Cisco’s goal is to Energy an Inclusive Future for All, and this consists of making certain a sustainable and regenerative future for our planet. We’re leveraging our scale and innovation to assist be certain that our more and more digital future is sustainable, truthful, and resilient. We’re doing this by decarbonizing our operations, provide chain, and merchandise; transitioning to renewable vitality; and serving to prospects and communities scale back their impacts and adapt to a altering world.
Mary de Wysocki, Cisco’s first Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), shares her expertise designing for affect, her targets as she leads Cisco’s sustainability efforts, and the way we will work collectively to create extra sustainable and resilient communities.
Earlier than entering into this position, you led Company Social Duty (CSR), schooling, and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives for Cisco. How did that have present a basis for the work you’re specializing in as we speak?
Mary: The learnings I’ve had on a purely social affect aspect over the past 20 years have allowed me to know the philosophy of shared worth, which was first launched in 2011. Shared worth is how an organization can have insurance policies and practices that assist to advance the enterprise whereas additionally serving to people and communities the place it operates thrive. Consider it like an increasing sphere of affect. Our goal builds on and deepens this philosophy. Once we say we’re Powering an Inclusive Future for All, we imply for our enterprise and our communities, our prospects, companions, suppliers and different stakeholders. These teams are linked, and we will solely obtain an inclusive future for all by all – which means by working in partnership in direction of widespread objectives.
There’s additionally the Concept of Change, which is a technique that explains how taking sure steps can result in particular adjustments. Via my prior roles, I’ve seen the distinction between concept and what you’ll want to do on the bottom to make an affect. For instance, after Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, Cisco needed to assist the affected communities, and we felt that the communities couldn’t get well in the event that they didn’t have colleges up and dealing. So, I went to New Orleans and Mississippi to develop Cisco’s 21st Century Colleges Initiative with native college districts. This expertise allowed me to assume past the preliminary response and focus long-term: how can we create resilient communities?
As I shift into my CSO position, I’m nonetheless fascinated by designing for affect. When making public objectives, reminiscent of positively impacting 1 billion folks by 2025, we have to do the work to outline the outcomes we’re on the lookout for and plan in ways in which permit us to pivot, make shifts, and adjustments. It’s necessary to know what it takes to design for affect and how one can execute that plan to make that affect a actuality.
What are your main targets as CSO?
Mary: First, being Cisco´s CSO is an honor and privilege. There’s a wealthy historical past of a whole lot of individuals throughout the corporate who’ve labored passionately on this house. There has all the time been a way of group, and I’m pleased with the community of people that have been setting and attaining objectives, carrying the work ahead, and making an actual affect on this house.
My main goal as CSO is to steward environmental sustainability initiatives throughout Cisco. As we take into consideration our technique, we’re specializing in how we will decarbonize our enterprise and embed circularity. Equally necessary is how we will allow sustainable progress and innovation. The best alternative is on serving to our prospects, companions, and different stakeholders decarbonize their enterprise and embed circularity. Cisco’s know-how and ecosystem can play a big position within the twin transition to a digital and low-carbon financial system.
We additionally need to proceed enhancing how we report our progress in an genuine and clear manner. As we take into consideration attaining sustainability objectives, it usually includes a little bit of math. How we measure our actions is underpinned by information, which guides our choices, and it permits us to create extra sturdy conversations with our stakeholders, to allow them to additionally make knowledgeable choices round their sustainability commitments. Information helps perceive what sustainability methods work for one group and the way we would shift and adapt for an additional.
Sustainability is integral to Cisco’s goal to Energy an Inclusive Future for All. Are you able to inform us extra about why a sustainable future features a extra inclusive one?
Mary: We will’t have inclusive and resilient communities if we don’t have a wholesome planet. As we take a look at local weather change, the communities impacted essentially the most are our most weak. Analysis reveals that folks most affected by local weather catastrophic occasions, like hurricanes or droughts, stay in poverty. Within the Horn of Africa, over 20 million folks’s lives and livelihoods are being threatened by drought, and we’re working with our nonprofit associate, Mercy Corps, on a local weather adaptation and resilience program to assist pastoralist farmers in Northeast Kenya, who’ve been severely impacted by the drought.
Once we discuss concerning the twin transition to a digital and low-carbon financial system, how can we allow folks to take part? As local weather adjustments, folks with sources are those who can usually higher adapt, transfer to a different location or work from anyplace. Nevertheless, that’s solely the case for some. Communities on the forefront of the local weather disaster lack the sources to adapt to, reply to, and get well from an rising variety of crises, reminiscent of excessive climate, meals insecurity, and water shortage, which results in mass migration and displacement in addition to social instability and battle.
When you concentrate on the affect of local weather on these communities, it comes right down to resiliency. Communities that may adapt have rigorous infrastructure and the financial functionality to resist it. They’ve a way of group and a citizenry that may adapt and be higher ready. There’s a possibility to empower folks to assist them construct resilient communities that may higher stand up to the results of local weather change.
Cisco’s aim to achieve internet zero greenhouse fuel (GHG) emissions throughout its worth chain (Scopes 1, 2, and three) by 2040 and near-term targets had been authorised by the Science Based mostly Targets initiative (SBTi). Are you able to clarify the importance of this?
Mary: The science tells us that to carry international warming to 1.5 levels Celsius in comparison with pre-industrial instances requires elevated ambition and adoption of strong emissions discount targets on the tempo and scale required by local weather science. As we take into consideration the position that Cisco can play in decarbonization, we determined to set a public aim round internet zero with close to time period targets that comes with a technique round absolute reductions.
Having exterior validation from SBTi’s new Web-Zero Commonplace alerts that we’re dedicated to the deep emissions discount which are wanted to scale back international warming. To earn SBTi validation, corporations are required to scale back their emissions by at the least 90%. This requirement means we will’t depend on carbon offsets for greater than 10% of our emissions discount. This exterior validation demonstrates that our calculations and method align with accepted requirements and creates transparency and belief amongst stakeholders.
In 2021, the Cisco Basis dedicated $100 million over ten years to fund nonprofit grants and affect investing in local weather options. May you share extra about this technique?
Mary: This technique helps early-stage options with the potential to scale and be replicable. It aligns with the long-standing social affect funding technique that we have now leveraged from the Cisco Basis in catastrophe response, vital human wants, schooling, and financial empowerment.
When you concentrate on local weather, there’s a distinctive position that Cisco can play. Going again to our internet zero aim, we all know there’s going to be want for altering practices, reminiscent of a shift to regenerative agriculture. We all know there might be a necessity for brand new progressive decarbonization applied sciences. Whether or not it’s a nonprofit or an fascinating space of affect investing, the Cisco Basis staff has the power to determine how we will nurture them via the cycle of innovation.
An instance from our local weather portfolio is Vesta, a hybrid nonprofit/public–profit enterprise. Their resolution is to seize carbon from the ambiance and assist coastal resilience by utilizing the mineral olivine. The carbon-capture properties and security of olivine have been confirmed in lab settings. However what occurs exterior the lab? We’re investing in that analysis and enabling Vesta to check it in real-world circumstances to check its results on wildlife and ecosystems and to see whether it is sequestering carbon on the identical tempo we noticed within the lab. This is a superb instance of designing for affect and the way we will foster probably thrilling and efficient options.
We all know we will’t do that alone. How is Cisco serving to our prospects and the world create a extra sustainable future?
Mary: We need to present options that assist assist sustainability objectives.
Our prospects need to do extra, and our capacity to proceed driving options that may enhance vitality effectivity can assist their scope 1 and a couple of GHG discount objectives. Our round design rules can assist prospects who need to scale back waste throughout their worth chain. Cisco can play an necessary half in our prospects´ digital transformation. We will help them perceive how know-how can change how they run their enterprise, whether or not via hybrid work, creating sensible buildings like Cisco’s PENN1, or designing extra modular merchandise which are simpler to improve, restore, and reuse. We will present them how we will use know-how to extend affect whereas lowering their footprint.
A ultimate instance I’ll share is our Nation Digital Acceleration program, the place we collaborate with authorities leaders to construct sustainable, safe, and inclusive communities powered by moral and progressive know-how options. For instance, in the UK, we led the E-Flex consortium, an innovation venture to show the potential of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) know-how, which might permit unused vitality in electrical automobile batteries to be taken again into the electrical energy grid. If it proves profitable at scale, V2G might grow to be a vital a part of a lower-carbon future, in addition to assist vitality managers scale back operational prices.
Once I take into consideration schooling, consciousness and innovation, it’s a journey. A part of the chance of being a CSO is having the ability to harness the inspiration and creativity of our staff, prospects, companions and different stakeholders to work in direction of the local weather future we would like.