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Small Companies, Big Impact: Omar Samra’s Environmental Outlook

29 January, 2017
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Adventure traveler, and recently appointed UNDP goodwill ambassador, Omar Samra used to be an investment banker. Finding no passion in that job, he decided to quit, and do something that would inspire others and save the planet. At this year’s Rise Up Summit, Samra spoke about “The Convenient Lie”.

The lie is that the business community and politicians will have you believe that the global economy needs to grow from 3-4 % to sustain healthy profits, this means we need to extract much more out of the ground, produce many things, and consume many more things to sustain that kind of growth, he explained. The percentage is a conservative one; some companies are going from 15-20 %, Samra held.

“So, every 20 years we need double the food, double the cars, iPads, and mac fries. Twenty years after that we are going to double that again and so on. In 100 years, can you imagine what type of food production we need in order to sustain life on this planet?” Samra highlighted.

“The planet doesn’t have 100 years to sustain all of that, that’s just a fact,” he stated. “Climate change is happening and it is irrefutable.”

If we continue on this trajectory, we’re heading off a cliff, Samra expounded, going through the effects of climate change, how there will be more hurricanes, intense heat, intense drought, and many other catastrophes which we have already seen the signs of happening around the world. The average temperature of the earth is increasing, and manmade intervention is contributing in a massive way to this phenomenon.

“There is going to be same shortage in food supply parallel to this the population growing to unprecedented levels,” maintained Samra.

Companies claim that the only way to succeed is to produce more things, and to obtain more profits, he said.

Businesses need to play a very big role, Samra stated.

“We all have the opportunity to make a change here. You don’t have to be a big company to have an impact,” he said.

The 3,000 most influential companies in the world would not be willing to sacrifice their profit if they had to pay for the damage caused to the environment. On the contrary, companies fuel their growth by damaging the environment, he said.

“Change is not going to happen from the top, but from a community with a creative entrepreneurial ecosystem. You need to start thinking of how your business can be a value business to understand more about the information economy and the knowledge economy,” the ecopreuner said.

Of course companies need profit, Samra asserted, enough profit to grow without being egotistical and going over the top when it comes to profit.

Every business today needs to think about what kind of impact they are having around the community, knowing that they may not impact the whole world but they certainly impact the small community around them, which then plays a part in affecting the the world as a whole.

“You have to be able to offer services without damaging the environment or damaging the resources,” he said.

Setting an example, Samra started his own adventure company, Wild Guanabana, in 2009 during the height of the financial crisis.

“We try to inspire people to connect more with nature. We believe that among the biggest flaws in humanity today is that people have become so disconnected from nature.”

Aiming to inspire, Wild Guanabana works with individuals, students and companies to bring them out of their comfort zones to nature, “where the magic happens and we can bring the best out of people.”

It is better that companies remain small- or medium-sized businesses “and take care of the people around us, take care of our community, and the world will be much much better place,” Samra concluded.


Tags Omar Samra Business Environment Climate change