Hi everyone! It’s Spiffy, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making a difference on climate change. We are wrapping up our focus on climate action, and I’m very excited to have with me Laurence Lloyd Lumagbas of Green Impact Global.
Spiffy: Welcome, Laurence! It’s great to be here with you in the Philippines! Can you tell me about your contribution to combat climate change?
Laurence: Thanks so much for coming here, Spiffy! So, at Green Impact Global, we have two key missions. The first is to reverse the negative impacts of CO2 emissions generated by businesses and individuals that worsen climate change. Our second mission is to increase forest coverage in the Philippines, where total forest coverage has dropped to 23%!
Spiffy: To give our audience some perspective, the United States has a forest coverage of about 33%, but is 33 times larger than the Philippines. So tell me, what motivated you to tackle CO2 emissions and deforestation?
Laurence: Well, Spiffy, did you know that the Philippines is ranked 2nd highest among the countries most affected by climate-related disasters?
Spiffy: What? I had no idea!
Laurence: I know, it’s pretty shocking. One of the things that sparked my desire to take on climate action was when my family and I experienced the negative impacts of climate change and unsustainable deforestation after being victims of Typhoon Sendong (Washi), the world’s deadliest storm, in 2011. It was traumatic to see the wreckage that the storm brought to my hometown and it was saddening to know that more than 1,000 lives were lost. Climate justice has also been a major motivating factor. Although the Philippines only constitutes about 0.4% of the Global CO2 emissions, we are still ranked as one of the top countries at risk of being impacted by the climate crisis. Countries with the highest global CO2 emissions must take bold and radical actions to help vulnerable nations such as the Philippines.
Spiffy: How are you working to inspire that kind of change and build an equitable future?
Laurence: We are working towards building a movement where anyone, whether the CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation or a normal citizen, can equitably contribute towards climate action. We prioritize reforestation projects in areas where vulnerable communities live, such as indigenous and coastal communities. These disadvantaged groups are typically the ones excluded from mainstream climate debate and subsequent development of climate mitigation and adaptation measures.
Spiffy: So you’re aiming to represent everyone at the table? That’s great! What kind of changes have you witnessed already?
Laurence: Well, Spiffy, our organization has secured reforestation pledges from 900 individuals, which will result in 4,500 plants added to the deforested areas in the country. One major impact that this will bring is the removal and sequestration of 216,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In addition, planting trees will also boost biodiversity, as the trees become a food source and natural habitat for animals.
How Green Impact Global works to combat climate change. (Image courtesy of Laurence Lumagbas)
Spiffy: That’s a pretty significant ripple effect, Laurence. One of the questions I like to ask entrepreneurs is if you’ve ever experienced failure, and how you handled it. Do you have a story to tell me about that?
Laurence: I sure do, Spiffy. Several years ago, my friends and I began a social enterprise start-up that we had to shut down due to various operational and financial challenges. Even though it did not succeed, I was still passionate and courageous enough to build another sustainability project that I believe can make a difference. The experience helped me develop a resilient spirit and a growth mindset.
Spiffy: Wow! What did you learn from that experience?
Laurence: One thing I learned from the experience was that launching an initiative does not need to entail a huge amount of capital. There are many creative ways and approaches to test and pilot your product, gather feedback from customers and constantly iterate the solution until it strongly resonates with the target users/customers. In essence, “slowing down to speed up” during the idea phase of a start-up minimizes many risks and helps build a more robust business model in the long run.
Spiffy: That’s a very significant lesson you learned. Is there anyone else you have been particularly inspired by as you continue in this work?
Laurence: Yes, Spiffy — Greta Thunberg! What I’ve learned from her is to never underestimate the powerful voice of the youth. Even though she was just very young when she started leading strikes and speaking in high profile summits, she was able to inspire millions of individuals across different generations and geographies to combat climate change and to protect Mother Nature. It made me realize that a massive movement can begin with just a single person, whether young or old, who is bold enough to instigate change in the world.
Spiffy: Laurence, thanks so much for taking the time to tell me about your work. I wish you the best as you continue to improve the natural habitat of the Philippines, and challenge others to take action.
Laurence Lumagbas is an emerging impact innovator and an SDG advocate. Laurence is leveraging his diverse work experience as a management consultant in several global consulting firms to build and scale products and services that will address the world’s most complex social and environmental issues. (Nominated by Action Accelerator)