In April 2020, Pitt’s Center for Sustainable Business launched a podcast series “Sustaining Sustainability,” which explores sustainability lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. The series now has over 25 episodes with 15-minute interviews that explore various societal challenges magnified by the COVID-19 crisis. Each episode focuses on a specific topic and builds toward a call to action. Interviews are with industry managers, academic experts, government officials, and civil society leaders.
With an international reach and a global perspective, our series draws on the expertise of individuals based around the world. We’re learning from each other as we share perspectives and gain insights into how this crisis is unfolding in different settings. Sample episodes include:
- Episode 1: “Sustaining Sustainability — Introduction to the Series”
- Host Pitt CSB Director, Dr. CB Bhattacharya, describes our motivation for launching the podcast, what to expect from each episode, and gives a preview of upcoming guests. (April 10, 2020.)
- Episode 2: “What’s going to happen to the UN SDGs? with Jeffrey Sachs”
- Features Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Dr. Sach discusses COVID-19’s impact on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the role of political systems during this crisis. (April 17, 2020.)
- Episode 3: “Leading an Energy Company in the COVID-19 Era — with Francesco Starace”
- The Pitt CSB is joined from Rome, Italy by Francesco Starace, the CEO and General Manager of Enel, a global energy company and utility provider. Mr. Starace talks about the rapid steps Enel took to adapt in the early days of the pandemic, the critical societal role played by business, and his take on the future of renewable energy: “The COVID-19 is, in my opinion, a big accelerator of a trend that was there already — and the trend was to shift the energy supply out of fossil fuels into electricity, being that electricity is an energy form that can be de-carbonized.” (April 24, 2020)
- Episode 4: “The Urgency of Collaboration — with Paul Polman”
- CSB Director CB Bhattacharya is joined from London, UK by Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, Co-Founder of IMAGINE, and Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Polman talks about his efforts to facilitate coordinated action by CEOs in major industries, what it means to be a responsible business in these times, and the opportunity to build a new, global green economy through widespread collaboration (May 1, 2020)
- Episode 5: “Resilient Cities Need Strong Networks — with Grant Ervin”
- Pitt CSB is joined from Pittsburgh, PA by Grant Ervin, Chief Resilience Officer and Sustainability Manager for the City of Pittsburgh. Mr. Ervin discusses the historical challenges and inequalities in Pittsburgh magnified by the COVID-19 crisis; why an integrated approach is needed to build a more resilient city going forward; and, the critical role that industry partners can play in implementing some of the more pressing digital, environmental, and food systems innovations the city needs: (May 8, 2020)
- Episode 6: “Finance & Banking During a Global Pandemic — with Piyush Gupta”
- Pitt CSB is joined from Singapore by Piyush Gupta, CEO and Director of DBS Group; he discusses how financial institutions in responding to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, including AI and monitoring techniques to prevent the spread of the virus, digital infrastructure and the transition to remote work, and the importance of companies’ social license to operate. (May 15, 2020)
- Episode 7: “Digital Technology for the Environment – with Wayne Balta”
- Featuring Wayne Balta, VP of Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety at IBM, discussing how IBM’s digital technology is helping researchers better understand the spread of COVID-19, the structure of the virus, and potential treatments; why questions surrounding information access and data quality are essential to tackling global challenges beyond COVID-19; and the need to continually reflect on whether new technologies are being used to facilitate better environmental outcomes from a global systems perspective. (May 22, 2020)
- Episode 8: Sustaining Sustainability, Episode 8: “Urban Infrastructure and COVID-19 in the Global South – with Astrid Haas”
- CSB Director CB Bhattacharya is joined from Kampala, Uganda by Astrid Haas, Policy Director of the International Growth Centre, a global civil society organization that promotes sustainable growth in developing countries. Ms. Haas discusses the situation in Uganda; how infrastructure and economic practices across Africa and Asia impact urban areas’ ability to respond to the pandemic; and, the role of public-private partnerships in tackling these issues.
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