ESG Voice: Skillfulness Delivered - The Importance of ESG Education

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by KnowESG
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George Markezinis, Chief Learning Officer at Ecoskills.

As the global community grapples with the profound impact of anthropogenic climate change, businesses find themselves at the forefront of transformative challenges and responsibilities. ESG education, therefore, has emerged as a strategic imperative that both shapes the future resilience and relevance of any enterprise, and drives value creation across industries. The business landscape is changing, demanding a paradigm shift in how organisations perceive and integrate sustainability into their core strategies.

The imperative for ESG education lies in its capacity to empower leaders and stakeholders, yes, but decision-makers at all levels, with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate this new normal. This isn’t altruism. As the need for ethical business conduct and sustainable practices become intertwined with financial success, so does the need grow for reliable providers of quality ESG courses.

The goal then, is to enact a paradigm shift and get everyone onboard through education, and this is what Ecoskills, an online platform that ‘future-orients’ professionals to meet their sustainability goals, promises to deliver. 

We spoke to George Markezinis, Chief Learning Officer at Ecoskills, to find out more. 

How would you introduce yourself?

I'm George Markezinis, and I'm honoured to be leading the development of innovative training programmes that cater to a diverse audience. My focus is on creating impactful initiatives that address sustainability and ESG-related challenges.

My journey has been deeply rooted in designing and delivering comprehensive sustainability training programmes across the globe. This experience has allowed me to connect with professionals from Europe, the United States, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, providing me with valuable insights into different cultural and organisational perspectives. These insights have shaped my approach to crafting effective training methodologies that resonate across various landscapes.

Aside from EcoSkills, I also have the privilege of being a lecturer at New York College in Athens. It’s great to share my expertise and enthusiasm for sustainability, contributing to the development of the next generation of leaders passionate about making a positive impact on our world.

Read: 15 Best Sustainability Courses & Certifications in 2023

What is your sustainability story?

I consider myself one of the lucky ones as my path in sustainability started by choice when I first studied Environmental Engineering in the UK, complemented by an MSc in Environmental Management and Monitoring from the University of Plymouth. This set me up for success from the get-go in tackling the intricacies of sustainability issues. Along with that, I am also a GRI Certified Sustainability Professional, so I can confidently bring in-depth understanding of sustainability reporting frameworks to bear on helping businesses adopt more transparent and responsible reporting practices.

My involvement in multiple sustainability and ESG strategies and reporting projects for organisations worldwide has honed my expertise in driving meaningful change. I am deeply committed to catalysing sustainable practices within businesses and organisations, aligning strategies with global standards to create a lasting positive impact.

I continue to push the boundaries of innovation at EcoSkills, inspiring people and organizations to adopt sustainability as a tenet of their culture because of our team’s dedication to advancing sustainable practices and fostering a culture of learning. 

Read: ESG Voices: Integrating Sustainability Into Business

Why did you start EcoSkills?

From our experience, we have witnessed how evident the skills shortage is across various sectors in sustainability and ESG. The ever-changing and emerging sustainability ESG challenges affect and disorient professionals and corporations, growing the demand for green talent as well as the need for related skillfulness. Training up an ever-growing roster of people to acquire a comprehensive skill set to achieve their roles enables governments and companies to couple their environmental aims with their economic and social ambitions.

We started Ecoskills, aiming to democratize sustainability and ESG knowledge, making it accessible to every professional. Bridging the gap between industry demands and training and equipping professionals with the tools and latest insights they need to drive positive impact and meaningful change within their organisations is the foundation of our decision to start EcoSkills.

Related: Top 9 ESG Courses And Certifications For Professionals

What is the most crucial aspect of the transition to sustainability?

This is an interesting question although there isn’t a straightforward reply as the transition to sustainability involves a multi-layered approach. Identifying one single most crucial aspect can be challenging due to the various factors interconnected. Many experts point out the importance of societal and cultural shifts in values, attitudes, and behaviour as a fundamental aspect of achieving sustainability.

Changing the way individuals and communities think about and interact with the environment is crucial. This includes promoting a mindset of conservation, responsibility, and long-term thinking. Encouraging sustainable practices in daily life, consumption patterns, and business operations is essential. At the same time, education and awareness play a vital role in advancing this cultural shift. Raising awareness of the interconnection of ESG issues is vital for inspiring action and promoting informed decision-making at all levels of society.

Other crucial aspects include policy and regulations, innovation, and technology in fields such as clean energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and mitigating the impacts of climate change; global and local cooperation between countries, businesses, and organisations in terms of sharing knowledge, resources, and coordinated actions; economic transformation with an emphasis on the circular economy and the promotion of green business practices; and social equality and justice.

The success of the transition to sustainability depends on a holistic approach that addresses economic, social, and environmental dimensions concurrently.  Read: What qualifications do you need for ESG?

How can we reduce the ‘noise’ in ESG?

Reducing ESG 'noise' requires streamlining and improving ESG-related information's effectiveness, transparency, and relevance. Standardised frameworks and reporting criteria help firms communicate ESG performance consistently. Companies should first identify and report on the most important ESG concerns that affect their operations and stakeholders. This method assures meaningful disclosure and avoids data overload. Independent verification or assurance of ESG data can boost credibility and reduce 'noise'. Transparency requires disclosure of data sources, methods, and assumptions.

Aligning ESG initiatives with a company's business plan can assist in prioritising relevant ESG factors for the firm and its stakeholders. ESG integration lowers peripheral 'noise' in essential company activities. Also, understanding stakeholder expectations helps identify the most important ESG concerns. Personalised ESG reporting can remove extraneous information by addressing stakeholder concerns. Data analytics and AI can improve ESG data collection, analysis, and reporting.

Companies should, nevertheless, explain their ESG performance and initiatives. Avoiding excessive complications and confusion might help them focus on the essentials. To sum up, reducing ESG 'noise' demands prioritising materiality, improving data quality and relevance, and communicating clearly and meaningfully to stakeholders. It requires constant improvement and adaptation to changing standards and stakeholder expectations.

Related: Top ESG Courses in London: Shaping the Future of Sustainable Investing

One wish - what would it be?

Through collaboration, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to excellence, our EcoSkills team envisions a world where ESG principles are embedded in every decision, driving prosperity for all.

Our wish is to become the definitive platform that will help every professional be transformed into a sustainability champion. By providing cutting-edge education, exceptional value, and comprehensive support, we aspire to shape a global community of experts who lead the way towards a more sustainable future.

Looking for ESG courses? Find regularly updated offerings from Ecoskills and other educational providers at KnowESG Courses.

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