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A conversation with Peter Harris, Director of Sustainability at UPS Europe
By Frederikke Christiansen
During a keynote speech hosted by AUS Sustainability on February 25, Peter Harris, Director of Sustainability in Europe for UPS (NYSE:UPS), and Dr. John Katsos, Associate Professor of Management and Head of the Academic Sustainability Committee at AUS, discussed ideas and innovations for sustainable business practices in logistics and mobility.
Harris stressed that the time for conversation, cooperation and change was now, as an independent research study conducted by UPS, The Road to Sustainable Urban Logistics, had shown that nearly two-thirds of the global population will live in cities by 2050, with the urban populations increasing by two billion people. More than half of the businesses surveyed have reported that they do not feel prepared to tackle the challenges that come with growing global urbanization.
At the session, there was a fruitful discussion about reasons to act on sustainable logistics and understanding what consumers really want. Harris told an audience of students, faculty and staff that each organizationâs impact on sustainability differed and therefore each organization should set their sustainability ambitions to be a part of the solution. Sustainable innovation can be an engine of business growth and should be incorporated into future strategies.
Considering UPS is a transportation company they focused heavily on innovation work, said Harris, adding that he thinks this is âthe most exciting dimension of the way in which sustainability can be an active part in changing the culture of the business.â
Harris admitted that a challenging part of his job was convincing internal and external stakeholders that sustainability is more than just an added cost. The best way to do this, he said, is to âdeliver a continual stream of examples showcasing that innovation has a direct commercial benefit.â
The director further advised that his background in mechanical and industrial engineering helped him do his job more effectively. âIt gives you a depth and knowledge of credibility,â he said, and then you can âuse that as your platform to go into sustainability.â He added that if a student has both academic skills and valuable experience in a certain field then they will be in a position to âreally create change.â
Finally, Harris discussed UPSâs role in the UAEâs sustainability initiative, stating that as the Official Logistics Partner of Expo 2020, UPS was going to showcase what the future of logistics will look like. He further added that Expo 2020 Dubai was committed to building a legacy that is sustainable and long lasting, extending its impact and benefits beyond the UAE to the wider region and the rest of the world long after 2020.