Back in the 1990s, environmental journalism was a brave choice – a relatively new, complicated topic that has only started to engage the global audience, while many broadcasters and newspapers were not yet convinced it was an issue of public interest. Despite all the odds, Mark Kinver decided to pursue the career, and never looked back. The environmental journalist has been working for BBC News for more than 17 years and is always inspired by trees, as much as by people and the mission to report the truth.

Horyou blog is happy to inaugurate the «Changemakers» interview series with Mark Kinver!

Kinver: «People do care about environment»

When and why did you start covering environmental issues?

I started reporting on environmental issues back in the late 1990s. I had always been interested in politics but I became a bit dismayed with the seemingly petty nature of disputes within political parties and within the mechanics of the party political process. I did not want to follow a career in an arena which left me feeling somewhat disenchanted. So I looked around for an issue/topic that I could focus on. The environment had always been a central part of my life. As a youngster, I either spent my time on moorland or beaches, and I loved trees (still do!). I have not looked back since then and have reported on environmental stories all over the world.

In the last few years, environmental issues have been gathering more global attention and making daily headlines. Are you optimistic about the public awareness of these topics?

Yes. People do care about environmental issues. Whether it is about the energy they use, the transport that takes them from A to B, the food they eat, or the plight of threatened species. What environmentally focused organisations and individuals need to remember is that people do care. However, they also care about keeping a roof over their heads and putting food on the table. It may not be the top priority for most people but it is still an issue. Give people facts and they will act. Give people emotion and they will become suspicious.

More often than not, environmental coverage touches on social issues. How to raise the public’s attention to the interconnectivity between the environment and society?

Avoid buzzwords and concepts like interconnectivity and interdependency etc. People just need to become aware of the relationship their have with the land around them. This will take time, and a big question is whether we have enough time left to make us all a sustainable species. I remain hopeful that we will forge a closer relationship with the planet and the means of how it sustains us.

Who inspires you in your work?

People on the front line. Farmers, scientists, business people, etc. They have to face real-world problems on a day-to-day basis, and they have to find the best solution they can. More and more of them are putting environmental considerations centre stage.

What will be your main focus in 2018?

Apart from trees (!) I think food security is going to be an issue we are going to hear more and more about. While there will be a focus on the food supply chains, we will also hear much more about nutrition security – in industrialised economies, experts are concerned that too much sugar and fat is being consumed. This concern will manifest itself in various guises, such as proposed economic instruments, public awareness campaigns and an increase in consumer awareness.

Barcelona is hosting its 8th annual Corporate Social Responsibility Week, an event which connects the public sector to companies and non-profit organizations to discuss the recent developments in CSR. Horyou team has visited the venue and reports on some success stories.

8th CSR Week Barcelona took place from 14th to 18th November

What can a food bank do about global warming? Why should a healthcare and beauty products industry career coach unemployed women? Those are merely signs that CSR is pushing companies to go beyond their backyard. We all find profit in a better world.

The 8th edition of the annual CSR Week in Barcelona was an indication that many companies are trying to run the extra mile through their environmental and social actions. On a panel titled «Conferencias Soc-Eco-Amb», held on Tuesday, four organizations from very diverse industries showcased their actions.

Miguel Ángel Trabado, Henkel Beauty and Healthcare regional head of Professional Partnership Services (PPS), shared the «Fundación Quiero Trabajo» experience inaugurated this year. The project provides hairdressing, clothing, styling and professional coaching to unemployed women, helping them to recover from a job loss and restore their self-confidence. So far, 53 women have received assessment and advice, and 71% have found a new job. «It’s important to notice that most of the work is done by volunteers, and the great majority are women as well», he said. It is a global project that has produced remarkable results in Spain, with a high rate of successful job placements.

Speaking for Metro de Madrid on its recently launched CSR Policy, in line with the 11th and 13th UN Sustainable Development Goals on Sustainable Cities and Climate Action respectively, Monica Mariscal insisted on the company’s commitment to invest in innovation and technology in order to deliver the best user travel experience. Metro de Madrid is thus reusing 80% of its consumed water and, in 2017, it will reduce by 25% its energy consumption. Insisting on the responsibility to cater for the vast diversity of its users, she disclosed that «From a social perspective, the company has a commitment to diversity, and is building accessible stations and training both employees and people with disability to better use the metro». The goal is to have 73% of all stations accessible to people with disability by 2030.

Ana Gonzales talks about the CSR and Environment projects in Caprabo

As for the national supermarket chain Caprabo and its microdonations program, it is striving to reduce food waste, as well as to support people in need. Hence, the company donate small quantities of its unsold products – a pack of eggs in which just one is broken, for instance -, to non-profit organizations or food banks. This sounds simple but it requires some logistics in relation to food preservation and employee training to send out only items that are safe for consumption. According to Ana Gonzales, in charge of CSR and Environment for Caprabo, «The program is a success as it helps to feed 788 families per year. It also reduces food waste by more than 2,000 tons».

Caprabo micro donations go to organizations like Banc dels Aliments de Barcelona, a food bank that provides 18,000 tons of food to 137,000 people in Catalonia. In addition to putting meals on needy families tables, the organization has recently signed an agreement with the public sector by which it is working on reducing CO2 emissions. According to Joan Bosch, Economic Resources Coordinator, it is an extra challenge they are happy to take. «We have changed all our lamps to LED and are looking forward to reducing our emissions by more than 2,300 tons of CO2 in 2017», he stated. It is all done thanks to volunteering work and donations, and we aim higher each year. «Poverty is more intense and chronic than ever. We cover only 27% of families in need, and we expect to improve this number and the quality of what people are eating», he added. It will be done, of course, with lower emissions and the tireless commitment to building a better society.

Horyou soutient des initiatives innovantes qui s’inscrivent en résonance avec les Objectifs de Développement Durable des Nations Unies. Ainsi, nous sommes heureux de partager la campagne de Food Save Challenge, promue par notre partenaire Impact Hub Lausanne.

Savez-vous que plus de 12000 tonnes de nourriture sont non consommées par an en Suisse? Cela représente un budget de plus de 64 Millions de francs.

Le problème n’affecte seulement la Suisse – il est global et si concernant que fait partie des Objectifs de Développement Durable de l’ONU. En pensant à lui donner des solutions innovantes, Impact Hub Lausanne lance le Food Save Challenge, un défi pour startups. L’entrepreneur qui présente les idées plus innovantes sur le gaspillage va gagner 9 mois de soutien financier, coaching et un space de travail au Impact Hub Lausanne valant jusqu’à CHF 50,000. Les candidatures sont ouvertes jusqu’à 10 Novembre.

Pour participer du Challenge, il faut être un entrepreneur ou une start-up résidant actuellement en Suisse et présenter un projet avec potentiel d’impact de réduction de gaspillage alimentaire dans la région de Lausanne. Les critères comprennent aussi «adaptation du réseau» – si l’initiative est un ajout précieux au réseau d’épargne alimentaire existant, «faisabilité», «durabilité» et «attractivité».

Le Food Save Challenge fait partie d’un projet plus large, le Lab Vie Durable, qui veut promouvoir des modes de vie durable em Suisse Romande, en créant une plateforme multipartie qui favorise la collaboration ouverte entre les acteurs privés, publiques et associatifs, em se focalisant sur trois thématiques: consommation responsable et futur de l’alimentation, santé et bien-être, mobilitées et communauté durables.

Au delà du Lab Vie Durable, il y a aussi des projets Open Labs, notamment des sessions de travail ouvertes à tous, et un Social Labs, qui débutera em 2018 et offrira une processus expérimental d’apprentissage et de prototypage avec une cohorte de 12-24 leaders d’opinions. «Le Lab Vie Durable avec son approche régionale est un premier pas pour renforcer les liens et synergies entre acteurs clés de l’Arc Lémanique, créer une seule communauté grandissante dans la région et contribuer ainsi à l’essor de la Romandie et son positionnement en tant que leader régional d’innovation durable!», a dit Amanda Byrne, co-fondatrice de l’initiative.

UN End Hunger goal is to achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Horyou’s new series is about the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Every week, Horyou blog will publish an article about one goal, highlighting projects and actions that have been supporting its implementation.

Children under 5 are one of the most hunger vulnerable groups

One in ten people on our planet is undernourished. In rough numbers, they are 793 million, and one-fifth of them are children under 5 years of age. By contrast, 41 million children under 5 worldwide are affected by overweight and obesity – that’s 6% of children population. The numbers are shocking, yet the situation has improved in the 21st century – efforts to combat hunger and malnutrition have advanced significantly since 2000. Ending hunger, food insecurity for all, however, will require continued and focused efforts, especially in Asia and Africa.

Is there a way to improve both scenarios?

Horyou volunteer serving food at “The Meal”

The answer, according to the UNDP, lies in more investments in agriculture, including government spending and aid. It is in funding small-scale agriculture and sustainable food production systems, as well as making an effort to maintain the genetic diversity of plants and animals, both crucial for agriculture and food production. As of February 2017, 20 percent of local animal breeds were classified as at risk, according to data gathered in 128 countries. It’s all connected – global warming affects crops, animal breeds and food prices -, causing insecurity, civil unrest and wars. In 2016, 21 countries experienced high or moderately high domestic prices, relative to their historic levels, for one or more staple cereal food commodities. Thirteen of those countries were in sub-Saharan Africa. The main causes of high prices were declines in domestic output, currency depreciation, and insecurity.

Some governments have invested in long-term agricultural subsidies programs, according to the UNDP. It’s not enough. We, as a society, can act, either by supporting organizations which foster diverse and sustainable agriculture, participate in educational projects to promote healthy and responsible food consumption or spread the word about reducing waste.

On our Horyou platform, you can support projects like The Meal, which organizes festive and healthy meals for people who can’t afford good food in several countries – the last edition took place in 54 consecutive cities around the world! Or SOS Faim Luxembourg, an NGO which works in African rural areas to promote family farming and microfinance. The Green Bronx Machine, based in the US, uses education and school farming to teach kids about the importance of healthy eating habits and local food systems.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps fight hunger in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to engage in any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

Step 1 – End Poverty in All its Forms, Everywhere Horyou’s new series is about the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Every week, Horyou blog will publish an article about one of them, highlighting projects and actions that have been supporting its implementation.

Women in East Timor counts with NGO help. Females are one of the groups most affected by poverty. Source UNDP.
Women in East Timor counts with NGO help. Females are one of the groups most affected by poverty. Source UNDP.

Valeria is a Peruvian woman who struggles to support her family. A single mom with 2 small children and a sick parent who lives with her, she works as a waitress in a restaurant during the day and in a bar at night. She only has 4 hours sleep every night, yet her income is only enough to pay the rent of her room and some basic expenses. «Luckily, I can bring home some food from the restaurant and I can feed my daughters. But I can’t buy them clothes or books», she says.

Like Valeria, about 10% of the world’s workers and their families live with less than $1,90 per person per day. According to the UN, the rate has declined steadily in the past 17 years, though an estimated 767 million people still live below the poverty line. About one third is unprotected by their national and regional social systems.

Interactions and Solidarity project in Kenya
Interactions and Solidarity project in Kenya

When the UN Sustainable Development Goals were launched in January 2016, following the 15-year Millenium Development Goals, poverty was still one of the worst concerns in the developing and poor regions. For decades, institutions, NGOs and social entrepreneurs have developed support programs to take the poorer ones out of their condition and offer them perspective and hope.

Within the Horyou community and on its platform, NGOs like InterActions-Solidarity focus on poverty reduction and environment projects in Kenya. Based on the demands of each community, they provide support in the implementation of solidarity and socio-economic, eco-tourism and food safety programs. «We’ve seen an increase of productivity and profitability of farming and grazing activities respecting the environment, and with the sustainable management of natural resources», says the NGO spokesperson.

SER Sustentável works with homeless people from Brazil
SER Sustentável works with homeless people from Brazil

Other organizations like SER Sustentável, based in Brazil, help homeless people with addiction to alcohol or crack cocaine to step up and reintegrate life with dignity. The organizations also acts in poor communities providing them with sustainable housing and training support. «We want to reintegrate them in the society through work and income, offering workshops that would help them to find jobs», says Silvana Grandi, SER Sustentável president.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps fight poverty in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to impact the Cause of poverty or any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

On 17 of September, I attended the Social Good Summit 2017, which took place at 92 Street Y Club in New York. A diverse group of speakers and performers got together and vividly presented in nearly 40 panels what social good means to society. All of the panels were thought provoking and inspiring. Some put forward incredible performances for a diverse audience, which consisted of acting, singing, cooking and displaying innovative medical devices.

Social Good Summit 2017
Social Good Summit 2017

I particularly enjoyed Erika Ender’s panel called “A Conversation with Erika Ender.” Erika Ender, a famous singer and songwriter is from Panama. She performed several songs in an inspirational show. One of the strong messages of her truly moving songs was about young people growing up in modern society and needing more support and better opportunities to become productive members of society.

Madame Gandhi, a singer, activist from Los Angeles, as well as graduate from Harvard Business School, put on a video aimed at inspiring various segments of the society, especially young people, to work for social good, to which she dedicated her entire career. Madame Gandhi expressed the strong belief that social media is one of the most powerful tools to be used to motivate people to work towards achieving the U.N. sustainable development goals.

Benj Pasek, an American songwriter and composer pointed out that music can be a tremendously influential force in the society. He is a strong believer that music helps people of all ages, and the youth in particular is strongly influenced by music. Similarly, art can be very powerful in leading the young generation. Aaron Huey, National Geographic photographer stated that art is more than beauty and decoration. According to him, art can be a weapon and a shield, and it can be used as a compass for children, guiding them into the future.

The importance of the focus of the society on youth resonated throughout this incredibly moving and artistic gathering. Notably, according to the UN studies the youth group of age 15-24 was portrayed as key in terms of their potential to make a difference for the world and its future and help the world achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

It is interesting to note that the Social Good Summit in New York was echoing concerns that were expressed at the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum organized by Horyou, the social network for social good, in Astana, Kazakhstan on 5-7 September 2017. At SIGEF 2017, Yonathan Parienti, CEO of Horyou pointed out: “we live in a world of exacerbated consumption at all levels that is seriously hindering the implementation of critical sustainable development goals. SIGEF 2017, is set to explore, define and share new ideas that advance social innovation and social good for a sustainable growth for all. It is clear that the involvement of the younger generation, that everywhere is acting for change, alongside stakeholders of all ages, is a positive indication that we are moving forward in the right direction of shaping better times to come.”

Many speakers at the Summit in New York echoed this positive message. No doubt, the youth can become truly productive members of the society if society invests in their education. Education for youth was one of the key themes in the Summit.

The statistics in relation to education worldwide demand urgent action. Statistics are one of the important indicators of progress highlighted in SDG 4, Education. According to statistics shared at Social Good Summit, half of the young people in the primary school age group regrettably are not in primary school, and nearly ¾ of youth in the secondary school age group are not in secondary school. In order to achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030, there is an acute need for urgent action. At the Summit, youth was portrayed as being key innovators to drive forward new products and designs. This age group is often receptive to and friendly with new technologies and trends. Hence, youth can influence United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.

Certainly, young people are significant in terms of influencing businesses. They look to companies for the latest trends, and companies, in turn, look to influence youth. Many speakers noted progress in achieving the sustainable development goals for businesses. The great majority of youth seem to care about the causes the business is supporting. Young people are also key drivers of innovation.

Youth may even be able to influence economic growth by becoming loyalty customers, long-term customers to the various brands. This will help shape the formation of businesses in terms of their demand patterns and various preferences in product selection. Customers who value the brand for the causes it stands for are likely to be both early adopters of new products, as well as loyalty customers, as they feel connection with the brand. As such, they will be a driving force behind the brands and thus contribute to both industry and economic growth, foreseen by SDG 9 and SDG 8, respectively.

Many speakers expressed strong views that to achieve the sustainable development goals youth and other sectors of society need proper housing, food, and affordable health care services. In regards to proper housing, SDG 11, it was pointed out that nearly 15 million children are currently on the move and lack permanent housing means. Being often on the move makes it difficult for them to complete school.

Poverty concerns figured highly on the agenda at the Summit. According to statistics shared at the meeting, while overall poverty levels have declined since 1990, a substantial part of the world still lives on less than 1 dollar per day. In this connection, many participants stressed substantial ongoing hunger in the world, while there is also a lot of food waste. This food could potentially be distributed among those who are in need in inexpensive and effective ways. One speaker expressed a particular view that billions of dollars can be made by alleviating hunger and providing other sustainability resources to people in acute poverty.

In regards to inadequate access to sustainable energy sources, it was stressed that twenty percent of people worldwide do not have access to electricity at all.

There is no affordable healthcare in many parts of the world. More than 400 million people still lack access to healthcare worldwide. This problem is substantial. Whoopi Goldberg eloquently stressed the particular problem of having people turned away from hospitals when they are ill. Some were in favor of universal healthcare coverage, as is the case in many countries, and argued that it would allow for more affordable healthcare.

Global warming was also stressed. Many urged to take proactive action on this important issue. While some highlighted that solutions have been constantly put off, others were alarmed that even one degree of warming is significant.

All agreed that it is important to give people a sense of worth through education, jobs, poverty reduction and access to various energy sources, pursuant to relevant Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The Social Good Summit is an event that happens annually, and it is worthwhile attending it.

Written by Elena Tarrassenko

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. Horyou is also the host of SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan during the EXPO 2017, from 5-7 September. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

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