What is Forbes Ignite?
Forbes Ignite is an independent social enterprise and a license partner of Forbes Media, LLC. Forbes Ignite was launched to use the convening power of our brand to unite leaders, thinkers and creators to work together on the most pressing global challenges. To do this, we harness the intelligence of our network to help companies create disruptive products and strategies that fuse purpose and profit, provide customized intelligence at the center of innovation and social impact, and give personal and professional growth opportunities to our diverse members.
Who is Nicole Cacal?
Nicole Cacal is a visionary leader in the tech and entrepreneurship fields, known for her innovative approach to problem-solving. She is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Forbes Ignite, a consultancy that advises leading companies on sustainable transformation and unites global changemakers at the intersection of technology, sustainability, and social impact (Forbes Ignite is a license partner of Forbes Media, LLC).
As a professor at the Parsons School of Design and the Pratt Institute, she teaches courses on financial management, business models, social innovation, and strategic technology to the next generation of leaders. She also hosts the Forbes Ignite podcast, Inner Wealth, which features in-depth conversations with mission-driven individuals who are redefining what it means to be successful today.
She is also the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Katalista.org, a nonprofit designed to advance the Filipino community in leadership and entrepreneurship. Nicole is a well-respected speaker on topics such as design thinking, technology for good, and reciprocal mentorship. Nicole holds a BBA in Finance & International Business from the University of Hawaii, an MSc in Strategic Design & Management from the Parsons School of Design, and an MSc in Technology Management from Columbia University.
Nicole, thanks for joining. Let’s start off with a fun question. What would you do with $1 Billion dollars?
If I had 1 billion dollars as a sustainability and social impact leader, here’s what I would do:
Invest in renewable energy: I would invest a significant portion of the money in renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, with the aim of reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. This would not only benefit the environment but also help create jobs and provide access to energy for those who need it most.
Support sustainable agriculture: I would use a portion of the funds to support sustainable agriculture practices, including regenerative agriculture, which focuses on restoring the health of soil, water, and ecosystems. This would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the health and well-being of communities around the world.
Invest in education: Education is a powerful tool for promoting sustainability and social change. I would invest in educational programs that promote sustainable living, including recycling, conservation, and waste reduction. This would help create a more environmentally aware and socially responsible society.
Support social entrepreneurs: I would use a portion of the funds to support social entrepreneurs who are developing innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. This would help create jobs, promote economic growth, and provide support to those who need it most.
Address climate change: Climate change is one of the most urgent challenges facing the world today. I would use a significant portion of the funds to support research and development of new technologies and solutions to address climate change, including carbon capture and storage, electric vehicles, and renewable energy storage systems.
Overall, with 1 billion dollars, I would aim to create a more sustainable and equitable world, one that is focused on preserving the environment, promoting social justice, and creating a better future for all.
Why do you think sustainability is such an important topic today?
Sustainability is an important topic today because of the growing recognition that human activities are having significant negative impacts on the environment, society, and economy, and that these impacts are not sustainable over the long term.
Here are some key reasons why sustainability is crucial:
Environmental degradation: Human activities, such as deforestation, pollution, overfishing, and the burning of fossil fuels, are causing significant harm to the environment, including air and water pollution, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, and climate change. These impacts are putting the planet’s natural systems and resources at risk, which could have disastrous consequences for future generations.
Social inequities: Unsustainable practices often disproportionately affect vulnerable populations, such as low-income communities, indigenous peoples, and people living in developing countries. Social inequities can arise from environmental degradation, such as exposure to air and water pollution, as well as from economic practices that lead to unequal distribution of resources.
Economic instability: Unsustainable practices can lead to economic instability, such as the depletion of natural resources, loss of jobs and livelihoods, and damage to infrastructure and property. These economic impacts can be particularly devastating for people who are already marginalized or living in poverty.
Corporate responsibility: There is growing recognition that corporations have a responsibility to operate sustainably, including reducing their environmental impacts, promoting social equity, and ensuring long-term economic stability. Consumers and investors are increasingly demanding that companies act responsibly, and businesses that fail to do so risk damaging their reputation and losing market share.
Overall, sustainability is important because it addresses the critical challenges facing our planet, including environmental degradation, social inequities, and economic instability. By promoting sustainable practices, we can help create a more resilient, equitable, and prosperous future for all.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
There are many ways in which the average person can make a difference.
A few actions that can have a significant impact are:
Reducing consumption: One of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your environmental impact is to reduce your consumption of goods and resources. This can be done by buying only what you need, choosing products with less packaging, and avoiding single-use items like plastic bags and water bottles.
Practicing sustainable transportation: Transportation is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. By choosing to walk, bike, carpool, or use public transportation, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
Supporting sustainable products and services: Look for products and services that are produced using sustainable practices and are designed to be environmentally friendly. This can include everything from organic food to energy-efficient appliances.
Reducing waste: Reducing waste is an important part of sustainability. This can be done by recycling, composting, and choosing products that are designed to be reused.
Getting involved in your community: There are many organizations and initiatives focused on sustainability and social impact at the local level. Getting involved in these groups can help you make a difference in your community and beyond.
Voting with your wallet: Use your purchasing power to support companies that are committed to sustainability and social impact. This can include everything from choosing products with environmentally friendly packaging to supporting companies that have a strong social mission. Small actions taken by individuals can have a cumulative effect to create a significant impact in the world.
By making sustainable choices in our everyday lives, we can help create a more equitable and sustainable world for ourselves and future generations.
Nicole, thank you for sitting down with Green.org to share your vision for the future of social innovation and strategic technology.
Dylan Welch is the CEO and Host of Going Green, a podcast, website, and social media brand that highlights renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable news.