SustainabilityX®’s #DecadeOfAction Interview Campaign
As part of SustainabilityX®’s #DecadeOfAction change-making campaign for 2020 to help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we’re interviewing trailblazing global leaders in sustainability who’re taking the world by storm through their groundbreaking work and impactful contributions to advancing global sustainable development.
The goal is to gain more depth and understanding of sustainable business and development in practice while celebrating leaders’ work to inspire and motivate others to take action in such a crucial era.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Eva Musso in this regard, Head of Sustainability and Government Relations at BASF Canada.
Here’s what she had to say:
Q: How do you define sustainability and sustainable development, and what does it mean to you?
I personally admire the simple meaning of ‘sustainability’ – the ability to maintain at a certain level. Sustainability is an umbrella term for many areas of action. Still, in the simplest of terms, I’ve always viewed sustainability as a lens that drives strategic action towards positive, long-term results.
The strategic action in sustainable development considers three key components – people, planet, and profit. Keeping these at the forefront, sustainability is a holistic approach to assessing the implications of what is done in the environment, economy, and society and the ripple effects that follow.
Musso exploring Guatemala's natural paradise, famous for being one of the world's greatest biodiversity hotspots.
Q: Why did you decide to go into the field of sustainability?
My passion for sustainability started in high school when I learned how we were treating the planet. I very quickly realized I wanted to spend my life protecting it. I began learning about sustainability when the topic was starting to become popularized and more widely used in organizations.
Today, we see that sustainability is a shared value among people and organizations.
Sustainability has significantly progressed from when I began my career when I focused on pollution prevention. At the time, the focus was to identify how the government could work with businesses to make decisions that were good for the environment and their bottom line.
It started a lifetime of dedication to sustainability.
Q: How can business help advance sustainable development and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?
There are two key actions that businesses must take.
First, companies need to be intentional about their effort in sustainability. Companies need to set goals and targets for environmental and social goals and achieve them. The second simultaneous action is businesses need to track, measure, and be public about how they will make those decisions that are going to bring about environmental, human, and financial returns.
The Sustainable Development Goals provide united goals to achieve and a framework for companies across the globe to work toward. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, sustainability must be a core business value that is harnessed right from the beginning of the research and development stages.
Ministry of the Environment’s Sustainability Office receives Emerald Award for achievements in sustainability. Pictured from left to right: recipients Thomas Masucci, (then) Minister of the Environment Glen Murray, Eva Musso, Pujan Shestha and (then) Deputy Minister Paul Evans
Q: How do you incorporate sustainability practices into your business strategy to help achieve these goals, and what practices are they?
At BASF, sustainability is at the core of decision-making with customers, suppliers, and employees. You see it in BASF’s tagline – we create chemistry for a sustainable future.
The business strategy at BASF to incorporate sustainability practices is very pervasive - which I believe needs to happen for businesses to successfully incorporate sustainability into business practices. Everyone from research to sales, from leaders to front line workers, has to incorporate sustainability into their workday regardless of their business line. Every employee plays a part in this and so they must both understand and believe in goals set by the company.
Businesses must set the ambitious global goals as BASF has done – net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, cover 90% of our relevant spend with sustainability evaluations by 2025, and increase the proportion of women in leadership positions to 30% by 2030.
Finally, no one can do this alone. Businesses need to be collaborative in their efforts and work with their external partners such as suppliers, customers, and governments to achieve sustainability goals.
Q: Where do you see the world 10 years from now in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals and global sustainable development?
Around us we can see the dramatic proof of our actions - climate change is causing catastrophic weather events. I believe that we now realize the impacts of our decisions, and I am hopeful that in 10 years, we will be living and working more sustainably. Frankly, we don’t have a choice. We need to continue progressing our work in sustainable development. We need to rethink how to create a circular, holistic, healthier planet.
Cheers to a sustainable world!