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CASE STUDY: Testing the water quality of Bengaluru’s urban lakes

Balasubramanian Rajamani, Vice President of HSBC’s Credit Analysis team in Bengaluru, has long been interested in environmental conservation and regularly uses his spare time to volunteer on local projects clearing litter from Bengaluru’s roads and parks.

However, taking part in the HSBC Sustainability Training Programme (STP) and participating in Earthwatch research investigating water quality of Bengaluru’s urban lakes prompted him to implement a new green initiative in the office.

“Since taking part in the STP, I proposed the “green idea” of replacing paper cups with steel tumblers in our office canteen. The proposal, after some deliberations, was finally accepted and implemented in November 2018. As we are an office of around 5,000 staff, we estimate it will not only save the use of around 2 million cups each year, but offer significant cost savings to the canteen vendor. From a double whammy, it's a double win.”

Initiatives are now underway to replicate this across other HSBC offices in Bengaluru and India. Bala Rajamani is also passionate about reminding staff in the Credit Analysis team, and colleagues in the Bengaluru office more widely, about other simple ways in which they can improve the sustainability of their lifestyles. He himself has installed a water conservation system at home which he estimates will conserve around 8,000 litres of water each year. He believes the STP provides a unique opportunity for HSBC staff to learn more about sustainable development, and to consider which environmental challenge they have an opportunity to influence in their personal and professional lives.

“By combining classroom talks, group discussions about the sustainable development goals and time outside the office measuring the water quality of two urban lakes in Bengaluru, we gained a complete, holistic perspective of the environmental challenges that we face. The course really inspired me and I will use the opportunity to inspire others.”

CASE STUDY: Sustainability Leadership Programme with HSBC

James Davies, Head of Marketing for HSBC UK, and formerly HSBC Canada, was crowned one of HSBC’s 2018 Global Sustainability Champions.

Since taking part in the Sustainability Leadership Programme in 2016 with Earthwatch, James has become a sustainability advocate within the bank. The award recognised his commitment to building knowledge of sustainable finance both within his team, and among clients looking to take advantage of green business opportunities.

“Four years ago I took part in the Sustainability Leadership Programme in the rainforests of Borneo. Going there and seeing deforestation with my own eyes immediately after hearing about the impacts of carbon loss in a classroom was very powerful. It really stuck with me and is very relevant to our work with some investors.”

The SLP acted as a catalyst for James to equip his team with a deeper understanding of sustainability. Since taking part he has built his team’s capacity around sustainable finance by encouraging his reports to take part in the HSBC Sustainability Training Programme, a third of whom have already done so. James also secured sponsorship of the largest sustainability event in North America, reaching 3,000 participating companies with information on HSBC’s sustainable finance strategy. He has led the production of thought-leadership pieces on sustainable finance and developed a range of case studies and articles that profile business opportunities in sustainability, and clients that exemplify green business.

“My team plays an important role in sharing the latest research and insights with businesses. Attending the SLP and STP has made us well placed to support businesses as they embed sustainability into their operations and take advantage of the opportunities arising from a low carbon economy.”

Along with his fellow winner Andrew Marshall, James will visit the freshwater conservation project, supported by the HSBC Water Programme in February 2020.

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Sustainability Leadership Programme

Sustainability Leadership Programme 

Driving change through education and personal commitment.

Driving sustainability forward in business

Earthwatch has over 20 years’ experience working with businesses to curate and deliver sustainability leadership programmes across a range of sectors, from financial institutions to multinational corporations. We work with all levels of an organisation and across business divisions to catalyse a shared understanding for the need for a sustainable business and develop individual’s capacity to embed sustainability across their business area.

Our programmes are designed to:

  • Increase participants understanding of global mega trends e.g.
    climate change, and how these changes are impacting businesses
    and the financial sector now and in the future
  • Equip participants with an understanding of the need for a
    sustainable business and realise the commercial value in
    prioritising and embedding long term environmental considerations
    into decision making and strategies
  • Catalyse a shared understanding and purpose around sustainability
    across all levels in an organisation
  • Increase the capability and capacity for participants to embed
    sustainability across their business leading to growth
    opportunities. To support this, we help build a network for
    participants so they can work with colleagues and help each other
  • Ensure corporate values and principles are clearly understood
  • Reconnect participants with nature to inspire action

Key features

Our programmes are structured on the principle that truly embedded
learning comes from combining education with personal experience. We adopt this blend to inform, motivate and drive change within businesses.

We can tailor sessions to ensure outputs are aligned with your business needs. We have extensive experience of delivering these programmes across all levels within an organisation and can also include clients and suppliers, if desired.

Key feature include:

  • Sessions from scientists and experts which include data driven insights on key global environmental themes that will shape our future
  • Facilitated sessions to promote reflection, dialogue and an
    understanding of the steps necessary to take action, for example, to transition to a low carbon economy
  • Action planning workshops to identify clear next steps to drive business change
  • Bespoke presentations from visiting speakers which address your business areas and priorities
  • Opportunities to hear and discuss perspectives with a guest speaker from another business
  • Activities in nature based locations so participants step outside their work environment for thought provoking, action orientated


The format below shows a sustainable leadership progamme for the financial sector, with a specific focus on climate change. The environmental themes and duration of the programme can be tailored to suit your business needs. 

Day one

  • Facilitated discussions to explore key sustainability issues relevant to finance, focusing on climate change 
  • Presentations on the latest forecasts and solutions for a low carbon future 
  • Explore best practice and climate resilient solutions with subject matter experts 
  • Break out sessions to identify future scenarios and how your business can deliver solutions 


Day two 

  • Workshop with clients/partners to explore how your organisations can lead in environmental sustainability 
  • Collaborative prototyping around sustainable finance products and portfolios 
  • Facilitated action planning to identify, scope and prioritise next steps for developing low carbon financing solutions aligned with business strategy 
  • Allocate key deliverables and timeframes for sharing updates 




Our programmes create a sense of ownership and responsibility, providing a different perspective for lasting transformation within any business.

Key outcomes include:

  • Deepened understanding of environmental risks to portfolios and how to mitigate against these risks.
  • Enhanced relationships between your business and clients to identify opportunities across portfolios.
  • Greater understanding of the decisions that have a greater positive impact on the environment and society, whilst supporting clients to meet their objectives.
  • Stimulating participants to use their role to support a transition to an environmentally sustainable model.

Testimonials and feedback

Case studies

Conserving leopards

We have been working with Shell employees to conserve leopards and monkeys in South Africa. We deliver a results-orientated employee engagement programme, leading to personal and professional development opportunities and increased understanding of global sustainability issues 

Read more

2018 Global Sustainability Champion

Since taking part in the Sustainability Leadership Programme in 2016 with Earthwatch, James has become a sustainability advocate within the bank. The award recognised his commitment to building knowledge of sustainable finance both within his team, and among clients looking to take advantage of green business opportunities.

Read more

Testing water quality in Bengaluru’s urban lakes

Taking part in the HSBC Sustainability Programme and participating in Earthwatch research investigating water quality of Bengaluru’s urban lakes prompted him to implement a new green initiative in the office.

Read more


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Less time outside than a prisoner

75% of UK children spend less time outdoors than prisoners, with many spending under 16 minutes outside each day.

This increasing disconnect between our youngest generation and the natural world is leaving children without the knowledge or the motivation to take action for nature. Children are also missing out on the mental health benefits that spending time outside provides.

Schools have an incredible potential to reverse this separation by making sure children spend more time outside, reconnecting them with nature, teaching them how to protect it, and giving their mental health a boost.

Sadly, many teachers are not confident about teaching outside, especially when it isn’t always clear how it aligns with the national curriculum.

At Earthwatch, we are giving educators the skills and confidence to take learning outside the classroom and into nature, showing them that it can support the curriculum and give children more transferable skills.

This week, we are raising the funds to train 24 more teachers. And for these 7 days only, your donation to Earthwatch will be doubled. So please, donate now and help us make sure the next generation is inspired and empowered to protect our planet!

If you’re still not convinced how important outdoor learning is for making sure children are inspired to take environmental action, then read on - we’ve quizzed Danielle Self, a teacher who attended one of our training days, called a Hub Day, on why it is so important to train teachers to take lessons outside.

What motivated you to attend the Hub Day?

Attending the Hub day was a great way of gaining new, fresh ideas to take back to our new school and share with new and old colleagues.

Why do you think it’s important that students learn outdoors in schools?

Some children spend too much time on hand held devices and not enough time outdoors. It is important for them to know about their locality, to spend time learning about nature hands-on rather than looking at a screen or at it through a window. Children need to be outdoors in fresh air and sometimes this isn’t an option when they go home so it is important for us to provide opportunities for this in school. Opportunities outdoors in school will leave children with memories that they will have for a long time.

What impact do you think it has on students?

Students appreciate the outdoors more when they have a greater understanding about it, which in turn will help us and them to look after the environment, becoming more active global citizens in the future. Children could see that being outdoors keeps them happy and healthy too. Also if they are outdoors, they are usually with someone else so it means their social skills, problem solving and creativity skills and language and literacy skills are also being developed. If children learn outdoors, they may be encouraged to then seek jobs like this when they are older.

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