Author: Ashwin Subramaniam

16 Oct WE’RE HIRING – Project Executive (Food Waste) based in Singapore [CLOSED]

Placement Title: Project Executive – Food Waste
Location: Singapore
Start Date: early to mid November 2018
Duration: 1-year contract role*

*With opportunity to extend or convert to a full-time role based on performance

About the Role:

Gone Adventurin is working on pioneering, strategic projects in Asia to tackle the serious environmental challenges posed by post-consumer waste in the areas of packaging, particularly plastics, and food.

Why Asia? Because Asia is the biggest contributor to post-consumer waste mismanagement in the world. Over 80% of plastics entering the oceans comes from Asia with just 5 countries responsible for most of this pollution. 52% of fruits and vegetables in Asia are wasted, with the majority of this food loss happening at farm, post-harvest and processing stages even before it reaches stores, supermarkets or consumers.

If you are inspired to tackle the complex challenges of plastic entering the oceans here in Asia or over 1/3rd of all food being wasted, then consider joining our team. Gone Adventurin is a sustainability consultancy and project implementation partner on a mission to tackle post-consumer waste in Asia. Our vision is to create a world without waste.

We are looking for a Project Executive with strong analytical and critical thinking skills, in addition to Mandarin language skills (as this is a requirement for the job role), for our research projects in Singapore and the region. This role based in Singapore involves working on a food waste project in Singapore in collaboration with businesses and government. The focus of the role includes liaising with businesses, conducting surveys and data collection and supporting waste audits and creation of insights. The goal of the project is to create pioneering science based research; provide key insights, strategic recommendations and measurable outcomes; and implement groundbreaking strategies to significantly drive circular economy in Singapore and Asia.

Working with Gone Adventurin provides the opportunity to work in a small, mindfully growing, Singapore-headquartered company dedicated to finding business-driven solutions to tackle waste challenges in Asia. We are dedicated, diverse team of 5 nationalities with multi-faceted backgrounds in engineering, business, packaging, environment, economics, policy and finance. While primarily based in Singapore, the role may involve local travel within the Asia region with an opportunity to meet and build relationships with a wide range of local stakeholders from industry, government and NGOs.

Requirements:

  • Fluent in speaking and reading in Mandarin (as this is a requirement for the job role)
  • 1+ years of experience in management or environmental consulting or in a research, strategy or data analytics role in business, government agencies, NGOs or throughout University/Polytechnic
  • The right attitude, interpersonal and communication skills to work with and manage relationships with people of all backgrounds, from C-Level and senior management of multinationals to recycling workers
  • Problem-solving, analytical skills, evidenced research capabilities (e.g. past research or data analysis reports which shows capabilities in these areas) and experience in primary and secondary data collection
  • Evidenced passion and deep-seated aspiration to tackle environmental challenges.
  • Self motivated and highly organised individual able to work in a dynamic and deliverables-oriented work environment
  • Excellent referrals from at least 1 previous client, past employers or professor
  • Capable and comfortable traveling throughout Singapore to conduct research and meet with stakeholders
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel)
  • Strong English skills – verbal and written

Preferred:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Physical Sciences (e.g. Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry), Engineering, Environment, Statistics, Business, Accounting or Finance
  • Experience in research on environmental sustainability topics – especially waste management or recycling. If you do not have waste management experience and/or circular economy understanding we require you to take 1-2 short online courses before starting on the role.
  • Proficiency in using Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides

How to Apply:

To apply, please send to ashwin@goneadventurin.com all of the below:

  1. Your CV
  2. Cover letter
  3. Written references (preferred)

Note for Applicants:

  • Please apply by 25th October 2018
  • We usually receive a number of applicants for our open positions so we may only be able to respond to applicants who meet our requirements
  • We may require selected applicants to take 1-2 short online courses on solid waste management before starting on the role
  • Applicants who meet our requirements for this role can expect a 2 to 3 step interview process
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29 Mar We Are Hiring – Research Project Manager in Singapore (Application Period Closed)

Note: The application period for this role has closed. We will be in touch with shortlisted candidates.


Placement Title: Research Project Manager
Location: Singapore
Start & End Date: 1st May 2018 onwards
Time Requirement: Full Time (5 days a week)

About the Role:

Gone Adventurin is working on several pioneering, strategic projects in Asia to tackle the serious environmental challenges posed by post-consumer waste in the areas of packaging, particularly plastics, and food.

Why Asia? Because Asia is the biggest contributor to post-consumer waste mismanagement in the world. Over 80% of plastics entering the oceans comes from Asia with just 5 countries responsible for most of this pollution. 52% of fruits and vegetables in Asia are wasted, with the majority of this food loss happening at farm, post-harvest and processing stages even before it reaches stores, supermarkets or consumers.

If you are inspired to tackle the complex challenges of plastic entering the oceans, making packaging circular and impacting the huge amounts of food waste generated across supply chains here in Asia then consider joining our team. Gone Adventurin is a sustainability consultancy and project implementation partner on a mission to tackle post-consumer waste in Asia. Our vision is to create a world without waste.

We are looking for an experienced Research Project Manager with strong analytical, strategic thinking and relationship skills. Ideally your background includes working in management or environmental consulting or in a research, strategy or data analytics role in business, government agencies or NGOs.

This role involves working on packaging and food waste projects for prominent clients from leading chemicals, packaging, consumer goods and retail industries as well as city and national government agencies across Southeast Asia and India. The focus of the role will be to: create pioneering science based research; provide key insights, strategic recommendations and measurable outcomes; and implement groundbreaking strategies to significantly drive circular economy in Asia.

Working with us provides the opportunity to work in a small, mindfully growing, Singapore-headquartered company dedicated to finding business-driven solutions to tackle waste challenges in Asia. We are dedicated, diverse team of 5 nationalities with multi-faceted backgrounds in packaging science, environmental science, engineering, economics, policy and finance. While primarily based in Singapore, the role involves local travel within the Asia region with an opportunity to meet and build relationships with a wide range of local stakeholders from industry, government and NGOs.

Requirements:

○ 3+ years of experience in management or environmental consulting or in a research, strategy or data analytics role in business, government agencies or NGOs

○ Bachelor’s degree in Physical Sciences (e.g. Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry), Engineering, Environment, Statistics, Business, Accounting or Finance

○ Advanced problem-solving, analytical skills, evidenced research capabilities (e.g. past research or data analysis reports which shows capabilities in these areas) and experience in primary and secondary data collection

○ Strong communication and interpersonal skills to work with various clients and stakeholders

○ The right attitude and skills to work with and manage relationships with people of all backgrounds, from C-Level and senior management of multinationals to recycling workers

○ Capable and comfortable traveling throughout Asia to conduct research and meet with stakeholders

○ Evidenced passion and deep-seated aspiration to tackle environmental challenges

○ Self motivated and highly organized individual able to work in a dynamic and deliverables-oriented work environment

○ Excellent referrals from at least 2 previous clients or past employers

○ Proficiency in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel)

○ Strong English skills – verbal and written

○ Based in Singapore and committed to be based in Singapore for a minimum of 2 years

Preferred:

○ Experience in leading teams to successfully deliver on projects within timelines

○ Past experience in plastics, waste management or recycling industries. If you do not have waste management experience and/or circular economy understanding we require you to take 1-2 short online courses before starting on the role

○ Proficiency in using Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides

How to Apply:

To apply please send to ashwin@goneadventurin.com all of the below:

1. Your CV

2. Cover letter and

3. Past reports that you have worked on which shows your capabilities in research and data analysis

Note for Applicants:

○ We usually receive a number of applicants for our open positions so we’ll only be able to respond to applicants who meet our requirements

○ Applicants who meet our requirements for this role can expect a 3-step interview process

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tuna-fish-954073_1280-1024x692

09 Dec How sustainable is your canned seafood brand?

In July 2016, Tesco – a major UK retailer decided to remove 20% of John West tuna from its shelves due to sustainability concerns.

This piqued my interest because John West as a brand takes a strong stand on sustainable fishing. So how did this incident happen and what can we as consumers learn from it?

John West branded canned tuna is manufactured by John West Foods – a UK-based seafood marketing company. The company has a Sustainability Promise and John West Europe says it does not source tuna from fishing vessels where catches have been carried out using destructive fishing methods such as Longline Fishing or Drift-net Fishing.

john-west-unlimited-edition-jpg

Source: http://johnwest.com.au/-/media/images/brands/johnwest/homehero/john-west-unlimited-edition-jpg.ashx

Both Long-line Fishing or Drift-net Fishing have negative impact on bycatch and cause harm to other marine species which can often get entangled or hurt in long lines and drift nets.

Here’s what Longline Fishing looks like:

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-11-25-33-am

Photo Courtesy: Australian Fisheries Management Authority

John West also claimed that 20% of all its tuna is caught using the Pole & Line methods – which means almost no bycatch of sharks, turtles and other larger marine animals.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-11-26-00-am

Photo Courtesy: Australian Fisheries Management Authority

However, in October 2015 a Greenpeace report suggested that 98% of John West tuna was caught using Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs). FADs are floating objects that are designed and strategically placed to attract fish and in turn, can harm bycatch species.

The resulting pressure from the Greenpeace report, together with reviews of existing sustainable fishing policies, have led to not just Tesco but also other supermarkets to consider banning John West tuna from their shelves.

So what are some of the lessons that food brands can learn from this episode?

  1. Brands should carefully consider their Sustainability Promises before making them. John West’s sustainable tuna sourcing policy made in 2011 was commendable however the implementation of the policy has fallen short of expectations.
  1. Brands should engage with relevant NGOs and understand their benchmarks and measuring techniques. The 2015 Greenpeace report and John West’s own measurements show different percentages for tuna caught using the Pole & Line method
  1. Purchasing decisions of retailers such as supermarket chains have the power to influence sustainability practices of their suppliers by asking the right questions. Retailers have a huge role to play in contributing to sustainable food supply chains by taking a stand for sustainable practices and helping consumers make more informed choices

As a background to this, there are 7 species of oceanic tuna of major commercial importance: Three species of bluefin tuna and one each of albacore, bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack tuna.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-11-26-23-am

Tunas species (from top): albacore, Atlantic bluefin, skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye

Popular local canned tuna brands such as those available in most Singapore supermarkets sell either Skipjack Tuna or Yellowfin Tuna. Based on the latest assessment in the Status of the World Fisheries for Tuna Report (2016), both these species have healthy spawning stocks and they are not overfished or endangered.

However according to the report less than 42% of the global catch of Yellowfin Tuna and Skipjack Tuna come from safe fishing methods. This means a majority of the fishing practices for catching these 2 types of tuna have unknown or negative impact on bycatch species. Specifically 35% of Yellowfin Tuna and 10% of Skipjack Tuna are caught using methods where impact on bycatch stocks is unknown.

fisherman-449280_1920-1024x683

While some brands of canned tuna in Southeast Asian markets have started to publish more information about their sustainability efforts on their websites, there is still a general lack of transparency and easily-accessible information for the consumer on the overall sustainability of the products – especially on the health of the tuna sources, fishing methods, bycatch impact, labour practices and what the certification labels on their tins, if any, really stand for.

Ms. Jacqui Dixon, associate consultant at shared-value based consultancy network Incite says, “Any company or brand sourcing seafood should know first and foremost where that fish originated. Policies and systems should be developed to trace all fish species to the ocean of origin and the vessel of catch. In-house expertise, combined with external support, should enable the teams doing the purchasing to understand the sustainability aspects impacting that fishery or production method.”

Certification programs such as those designed by Marine Stewardship Council are helping consumers become more aware about supply chain transparency of their favourite seafood brands. In a recent global study on behalf of MSC on attitudes towards seafood consumption, 72% of shoppers agreed that in order to save the oceans shoppers should only consume seafood from sustainable sources. More than 50% were willing to pay more for a certified sustainable seafood product.

However certification programs and labels have also come under criticism in the past for certifying fisheries despite evidence against their sustainability practices.

Despite these challenges certification programs and labels remain effective ways to enable consumers to make the right choices. WWF’s Sustainable Seafood Guide is also a wonderful resource to enable consumers to make the best seafood choices.

Ms. Dixon adds, “There are plenty of independent assessment tools, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, Seafish RASS and FishSource that companies can use to do this. These assessment tools enable purchasing teams to understand bycatch management, gearing method impacts on habitat, harvest strategy, stock status, species vulnerability, fish mortality / exploitation rate and the importance of the species in the wider ecosystem. All of these criteria should form part of a company’s sourcing policy. Companies need to know where they get their fish from and what the issues are in relation to those fisheries. Asking the right questions with your suppliers is a good start.”

How else can companies and brands take a stand for sustainable seafood production and consumption? And how can consumers get involved and trust the certifications? Share your thoughts!

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Header Water

30 Jul Tackling water challenges to drive business in Asia

“I’ve focused on making sure that sustainability is something which is integrated with day-to-day business planning systems rather than something just handled by a corporate group on the side.”

says Martin Riant a senior business leader in the consumer goods industry.

Martin, who recently retired from P&G, spent more than 36 years in the multinational company and grew its business in various national, regional and global roles. I met Martin a few months back when he became interested in Gone Adventurin’s model to integrate sustainability into the core of business – a vision he also passionately believes in.

One of the examples he discussed was how a few years back P&G had developed a water purification technology in a powder – an amazing innovation that quickly turns 10 litres of dirty, potentially deadly water into clean and drinkable water. The packet was initially invented by P&G laundry scientists who were originally separating dirt from used laundry water but in doing so also invented a breakthrough technology that can enable people anywhere in the world to purify dirty water in a simple, affordable and convenient way.

This example of how a single innovation can turn into a signature global program for P&G and to-date provide more than 9 billion litres of clean water in more than 75 countries got me curious on what is the state of water in our planet today and how other MNCs, startups and businesses are tackling water challenges.

While I had often heard of gloomy scenarios such as “Asia’s next major conflict will be over fresh water”, the potential dangers of inability to access clean water does indeed have serious consequences.

For most of us living in cities with relatively constant access to clean water, life without this precious resource is not a pressing issue. However the ground realities across the continent tell a very different story.

The World Economic Forum has recently ranked water crises as the number one highest concern for the planet in the next 10 years. 4 billion people – two-thirds of the global population – are currently facing water scarcity, and nearly half of them live in India and China.

Three in ten people in the world drink unsafe water Click to Tweet

Source

More Water Pollution Facts

Asia is particularly vulnerable – it has less fresh water per person than any other continent, and at the same time, has some of the world’s worst water pollution. The recent drought that hit parts of Southeast and South Asia was the worst in decades – affecting Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and India, and claiming several lives.

Ground up solutions for water.

While the reality is challenging, the scale of the problem and Asia’s innate thirst for innovation means that several grassroots solutions are already in various stages of development.

Image Credit: WarkaWater

Image Credit: WarkaWater

WarkaWater – a system that consists of a bamboo frame and a mesh netting – is a design that can harvest rain, fog, and dew from the air into potable water. The simple structure can be constructed by six people in a week with locally sourced materials, and is owned and operated by communities. The latest iteration is capable of collecting up to 100 litres of potable water each day.

Drinkwell is transforming the water crisis into entrepreneurial opportunity. Their micro-franchise model enables local community members become entrepreneurs and set up water businesses in arsenic-affected areas of Asia. It provides affected villagers with water filtration technology and business tools, creating jobs, improving health and generating income at the same time.

Their systems deliver 60x more water, are 17x more energy efficient, and reduce waste by 7 orders of magnitude compared to Reverse Osmosis, the current best practice. Currently there are over 200 profitable deployments spread over India, Laos and Cambodia, with local partners.

Companies leading the change.

Companies too, have begun to spearhead change in impacting water in Asia. In 2006, Water.org approached PepsiCo to help scale ‘WaterCredit’ – an initiative that brings safe water and sanitation facilities to India’s poor. The resulting pilot exceeded expectations and a further grant of $8m from PepsiCo promises to provide 800,000 people with access to safe water this year.

It’s not just companies and nonprofits, but local researchers too are making headway in water. Last year, NUS researchers developed a new membrane, inspired by the roots of mangrove trees, that makes water purification highly efficient – and can potentially lower purification costs by 30%!

Image Credit: NUS

Image Credit: NUS

And while regional medium-sized companies such as Hyflux in Singapore and Manila Water in the Philippines are innovating new business models around water, we also see global companies such as Unilever and P&G collaborating actively with local startups, NGOs to reduce water consumption of their products. In short, water continues to be a great driver of business innovation and growth.

Here are 3 things you can do in your company

1. Involve your staff

Implementing solutions from the top down might get things done initially, but unless there is passion and commitment from your team, you will never get the sustainable results you need. Work across all your business silo’s (Talent and HR, Corporate Comms, CSR, Marketing etc.) to facilitate employee experiences to make sure everyone understands the issue and is inspired to make a difference.

How can we help? Join or send your team on a 3-day IMPACT ADVENTURE in any Asian country so your employees can meet inspiring startups, social enterprises, NGOs and local change-makers tackling water!

2. Share your stories

Already doing incredible work? Then amplify your impact throughout your business unit and global teams through authentic and engaging storytelling! Using something as simple as your smartphone, record your success and your failures to get support and strengthen your internal networks. Most importantly, exchange ideas!

If you want to go a step further, why not work with your marketing or corporate communication teams to post publicly through your social media channels to source solutions from your audience?

How can we help? Reach out to us to create compelling media and digital content telling the stories of your work, or hold a workshop to empower your team to start telling their own stories!

3. Update your strategy

The most important part of solving any social or environmental issue is to integrate it into the core of your business strategy. Explore new supply chains and form new partnerships which benefits all your stakeholders AND your shareholders. You can find a strategy to influence your consumers behaviour, or simply innovate the design of your product. Look at the materials you use and see if you can create a more transparent and effective supply chain. At the end of the day, a powerful business strategy which integrates a bigger purpose will far out-perform a strategy which just targets profit alone.

How can we help? We can work with you to refine your business strategy to engage employees, influence consumers and innovate for the future by tackling water challenges across Asia. First, why not get our team to come and do an interactive workshop & in-depth presentation to introduce your team to detailed insights and stories behind this post and the insights report below? Reach out to us at Gone Adventurin’ to adapt, apply and profit by putting sustainable development at the core of your business.

This article is part of our monthly series of insights to help business leaders discover business value through a social and environmental purpose.

Download our latest 16-page report on WATER in Asia

View our 2-min visual on WATER in Asia

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29 Jul Announcement

Gone Adventurin’ is pleased to announce an exciting development for the company as the co-founders of Gone Adventurin are taking bold and new directions which further build upon their individual strengths and passions.

Ashwin and Laura are accelerating their strategic consulting activities along with the team to help companies unlock business opportunities in tackling social and environmental challenges. Jacqui, will be leaving Gone Adventurin’ to focus on the B Corp movement into Asia and her natural love of storytelling.

Building upon the good work already done in the last few years, everyone in the Gone Adventurin’ family will continue working towards their greater purpose: to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Global Development goals (SDG) through integrating purpose into a profitable core of business.

— —

Contacts:

Gone Adventurin:

Ashwin Subramaniam: ashwin@goneadventurin.com

Laura Allen: laura@goneadventurin.com

Jacqui Hocking:

B Corp Community Building: jacqui@bthechange.asia

SDG Storytelling: jacqui@sdgbiz.com

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WASTE Header

03 Jun How are startups, SMEs and MNCs solving WASTE in Asia?

“If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world”

said Roelof Westerbeek, when we caught up with him recently. Roelof has spent most of his career in the engineering industry, especially in plastics, and is very well aware of the impact of waste.

I first met Roelof at the Responsible Business Forum in November 2015 in Singapore. He had one of the most compelling keynote speeches at the forum, the energy that he brought to the room through his knowledge and passion on tackling food waste was palpable. So much so, that his speech and some of the following discussions I had with Roelof inspired us at Gone Adventurin’ to focus the first of our monthly Insight Reports series on the topic of waste.

Waste is becoming a huge problem.

Waste in the form of food, agricultural, plastic, electronic or paper waste has a significant impact on sustainable development. Waste directly or indirectly contributes to the success of 8 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Recent government regulations have made waste in its various forms a top priority for most companies. A case in point here is India where the national government has drafted new rules making producers of consumer goods responsible for the recycling of post-consumer waste.

CNN plastic waste. Credit- CNN

Image Credit: CNN

A recent CNN report based on data from 2010 showed that 8 of the 10 top countries which mismanage their plastic waste are in Asia, with 5 of these 8 from Southeast Asia. About 8 million metric tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans each year and in a matter of years there will soon be more plastic in the oceans than fish. Food waste also directly contributes environmental degradation and climate change.

Food Waste releases 4.4 giga tonnes of CO2 each year! Click to Tweet

Source

Ground-up solutions

While the statistics are alarming, it is not surprising that plenty of new technology and ideas are already at hand to tackle waste challenges, especially in Asia.

And you know what? They might just save the planet.

India-based startup Encashea was founded in August 2015 to tackle the problem of household waste in India’s cities with their burgeoning middle class. While food delivery apps in these cities continue their fast growth, behind the scenes garbage dumps near housing areas are overflowing with food delivery boxes. Encashea was launched in Bengaluru, a city in Southern India which has a population of 10 million people and generates around 5,000 tonnes of garbage every day. The startup collects scrap waste for cash in select areas of the city and lists prices for scrap on its website.

encashea  encashea 2

Image Credit: EnCashea

Get the Encashea app on Google Play!

But what about places like Indonesia?

Well, when it comes to fish and shrimp farming, Indonesia is huge. The archipelago is not only home to millions of fish farms but the market size in the Southeast Asian country alone is US$5.4 billion.

However long-term survival of these farms depends on how well food waste is managed as overfeeding of fish is one of the largest challenges in commercial aquaculture. eFishery, an Internet of Things (IoT) startup based in Bandung, is a smart fish feeder manufacturer that tackles this problem.

“Using eFishery, fish and shrimp farmers can schedule feed times and monitor feeding performances right from their mobile devices. Being able to avoid overfeeding their fish can actually reduce costs for farmers by 21 per cent.”

The world throws away an estimated $1 trillion worth of food each year. Click to Tweet

Source

That represents 1% of global GDP. Food waste from restaurants, hotels and other establishments contributes greatly to these statistics. UK-based startup Winnow provides smart meters that helps kitchens cut food waste by automatically measuring what’s put in the bin. Winnow has already been deployed in over 200 kitchens and cuts an average of 50% from food waste bills, or $3m a year.

Winnow Solutions. Credit- Winnow Solutions

Image Credit: Winnow Solutions

Startups aside, large corporates are also beginning to take steps to drive collaborations in developing markets to tackle waste. Microsoft Vietnam and the city of Da Nang have recently agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a business startup support program and some of these startups include businesses working to tackle municipal waste.

IKEA, one of the partners in Smart Living Challenge Jakarta, recently called for ideas which are very simple and could improve people’s everyday life. BagiMak, a group that came with the idea of developing a food sharing application with the possibility to donate or share left-overs was awarded the first prize from the jury.

Large corporates still have a long way to go to tackle waste

A recent report launched by non-profit group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) encourages fast moving consumer good companies and their financiers to offer more sustainable products.

All of the 26 firms featured in the report had a market capitalisation of at least US$1 billion each and were picked from China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.

WWF - Report. Credit- WWF

<b”>Image Credit: WWF

As the WWF report suggests;

“Companies that are not reducing and reusing materials, not educating their consumers about recycling and not working with other stakeholders to boost recycling infrastructure will end up bearing higher packaging costs in the long run.”

Source

But waste is a huge business opportunity

The issue of waste particularly offers significant business opportunities, especially in Asia. On average 85% of plastic waste doesn’t get recycled here in Asia , and 42% of the fruit and vegetables and 20% of the grain produced in the region gets lost or wasted and at least 50% of household waste ends up in landfill. As Roelof suggests;

“there is a lot of value for companies that play at the forefront of bringing new technologies and new business models to address sustainability issues.”

3 Important Steps to Tackle Waste in Your Company

1. Involve your staff

Implementing solutions from the top down might get things done initially, but unless there is passion and commitment from your team, you will never get the sustainable results you need. Work across all your business silo’s (Talent and HR, Corporate Comms, CSR, Marketing etc.) to facilitate employee experiences to make sure everyone understands the issue and is inspired to make a difference.

How can we help? Join or send your team on a 3-day IMPACT ADVENTURE in any Asian country so your employees can meet inspiring startups, social enterprises, NGOs and local change-makers tackling waste!

2. Share your stories

Already doing incredible work? Then amplify your impact throughout your business unit and global teams through authentic and engaging storytelling! Using something as simple as your smartphone, record your success and your failures to get support and strengthen your internal networks. Most importantly, exchange ideas!

If you want to go a step further, why not work with your marketing or corporate communication teams to post publicly through your social media channels to source solutions from your audience?

How can we help? Join or send your team on a 3-day IMPACT ADVENTURE in any Asian country so your employees can meet inspiring startups, social enterprises, NGOs and local change-makers tackling waste!

3. Update your strategy

The most important part of solving any social or environmental issue is to integrate it into the core of your business strategy. Explore new supply chains and form new partnerships which benefits all your stakeholders AND your shareholders. You can find a strategy to influence your consumers behaviour, or simply innovate the design of your product. Look at the materials you use and see if you can create a more transparent and effective supply chain. At the end of the day, a powerful business strategy which integrates a bigger purpose will far out-perform a strategy which just targets profit alone.

How can we help? We can work with you to refine your business strategy to engage employees, influence consumers and innovate for the future by tackling waste challenges across Asia. First, why not get our team to come and do an interactive workshop & in-depth presentation to introduce your team to detailed insights and stories behind this report? Reach out to us at Gone Adventurin’ to adapt, apply and profit by putting sustainable development at the core of your business.

This article is part of our monthly series of insights to help business leaders discover business value through a social and environmental purpose.

Download our latest 14-page report on WASTE in Asia

View our 2-min visual on WASTE in Asia

Read More
1-odcm8ejtysjbsqpb9c1aqw

23 Feb A Gruelling Cycling Adventure in Vietnam to Fund Education

Making a difference one adventure at a time!

You’re in your twenties, work in a bank, live in a developed city… but you want to make a difference to a community in another country, or perhaps even fight world hunger. Can you really do something about it? Even though it seems so out of reach? Well… yes. You just have to step out of your comfort zone and go ahead and do it.

Let these inspiring young individuals show you what they did!

An international team of 10 young working professionals successfully completed a long-distance cycling adventure to raise funds for Room to Read Vietnam. The team was diverse — with various nationalities and coming from different professional backgrounds. There were bankers, social workers, psychologists, entrepreneurs, teachers and lawyers, all united in one cause — wanting to change the world through educating children!

Team photo at a pit stop!

“I found the trip to be both challenging and inspiring. The country and people were breathtaking and the whole adventure was food for the soul and a wonderful reminder of the power we all have to make positive change in our world.” — Jennifer Hoare, a psychologist from Perth.

They took on a 150km challenge over a period of 3 intense days, which saw these (mostly amateur) cyclists, experience Vietnam in an intimate manner while supporting education in the country. The route led them off the beaten track into rural towns and fishing villages, along unforgiving mountain passes, through UNESCO world heritage sites and finally ending up in the Thai Nguyen district. That was where they had the opportunity to interact with the children that were being supported by Room to Read’s programs, and the staff of Room to Read Vietnam.

On the road at Da Nang

Celebrating on the summit at Hai Van pass

Annual Room to Read event

Overall, the team raised more than S$16,000 for the program in the 3 months from October to December 2012.

“It was an awesome experience learning amazing new things! I was left most inspired by the kids we met in the libraries and schools.” — Han Boon Khor, a finance executive from Singapore.

Back in Singapore after the ride, the team put together an event called “Girls.Books.Change”, which saw more than S$3,000 being raised over one weekend alone. At the event, which was held in partnership with a photography exhibition space, friends and supporters came down to get beautiful portraits taken with their favourite books in hand.

Sasha, Bree and Jennifer at a school supported by Room to Read

Bree Hansen, a teacher from Perth, summed it up, “The ride was challenging and I really felt like I accomplished something by the end. But more than anything else, seeing the impact of the money we raised had on schools and whole communities proved that change is possible and that as an individual and young working professional, I can make a difference.”

Have you ever experienced something like this? Share it with us so we can help inspire others to step out of their comfort zone and discover a bigger purpose than the normal day-to-day!


~ Written by Victoria Sim, Gone Adventurin’ Team & Adventurer!

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SDGs-GlobalGoalsForSustainableDevelopment-05

24 Nov 5 Insights from 2015 Responsible Business Forum for Sustainable Development

What we learnt from a recent gathering of 500 business leaders, NGOs, policy-makers and investors from around the world to discuss Sustainable Development

A couple of weeks back our team joined the 4th Responsible Business Forum of Sustainable Development held in Singapore. 2015 is seen as a potentially historic year if the new climate treaty is agreed in Paris, so Climate Change naturally was the theme of the forum.

Credit: Responsible Business

The idea behind the #RBFSingapore series has been to gather business leaders, NGOs, policy-makers and investors from around the world to share innovations and agree on practical solutions for delivering sustainable business — and delivering the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As a social enterprise working on transformative projects which enable companies to discover and reconnect with a higher purpose of social and environmental development, the big question on my mind walking into the conference was:

“How will a forum attended by people and organisations who seek to be responsible truly represent conflicting aspirations of today’s world?”

Aggressive companies demand rapid business growth and yet employees are searching for a deeper sense of meaning and purpose at work beyond their paycheck. Families in developing countries yearn for prosperity and yet communities in the same countries live on the brink of poverty and hunger. All this is happening while our planet continues to face a future of ever-scarcer natural resources, man-made natural disasters and a warmer climate.

Although I didn’t expect to have an answer, at the end of the forum I felt a growing sense of authenticity among companies and business leaders in wanting to work towards the global SDGs.

This is a great start and an important first step — because I believe that more than governments or NGOs, it is businesses that have the greatest ability today to tackle these goals.

So what does Sustainability really encompass? Most of the agenda and discussions at the Responsible Business Forum centred around the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Credit: UN Sustainable Development

Throughout the 2 days of the forum and various breakout sessions we attended, there were thought-provoking discussions, scary statistics, a whole heap of catchy one-liners and tons of tweets.

I thought I’d summarise my key insights into 6 of the SDGs that I felt got significant attention:

INSIGHT #1. The Need for Climate Action (SDG#13)

There is an urgent need to make the impacts of climate change real and get our act as a global society together. During the forum the Climate Action SDG was referenced several times. The topical Southeast Asian transboundary haze came up repeatedly in discussions and Q&As during panel sessions.

Issues like the haze make climate change real — and act as a reminder for climate action. They make most people read up about man’s impact on nature or talk to others or write or even think of creative solutions. However, there are other longer-term, irrevocable impacts of climate change that are silently brewing away but most of us don’t realise it till one day we begin to face direct consequences.

For example, even if world manages to limit global warming to 2°C — the target number for current climate negotiations — sea levels may still rise to at least 6 meters or 20 feet (enough to swallow up your entire office till the roof)! A 3°C hotter world sounds like a recipe for disaster.

INSIGHT #2. Greater Relationship Between Women (SDG#2) and Food (SDG#5)

More men across Asia are moving into cities in search of better economic opportunities. Women therefore are taking on farming occupations on top of balancing the household.

Unfortunately women in rural communities are not well educated, which means women farmers often do not have access to innovative farming techniques, financing opportunities or an ability to demand competitive prices. This increases the urgency of why it is important to provide education access to girls and women in developing countries.

INSIGHT #3. Impact of Food Waste (#SDG12)

UN’s Food & Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that each year, approximately 1/3 of all food produced for human consumption in the world is lost or wasted. The direct economic cost of this is about $750 billion per year — about the size of Switzerland’s annual GDP. And agriculture is estimated to account for around 15% of direct greenhouse gas emissions.

Fortunately, unlike some of the other SDGs, food waste is something we as consumers can fully control through more conscious consumption of our daily food and weekly groceries.

It also means an industry worth $750 billion is ready for innovation and if food waste is largely solved, we reduce global direct greenhouse gas emissions by 5%.

INSIGHT #4. Importance of Oceans (#SDG14)

One of my favourite presentations was by Ariel Fuchs from Sea Orbiter. He had a very visual and passionate story to tell about our oceans and why we need to explore. Sea Orbiter is a futuristic, scientific research vessel permanently based in the seas to enable us to better understand our oceans. The project successfully surpassed its £325,000 crowd-funding campaign target to build the vessel’s eye — a lookout post that sits above the ocean surface, and has also has secured 70% of its £35m budget.

The 51-meter tall vessel’s design is inspiring and once operational, it would be run by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists, educators and media professionals.

Oceans are after all 71% of our planet, a beautiful carbon sink & hold the key to better future.

INSIGHT #5. Partnership & Leadership (SDG#17)

One of the discussion topics that also kept re-appearing was how businesses should start collaborating with one another to achieve their own sustainability and community development goals as well as enable the world to make progress towards the SDGs.

This highlights the fact that days of true competition are over and its time companies began to collaborate for innovative solutions around tackling social and environmental challenges.

Some of our best one-to-one conversations were with business leaders from DSM — a Dutch multi-national which has started building financially viable propositions for environmentally and socially responsible products, Novartis — a global pharmaceutical company is building innovative distribution models that provide access to affordable medicines to treat chronic diseases in lower-income countries and Autodesk — a software company which through its Autodesk Entrepreneur Impact program is committed to helping early-stage startups and entrepreneurs in the social, cleantech, and environmental sectors get to market faster.

We are committing to work with organisations like these which are beginning to consciously change their business models, set ambitious social or environmental impact targets and attract top talent to help build and grow their new business models.

The forum helped us reaffirm that Sustainable Development is an opportunity that can bring together all of today’s buzz-words — innovation, disruption, value creation, sustainability and growth hacking and enable companies to discover a sense of purpose and meaning.

– By Ashwin Subramaniam, co-founder, Gone Adventurin

 

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19 Oct Grassroots Innovation in Indonesia: Part 2/2

In this 2-part series, we will share about why we as a team are really interested in Indonesia, our fascination with its culture and innovative spirit, and why we feel Southeast Asia’s largest country presents a huge opportunity for any company interested in growing its business by tackling societal challenges.

This second part of our Indonesia series focuses on Java — Indonesia’s most populated island, with a round-up of some of the most innovative local start-ups, companies and development organisations across the island we’ve met that are creating positive social and environmental impact.

Understanding Java, Understanding Indonesia

Java is only the fourth largest island in Indonesia but contains more than half of the nation’s population. And even though Java represents only 7 percent of Indonesia’s total landmass, ethnic Javanese comprise about 45 percent of Indonesia’s total population.

A map showing population density of Indonesia. Source: USAID

So understanding Java, its culture and the perspectives of the Javanese can give us a great insight into the workings of the Indonesian bureaucracy, business culture and attitudes and day-to-day decision-making of consumers.

The Buzz in Jakarta

To understand grassroots innovation in Java, we start from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, where the local start-up scene is really buzzing. 3 weeks ago over a cup of coffee we met Global Entrepreneurship Program Indonesia (GEPI) — a co-working space for around 40 small start-ups which also has an in-house incubator and provides its start-ups with access to angel investors. GEPI is backed by some of Indonesia’s biggest businesses.

Poster for one of GEPI’s upcoming start-up events in Jakarta. Photo courtesy: GEPI

One of the start-ups we got introduced to was Wedlite, which is helping young couples across the country pay for their weddings. The financial services company was started by Abraham Viktor — a young former investment banker. Weddings in Indonesia are a bit like the ones I’ve often been to growing up in India — they are elaborate and expensive.

Couples in Indonesia often spend years trying to pay off the costs of their wedding — that is if they manage to find a source of funding. Others who don’t might just postpone their wedding till they reach a strong financial position.

Abraham started working at GEPI to grow his business idea. His business idea came about when he was looking for options to fund his own wedding and was not satisfied. He e realised that hundreds of thousands of other young couples face a similar challenge.

Anyone willing to put up their motorbike as collateral can go to Wedlite’s website and apply for a loan which is at a much lower interest rate than other traditional options.

Another start-up social enterprise based out of GEPI is Nusantra Development Initiatives (NDI) — a social enterprise which focuses on empowering women entrepreneurs in Indonesia. Interestingly one of NDI initial team-members used to sit right across my work desk when I worked at an investment bank in Singapore!

I myself went through similar experiences of wanting to find a deeper purpose to our work and found that social entrepreneurship offered a great opportunity to bridge the business and impact world at the same time.

While based out of Jakarta, by end of 2014 NDI served more than 8,000 family members in Riau Islands by distributing over 2,500 solar lights in 30 communities.

The Dynamism in Bandung

We then headed south-east out of Jakarta for a 4-hour drive along scenic but mostly jam-packed roads to the city of Bandung. Its higher altitude, strong concentration of university students and proliferation of artists makes Bandung literally and figuratively one of Indonesia’s coolest cities. The city has produced many of Indonesia’s top scientists, artists, engineers and business leaders and is the center of Indonesia’s burgeoning ICT technology.

Smart Sustainable Cities was the theme for the recent SHAPE Asia-Pacific event at Bandung

At the most recent edition of the regional SHAPE.BDG conference we met a host of local start-ups based in Bandung and also spoke to the team at Greeneration — a social enterprise which works on innovative environmental programs across Indonesia. One of Greeneration’s projects isBagoes, which mixes the concept of reuse with fashion to create upmarket products that are environmentally friendly.

The company recently also launched a social entrepreneurship programbased on environment with the Indonesian arm of Singapore’s DBS Bank.

The Greeneration team is young and dynamic and has a strong business background

The Spirit in Surabaya

Our final stop on our journey across in Java was Surabaya. Surabaya is the second largest city in Indonesia and its main waterway — the 41-kilometer Surabaya River (part of the Brantas river basin), supplies 96% of the drinking water for 3 million people in the city.

On our recent visit to Surabaya we met Prigi Andisari — a native Surabayan who spent his carefree childhood days swimming and playing in the Surabaya river’s cool, clear waters by his village and watching the entire community thrive happily on its banks.

He shares, “One day when I came back to my village after a few years in university I was in for a shock — my beloved river had become heavily polluted due to unchecked industrialisation and illegal human encroachments on its banks. Mercury levels in the river were 100 times the tolerable limit established by the World Health Organization.”

He immediately established Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation (ECOTON) to promote sustainable wetland resource management. From its initial days in environmental advocacy its now grown into a social enterprise which empowers local communities living around the wetlands in Indonesia to create economic incentives from the preservation of the river.

Prigi with local school students upstream on the Surabaya river. His River Detection Program, has been implemented in more than 50 schools, teaches children how to monitor the river’s water quality and report their findings to the government.

The organisation also educates local industries of the impact of river pollution and advising them on how to change their practices to become more environmentally sustainable.

Empowering the People

A technology start-up that is enabling development organisations across Java to scale their impact is Kitabisa.com — one of Indonesia’s earliest crowdfunding platforms supporting social and environmental causes.

During my coffee with Vikra Ijas — Kitabisa’s co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, I learn about some of their growth strategies and we discuss ideas on how companies and brands could move their marketing campaigns onto the crowd-funding space to drive consumer engagement and loyalty.

kitabisa.com supports crowd-funding initiatives across Java. Photo courtesy: kitabisa.com

Summary

An increasing number of local innovators, start-ups and development organisations in Indonesia are creating innovative partnerships with companies across all industries.

These partnerships enable grassroots innovations to be scaled up. They also provide companies with new consumer insights for marketing, innovations to create more sustainable supply chains and ideas to integrate sustainability and social impact into the core of their business.

Most importantly these partnerships enable the employees of companies to find a deep sense of purpose and meaning in knowing that their jobs are directly and positively impacting lives of millions of people.

Written by: Ashwin Subramaniam, Co-founder, Gone Adventurin’

RELEVANT LINKS AND SOURCES FOR FURTHER READING

  1. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/10/13/gepi-helps-indonesia-s-startups-change-nation.html
  2. https://www.techinasia.com/kitabisa-indonesia-social/
  3. http://shapebdg.asia/#
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19 Oct Grassroots Innovation in Indonesia: Part 1/2

In this 2-part series, we will share a bit about why we as a team are really interested in Indonesia, our fascination with its culture and innovative spirit, and why we feel Southeast Asia’s largest country presents a huge opportunity for any company interested in growing its business by tackling societal challenges.

As someone who grew up in India up until my teenage years, Indonesia has always fascinated me.

 
I never found memorising stuff like this in school easy! Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

At school it was compulsory to learn Sanskrit — an ancient Indian language. I used to find it extremely hard because of its archaic prose, complicated grammar and very long words but mostly because I knew I’d probably never use this language even though it has very important historical and cultural significance in India.

But when I first visited Java in Indonesia few years ago, I was mildly surprised how quickly I was able to spot Sanskrit words. They seemed to pop up everywhere — in directional signs, in maps, in broken conversations with taxi drivers and even on billboards! A quick Wikipedia search told me that old Javanese had around 12,000 words from Sanskrit and most of them are so ingrained in modern-day Indonesia’s national language — Bahasa Indonesia, that they are no longer perceived to be foreign.

It was a strange, unifying feeling that a land geographically separated by thousands of kilometres and historically separated by centuries of its own history still shares aspects of a culture that I grew up in.

PICKING UP THE LANGUAGE

Since that experience, I’ve always had a soft spot for Indonesian culture and wanted to learn more about the country itself.

I believe that being able to speak a local language is the most powerful way to connect with people from any community. So during the last few years and over many visits to different parts of Java, I started picking up Bahasa Indonesia.

One of my fondest trips was to The Learning Farm — an organisation founded by one of our mentors which enables disadvantaged local youth to turn their lives around by learning organic farming.

 
Youth at The Learning Farm in Western Java turn their lives around by learning organic farming

Over the 4 days I stayed and volunteered at their school in the foothills of Gunung Gede in West Java, I met and got to know 38 youth from all across Indonesia — from Sumatra to Papua, grew my vocabulary by 250 words and did some incredible treks in the nearby forests.

The students at The Learning Farm are extremely eager to connect with people from other countries and learn from them. And each batch of students is able to grow their talents during their time in the organic farming program — talents such as music, art and entrepreneurship. Alumni from The Learning Farm have gone onto become expert bakers, farmers and social entrepreneurs.

 

After this trip, I took a 6-month class in Singapore to seriously learn Bahasa Indonesia. Being able to speak the language — which is of the the few things that unites the 17,000-odd islands that make up Indonesia, continues to come in very handy during every journey I make across the country.

SPARKS AND IDEAS

I’ve always felt that the sparks to solve important social and environmental problems in our world today are often found on the ground — within local communities. So it is important to connect with these communities and discover that sense of wonder and creativity that can inspire us to innovate.

This is a philosophy we’ve embodied in Gone Adventurin’. Every couple of months we make it a point to visit big cities, small towns and villages across developing markets in Southeast Asia.

These visits are R&D of sorts for us. It enables us to connect to local change-makers, promising social entrepreneurs, government agencies, community development organisations and be in touch with ground-realities of the complex dynamics between economics, innovation, societal development and environmental impact.

We travel across Southeast Asian cities, towns and rural communities to find local innovators

In short, it helps us as an organisation to stay grounded and us an individuals to stay humble. This is also what enables us to provide unique insights and smart connections for local partnerships to our corporate clients. To give you an idea of what we do during these visits, I’ll give you a snapshot of our one of our recent journeys.

BALI RECYCLING

3 weeks back my colleague Abishek and I headed to Indonesia. Our first stop was to the popular holiday destination of Bali.

Bali has grown to become one of the hottest travel spots in Southeast Asia and it is now the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia. Over 1.5 million foreign tourists have visited the island of Bali during the first five months of 2015 — a growth of 11% over last year.

With a growing local population and no large-scale waste disposal infrastructure to deal with the huge tourist arrivals, environmental problems such as pollution have become more prevalent in Bali. For example, improperly disposed plastic bags from local restaurants and hotels end up in the island’s water bodies and mangroves forests slowly damaging local eco-systems.

What is happening in Bali is a stark example of what is being experienced across Indonesia. A recent Wall Street Journal article reports waste management is the most prominent environmental issue in the country.

Enter Bali Recycling. Over the past 4 years they have been providing waste collection and disposal services to local establishments — especially to hotels and restaurants across Bali. During our chat with Bali Recycling’s founder Olivier Pouillon, his passion for his work was very evident. Olivier believes that the entire concept of waste is a modern construct.

“In nature there is no such thing as waste; ‘waste’ are just materials on endless cycles to be re-used by us or back into nature.” — Olivier Pouillon, Founder of Bali Recycling

Before the invention of inorganic materials like plastic, people never thought of perishables or used up items as waste. These items were simply put back into the local ecosystems. And the same is happening with today’s waste. But the land to put today’s growing amount of waste — especially the inorganic stuff, is shrinking.

When he started offering his services, local establishments would ask him to pay them to collect their trash. No one was willing to pay for the collection and proper disposal. However, in the last 4 years of their operations, Olivier and his team have managed to change mindsets and convinced these establishments to pay for his services.

The Bali Recycling team. Photo courtesy: Bali Recycling

They have recently launched a mobile application CashforTrash to make it easier for local residents of Bali to identify their nearest waste collection centre that provides a monetary incentive. For a country where 50 percent of all online activity is done on mobile, simple tools like the mobile app have the potential to go a long way in making sustainable behaviour change more convenient.

Olivier at one of his work sites. Photo courtesy: http://ubudnowandthen.com/

Indonesians generate more than 22.5 million tons of trash a year, and by 2020 that number is expected to rise to 53 million tons. So local organisations like Bali Recycling, which grew out of a grassroots movement started in the 1990’s by a group of local Indonesians, can play a big role in changing people’s behaviours, reduce the environmental impact of trash and upcycle trash into valuable products.

THE “LAST-MILE” CUSTOMERS

Another organisation that is headquartered in Bali that we met during our journey is Kopernik. My colleague Laura had met their founder Toshi Nakamura at a conference in Singapore few years back and loved their model of bringing low-cost technologies to the “last-mile” customers across Indonesia.

Some of their technologies include water filters that enable access to clean drinking water, solar lamps which provide a clean, bright light for students in rural communities which are off-grid, bio-mass stoves and educational toys.

One of their impact stories is of Erni, a 25-year-old mother of five who lives in Raja Ampat on an island not connected to the local electricity grid. She would have to travel long distances to get diesel priced three times the normal price to power her generator. So her next best option were kerosene lamps and her children would often study at night under these lamps inhale noxious fumes.

Erni, a mother of five in Raja Ampat with Kopernik’s technologies

Since it started operations in 2011, it has impacted 290,371people and distributed 59,000 technologies — mostly in Indonesia but in also 24 other countries.

OPPORTUNITIES

Bali Recycling and Kopernik are just a few of the many organisations in Indonesia that we connect with and who just within a few years have captured a significant market share for their services and products and established strong connections with local public, governments, community development organisations and even multi-national companies.

McKinsey reports that by 2030, the country could have the world’s 7th-largest economy, overtaking Germany and the United Kingdom. It would have added 90 million more people to its consuming class — more than any other country except China and India. With a large domestic consumption it has grown mostly without relying on exports of manufacturing.

As Indonesia continues on its growth journey, connecting and engaging with grassroots innovators and their wealth of local knowledge offers significant opportunities for companies looking to grow their business by tackling important social and environmental issues.

Written by: Ashwin Subramaniam, Co-founder, Gone Adventurin’

Part 2 of this series will focus on the spirit of grassroots innovation in Java — Indonesia’s most populated island.

RELEVANT LINKS AND SOURCES FOR FURTHER READING

  1. http://blogs.wsj.com/indonesiarealtime/2015/06/24/indonesians-say-waste-is-top-environmental-concern/
  2. http://www.balirecycling.com/
  3. http://www.kopernik.ngo/impact-story/erni-gam-island-raja-ampat-indonesia
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