This global organisation aims to unite people across the globe to build a sustainable future
Over the last few centuries, our planet and its natural resources have been subjected to mindless exploitation. Industrialisation and advancement in technology have sounded the death knell for the earth’s resources that are depleting rapidly. However, thanks to the efforts of many organisations and individuals, all is not lost yet.
People are moving towards using recyclable alternatives and towards adopting sustainable energy. But, if this exercise is followed at the corporate level, the environment can see a massive positive change.
Kunal Sood, an internationally renowned social impact strategist, investor, and entrepreneur, aims to create opportunities to unite people to save the dying planet. A TED Resident and recipient of numerous awards, Kunal started an initiative to bring about a change in the mindset of people across the world.
Together with Laura Muranaka, he founded WeThePlanet in 2019, to unite global leaders for a better approach towards the planet, people, peace, prosperity, and partnership. It is attempting to unite everyone ‑ right from youngsters to the elderly ‑ in order to protect all life on land and under the sea.
In a conversation with Social Story, Kunal talks about the goals of WeThePlanet and suggests ways through which startups and organisations can help build a sustainable future for the planet.
Social Story (SS): Tell us about the initiative of WeThePlanet and the team involved in it.
Kunal Sood (KS): WeThePlanet is more than just an organisation. It’s a global movement that has united world leaders of today and tomorrow to create an inter-generational impact, and tackle global challenges. For me, the dire need and ability to make the impossible possible triggered its foundation.
Founders Kunal Sood and Laura Muranaka with Palau President Tommy E. Remengasau
I believe startups and high-impact entrepreneurs are going to be the force of the future that will save our world. Exponential organisations with transformational leaders in action will be the lifeline for solving our world’s problems. Uniting these diverse and valuable ecosystems is the reason why #WeThePlanet was created.
The team of WeThePlanet consists of extraordinary global leaders and icons who are doing everything in their power to create a positive impact from top to bottom by protecting our world from the negative effects of the pandemic, natural and man-made disasters, and climate change, through our various events and platforms.
SS: How do you connect with other communities and organisations?
KS: We partner with several organisations by convening a core group of high-impact leaders including both elder and next-gen philanthropists, entrepreneurs, celebrities, humanitarians and artists through our various summits, and turn them into actionable plans to solve some of the most pressing problems that the planet is facing today.
One of the communities that we connected with are the slums of Mumbai, and when I expected to spread awareness, they ended teaching me a lot more. We had three objectives to execute in these slums - help prevent water-borne diseases, understand and research the pollutants of the habitats, and find and destroy superbugs like coronavirus.
But one of the biggest highlights of this mission was that we could address mental health issues of the people in these slums, especially with the pandemic, that has a put a severe strain on people’s lives.
SS: What steps are you taking to unite startups and organisations to tackle the problems of the planet?
KS: We are conducting virtual summits where there is a mix of speeches and music surrounding the issues that matter the most to our future, and these are converted into a funnel of projects that can be funded and executed. The goal is to kickstart a Social Impact Revolution keeping the welfare of the planet as the focus area.
Initiatives such as the ‘Earth Day Summit’, ‘Mother’s Day Summit’, and ‘Father’s Day Summit’ and our recent ‘X Impact Summit – The Decade of Transformation’ give a new perspective on how peace, prosperity, and partnership can protect our planet, and help all nations to deal with environmental problems.
With the help of this global platform, we have been able to successfully launch firsts of many campaigns in the recent past including #WeThePlanet, #FirstWoman and #NeverAlone.
Never Alone Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health was started by a friend, Poonacha Machaiah, to address the mental health issues, and we are championing the cause.
We have also helped Anita Goel’s Nanobiosym, another startup, which has been in the works for 20 years. Their product Gene-RADAR® can accurately detect the fingerprints of any biological organism, an essential in these difficult times.
Hindustan Unilever’s Lifebuoy and its handwashing advocate, actress Kajol, have also been a part of our summit, and are now addressing the pressing issues of the pandemic times.
SS: Could you explain the importance of a social impact strategy for corporates?
KS: Social impact strategies are the best return on investment for a sustainable future only when they align with the company’s values and bolster their revenue strategies. But, more importantly, they should have the potential to positively impact billions of lives.
This can be done when brands take time to understand their desired impact so that they are able to reciprocate the same outcome to their significant end users and influence their consumer habits. In the field of social impact, purpose and meaning are a powerful stimulus for engagement and achievement.
Brands with a sound social impact strategy can tap into this treasure chest of opportunity to create wealth. And, at the same time, be a force that can drive social good and unleash humanity’s infinite potential.
SS: What are your suggestions for environmental management practices that various organisations can employ?
KS: Businesses can start by charting out a Massive Transformational Purpose which will serve as a guiding force for growth and impact. They must ensure they are guided by a set of values that focus on profit-making and at the same time, protecting the environment.
One way to do this is to adopt socially sustainable impact strategies as a way of life. One example is when businesses make a conscious effort in protecting the environment by switching to biodegradable environmentally friendly alternatives.
Besides this, businesses can eliminate the use of plastics from their packaging process and prevent the material from causing a serious threat to life.
The idea of becoming environmentally conscious and responsible is to ensure environmental protection while making a good return on our investment on profit.
SS: How do you think technology can turn things around for the earth post the pandemic?
KS: Technology is a gift that humanity can harness in the fight against COVID-19. This can be done by protecting our medical professionals effectively and also, tracing and treating the illness. However, the power of technological innovation, once the virus is eliminated, is something that can lead us to a better future.
Using nanotechnology, IOT, 3D printing technology, autonomous drones and cars can help traceability and transparency, which in turn can help prevent the spread of any new virus.
The disruptive pace at which scientists across the world are experimenting with drugs to find that one vaccine aka magic bullet and bring it to the market, demonstrates how humans can use old and new technology for the greater good.
Even big data analytics will play a significant role in identifying patterns and behaviours of patients, tracking them and giving us a good sense of how to contain the spread of the virus.
Remote monitoring systems that are now helping doctors and hospitals with improving outpatient care can become a part of the new normal in the healthcare industry.
SS: What are the future plans of WeThePlanet?
KS: Our flagship gathering NOVUS GLOBAL X Impact: The Decade of Transformation recently took place on July 20 and 21, 2020. It brought together world leaders and public figures including H.R.H. Dr. Nisreen El-Hashemite, H.E. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Camille Zamora and Monica Yunus, Oona Chaplin, Aloe Blacc, Deepak Chopra, Shashi Tharoor, Shekhar Kapur, Salim Ismail, and Aditya Singh.
WeThePlanet plans to scale its operations across India in the next several months and to support those affected by COVID-19 by building partnerships with organisations such as Operation Blue Freedom that empowers people with disability to break world records while finding meaningful ways to contribute to society.
We will continue to grow and upscale #WeThePlanet, NOVUS and X Fellows and include as many young social impact entrepreneurs as we can on the ground and bring together a nexus of extraordinary citizens to solve global challenges.