Stakeholder Statement - Earthwatch Institute Stakeholder Statement - Earthwatch Institute Loading...

Mark Chandler
International Director of Research

At Earthwatch Institute we work with people from around the world including key business leaders to align their thinking, their priorities, and their processes with greater sustainability for the planet earth. One of the most powerful ways to create that kind of change is to take people out into nature for a hands-on science experience and conduct a dialog about sustainability in the context of real earth systems, such as forests.

It’s a great equalizer, because everyone is learning something new. People from all levels of a corporation can talk informally about sustainability challenges for their business or their industry, in a way they might not in a boardroom. Doing handson work with real scientists also tends to open people up to whole new lines of inquiry once they get back to the office.

We were happy to have two sessions like this with UPS in 2011 and 2012, because they are a leader in their industry and they touch so many people around the world with their actions and messages about sustainability. They also understand that the experience we provide at Earthwatch Institute has the power to inspire people and change their relationship to the company.
This is vital, because so many companies struggle to get employees and business partners to engage with sustainability. They have impressive goals and programs at the corporate level, but the good work they do doesn’t penetrate to enough people. UPS recognized that forests are not just an incredible natural resource for carbon mitigation – they are also a cause that everyone can relate to. Everyone likes being in the woods. Everyone has a favorite tree. But to sustain the world’s forests, you have to start with science and education. And that’s what UPS has done.

“UPS recognizes that forests are not just an incredible natural resource for carbon mitigation – they are also a cause that everyone can relate to ”

Their forestry initiative, and focus on the boreal forest in particular, is based on both broad science and specific measurements and data that their groups gathered in actual forests. The people who did that work are now credible ambassadors for the initiative within their organizations, because they spent time listening, learning, and doing the science themselves.

The reality is that sustainability can be a complex and overwhelming topic for people. Out in nature, though, people tend to disentangle complexity and find priorities that matter to them. They reconnect with the earth and identify actions they can take together to better steward the environment. They discover that everyone has a role to play in sustainability, and that learning the issues first-hand is an important step in that process. They see that collaborating with other people and organizations is a successful way forward. Most importantly, they understand that sustainability is not a concept. It’s a matter of people doing something about it.
UPS leaders travel to Lake Duparquet Research and Teaching Forest outside of Rovyn, Quebec.