A passionate sustainability leader with over two decades of experience in the public and private sectors, Dr Newman applies a science-based approach to strategic sustainable development, operation, impact measurement and reporting. It’s an approach that fits perfectly with EarthCheck’s science-based, industry-leading benchmarking, certification and consulting services.
“I’ve always been driven by a somewhat idealistic desire to make the world a better place,” Dr Newman says. “I worked as an ecologist for a decade, studying the impact of climate change on coral reefs and marine life, because I’ve always been passionate about nature.”
Dr Newman’s interest in conservation and sustainability eventually led him to support businesses within the travel, tourism and hospitality industry to develop their ESG pillars. He most recently served as Banyan Tree Group’s Chief Sustainability Officer, where he was tasked with embedding and cultivating sustainability culture and values in all of the Group’s business units and departments.
He’s now joined EarthCheck to serve as the company’s Chief Sustainability Officer, where his role will include leading EarthCheck’s ESG consulting services, as well as embedding sustainability needs in all aspects of the existing EarthCheck business units.
“This is an opportunity for me to do more good in the world by supporting not just one business, but many businesses all around the world, to integrate sustainability within their operations in a holistic manner,” Dr Newman says.
Why ESG is essential
EarthCheck founder and CEO Stewart Moore says Dr Newman has joined the company at a time when an increasing emphasis is being placed on ESG performance.
“We’re living in the age of the conscious consumer,” he says. “There’s increasing consumer awareness around sustainability and climate change, as well as other key areas such as human rights, diversity and inclusion, and indigenous engagement. At the same time, the carbon economy has arrived, and there are now formal net zero reporting requirements and decarbonisation targets in place for many countries.
“There’s a growing body of stakeholders – including investors and regulators – who recognise ESG issues as material, financial, commercial, legal and reputational risks and assets that need to be reported on and managed. Directors and boards now need to be building ESG considerations into their strategy and risk framework, and with Steve’s experience and expertise, he’s perfectly placed to help them do just that.”
Dr Newman says there’s a willingness for most companies to engage with ESG issues, but many of them simply don’t know where to start.
“There’s pressure from regulators, customers and employees for businesses to do better, but these issues can be incredibly complex,” he says. “EarthCheck, as specialists in sustainability, can guide these companies in the right direction. By enhancing our ESG service offerings, we can support clients to translate complex issues such as climate change, biodiversity and human rights into tangible, actionable strategies that they can implement throughout their organisation, so they can do what’s good for business and good for the planet.”
How EarthCheck can help
For more than 30 years, EarthCheck has worked with governments, businesses and destinations to deliver science-backed, strategic and sustainable outcomes. The company has developed targeted offerings to help companies navigate the complexities of each of the three ESG pillars – environmental, social and governance – and have peace of mind that they’re focusing on the factors that affect their business, and ultimately making a positive impact.
“Within the environmental pillar, the primary challenges for businesses at the moment are managing climate risks and decarbonisation,” Dr Newman says. “That’s why EarthCheck’s support services are focused on helping businesses to measure their Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, and developing strategies to reduce their emissions and ultimately achieve net zero.”
As well as helping businesses to inventory and validate their Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions, EarthCheck can help businesses to evaluate climate risks to their operations, and set science-based decarbonisation targets.
“Setting these targets can be a minefield for businesses,” Dr Newman says. “Businesses are being challenged if they don’t set targets, or if they don’t set targets that are ambitious enough. But they’re also being challenged if they set targets that are too ambitious, and that they inevitably fail to reach.
“EarthCheck can help businesses to set targets that are realistic and attainable, but also stretch them to help achieve what we know is necessary for the climate. And then we can help those businesses to establish the governance, strategy, risk management and metrics that they need to actually hit those targets.”
EarthCheck can help businesses to map their stakeholders – whether they’re investors, suppliers, business partners, guests, employees, or local communities – and to produce reports and engagement plans that create trust with those stakeholders.
“Being able to engage with your stakeholders is more important now than it’s ever been before,” Dr Newman says. “Of course, EarthCheck helps companies to measure and track their ESG performance. But we can also help those companies to translate that performance into a message that’s meaningful to their stakeholders, through regular, repeated, two-way communication, and through clear, transparent and impact-oriented investor reports.
“It’s one thing to do the right thing. But being able to tell the story behind your sustainable actions, and to take your stakeholders on your sustainability journey with you, is key to enhancing your business’ reputation and strengthening its relationship with customers, investors, employees and the community.”
EarthCheck can also help businesses to develop their sustainability capacity and culture, with face-to-face and online training courses to prepare their people for the opportunities and challenges ahead.
“No matter how great the strategies you develop are, you have to be able to implement them,” Dr Newman says. “Sustainability has to become a mindset, an always-on way of thinking, within your organisation. That’s why we’ve developed courses to help companies embed that culture of sustainability into every level of their organisation, from the very bottom all the way up to the top of the board.”
Finally, EarthCheck can also help businesses to identify and prioritise ESG risks, and create and implement a roadmap for sustained positive impact.
“A key component of sustainability for businesses is to understand what’s material to them,” Dr Newman says. “In other words, what impacts your business, and what does your business impact? Because unlike your usual enterprise risk management approach, a materiality assessment for the purposes of ESG isn’t just about understanding the impacts to the business, it’s about understanding the impacts from the business.
“For instance, rising sea levels might affect one of your hotel group’s properties on a low-lying island. At the same time, how much are your hotels contributing to those rising sea levels? An outward perspective is required to understand materiality for ESG reporting, and the goal is to identify what you need to focus on. There are so many issues, globally, and you might want to tackle all of them, but it’s far better to focus on a few, and manage them very well, and then use that success as a springboard to do more.”
“At the end of the day, what we’re doing with these consulting services is helping businesses to develop their sustainability strategy and set their targets; helping them to take action; and then helping them to measure and communicate their performance and their progress,” Dr Newman says.
“This helps companies to monitor and manage their long-term risk, and it gives them the opportunity to access more capital. But I think most importantly, it helps them to position their brand and to establish their reputation, and to build trust with stakeholders around the world.”
Dr Newman ultimately sees EarthCheck’s consulting services as a way for businesses to benefit from decades of experience in sustainability, without having to learn those lessons the hard way.
“There’s no reason for businesses to learn from their own failures,” he says. “When I was younger, I used to say, ‘Hey, I always learn from my mistakes’. But in reality, the smart man learns from the mistakes of others, so he doesn’t have to make the mistakes himself.”
Learn more about EarthCheck’s ESG consulting services, and start doing good for business and good for the planet today.