During Earth Day 2021 celebrations themed to ‘Restore the Earth’, Mastercard launched a study on sustainability that reveals a marked increase in consumer passion for environment conservation, as personal attitudes toward the environment evolve as a result of COVID-19.
In Kenya, for example, over 90 percent of adults stated their willingness to take personal action to combat environmental and sustainability issues. These adults also said they are even more mindful of their impact on the environment since COVID-19.
Social media appears to be driving an increase of environmentally conscious consumers, with 46 per cent respondents seeing information about climate change across social media channels. This signals a growing trend toward eco-conscious spending and consumption among people who want to turn their efforts and purchases into meaningful action for the planet.
Eco-actions essential for forward-thinking brands and businesses
The survey indicated 84% of Kenyan respondents think it’s now more important for businesses and brands to do more for the environment. Over half (52 per cent) of Kenyans are planning to give more value to brands that act in a responsible, transparent and honest way. The majority (55 per cent) also said they are planning to learn more about the environment in 2021.
Buying less impulsively by being more aware of purchases is one of the top changes Kenyan respondents will make as a result of COVID-19.
As consumers across the globe call on companies and brands to behave in more sustainable and eco-friendly ways, respondents in Kenya highlighted the top three issues they want companies and brands to focus on, besides dealing with the pandemic. They want brands to focus on the health and wellbeing of their employees (48 per cent), offer more sustainable and durable products (40%), and give back to the community (35 per cent).
“Companies, consumers, and communities must work together to make the significant changes needed to effectively address climate change,” said Jorn Lambert, Chief Digital Officer, Mastercard. “By embedding sustainability into the very fabric of our business – from pay-on-demand solar energy products to tools that help inform consumer spending – we can unlock the power of our network, reaching billions of consumers and partners, to create positive change for the environment.”
Eco-conscious consumers more aware of their actions
Eight in ten adults surveyed in Kenya feel reducing their carbon footprint is more important now than pre-pandemic. Globally, almost three in five people (58 per cent) have become more conscious about how their actions can impact the environment than ever before, with Gen-Z and Millennials (65 per cent) leading this shift.
The trend toward more conscious consumption has grown over the last decade. However, changes in attitudes and actions have increased at a rapid rate as a direct result of COVID-19.
Equipping the globe for environmental Conservation
Last year, Mastercard formed the Priceless Planet Coalition which unites the efforts of consumers, financial institutions, merchants, and cities to fight climate change. The Priceless Planet Coalition continues to expand and now includes more than 50 members. Collectively, the coalition has committed to the restoration of 100 million trees.
Guided by leading climate science experts, the 100 million trees will be planted in areas that need it most. For example, 1.2 million trees in Kenya will include a mix of native species, including fruit and fodder trees. Reforesting these important catchment areas will help to store more water within the soils, regulating its release into rivers and streams. The tree roots will also bind the soil along with the river buffers, helping improve water quality downstream. Food production will be improved as well. This catchment restoration will create reliable sources of water, and the planting of a mix of high-value fruit trees will create crops that can be consumed locally and sold to markets. Reforestation efforts in Brazil and Australia are also part of the Priceless Planet Coalition initiative.
Mastercard continues to support partners, customers, and consumers by offering environmentally focused products and services, such as cards made from sustainable materials to reduce plastic waste. The company has also pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, building on existing commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aligned with 1.5-degrees Celsius. Mastercard has also issued a USD 600 million sustainability bond and recently announced changes to its executive compensation model to help accelerate progress around three global ESG goals: carbon neutrality, financial inclusion, and gender pay parity. This is all in support of the company’s goal of building a more sustainable and inclusive digital economy.
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