Saving water and energy, recycling, reducing or eliminating the use of packaging, beach and rivers cleaning campaigns, and environmentally friendly construction are some corporate social responsibility actions taken by some leading companies that should be replicated on the island.
The more high-impact actions we take today, the better opportunities we have to curb threats to species and ecosystems. According to a 2017 United Nations (UN) report, “environmental degradation causes nearly one in four of all deaths worldwide, or 12.6 million people a year and the widespread destruction of key ecosystems,” causing health problems as well. Hence, the importance of large companies involving in the transformation production models to reduce the ecological footprint and vulnerability.
While the island experienced high temperatures this summer, the global situation shows the scope of the problem. For example, the temperature hit 89 degrees in Anchorage, Alaska, 4 degrees over the previous record high temperature of 85 degrees in 1969. This change affects polar melt which causes greater sea-level rise that erodes our coasts.
According to a study published Thursday in the journal Science large-scale reforestation, covering up to twice the territory of the United States, would help to curb global warming. The opposite represents higher temperatures and their subsequent effects like high-intensity hurricanes.
Due to its multiplying effect, each step toward sustainability by large companies on the island brings benefits for everyone.
According to the United Nations Development Programme, only 3 percent of the world’s water is potable and humans consume it faster than it takes nature to restore it. That reality is even more dramatic on an island like ours.
That is why corporate measures aiming at reusing and recycling water on the island –which result in savings up to 60 percent of such a vital resource- are really important. This brings relief to our water supplies and also becomes relevant as the island is experiencing a period when most of the territory is classified as abnormally dry or in moderate or severe drought.
Other companies have set goals to connect their facilities to energy systems based on renewable sources. They contribute to reducing emissions while increasing their ability to swiftly restore operations in case of a natural disaster.
Actions aimed at reducing the use or production of materials that end up in overcrowded landfills or in our water bodies are also commendable.
Another positive aspect is that initiatives taken by multinational companies have encouraged the local private sector to move in the same direction.
Local and multinational companies in Puerto Rico played a key role during the emergency case by Hurricane María two years ago. The storm put them to the test and they knew how to restore their operations while extending their hands to the rest of the island. They have been here and have raised their voices in Washington to defend benefits and speed up reconstruction funds. They also provide valuable resources through multiple community outreach initiatives. And now, as they adopt sustainability as corporate social responsibility, they are betting on new opportunities for everyone – businesses, employees, communities, and Puerto Rico as a whole – to win.