Haaziq Kazi inspires Intesa Sanpaolo colleagues on World Environment Day
Young environmentalist and inventor of the ERVIS ship, which is designed to clear the oceans of plastic waste, encourages employees to act on plastic pollution every day
"Every piece of plastic ever made still exists somewhere on this planet. Every piece of plastic we refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle is one less piece in our oceans, in our soil, in our air, and in our bodies."
These were the words of Haaziq Kazi, a 17-year-old environmentalist from India, who spoke to employees of Intesa Sanpaolo’s International Subsidiary Banks Division (ISBD) to mark World Environment Day on 5. June 2023.
At 10, Haaziq saw the devastating impact of plastic pollution when watching a documentary on the National Geographic channel.
Five years later he invented the Ervis ship, a large sea vessel that works as a giant water filter to remove plastic and other contaminants from our waters.
Now, as well as being a student at a prestigious Ivy League university, he spends his time talking to people about plastic – and through his Ervis Foundation he develops ideas to tackle the issue with schoolchildren.
In his speech to ISBD employees, Haaziq highlighted the urgency of our plastic problem.
“Our oceans are in crisis, every year, eight million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans. This is equivalent to dumping a garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute.
This plastic pollution is not just an eyesore. It's a threat to marine life, human health, and our economies.”
"Every year, eight million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans – equivalent to dumping a garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute."
Haaziq Kazi, environmentalist
Haaziq’s talk was part of a wider set of activities to mark World Environment Day.
Multiple ISBD banks worked closely with local NGOs to create a plastic recycling scheme for difficult-to-recycle bottle caps, and offered to plant a new tree for every green loan and mortgage taken on the day (in geographies where these offers were available).
Across territories as diverse as North Africa and Eastern Europe, creating these activities is not easy. Each region has its own customs, rules and laws. It is a challenge to serve the environmental message to such varying territories.
“This year, we decided on a bottom-up approach,” says Alice Grittini, head of sustainable development at ISBD. “We involved all CSR [corporate social responsibility] delegates of our subsidiaries, asking them on the basis of their markets what would be more effective for them to promote environmental and social topics in their geographies.”
"Growth has to mean sustainable growth – and we are an engine of sustainable growth."
Alice Grittini, head of sustainable development, ISBD
More than just one day
Of course, ISBD’s commitment to environmental protection is not limited to one day. It is one of Alice and her team’s tasks to mobilise the conversation around how this commitment is actioned across the subsidiary banks. “Environmental topics are a strong focus of our current strategic plan 22-25,” she says. “At group level, sustainability is embedded in our DNA. We are combining the aim of a solid capital positioning and a sustainable approach.
“Growth has to mean sustainable growth – and we are an engine of sustainable growth.” The ISBD is part of Intesa Sanpaolo, which is a partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a charity with a commitment to making the circular economy a reality. The bank has also supercharged its green lending for business under its circular economy scheme, which motivates business change through lending. “This year we are running faster,” says Alice, “which is a good result because it shows that companies are willing to be a part of this transformation. Every bank is moving in this direction and approach to circular economy lending.”
While he usually speaks to schoolchildren on the topic, Haaziq was really pleased to have the opportunity to speak to older generations about our shared plastic problem.
“I like to think of it this way: we have not inherited the planet from our previous generation, rather borrowed it from the future generations,” he said after his speech. “As a young person, I would like to convey to the older generations that the environment is our shared responsibility."