LBS joins forces with Grape ESG to launch Amazonia 4.0

Amazonia 4.0 focuses on paths to sustainability that are needed to solve the problems of one of the most biodiverse biomes in the world

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Launched on Earth Day, April 22nd 2021, Amazonia 4.0 is a new film that highlights the foremost opportunities and threats to the Amazon rainforest.

The global community has become almost overly conversant with the severity of the principal narrative surrounding the future of the Amazon. Scientists have long called for international action on the world’s biggest tropical forest, acknowledging that the Amazon is essential for climate stability. Human activity is turning the region into a potential source of atmospheric carbon, with some areas close to a tipping point where the forest shrinks, and eventually degrades into a savannah.

Amazonia 4.0, while acknowledging these abiding hazards, looks ahead more hopefully to an innovative new model, where bioindustries in the Amazon unleash economic and inclusive opportunities for the protection of ecosystems, local and traditional communities.

This is a film about a crucially important, magnificent, yet threatened ecosystem that carries within it a global message of hope. Amazonia 4.0’s launch coincides with the Leaders’ Summit on Climate convened by US President Joseph Biden. The film brings together the voices of Brazilian world-renowned climatologist Carlos Nobre, representatives from the World Economic Forum and the Sustainable Amazon Foundation and London Business School’s own leading voice on sustainability, associate professor Ioannis Ioannou.

Created by Grape ESG, a company that works in partnership with investors and companies in Brazil to incorporate ESG factors into strategies and investment decisions, Amazonia 4.0 focuses on paths to sustainability that are needed to solve the problems of one of the most biodiverse biomes in the world. Amazonia 4.0 aims to provoke and inspire a timely, positive and forward-thinking discussion at a time when world leaders are gathering around climate change, development and other sustainability issues.

The 25-minute film, which is now available to view online through YouTube, will, it is hoped, become a rally cry, bringing together new scientific and business visions for the future in order to release new and inclusive economic opportunities for the protection of ecosystems and communities across the Amazon Basin.

Ione Anderson, Chief Operations Officer of Grape ESG, said that she felt the organisation owed debts to two individuals who, on the one hand made Grape possible, and on the other sparked the idea for Amazonia 4.0.

“Grape ESG is a direct result of Dr. Ioannou’ s Sustainability Leadership and Corporate Responsibility course at LBS. I first met Ricardo Assumpcao, the CEO of Grape, at this course in 2020. I had been following Ioannis’ research work for a several years, while working for an intergovernmental organisation. We were both so inspired by the course that we continued to meet weekly, as time allowed, to discuss ESG and sustainability.

Ione says that Brazilian scientist and meteorologist Carlos Nobre’s recent comments in an opinion article in The New York Times proved to be the inspiration for Amazonia 4.0:  “There are new initiatives adhering to the principles of an innovative and decentralized bioeconomy rooted in the Amazon [and] the region can accommodate both human beings and biodiversity.”

These comments provided inspiration for the film, and the producers have since been working with business leaders in Brazil to build sustainability leadership based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies. These strategies, it is hoped, will address the existing gaps between business and science, integrating technology, science and sustainable production chains.

Commenting on the core bioeconomic mission of the film, LBS’s Ioannis Ioannou, who is serving on the Board of Grape ESG, said, “The pressures and the challenges that society and the planet are facing today are only going to grow and gravely worsen in the near future. Human progress over the past 100 years has unfortunately come at enormous cost, especially when we think about the environmental degradation.

“For this reason, I think that it is high time that we build a more resilient economic system, a system that centers on sustainable production and consumption. [I foresee] the reduction of waste, increased efficiency, the move away from fossil fuels – a system that produces more sustainable lifestyles and decouples growth from environmental destruction and a system in which we begin to define human life, beyond monetary and financial terms. This is precisely why I think the idea of the bioeconomy is so powerful because it challenges us to rethink, redesign and perhaps reconstruct our economic system and our current ways of living.”

Dr. Ioannou is a leading global voice on sustainability and the broader issues associated with Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG). He teaches a course at LBS, ‘Sustainability Leadership and Corporate Responsibility’ and among his numerous advisory roles, Ioannis is a member of the ESG Advisory Board of the DWS Group, a member of the World Economic Forum Experts Network specialising in Sustainable Development, and a member of the Advisory Board of AXS Investments Institute for Sustainable Investing.

Ioannis also serves as an advisor to a highly innovative company that was founded by LBS alumni, TreeApp. TreeApp is a mobile app allowing anyone to plant trees free every day, in less than a minute. Speaking about the importance of Amazonia 4.0, and the messages it conveys, co-founder, Godefroy Harito, said: "It's an undeniable truth that immediate action is required to prevent the further destruction of the Earth's lungs in Brazil. Treeapp has accordingly launched multiple planting activities in the country to foster the regrowth of native forests".

Godefroy’ s co-founder, Jules Buker, also commented: "The Amazonia 4.0 project is in perfect alignment with what we aim to achieve at Treeapp: building a more sustainable future where businesses can thrive while having a positive impact. We’ve realised first hand at Treeapp how powerful of a catalyst technology can be to drive change and raise awareness about climate change: through the Amazonia 4.0 project a real impact can be made for the lungs of the Earth.”

Another LBS alumni, William Pearson, co-Founder and co-CEO of Ocean Bottle, said: “We’re thrilled to see the launch of Amazonia 4.0, the brilliant job that the Grape ESG team have done in creating this and the emphasis that LBS is placing on environmental action within the business community. Humans are not external to the biosphere, what we do as a population has lasting implications on the way of life for future generations. This is the decade of environmental action and our opportunity to reset - never before has it been more important that we rally as a global community to protect biodiversity and avert climate change.” Ocean Bottle is a 500ml, dishwasher safe, 2-year warranty thermos flask made from 100% recycled and recyclable packaging.   Ocean Bottle enables individuals to have a global impact on the plastic crisis. Each bottle purchased funds collection equivalent to 1000 ocean-bound plastic bottles.

Dr. Ioannou concluded his comments in support of Amazonia 4.0 with the following inspiring words:

“I strongly believe that it is up to us and the actions we take today as executives and employees, as consumers as government officials and as citizens and voters and the way in which we frame the challenge in the way we as a global society can eventually overcome the obstacles and advance ambitious and global sustainability objectives. We owe it to ourselves and we owe to the younger generations. As the old proverb goes, we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we merely borrow it from our children.”

Grape ESG’s Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Assumpcao said that besides the film: “We have made so much progress in such a short time. One of our ventures is the first commercial establishment in the world to sell carbon credits on the menu, using blockchain technology. Grape ESG has a sustainable coffee shop in Sao Paulo called Cafe da Margem, or Riverbank Café. That particular venture’s focus is entirely on circular economy and zero waste. We also recently announced a partnership with Nestle, together with their local sustainable coffee brand called Nescafe Origens.”

In summary, Ione says that had she not taken Dr. Ioannou’ s SLCR course in 2020, or followed Ioannou’ s research work, “we wouldn’t have Grape ESG and now, also this wonderful film”.