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Responding to Climate Change 2011

Home | Defining Business Commitment | Earthwatch How to bridge the policy gap

How to bridge the policy gap


Founded in 1971, Earthwatch is an international environmental charity which engages people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.

*Earthwatch was ranked 11th out of 550 nonprofits in the 2007 Business Guide to Partnering with NGOs and the United Nations, created by the Financial Times, The United Nations Global Compact and Dalberg Global Development Advisors; a major survey of corporations on partnership experiences and nonprofit capabilities.

The HSBC Climate Partnership is a five-year programme on climate change to inspire action by individuals, businesses and governments.

As climate change and habitat degradation slowly move up the international political agenda, businesses teamed with the right non-profit are uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between government policy and individual action, and solve the greatest environmental challenges of our time. A task force for the planet.

For almost 40 years, Earthwatch has brought people from all walks of life into direct contact with nature, to support scientists who increase our knowledge and understanding of our planet, and to nurture our connection to the environment. The charity provides extra pairs of hands, eyes and ears for essential time-consuming data collection. These volunteers are an invaluable resource for scientists. In turn, they develop an appreciation of the importance of scientific research and take their new skills, knowledge and understanding back to their own communities and organisations.

Climate champions in India help scientists collect data to understand how forests are impacted by climate change.
Climate champions in India help scientists collect data to understand how forests are impacted by climate change.

In order to deliver its mission, Earthwatch seeks to involve all sectors of society. It has pioneered effective and mutually beneficial partnerships with businesses for over 20 years. By engaging the business sector, it mobilises the resources necessary to conserve the environment while building corporate participation, awareness and understanding of environmental and social sustainability among company employees.

The business community in both the developing and developed economies is in a strong position to reach the individual at a local level and influence consumption patterns. It can interact with and influence governments, and drive the international political agenda through bodies such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). It does this in a way that is complementary, steering change locally and internationally to a common agenda.

Earthwatch’s experience of working with the corporate sector shows it is possible to sustain the natural world, allow communities to thrive and ensure companies satisfy shareholders’ desire to generate profit. Coalitions between business, informed experts, NGOs and governments are powerful platforms from which to explore and develop alternative business models, and enable the required change.

Earthwatch logo


The HSBC Climate Partnership

The HSBC Climate Partnership (2007-2012) is a unique NGO-business-academic partnership with two key objectives for Earthwatch, a pioneer of “citizen science,” and HSBC, the first global bank to become carbon neutral.
The first objective is research: HSBC employees work as “citizen scientists” for two weeks at one of five climate centres that Earthwatch has established with research partners in forest research sites in US, UK, Brazil, India and China. They collect data on forest carbon – the least well understood component of the global carbon cycle – faster than ever possible before, and contribute to understanding how to best manage forests in a changing climate. By the programme’s end, 2,200 employees will have amassed nearly 100,000 hours of data collection.

The second objective is employee engagement and sustainable business practice. Each employee – or Climate Champion – accepted into the programme must implement a project that embeds sustainable practice at the heart of the way HSBC conducts business. Climate champions are saving money and resources, implementing ‘green’ marketing initiatives, inspiring colleagues to support sustainability initiatives and directly impacting HSBC’s bottom line.

High-level support for this innovative, action-oriented partnership is growing, as senior managers see the change climate champions are creating throughout the bank, not only enhancing HSBC’s environmental performance, but also generating green business opportunities that benefit people, planet and profit. A recent global review conducted by Ashridge, a leading business school in the UK, found that 93% of climate champions felt the programme increased their commitment to taking action on climate change and sustainability issues, and 69% said it developed their leadership skills.
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