are largely composed of it. We’re missing an important trick in thinking about who we are and where we come from.” With so many years in research, ‘Leviathan’ is still growing. “There is a universe of material.”

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Some of the pieces become universes in and of themselves. Take The Terrarium, the 2020 virtual-reality experience mapped out by evolutionary geneticists and marine biologists. It allows participants to step 300 years into a speculative future of the Baltic Sea, which runs from an eroded Kent coastline to the peninsula of Tallinn, on an Earth that is 90 per cent water. This “sci-fi, operatic” world sees the participant become a hybrid cephalopod released from a laboratory to the open seas to explore their surroundings. The immersive soundtrack, Shifter, by British composer Graham Fitkin, explores shifting baseline syndrome (the theory that each generation unconsciously shifts its expectation of what defines a healthy ecosystem). The Terrarium shows both the breadth of Dawood’s vision and the attention to detail in its execution.

A bronze coral structure on a rock in the dessert

Coral Alchemy II (Porites Columnaris), 2022

Other works seek to make visible the effects of climate change that are shrouded by the depths of oceans, bringing the present- day underwater world to ground level. ‘Coral Alchemy’ is a series of giant coral sculptures created for the exhibition Desert X AlUla 2022 in Saudi Arabia, where they were placed in a canyon that, some 10 million years ago, would have been the delta of what became the Red Sea. The colour of the sculptures changes to simulate the impact of rising temperatures on coral, transforming from carbon black in the morning, through their natural colour range, before bleaching fully in the midday sun. “People have become much more aware of coral reefs in terms of biodiversity,” Dawood explains, “but one thing that could be better communicated is their role as a membrane. Coral reefs act as a protective barrier in extreme weather events, such as tsunamis. They are nature’s barrier. If we keep seeing the same drop-off in reef ecosystems, coastal erosion will accelerate, and extreme weather events will have a much greater impact on coastal communities.”

A man standing on a pebbled beach wearing a white t-shirt, black jeans and a long coat with his arms spread out

Portraits by Jonathan Glynn-Smith

Other works focus on the intersection of climate change, migration and trauma. ‘Labanof Cycle’ is a series of large-scale textile works created in collaboration with Labanof (the Laboratory of Anthropology and Forensic Odontology) at the University of Milan, whose team recovers and documents lost possessions – even human remains – of migrants attempting the Lampedusa crossing from North Africa to Sicily. Dawood’s images, painted and screen- printed onto textiles, feature images of cigarette packets, Spider-Man gloves, batteries and tiny bags of earth taken from homelands. In immortalising what is lost at sea from boats that have capsized or sunk, Labanof creates a record of lives lost. It is a programme designed to serve both grieving families and legal and humanitarian protocol.

cut outs on a board

Disposable Mementoes (Crayfish), 2018

The subject matter is alarming. Yet, from enormous tactile images and immersive VR experiences, to the ghostly iridescent sheen of coral sculptures, Dawood’s work remains wondrous, enticing, empathetic. He is quick to mention the many scientists and thinkers who have contributed to it, sharing time and research to help him understand their specialisms.

A large coral in the dessert

Coral Alchemy I (Dipsastraea Speciosa), 2022

As well as communicating these issues of our time, Dawood has become determined to “close the virtuous cycle”. This is done, in part, through sharing information. “There is a web platform for ‘Leviathan’, and I have invited scientific informers to write short, accessible papers for it, bringing the science back to the forefront,” he explains. “We’re also upping the ambition.”

Read more: An Interview With KAWS

In collaboration with Professor Madeleine van Oppen at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Dawood is in the process of creating two grants, to be awarded annually to individuals working in coral research.

A whale sculpture in brown

Leviathan, 2017. All artworks are part of Dawood’s ongoing ‘Leviathan’ project

It is both a chance to pay it forwards, he says, and an exercise in interdisciplinary collaboration. “I believe, increasingly, in an idea of convergence. How do we find ways to coexist, and take the broadest number of people along with us, into a more constructive set of notions of the future? How do we start having those conversations? We need new, fresh ways to think about how people can come together.” He smiles. “I’m an optimist, in spite of it all.”

Shezad Dawood is the official artist for the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge at Frieze London

Find out more: shezaddawood.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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green mangroves in a green river

 

“Technologies like renewables have their limits,” says Markus Muller. “The real potential for a sustainable global economy lies in using the wonders of nature to help rectify the planet.”

As has been previously discussed, a fundamental issue underpinning climate change is that the current economic system does not recognise nature as capital. We use and degrade nature freely. But we can go further than that, and say that putting nature at centre stage and appreciating the ecosystem services that it can deliver, would significantly help us counter climate change.

A man in a black suit and white shirt wearing glasses

Markus Müller

It is easy to believe that technology, correctly implemented, will be enough to combat climate change. And it is true that technological transformation, moving away from fossil fuel based production chains towards more electric and alternative energy based production chains, will support the reduction in CO2 emissions and in mitigating the climate change problem. But, if we wanted to electrify the entire world so that everything is based on renewable energy, it would require a vast amount of commodities that we currently do not have. Current estimates suggest we would need 500% of the commodities we already use today. And the extraction of these commodities will harm nature as well. So, technology has natural limits in its ability of adapting to a future counteracting climate change.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

We need the help of nature.

Nature based solutions (NBS) are one of the most important ingredients here. As defined by the IUCN, they leverage nature and the power of healthy ecosystems, to protect people, optimise infrastructure and safeguard a stable and biodiverse future.

Their potential is massive. One exciting aspect is that they can include local communities, especially in the global south, which are currently excluded from global developments. NBS produce societal benefits in a fair and equitable way, in a manner which promotes transparency and broad participation. They also maintain biological and cultural diversity, as well as the ability of ecosystems to evolve over time.

a brown coral under the blue sea

Photo by Francesco Ungaro

The IUCN have estimated that NBS have the potential to reduce roughly 10-18 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions each year (by 2050). This would be a major contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. And NBS also mean the reinvigoration of nature, which will further increase the climate mitigation benefit, including in such crucial areas as the resilience of the coastline.

One discussion in the global market is how to use NBS for carbon credit trading. NBS are one of the carbon sinks and these credits can be traded by companies not just to offset their C02 emissions, but also to steer those companies, via these carbon credit markets, to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

And there are other potential benefits. In the ocean, if we put some areas under protection because of NBS, the fish stock will be very likely to recover. The fish stock will swim around, outside the protected area, which could benefit sustainable fisheries also outside such areas; scientists having found that this led to an increase in output. So NBS have multiple potential benefits to the entire planet.

Read more: Markus Müller On Natural Capital

As another example, a healthy coral reef absorbs 97% of the energy of a wave. And this speaks to the further economic potential of NBS. New jobs, for example. We have forest rangers, so why not have coral rangers or gardeners?

green mangroves in a green river

Photo by Vishwasa Navada

In fact, they already have coral gardeners in Tahiti, where they are a source of labour on this breakwater. Creating a coral reef produces environmental and biodiversity benefits, creates labour, and can generate a profit.

There is however, a challenge: complacency and the rebound effect. We know this from countries where recycling has become a tool for reducing plastic waste, but the high recycling ability of a country (Germany is a good example) leads to more plastic production. Therefore believing that NBS will do the trick and lead to absorption should not lead us to think that we can emit further CO2. NBS will only ever work while we are reducing CO2 emissions at the same time. The priority is to reduce CO2 emissions while using the ability of NBS for absorbing CO2 as a mitigation strategy.

Markus Müller is Global Head of the Chief Investment Office at Deutsche Bank’s International Private Bank

Find out more: deutschewealth.com/esg

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hay field and the sky

hay field and the skyCan we put a price tag on nature? Valuing the carbon services of plants and animals is essential to bridging the gap between finance and conservation, says Professor Connel Fullenkamp, the leading academic working at the intersection of science and economics. Here, Fullenkamp speaks to LUX about the importance of engaging capital markets in biodiversity financing, and why necessity is the mother of invention

A bald man wearing glasses and a red shirt

Professor Connel Fullenkamp

LUX: You have spoken profoundly about the value of natural assets.
CF: We’re bringing economics, finance, and business into an area where it really hasn’t been brought in before. We start with the approach that says these natural assets have a lot of value, but we don’t necessarily know how to put a price tag on that value. So, we start only with the things that we can find a market price for. This is because we want to speak the same language as investors and policymakers who have to keep their eye on the bottom line all the time.

When we go out and try to put a value on a natural asset, be it an elephant or a mangrove forest, we’re really thinking about this as trying to attach the lowest, believable value. We’re trying to convince people that the value is way more than that. That has got a lot of people’s attention, because it acquaints them with the tremendous value that resides in many natural assets.

LUX: Can there be a system that’s devised for transferring payments? For example, if a company destroys a coastal mangrove plantation, who does it pay for that lost value?
CF: Part of the desire behind this is to prevent the destruction from happening in the first place. But we’re living in a world in which we already have those kinds of swaps going on. So, what we’re trying to do is put an adequate value on that. We are also trying to create the impression that the contributions to things like biodiversity are worth even more. In many cases, of course, it’s the government that owns these assets, so we have to inform them what they are worth.

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For example, we were approached by the UK Environment Agency to help them value their salt marshes, given that they have diminished by 90% in the last century or so. If we can put a price tag on these things, we can help governments make the argument that, firstly, you shouldn’t destroy these things in the first place, and secondly, if you do harm these assets, there’s going to be a steep price to pay.

A bee on a purple flower

LUX: How hard is it to find a valuation when there are so many different factors? For example, with a salt marsh, you have to incorporate the carbon storage or the flood protection, and then the ecosystem’s biodiversity.
CF: It’s difficult to put a total valuation on most of these natural assets because it has proven to be difficult to value something like the contribution to biodiversity. It’s hard to even define what biodiversity is. Biodiversity in a desert is very different to that 1,000 or more kilometres south in rainforests.

LUX: What opportunities are there in terms of constructing a financial pathway for investors?
CF: This is something we’re very keen to create. Ideally, we’d have investors who are interested in investing in natural capital services, such as carbon sequestration, because there’s a fairly well-established market for it. These investors would like to purchase either carbon offsets or have other reasons for wanting to hold carbon credits. They would pay for certificates that would deliver the carbon credits, and then the proceeds would function like a sovereign wealth fund.

Read more: Professor Nathalie Seddon On Biodiversity And Climate Resilience

Hopefully, the main use of that money would be, of course, to establish conservation restoration programmes. This is a long pathway between the financial markets all the way to the people on the ground doing conservation restoration. But unless we create that pathway, I think we’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

LUX: Which opportunities should investors be looking towards, in terms of creating the new financial system to support this?
CF: There are two things that should create excitement. They’d be investing on the idea that these are natural resources will continue to deliver these different environmental services, like carbon sequestration. We’re betting on the recovery of those things. Also, they’re betting on the plus in which carbon will help us understand what the biodiversity benefits are, that can also then be priced. If we get good at establishing these carbon markets, we kind of wrap in these biodiversity services as a plus.

green trees in a meadow

LUX: What are the main hurdles to be overcome?
CF: Governments are very reluctant to think about selling their natural assets to the private sector. And so, our first hurdle is to convince them that, no, you’re not selling the assets. We’re trying to get you to sell the services of the natural assets; in fact, governments need to retain ownership of these assets.

We have to establish a conduit that will help governments protect these assets so that they can continue to generate services and support: mainly the beauty and culture of their countries. Governments are naturally reluctant because this is a brand new thing that they’ve never seen before. The markets are sceptical for similar reasons, and because there are some less-savoury actors out there who’ve already been trying and failing with certain initiatives.

Also, there is, especially in the case of wild animals, scientific uncertainty. So many of these species are facing near extinction across the board. We don’t have time. We need people to say, okay, the science is good enough. We’re willing to believe in it and bet on it.

A tree burning with fire in the background

LUX: Are these outcomes possible?
CF: I’m optimistic. The reaction we get when we talk to people has been overwhelmingly positive. When you get the capital markets involved, you can unleash a tremendous amount of financing that can do a lot of good, hopefully for conservation and restoration.

It is hard to imagine being able to cover that biodiversity financing gap without the participation of the financial markets. So, one of the things that drives my optimism is the fact that necessity is the mother of invention. For addressing climate change, this is one of our best chances. The trick is to put everybody together and get them to work together toward this common goal.

little green plants growing from the soil with water droplets on them

LUX: Will there be developments in attaching more specific prices, in terms of the science around biodiversity and nature-based capital?
CF: Absolutely. I think there’s a lot of excitement in that research. In particular, for example, one of the leading seagrass researchers is very excited about our work and is writing a paper for us. Seagrass is again one of these unsung heroes of blue carbon that sequesters a tremendous amount of carbon. We still don’t know what the full extent of seagrass coverage is anywhere, because nobody’s really had the money or the gumption to go look for it. So just finding out where the seagrass is, how much it covered it can sequester and where it can be restored: those kinds of issues are the type of research that we see coming out of this in the short term.

LUX: Are there accessible ways of investing in natural capital in the way that you’ve outlined?
CF: What we’ve got in mind is a bit different from, say, the sustainability linked bonds or green bonds that we see out there. There again, I think these are they’re all great and part of the solution here. But really, when you’re investing in something like a sustainability linked or a green bond, you’re basically a bond investor. You’re hoping that the money gets put to a certain type of a purpose. And in some cases, you’re going to get some either yield pick up or yield penalty depending on the performance. But really, you’re not making a direct investment, so to speak, or a direct bet on the actual natural capital itself. You’re really not investing in environmental services. That’s to me, in my mind, that’s a really big difference here, that what we’re what we have in mind and what we’re trying to create is really an asset backed market. And the asset that is being used to back the market is the natural capital services.

Read more: Dimitri Zenghelis on Investing in the Green Transition

LUX: In an optimistic scenario, how do you see this looking in 10 years’ time with the landscape?
CF: This will be just another asset class that people have available to them to invest in and it will have certain properties. Hopefully it will be sufficiently uncorrelated with other types of market returns to make it attractive as a diversification tool, if not for its own sake, and what it represents in terms of investment in the environment. So ideally, that’s what we’d see people would say. Well, I’ve got some of my portfolio in stocks and bonds, real estate alternatives. And one of the alternatives is going to be these natural capital assets.

Connel Fullenkamp is Professor of the Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Economics at Duke University 

Find out more: duke.edu

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Satellite image
Satellite image

Attribution science explores the link between climate and extreme weather

Flooding in South Africa, wildfires in California, heatwaves in India: each new extreme weather event seems the inevitable conclusion of ecological breakdown. But how exactly are climate and weather linked? Leading attribution scientist Dr Friederike Otto explains to LUX why we need to nuance our understanding of climate change

Dr Otto is co-lead of World Weather Attribution, an international organisation analysing the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events. Named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in 2021, Otto has identified an information gap in the public’s understanding of climate, which, she argues, is hindering the creation of reliable and resilient systems in the face of extreme weather. She tells LUX why everything depends on the decisions we make in the next decade

LUX: How sophisticated is the public’s understanding of what effect climate change is having on weather?

Friederike Otto: There is still quite a big lack of understanding about how climate change affects weather. There are lots of people who assume that everything bad that is happening now in the world and in the weather is because of climate change. That is a misconception. There is a huge difference between how climate change affects heatwaves versus how it affects extreme rainfall or droughts, and that is something we need to get much better in communicating.

LUX: So, how are climate and weather linked?

FO: Climate change can affect the weather in two ways. One is the thermodynamic effect: we have more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, so the atmosphere gets warmer overall. This means that there is a higher likelihood of heatwaves which are hotter, and a lower likelihood of cold waves, which are warmer than what they would have been. Likewise, because a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour that needs to get out of the atmosphere as rain, you have an increase in heavy rainfall.

If that was the only effect, we wouldn’t need to do attribution studies. The second effect is weather, because we have changed the atmosphere’s composition and temperature differences. This second effect can go in the same direction as the warming effect – but the effects can also counteract each other. If you don’t get any weather systems that bring rain, it won’t rain. So here we need attribution studies.

Protestor

Otto explains the need for reliable and resilient systems in place to respond to extreme weather

LUX: What do you say to those who think ‘what’s the big deal?’ about the atmosphere getting one degree warmer?

FO: One degree in a heatwave is thousands of people dead or alive. People have pointed out that one degree is lower than the global mean temperature change and that is true. But the year-to-year variation in weather and in temperatures is quite small. If you had one degree added to a heatwave in Antarctica, it would indeed be much less of a big deal, because there is a huge variability in temperatures.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The heatwave in India is, in today’s climate, a one in 100-year event. With this, you can look at the intensity change: how frequent would this event have been in a world without climate change? What is now a one in a hundred year event used to be a one in 3000 year event without climate change. In other words: a one degree change in intensity corresponds to a 30 times increase in the likelihood.

LUX: So the differences, though seemingly marginal to the casual onlooker, can radically change the climate system?

FO: The climate system will be fine, it will just get hotter. But people and ecosystems have adapted over centuries to a certain type of climate. All of our ecosystems and social systems are very much designed for this narrow range of possible weather that we used to get, so, if you push that back even a little bit, it is much harder to deal with.

Clouds

Climate change has increased dramatically over the last two decades

LUX: What has allowed the field of attributional climate science to thrive in recent years?

FO: Firstly, we are now able to run climate models so that you can actually look at extreme events. Before, you would run a climate model maybe once or twice — and this only gives you one possible realisation of climate and weather. It wouldn’t allow you to look at extreme events.

The second thing is that climate change has increased dramatically over the last couple decades. We see the trends and changes even in weather observations, so we can detect changes without having even touched a climate model. People have really started to develop and design methodologies to use new data and tools to answer these questions.

LUX: How do day-to-day meteorologists react to your discipline, which is still emerging?

FO: Grumblingly, I think – at least at first, because there have been huge divides between meteorologists who have dealt with day-to-day weather forecasts and those working on climate change. Attribution ultimately forces the two together.

Read more: Professor Nathalie Seddon On Biodiversity And Climate Resilience

Attribution has led to a huge recognition now that it is necessary to make meteorology more relevant for the world we live in. Meteorologists have, for a long time, been extremely conservative when it comes to climate science.

LUX: With the rise of quantum computing, do you think there is the possibility that meteorology will also revolutionise?

FO: A lot of new science could be unlocked through that in meteorology. We would have a lot more higher resolution models to look at what is still not very well understood, for example, cloud interaction with aerosols (and so on). It will not mean that we suddenly have an uncertainty-free science. It’s something that people still have a hard time to live with — that there will always be uncertainty when you do scientific studies, and that this is actually nothing special in climate science.

Otto emphasises the need for greater collaboration between scientific disciplines

LUX: Do you think that there is the possibility of more joined-up thinking between climate science, sustainability, science, biodiversity science?

FO: You can’t try and solve one in isolation from the other. It’s still not easy to do that, because most of us are still trained in a very disciplinary way and we speak very different languages, but the upcoming generations of scientists and researchers are better trained in more interdisciplinary research and increasingly funding is being allocated to interdisciplinary research. So it’s happening, but slowly.

LUX: Is there a tendency for governments to use climate change as a scapegoat to avoid accountability?

FO: Definitely. That’s why it’s important to nuance our climate change understanding. With heatwaves, what used to be a 100 year event is now really just ordinary summer in many places. But for many other extremes, the changes are relatively small. For droughts, there are many parts of the world where they are not yet changing because of climate change.

Read more: Melissa Garvey On Saving The Oceans

The drought in Madagascar is a good example: that has led to quite a lot of food insecurity for the population. That was a rare event, and the population was vulnerable, helped only by NGOs. But these NGOs have always come in when there’s a crisis and then gone away again. There has never been a reliable or resilient system to respond to extreme weather. That is a big problem. There is also an element of colonialism, so it’s not something that the global north can completely wash their hands of. But even if we were to immediately stop greenhouse gas emissions, that wouldn’t solve the problem that southern Madagascar has with respect to drought.

Umbrella art installation

Attribution science has led to a huge recognition that it is necessary to make meteorology more relevant for the world we live in

LUX: Personally, do you feel worried about where things are going?

FO: I’m not worried per se; I’m more frustrated. I feel immensely privileged for who I am, that I’m able to live in a world now where I am able to do whatever I want and be whoever I want. Climate change is one result of this societal system that only benefits a few, but it’s not the only one.

LUX: Do you think it’s your role to point out what is happening and let others judge what to do?

FO: It’s my role as a scientist to say ‘this’ is happening because of ‘that’. It’s my role as a human being to say that it is affecting people who are least responsible for the causes. To pretend that climate scientists are not humans: it’s just not useful.

LUX: What will the world and the weather look like in a hundred years?

FO: Everything depends very strongly on the decisions we make in the next decade. Weather changes are very fast with emissions. We still absolutely have the power in our hands to shape the future we want to live in.

Dr Friederike Otto is a Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, and Co-Lead of World Weather Attribution (WWA)

Find out more: worldweatherattribution.org

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solar panel on the grass with rocky mountains behind it

solar panel on the grass with rocky mountains behind it

EY’s Global Vice Chair on Sustainability, Steve Varley, speaks to LUX’s Leaders and Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh, about EY’s approach to sustainable investing, the future of sustainability and the steps that need to be taken to fight the climate crisis

LUX: What do you consider to be the principal drivers behind the EY approach to sustainable investment?
Steve Varley: Sustainability is right at the top of the agenda at EY. We announced in October last year that EY has become carbon negative, which means we have reached our target to reduce our absolute emissions, and then offset or remove more than the remaining amount of our emissions, every year. It’s a crucial step forward in our sustainability journey and a key milestone as we work towards reaching net zero in 2025.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

A man wearing a black v-neck jumper and shirt underneath standing on the grass with trees behind him

Steve Varley

EY people share our commitment to the environment and to driving long-term, sustainable growth. We want to not only transform EY to become more sustainable, but also help EY clients do the same. This means reframing how business approaches sustainability and putting it right at the centre of how value is created and protected.

Creating a sustainable future requires all of us to be at the table. It demands involvement across borders, services, and teams, across all business functions. It requires alliances between governments, enterprises, and industries. As we like to say: It’s everybody’s business.

LUX: How does a sustainable approach foster growth and add value?
SV: EY clients are increasingly seeking ways to drive value from sustainability. Our Value-Led Sustainability approach focuses on helping clients capitalise on the commercial opportunities presented by sustainability and decarbonisation, but it is motivated by much more than just financial gain. It is central to how we will safeguard and generate new sources of value for everyone on the planet – our people, the society we serve, and the world in which we live.

wind turbines in a wheat field

This means leading a wide range of projects, from helping consumer goods companies drive more growth by developing new business models for greener products to collaborating with financial institutions to calculate carbon emissions from the companies they finance, and from this develop new financing solutions to help these companies decarbonise. We want to keep building on this kind of work and continue to develop services that help our clients find value in becoming more sustainable.

LUX: What is the role of the next generation/Gen Z – what are they looking for when it comes to ESG?
SV: The next generation is driven by purpose and expects more from ESG. This is hardly surprising given that both generations Y and Z have lived through a variety of systemic crises, including the 2008 global financial crisis, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. While previous generations may have seen comparable crises, members of these new cohorts are more sceptical of traditional financial services than older generations and they have higher expectations of authentic and ethical behaviour from the organisations for which they work, buy from, and invest.

Trees with leaves upwards to the sky from an ants point of view

Gen Z is emerging as the sustainability generation. They want to work for companies that have a positive impact on society and the environment, and they want to see increased transparency and greater corporate accountability for ESG ratings. At EY, a large percentage of our workforce come from this generation, and we are really encouraged by their high standards and expectations. They are certainly holding us accountable, as well as holding clients accountable, and we are all the better for it. We need the next generation’s innovation and solutions if we are to solve the climate crisis and deliver future growth that’s truly sustainable.

LUX: Which leaders are the winning in the time of the climate crisis?
SV: Denmark, in my opinion, is a world leader in wind and solar power generation. Most of its energy is presently derived from renewable sources, with the goal of reaching 100% renewable power by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Similarly, the United States has a sizable venture capital ecosystem that funds renewable energy and electric vehicles, and the United Kingdom has enshrined its 2050 net zero aim in law, placing us second in the world in terms of influence.

While this is extremely encouraging, there is a ‘Green Power Gap’ that has been emerging, with only a small group of developed markets leading the way in terms of climate research, innovation, and public funding, and not enough ‘green money’ flowing to the emerging markets, where the effects of climate change are felt most acutely. EY’s Green Money Report outlines clear recommendations for action to help accelerate a green transition that is truly global and where all countries can take part. I really can’t stress the importance of this enough – the opportunity to avert climate catastrophe must be seized by everyone now, not just by a small handful of countries.

A power line in a field

LUX: Can you tell me about the S30 forum?
SV: The S30 is part of the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) led by HRH The Prince of Wales and it comprises Chief Sustainability Officers from some of the world’s most influential companies, all with the joint aim of accelerating business action on sustainability. The forum was launched in 2020 and I proudly serve as co-chair of the group, alongside the CEO of freuds, Arlo Brady.

Members have been drawn from the most influential businesses in the world covering a wide range of sectors, including consumer and industrial products, energy, financial services, life sciences and technology. At its core, the S30 is a space for members to come together, share learnings and best practices, and explore the successes and challenges they are experiencing in their roles. Most importantly, we are focused on outputs and driving collective action that will benefit not only the business community but protect the world at large.

LUX: What can public policymakers learn from business when it comes to sustainability?
SV: Governments cannot address the climate crisis alone; business must play an important role, and public-private partnerships are crucial. Businesses can help the world accomplish its climate change targets by doing three things: mobilising resources to finance the green transition, leveraging clean technology and innovation, and effectively measuring and reporting on sustainability.

A solar panel below blue sky

In particular, the financial services sector, in collaboration with governments and regulators, can identify legislative and regulatory adjustments to facilitate financial product and service innovation, simplify rules, standardise taxonomies, and track green money flows to guarantee that transition needs are fulfilled globally.

Governments are providing much-needed policy momentum as we approach COP27, but business will play an incredibly important role in the green transition. The private sector can play an even bigger role at COP and companies across different sectors will need to continue to work hard to help achieve the world’s climate goals. In doing so, they will position themselves for green growth in the years to come.

Read more: Coming Together To Save Our Coral

LUX: How optimistic are you about the progress made at COP?
SV: I’m an optimist, but an optimist that seems to worry a lot. Sustainability has gone mainstream, and after COP26 it really does feel like everybody’s business. We are seeing a lot of CEOs now putting the planet at the heart of their business strategy and looking for ways to create value from becoming more sustainable. What is exciting to see is business applying its skills at innovation, embracing disruption and problem-solving to tackle the biggest issues we face, and doing so while creating value for their stakeholders.

green trees and fog

The COP26 debates raised the issue of keeping companies accountable to the climate pledges they make, and the current frameworks in place not being subject to the same level of rigour as financial reporting. It was fantastic to see this topic on the agenda, and the establishment of the International Sustainability Standards Board was widely welcomed. We all know it will be a challenging road ahead, but leading organisations are already reaping the benefits of implementing clear and transparent sustainability targets into their corporate strategies.

The COP27 climate summit is fast approaching in November and it’s clear that major changes must happen quickly right across business and society. We’re ready to help lead the charge.

Find out more: ey.com

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sting ray swimming above colourful corals in the sea
sting ray swimming above colourful corals in the sea

Alex Mustard photographed healthy reefs in the Maldives

As our oceans warm up, the spectacular coral reefs of the Maldives archipelago are dying. Michael Marshall reports on the new philanthropic project aiming to make them more resilient to climate change

Beneath the glittering cerulean waters of the Maldives archipelago, trouble is brewing. The extraordinary coral reefs that encircle these islands are being damaged by climate change, threatening the country’s very survival.

Fortunately, help is at hand. A local research and conservation institute has bold plans to strengthen the reefs by breeding the most resilient corals and seeding them in the waters of the Maldives. With the help of a new philanthropic initiative, led by Deutsche Bank, the project is ready to set sail.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The Maldives is one of the countries most affected by climate change. “You couldn’t find a place more in the front lines,” says Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of Exeter.

As the Earth’s temperature warms, driven by greenhouse gas emissions, the oceans are being reshaped. Most obviously, sea levels are rising – and for low-lying islands like the Maldives that is an existential threat. But there’s more: seas are warming, the water is becoming more acidic and low-oxygen zones are spreading. These changes threaten all marine life.

Climate change poses a particular threat to corals. These tiny animals live in huge colonies underwater, and over thousands of years the skeletons of dead corals build up to make vast structures called reefs. The Maldives themselves are coral reefs that grew until they reached the surface, and the country’s islands are ringed by underwater reefs. These are home to an extraordinary range of animals, from sharks to starfish.

beige and yellow corals in the sea

More photography by Alex Mustard of healthy reefs in the Maldives

“Your first experience of a coral reef is completely unforgettable,” says Roberts. “You dive over the reef crest and into that area where it’s just a huge blaze of fish of all varieties and colours.” It’s utterly immersive, he adds; you can “feel yourself being completely consumed by an ecosystem”.

Corals are particularly vulnerable to warming. “It doesn’t take more than a rise of about 1°C above their normal thermal maximum for corals to get into deep trouble,” says Roberts. “That’s what’s been happening.”

A man wearing glasses, with palm trees behind him

Callum Roberts

In 1997-98 and 2015-16, spikes in ocean temperature caused mass coral bleaching events. The corals expelled the algae that live inside them and that they depend upon for nutrients. As a result, the corals turned ghostly white. The first bleaching event killed an estimated 95 per cent of shallow corals. They then underwent a partial recovery, before the second mass bleaching event caused about 65 per cent mortality. “That level of coral death is extremely worrying,” says Roberts.

In a 2018 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that “coral reefs would decline by 70-90 per cent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all would be lost with 2°C.” So far, the Earth has warmed by an estimated 1.1°C.

To save the corals, and by extension the Maldives, the country’s former president Mohamed Nasheed founded the Maldives Coral Institute (MCI). The MCI aims “to help coral reefs to survive and adapt to the changing climate”. Roberts is one of its scientific advisers.

dead corals in the sea

Alex Mustard also photographed bleached, dead corals highlighting the abundance of sea life at risk if corals are left to decline

The MCI is now being financially supported by Deutsche Bank. In November 2021, the bank launched its Ocean Resilience Philanthropy Fund, which is intended to support nature-based solutions to marine conservation problems. Deutsche Bank committed an initial $300,000 and hopes to raise $5 million over the next five years. The MCI was brought to the bank’s attention by Karen Sack, Executive Director and Co-Chair of the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance.

A woman with curly brown hair

Jacqueline Valouch

“The lack of funding is one of the big recognised barriers to nature-based solutions,” says Jacqueline Valouch, Head of Philanthropy at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management in New York, who was involved in setting up the fund.

“We’ve got this massive problem, the Maldives Coral Institute has a mission, and Deutsche Bank is funding a really important piece of work to begin with,” adds Roberts.

The funding will enable the MCI to launch a project called the Future Climate Coral Bank (FCCB). The idea is to find corals that have proven resistant to climate change and breed them in a controlled environment, creating more resilient strains. “We’re going to have a living propagated coral farm underwater in which the idea is to explore and test ways of assisting evolution,” says Roberts. These resilient corals can then be reintroduced to the ocean, particularly to reefs with a poor supply of coral larvae. In the long run, this will hopefully mean the Maldivian corals become more resilient.

divers under the sea on the sand

The MCI works on conservation projects including this one at Fulhadhoo, where divers installed a silt screen to prevent sediment from nearby construction from damaging the corals

“The magnitude of that impact to us was unmatched in many ways,” says Valouch. She says the FCCB “could last for many generations,” which is crucial, because her philanthropic clients want “to make an impact on the causes they care about”. “They’re multigenerational families coming from many different regions of the world and they have their family members living in different parts of the globe.”

Valouch and her colleagues plan to spend much of 2022 talking to donors. “We are looking to kick all that off now,” she says. A key element will be introducing prospective donors to the project team, so they can appreciate the talent and passion of all involved. Deutsche Bank is also recruiting a panel of experts who will advise on which projects to fund. “To be able to have that kind of innovation and creativity sit at the table with us is just extraordinary,” Valouch says.

For her, philanthropy can provide the seed funding for ambitious projects such as the FCCB. “It allows other donors to come in,” she says, and enables organisations like the MCI to recruit enough staff to become sustainable.

“I think the private sector has a greater appetite for risk,” says Roberts. That’s especially true for projects such as the FCCB. “This is not research that ends when you publish a study. This is something that has to make a difference on the ground and in the water.”

The hope is that, with the right investment, the corals of the Maldives will thrive for decades to come.

Five approaches to regenerating the world’s coral reefs

  1. Reducing agricultural runoff into the sea improves water quality and coral health.
  2. Coral IVF grows baby corals in the lab and seeds them on damaged reefs.
  3. Artificial reefs can be sunk in oceans to provide homes for corals and other sea life.
  4. Corals can even be given ‘probiotics’ to help boost their health.
  5. Most importantly of all, limiting climate warming to a maximum of 1.5°C and lowering global greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero will minimise the threat to the world’s coral reefs.

— Michael Marshall

A group of school children in blue uniforms sitting in a circle having a lesson

Former President of the Maldives and environmental activist Mohamed Nasheed discusses climate change with children at the Maldives Coral Institute’s Coral Festival in 2020

A partnership of positive steps

The Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA) is helping to drive a global response to ocean-derived risks. Backed by organisations ranging from the World Wildlife Fund to Deutsche Bank as global lead banking partner, it wants to save the oceans by deploying the power of the financial world.

Read More: Jean-Michel Cousteau: Choose Life

Its mission is “to pioneer new and innovative financial products” that will tackle climate change, protect ocean biodiversity and help coastal communities become resilient, says Karen Sack, Executive Director and Co-Chair of ORRAA.

A woman with short hair wearing a black t shirt and necklace

Karen Sack

“We aim to drive at least $500 million of investment into coastal and marine natural capital, or ‘blue nature’,” says Sack. She argues that this is in everyone’s interest. The global ocean economy has a total asset value estimated at $24 trillion, but in the past decade only $13 billion has been invested in sustainable marine projects. “We need to change that,” says Sack. “And we need to act quickly.”

Hence the Maldives project. Deutsche Bank were looking for ways to have a positive impact quickly, as well as over the long term, and Sack suggested supporting the MCI. “Lessons learned in the Maldives will help heal and strengthen coral reefs around the world.”

Michael Marshall is a renowned science journalist specialising in the environment and life sciences

Find out more: deutschewealth.com/oceanfund

This article appears in the Deutsche Bank Supplement of the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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blue wave splash
blue wave splash

Marine biologist Matt Sharp was awarded the Ocean Conservation Photographer of the Year in 2020 for his incredible images, such as this one of a wave breaking in the Maldives in 2019

Marine life is threatened by climate change, pollution and overfishing. And depleted oceans risk collapsing the whole global ecosystem. A new generation of business startups is aiming to reshape the ocean economy, making it both truly sustainable and profitable. Michael Marshall reports

The blue economy is gaining momentum. Hundreds of startup companies around the world are aiming to protect, and even restore, the oceans, while making a profit. They want to get food and other essential resources from the sea in ways that benefit marine life – or at least don’t harm it. What’s more, there are plenty of organisations that aim to support these startups, whether with money or expertise or both.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

“We are not going to save the oceans if we don’t change the economy,” says Tiago Pitta e Cunha, the CEO of the Oceano Azul Foundation, a Portuguese non-profit that supports a variety of initiatives designed to stimulate the growth of the sustainable blue economy. The good news is that the business case for ocean conservation is real and growing. “There’s a wonderful opportunity for startups and new companies to develop business models,” says John Virdin, director of the Oceans & Coastal Policy Programme at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment in Durham, North Carolina.

The ocean certainly needs our help. It faces three big problems – overfishing, pollution and climate change – that “tend to make each other worse”, says Nancy Knowlton, a professor of marine biology and Sant Chair in Marine Sciences at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. However, she adds, there have been some real success stories for ocean conservationists in recent years. Take Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), for example. These are regions of the ocean in which extractive industries are either banned or tightly regulated, and they have proven highly beneficial when implemented fully. In 2020, fully implemented MPAs covered 5.3 per cent of the ocean, and this area is growing every year. As a result, some animals that were once considered on the brink of extinction have increased in numbers, including many whale species.

At the moment, the blue economy is dominated by “a few really big fish”, Virdin points out. In 2021, he co-authored a study that found 60 per cent of all revenues obtained from the ocean came from just 100 companies, almost half of which were from the oil and gas industry. Such companies have “rigid processes in place, for good reasons”, says Alexis Grosskopf, the founder and CEO of OceanHub Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, an accelerator for ocean impact startups. Those processes “could not be disrupted smoothly and quickly enough, without blowing up or imploding”.

This is where startup companies come in. Small outfits with radical technologies and new ways of doing things can overthrow existing practices, if they’re successful enough. And in the blue economy there are now hundreds aiming to disrupt a variety of industries, from fishing and aquaculture to renewable energy, pharmaceuticals and waste management. Some want to take an existing industry, such as fishing, and do it better, causing less harm to the ocean ecosystem. Others are aiming to restore and repair, actively improving the marine environment while also making a profit.

As with all startups, the challenge is to survive long enough to build a customer base and break even. A startup company may attract an initial burst of funding on the basis of a good idea, which enables it to start operations. But they then face ‘death valley’, when they risk running out of money before they start earning any.

seaweed shot under water

Intertidal seaweed beds on the west coast of Jersey, UK, in 2020

To address this challenge, a number of incubators and accelerators have been established in recent years to help ocean startups become profitable. These include Katapult Ocean in Oslo, Norway and OceanHub Africa in Cape Town, South Africa. Another is Blue Bio Value, which was set up by the Oceano Azul Foundation and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 2018 to “help entrepreneurs create commercially viable and sustainable businesses” and thereby “accelerate the transition to a global and sustainable blue bioeconomy”. It is now on its fish set of startups.

Previously, the Oceano Azul Foundation – which owns the Lisbon Oceanarium – had focused on ocean education, but its leaders decided this was not enough. “We thought that, as a credible foundation, we need to also put our money where our mouth is,” says Pitta e Cunha. “We only accept startups that, through their production, will ease decarbonisation of the planet or high consumption of natural resources.” Many of these startups are led by scientists, he explains, who have essential specialist knowledge but little experience of markets or running businesses.

Alongside the accelerator, the team has also created an ideation programme to link academic researchers and business leaders, to encourage the formation of new businesses. “We are trying to manufacture new startups, because they are needed,” Pitta e Cunha says.

With so many funders, incubators and accelerators entering the ocean economy, the challenge for the owners of a new startup is how to navigate this business world. Several organisations have now been set up to organise everything and help startups find their way.

At Investable Oceans, in New York, the co-founder and principle, Ted Janulis, likes to say he was “born with an ocean gene”, which means he “can’t walk past a body of water of any type without jumping in and splashing around”. Several decades in finance convinced him that there were market-based opportunities all over the ocean economy. But the investors were scattered and disconnected. “The people who invested in plastic mitigation weren’t necessarily the people investing in better fisheries or aquaculture,” he says. So he set out to create a single platform where people could come and learn about investment opportunities in the blue economy across all asset classes and sectors. “We’re not an incubator, we’re not an accelerator, we’re not a fund and we’re not a broker dealer,” he says. “Our goal is to connect people.”

Plastic pollution along the beach– knee-deep in some places – in the Maldives in 2019

More recently, an umbrella organisation called 1000 Ocean Startups was launched in May 2021 to accelerate ocean impact innovation by bringing together “incubators, accelerators, competitions, matching platforms and VCs supporting startups for ocean impact”. Its members include Katapult Ocean, OceanHub Africa and Investable Oceans and so far it has backed 168 startups: 115 focused on sustainable use of ocean resources, 33 addressing pollution and 20 tackling climate change. “We’re still in the infancy stage,” says Grosskopf. The aim is to back 1,000 startups by 2030.

The challenge for all these companies will be to compete against existing ocean businesses that are not making efforts to be sustainable, and therefore have lower operating costs. Some consumers are prepared to pay extra for sustainable products, but many will not or cannot, so the startups must compete on price to attract mass-market consumers.

Fortunately, there are many routes to success, says Janulis. “Some of it might be that it’s a standalone company that becomes really big,” he says, but startups can also be absorbed by larger companies that see their methods as an opportunity.

Janulis says there is also “a rising sensibility and more awareness”, a point echoed by many. “I was born as a digital native,” says Grosskopf. People from the generation below, he says, are “sustainable natives”. “The consumers of tomorrow, the employers of tomorrow… they have sustainability in their DNA.”

It will soon be impossible for companies to behave unsustainably, Virdin suggests. “These issues of sustainability of ocean ecosystems and communities, they’re not luxury issues,” he says. “These are core issues to the future of the business model, whether it’s social licence to operate or whether it’s risks to your operating environment in the coming decades.”

Scottish coastal waves

Duncansby Stacks last year, on the exposed north- east coast of Scotland, where seals and seabirds thrive

Knowlton cautions that it’s unlikely startups alone can fix the marine environmental crisis. “The problem is that we’re kind of in a race against time,” she says, so there will need to be top-down action as well. “The role of government is really important because it can motivate change quickly.” However, she acknowledges, startups are where creative ideas can be brought to fruition quickly. “I think you have to encourage entrepreneurship – and much of it will fail, but some of it will work.”

Read More: Kering’s Marie-Claire Daveu on benefits of the blue economy

In other words, it’s not a choice between buccaneering startups and rules-based government. To save our ocean, both will have to work together.

Savvy Ocean Startups

Pesky Fish: Many of the fish that are caught at sea, particularly by trawlers, are wasted. Because they aren’t fashionable, they are discarded as ‘bycatch’. The British company Pesky Fish aims to change that by allowing fishers to sell directly to consumers. It has a rapidly updated online shop and overnight delivery service.

Recyglo: Plastic waste is one of the biggest problems facing the ocean ecosystem. Today most plastic enters the ocean from east Asia, where waste management systems are poor. Recyglo is aiming to change that by bringing modern recycling to the region. It already has branches in Myanmar, Singapore and Malaysia.

Cascadia Seaweed: Farming seaweed has enormous potential to feed the growing human population, remove carbon dioxide from the air, and restore the ocean by providing habitat for marine animals. Canadian firm Cascadia Seaweed is turning kelp into food for people and farm animals. It is working in partnership with First Nations groups.

This article appears in the Deutsche Bank Supplement of the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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swordfish in the sea swimming to a swarm of fish
swordfish in the sea swimming to a swarm of fish
Is it possible to make money out of our oceans while preserving and even enhancing them? Chris Gorell Barnes thinks so. The Co-founder of Ocean 14 Capital and Blue Marine Foundation speaks to LUX Editor-in-Chief, Darius Sanai about the possibilities in the blue economy

LUX: What is the focus of Blue Marine Foundation going forwards?
Chris Gorell Barnes: The focus is on stopping overfishing – which is undoubtedly one of the worst threats to the ocean. Restoring, regenerating and protecting the oceans and creating large scale Marine Protected areas, all done through innovations and an agile and entrepreneurial approach to conservation.

LUX: How has the foundation succeeded in capturing the public’s imagination where other groups have failed?
CGB: Through actually delivering successful conservation wins and first-of-its-kind innovations for the oceans, and incredible marketing, media and editorial work. (We have a journalist, a filmmaker and a marketer as Co-founders!)

LUX: How important has your background in marketing and content been for Blue Marine Foundation?
CGB: It’s been helpful, coupled with my co-founders’ skills. From the start, we were way ahead with our social media and content approach and have built an incredible media unit to use media to drive significant conservation wins. The film, The End of the Line is in our DNA.

two girls on a boat on the sea wearing wet suits

LUX: How do you persuade corporations to modify their environmental practices?
CGB: By enabling and educating them on the key role the ocean plays in mitigating the climate crisis and feeding the world.

LUX: Are there wealthy individuals who donate with one hand while their investments pollute with the other? What should they do?
CGB: We are very careful with KYC and our donors all share our values and mission alignment.

LUX: What is the highest priority for ocean protection as far as the foundation is concerned?
CGB: End overfishing and ensure 30% of the ocean is fully protected, with the remaining 70% sustainably managed.

Arlo Brady, with Ambassadors of Blue Marine Foundation, Princess Eugenie of York and James Blunt

LUX: You have drawn extensively on celebrity ambassadors for the foundation. Who has done the best job for you, and why?
CGB: From Prince Albert II of Monaco to Simon Le Bon to James Blunt, they have all been incredibly supportive with our initiatives all over the world. And of course Stephen Fry, who narrated the incredible interactive tool we built, The Sea We Breathe. We have also been very smart with brand collaborations such as Christopher Ward, Sunseeker, Moke, Kenzo, and Ralph Lauren.

LUX: It’s 2050: what do you think the oceans will look like?
CGB: I hope that they are thriving: protected, restored, functioning and full of life, ensuring we have a healthy planet and bringing employment, healthy sustainable food and joy to all.

LUX: What and where is the biggest environmental tragedy in our oceans right now?
CGB: Illegal Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing is happening all over the world, destroying ecosystems and stealing fish from the most disadvantaged citizens on the planet.

A man standing on a fishing boat wearing an orange jumpsuit and blue top

LUX: How would you explain to an intelligent but distracted business leader that the loss of a seemingly trivial marine ecosystem can have a fundamental effect on people on the other side of the world?
CGB: The ocean connects and carries everything. It is the life source of our planet, providing half the oxygen we breathe and absorbing half the carbon we produce. It also plays a key role in feeding three billion people. We need to protect it everywhere.

LUX: Where does the blame lie for overfishing – consumers, business, or governments?
CGB: The blame is with governments and business. Governments need to stop the ridiculous $22 billion worth of subsidies aiding overfishing; and businesses need to create absolute transparency of the supply chain.

seals in the sea

LUX: Why did you start Ocean 14 Capital?
CGB: We launched the Ocean 14 fund as it was clear that there was a huge need to build the conduit for capital looking at the blue economy. We believe that it is driving necessary positive impact on the ocean and making significant returns for the fund’s investors. Philanthropy is doing an incredible job but we need to attract institutional capital in order to transform the blue economy and this will only come if we create sophisticated impact investment vehicles like the Ocean 14 fund. If we do not create a sustainable and regenerative blue economy, we have zero chance of solving the crisis in the ocean and therefore protecting humanity – this is the most important investment thesis of our time.

LUX: The term ‘impact investment’ can be meaningless. Why is it not in your case?
Chris asked co-founder George Duffield to write the below response.
Because impact is in our DNA. We have spent more than a decade learning how to save the ocean. We work at a company level to build specific impact pathways, that are scientifically accurate and rigorously measured. Only then do we follow those pathways out to high level SDG 14 level goals. In other words, we work from detailed facts, not high-level assumptions. Impact is science, not goodwill.

Poppy Delevigne standing in front of a group of cyclists

Ambassador of Blue Marine Foundation, Poppy Delevigne

LUX: What specific types of companies are you planning to invest in and why will they make a difference?
CGB: The fund’s investment strategy is focussed on ensuring food security and protecting and restoring marine ecosystems. The fund recently closed two transactions: SyAqua is a leading technology and genetics company for shrimp aquaculture, and will help transform the industry to be much more efficient and sustainable. The other company is called AION, who have created a whole new operating model for managing plastics inventory, called Circularity as a Service. This business aims to transform how plastic is managed in big industry – stop plastic entering the ocean and take plastic out of the ocean. We believe that all of the fund’s investments should deliver great returns for our investors and have a positive impact on the ocean.

A man climbing on to a fishing boat from the sea

A man climbing on to a fishing boat from the sea

LUX: Blue finance is still maturing. How can investors be sure that sustainability projects will provide the scale and return they are seeking?
CGB: There is no trade off – we believe it is a win-win. We have the total convergence of drivers in the blue economy – the most valuable companies will be the most sustainable and impactful.

LUX: Why is blue economy investment so underserved currently, and will that change?
CGB: LIke marine conservation, when we started Blue Marine, the blue economy was very misunderstood and overlooked. Governments and businesses have been slow to realise the enormity of the problem and investors have missed the enormous opportunity. But the blue economy is now getting the attention it needs.

mangroves and clouds in the sky

LUX: What will the blue economy look like in five years’ time?
CGB: In 5 years’ time, the blue economy will have matured. Ocean14 plans to launch a larger fund which aims to attract the large institutional investors we need to support the transformation of the blue economy. We believe there will be more funds in the space, and there will be more sophisticated securitisation vehicles for blue carbon and nature-based solutions.

LUX: Do you fear blue washing, and what can be done about it?
CGB: We need to be vigilant, but what we have created is the most sophisticated impact measurement and reporting platform in the blue economy. We need to create and standardise this approach so there is clarity and transparency of what a true impactful business looks like in the blue economy. Then blue washing will have nowhere to hide. There will always be bad actors in the global economy who try to conceal various sins with blue/green washing. But Blue Marine and Ocean 14 are very alert to it, and with the right KYC and due diligence it has no place in our work.

Find out more: 

ocean14capital.com

bluemarinefoundation.com

 

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trees in a swamp
trees in a swamp

Mangroves protect coastlines from erosion and flooding, sequester carbon and provide a home to species not found elsewhere

If human beings are going to create a sustainable economic system, we must recognise the true value of living ecosystems and the services that they provide to society, and price this into our financial decisions. In the long term, the benefits will far outweigh the costs, says Markus Müller
A man in a black suit and white shirt wearing glasses

Markus Müller

Our enthusiasm for economic development has detached us from nature. With our focus on the production of goods, we have forgotten that there literally is a natural limit to our endeavours. If we value nature purely in terms of the raw materials it provides, we fail to appreciate the many ‘ecosystem services’ that living creatures and plants provide to society, and research suggests the markets would price these at about $140 trillion.

The world is fast-approaching a point where its natural capital is so depleted that it can no longer provide us with these services. As a species, we are acting rather like a company owner who operates their machinery 24/7 without maintenance, then acts surprised that their production line is no longer able to deliver the goods. The difference with nature is that there is no option of buying a new machine.

Humans, economy and society are embedded in the environment. This applies to food, but also to areas such as medicine. We know, for example, that many of the organisms living in the sea have contributed to the development of cancer treatments and other crucial drugs. It is reasonable to suppose that similar discoveries are waiting to be made in the world’s most biodiverse habitats such as rainforests and coral reefs, and if we kill our planet’s biodiversity then we will undoubtedly kill many such opportunities.

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What does this mean for us in our daily lives, for companies, and also for the economic and financial markets? If we look at the numbers alone the issue of sustainability may appear to already be centre stage. Around the world we see growing regulation, not only in creating transparency but also guiding money flow. Now accounting for more than 36 per cent of funds under management globally, environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments have established themselves as mainstream.

However, while the ESG concept divides up current business activities into three specific categories, making the transition to truly sustainable business practices requires more than just an appreciation of financial risk and return. The ultimate objective must be to promote the health of planet Earth for the benefit of generations to come. As Gro Bruntland, the former Norwegian prime minister, said in 1987: humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

a bee sitting on a pink flower

When discussing the economic opportunities around biodiversity, I always provide a caveat. What we are dealing with is a global common good. We can’t deal with it in the same way as a private good, which is a product we can manufacture. In terms of business opportunities, we need to be careful when we speak of a global common good – like biodiversity, clean air or even the ocean – as there is a risk of doing business as usual, and exploiting these fundamentals of our wellbeing.

The good news is that with the right governance, we can move quickly from over- exploitation to repair and rejuvenation. Take mangroves, for example: they are difficult to plant, but can be reinvigorated easily. And when they are healthy they act as an effective natural carbon sink, as well as lifting the ground level by collecting and storing soil. They represent a cost-effective ‘nature-based solution’ to both climate change and rising sea levels – and, therefore, a potential business opportunity.

Simultaneously, broader economics must be considered. ESG-based investments are increasingly being incorporated into governmental social and economic policies, and should boost economic growth by encouraging more responsible management of the world’s natural resources. The concept of natural capital – valuing living things like other assets, in order to conserve them – is gaining ground with economists, and when industrial leaders begin to realise its significance then it will completely change the way they do business.

green leaves with a ribbed pattern

As the awareness of biodiversity loss grows, it should become an increasingly important part of corporate strategy and political policy, drawing more attention to shortcomings in existing evaluation approaches while also prompting solutions. Biodiversity loss gives rise to risks (physical, transition, and liability) for companies in myriad ways. Any decision, be it in investment or finance, therefore needs to encompass the entire product life-cycle and examine the whole supply chain.

Read More: Gaggenau: The Calming Influence of Biophilic Design

The framework we use to evaluate biodiversity preservation is likely to evolve, which will have direct implications not only for investors but also for policymakers and economists. Also, the question of property rights will need to be considered in the context of local political and cultural priorities – a tension that may be difficult to resolve. Solving the geopolitical dimension is likely to be even more difficult, as this will require the financially strong First World to demonstrate the will to obtain goods from sustainable production. All this will come at a cost, but it’s most definitely a cost worth paying to ‘protect our portfolio’. The concept of natural capital could herald the beginning of a big story – one of an innovative and equitable economic model – that is worthy of the 21st century. To reiterate my opening message: if all things were similar then there would be no development. The outcome, instead, would be destruction. Let’s embrace this challenge and adapt to a new future, embedded in nature.

Markus Müller is Global Head of the Chief Investment Office at Deutsche Bank’s International Private Bank

Find out more: deutschewealth.com/esg

This article appears in the Deutsche Bank Supplement of the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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