Informa’s Barry Clarke Has a Zoology Degree. It Plays a Part in Running a Sustainable Business.

In Sustainable Business
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Multinational publishing and media giant Informa finds purpose in a fundraiser to support WWF in the ongoing fight for a better future.

Born in England but a true Singaporean at heart, Barry Clarke has lived here for close to three decades. For the 57-year-old managing director of Taylor & Francis, his connection with nature goes a long way back.

As a boy, he has always admired the work that WWF does – from addressing habitat degradation to the rapid loss of wildlife and biodiversity. When asked to organise the company’s annual ‘Walk-the-World’ (WTW) campaign to shed the light on pressing environmental issues, it was an easy yes.

The annual event brings teams together with as many walks as possible in one day across different locations. The walks range from short distances like 5km or 10km to longer distances.

The Informa Group chose WWF-Singapore to partner with and came together to initiate creative fundraising ideas for the organisation.

Through this process, Informa’s Assistant Sales Manager Arthur Chia felt that he was already part of WWF as they shared the same mission. The purposeful tie-up also ascertained his resolve to protect the planet. “I am doing every part we can to be sustainable and reduce the impact on our environment.”

However, Barry wanted to do more than just “walk”.

Thanks to WWF and additional help from the Waterways Watch Society, he helped steer and push for a successful beach clean-up that resulted in over 200kg of trash being collected in a day.

With a fundraiser focus to support WWF’s Earth Hour, Informa hosted talks by WWF about sustainable development goals (SDGs) and provided ways to run a more sustainable business across the three offices in Singapore.

For Simon Bates, the editor at Informa, it was invaluable to have a sense of the bigger picture. He understood that it’s not about the odd plastic bag here and there but the cumulative impact that plastic pollution has on the ecosystems, especially in our part of the world.

“Similarly, for me, the impact of a beach clean-up is not that it is valuable in and of itself, but rather that the Sisyphean futility of it reinforces the need for us to take and demand action on a larger scale,” Simon explained further.

It was also heartening to see staff members stepping up to raise funds. “Our staff organised games, bring-and-buy sales, and made cakes to sell. They reached out to their friends and family, and several requested donations from business partners. A staff member even created pieces of art inspired by the SDGs and these were auctioned off to colleagues in other offices. Across teams, we raised S$34,000 for WWF,” Barry shared.

Adapting to a changing world

During COVID-19, Barry has tried to ensure smooth planned communication with his colleagues located in at least a dozen locations across Asia even as he works from home.

“We are familiar with the challenges of managing remotely, but working from home definitely throws up many more challenges. I am focusing to ensure that everyone in the organisation feels connected and cared for.”

As the world grapples with the ongoing health crisis, Barry has still been looking to adapt and deliver a virtual ‘Walk the World’ with 80 other colleagues in the Asia Pacific region.

The idea: Each staff member shares a 60-second story about their favourite travel destination while pledging to support Informa’s 2019 charity partners, which include WWF, the Waterways Watch Society and Food Angel. Called ‘Around the World in 80 Minutes’, he intends to encourage and expand the partnership between WWF and Informa on a global scale.

“We may not be able to raise much money at this time, but it is important to show the world we are still thinking of such important causes (while we reflect and take lessons) from the pandemic,” Barry explained.

Barry’s academic background in zoology has played a part in his understanding of our relationship with nature. “I studied zoology at university and many of the problems in society (including the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak) arise because we have forgotten our true relationship with nature.”

Inspired by his daughters, Barry and his wife have gone almost fully vegetarian and made a commitment to pause and think consciously before making purchases. “Packaging and food supply chains must be considered as environmental costs associated with bad agricultural and manufacturing practices,” he added.

Here is a helpful tip from Barry for small businesses who are looking to be more sustainable operationally: Make nature the heart of every decision, and then sustainability will come naturally.

If you like reading this, read more about Saladstop!’s Katherine Braha on building a sustainable business, why the truth behind returning wildlife during the pandemic is less feel good than you think, the smarter way to reboot economies in Asia.

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