Tue | Sep 18, 2018

Growth & Jobs | The environment is good business

Published:Tuesday | August 28, 2018 | 12:00 AM
In this August 21, 2018 photograph, Eleanor Jones, chairman and CEO of Environmental Solutions, speaks with The Gleaner during an interview at her Hillview Avenue, St Andrew, office.

Issues of the environment and climate change are hardly on the minds of persons who wish to start a business. Eleanor Jones, however, is a primary example of the economic potential which exists in these areas, having been the chief executive officer (CEO) of Environmental Solutions Limited for more than 20 years.

In an interview with The Gleaner, the CEO outlined that with the advances of technology, issues of the environment are not only linked to raw science, but has created a number of avenues through which economic benefits can accrue to both individuals and Jamaica. Some of these areas, she said, include recycling and energy efficiency.

"You hear business people saying now that if you want to have your business succeed, you have to pay attention to climate change. Not all of them, but more and more business people are recognising the value," she said.

"We have a lab where we do air quality, water assessments (among others), and we have an increasing number of requests for assessing indoor air quality and health. People are getting sick and so productivity goes down. Food security is another big one," Jones continued.

The environment expert, however, admitted that anyone who has intentions of doing business ventures in areas associated with climate change will not get away from criticisms and lacking the understanding of economic value.

"People don't understand the issues, particularly with the private sector, which is where I work and where I'm committed to making a difference. I remember I had a colleague in private sector who told me point-blank that environment is boring," she said.

"I remember there was another international conference and we had private-sector representatives on the panel where I shared some information, and he said to me, 'These are all pretty slides and nice information, but what are you telling me about my bottom line?' That has been the challenge (in terms of ) how do you convert it to bottom line significance," she continued.

Jones added, "What we have to do is push to show people how climate change connect with real life and how it affects persons directly. Health, for example, affect the business sector in a big way because productivity goes down once people aren't well, and healthy persons come from a healthy environment."