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Earthwatch has partnered with HSBC for nearly 20 years, supporting HSBC’s sustainability journey while working on some of the biggest environmental challenges we face.

Our shared sustainability focus 

Through our partnership we provide HSBC staff and leaders with a deeper understanding of sustainability and climate change issues, and how these are linked to HSBC’s sustainability strategy. We support them to identify individual actions to help address these issues and align their work with HSBC’s strategic priorities.

By engaging HSBC staff and senior leaders in immersive learning experiences, we are helping to embed sustainability into everyday business at one of the world’s leading banks. At the same time, employees are contributing data that enables valuable scientific research into climate change-related issues.


HSBC Water Programme

The HSBC Water Programme is an eight-year global partnership with Earthwatch, WaterAid and WWF which aims to provide and protect water sources and the ecosystems they support, inform and educate communities in need, and enable people to prosper across the world.

FreshWater Watch

As a partner in the HSBC Water Programme, Earthwatch trained more than 8,000 HSBC employees to become citizen science leaders for FreshWater Watch across 36 cities worldwide between 2012 and 2017.

Together they gathered over 17,000 water quality data points in five years – a task which would have taken scientists 11 years to complete on their own. This work has produced more than 40 scientific publications on water quality, influencing policymakers and water management solutions worldwide. FreshWater Watch has now grown to become an independent global project.

Climate-Proof Cities

In the latest phase of the HSBC Water Programme, running since 2017, Earthwatch has engaged over 1,600 employees through the Sustainability Training Programme (STP) – an immersive outdoor learning programme focused on sustainability and climate change issues.  

Part of this programme includes training HSBC employees as citizen scientists and collecting data to support our research into Climate-Proof Cities. By August 2019, HSBC citizen scientists had collected over 80,000 data points for research projects in 17 major cities in Canada, China, India, France, Hong Kong, Mexico, the UAE, the UK and the USA.

The programme also supports HSBC in nurturing the next generation of clients. Through immersive learning experiences and hands-on research, young leaders of tomorrow gain an understanding of what sustainability means to them, both personally and for their businesses, so that they can help protect our environment for the future. Watch now. 

Sustainability leadership for senior managers and clients

Sustainability Leadership Programme

Truly embedding sustainable practices in businesses requires buy-in from senior leaders; Earthwatch and HSBC have therefore co-created the Sustainability Leadership Programme (SLP). HSBC’s senior managers participate in an intensive training programme, gaining a deeper understanding of sustainability and climate change issues.

The SLP helps attendees understand their own role as leaders in driving a more sustainable way of doing business and in supporting the business and its customers through the transition to the low-carbon economy. Participants work alongside Earthwatch scientists, collecting scientific data to support research into climate resilience in cities.

Sustainability workshops

 In 2019, Earthwatch started running strategic and action-driven one-day workshops with a range of HSBC business functions. These workshops give leaders from a particular function at the bank an opportunity to work together to increase their understanding of current sustainability challenges, to engage with HSBC’s sustainability agenda, and to explore ways to drive this and take collective action within their own spheres of influence.


Earthwatch’s first formal partnership with HSBC was Investing in Nature, a five-year partnership launched in 2002, featuring WWF and Botanic Gardens Conservation International. During the programme, HSBC sent 2,000 employees on Earthwatch field research projects around the world and helped Earthwatch train 230 scientists from the developing world on Earthwatch projects. HSBC participants undertook environmental projects in their workplace or local communities, supported by grants from HSBC.

Following the success of the Investing in Nature partnership, in 2007 HSBC launched the HSBC Climate Partnership. Working with The Climate Group, Earthwatch, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and WWF, the HSBC Climate Partnership was a US$100-million, five-year programme to reduce the impact of climate change and speed up the adoption of low-carbon policies. Earthwatch helped influence the way HSBC does business by helping HSBC employees understand more about the risks and opportunities associated with climate change. Employees used that knowledge to reduce their own impacts at home, at work and within HSBC operations.

From 2012, HSBC focused on the global freshwater challenge, which threatens both biodiversity and human health. We are celebrating the impact of the HSBC Water Programme as it draws to a close in 2019.

Case Study: what happens to the soil collected by citizen scientists?

Angie Elwin explains how Vicky Struthers and Nerea Ferrando Jorge, researchers from the University of Reading, use the soil samples collected by HSBC citizen scientists and exactly what happens to the soil in the lab. 

HSBC Water Programme

Earthwatch has engaged more than 8,000 HSBC employees as Citizen Science Leaders with FreshWater Watch across 36 cities worldwide. Employees have collected over 17,000 water quality data points, providing important evidence to inform freshwater management and policy.



Interview: Alex Base

We sat down with Alex Base, HSBC’s Global Head of Operational Sustainability, to talk about the new HSBC Sustainability Training Programme. It will investigate the benefits of blue and green urban areas globally, empowering HSBC employees to become sustainability champions and adapt business culture to answer the challenges of our changing climate.

Case Study: Employee engagement with HSBC

Find out how our immersive learning programmes engage HSBC employees and stakeholders.



Focus on: Climate-proof Cities

We are developing research into nature-based solutions for resilient cities, with a focus on building multi-stakeholder partnerships between corporations, local government, citizens and researchers.


Interested in working with Earthwatch? Find out how your business can help protect the environment.

Images: John Hunt, Jay Ortiz


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