The third edition of the educational programme ‘Business vs smog’, in which volunteers from dozens of partnering companies prepare and conduct courses on combating air pollution for children and young people has come to an end. In this edition, the activities were mainly conducted online and over 8,000 children and young people participated. The ‘Business vs smog’ programme was created at the initiative of PwC and is operated in cooperation with 26 companies, Krakow Smog Alert and the ASPIRE Association.
The purpose of the ‘Business vs smog’ project is to run an employee volunteer programme aimed at educating children and young people on smog and air purity. Volunteers, professionally trained by Krakow Smog Alert, conduct courses (mostly remotely in this edition) at schools and kindergartens throughout Poland. The programme is tailored to different age groups and participants learn in an interactive way what smog is, why it is formed, what threats it poses to human health and life, and among other things, what can and should be done to be able to breathe cleaner air. All the courses are free.
The third edition of the programme saw the participation of 29 organisations: ABB, Airly, Akamai, Amer Sports, Amway, Aon, ASSA ABLOY, Grupa CANPACK, Capita, Cisco Systems, Credit Suisse, Ecolab, Euroclear, Herbalife, Hitachi Vantara, HSBC, IAG GBS, Jacobs, Krakow Smog Alert, Maxima Europe, Oanda, Ocado Polska, UBS, PerkinElmer, PwC, Sappi, State Street Bank Polska, the ASPIRE Association and Zurich Insurance Company Ltd.
Although the ongoing pandemic is changing our reality, there are matters that we cannot put aside, including climate care and climate education. That is why, despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19, we are continuing the “Business vs smog” programme, which has been based on the broad cooperation of many businesses from the very beginning, and it is this cooperation that makes our social impact grow.
After three editions of ‘Business vs smog’:
A total of 36,000 children have learnt why smog forms, how it affects our health and how it can be prevented
Volunteers have conducted 1,550 courses on-site, online and in a hybrid format (one on-site and one remote volunteer)
720 volunteer employees have been involved in the programme
Courses have been held at facilities located in 130 towns and cities in Poland
The latest data show how much more there is still to do. In Poland, smoke is still generated by almost three million “black-smoke belching stoves”, which have high emissions. They are the main source of air pollution in Poland and, according to anti-smog resolutions, must disappear within a few years. Yet although Poles are slowly beginning to change the way they heat their homes (in the last six years 850,000 ‘black-smoke belchers’ have been eliminated) the pace of these changes is insufficient. That is why it is so important to continuously draw attention to the problem of smog and to show the things we all can do to improve air quality.
The growing importance of environmental issues for employees and employers
In autumn 2020, PwC surveyed a group of 2,276 employees from the companies involved in the ‘Business vs smog’ programme. According to 69% of the respondents, the quality of the educational system in terms of air pollution prevention in Poland is insufficient and 19% find it very poor. In the opinion of 88% of those surveyed, the activities of public stakeholders aimed at improving air quality in their city/region are inadequate.
In total, 61% of them have considered or are considering changing their place of residence and work due to poor air quality. In addition, 75% of the employees surveyed say explicitly that they expect their employers to actively engage in activities to combat the deterioration of air quality in Poland.
According to PwC’s latest CEO Survey report, CEOs in Poland recognise the growing importance of environmental and social impact issues. Some 49% of Polish business leaders have introduced or are considering introducing changes to their organisational goals to better demonstrate the role their organisation plays in society.