Noel Kinder, Nike’s new Chief Sustainability Officer, reflects on the importance of preserving our planet for Nike’s long-term growth.
It’s the home court we all share, as a global sports community.
It’s also the only one that we’ve got.
At Nike, we know that the future of sport is interlocked with the future of our planet. That understanding serves as our North Star for sustainability.
Without fresh air and clean water, athletes can’t thrive. Without stable climates and healthy ecosystems, they can’t push to reach their potential. Without access to safe places to play and train, they can’t compete on a level playing field.
Just over four months ago, I started in my role as Nike’s Chief Sustainability Officer. I’m proud to work at a company with an unprecedented platform — and, I believe, unprecedented potential — to help catalyze the future of our planet.
We take this work seriously. Sustainability is the beating heart of everything that we do today — central to our purpose as a company. It isn’t just what we do or what we believe; it’s who we are.
It isn’t a nice-to-have or a “someday” aspiration. Sustainability is embedded across every chapter of our growth story today.
Consider the fact that our greatest sustainable innovations are also incredible growth platforms for our business: Air, Flyknit and Flyleather. These platforms continue to evolve, with zero compromise between performance, style and sustainability — closed-loop innovations with open-ended possibilities.
And consider the new milestones that we’ve reached just in the past few months.
Through a new partnership with Iberdrola, an industry leader in the global clean energy economy, we will begin sourcing 100 percent renewable energy in Europe. Along with previously-launched partnerships between Nike and Avangrid in North America, this new power purchase agreement will enable us to reach 75 percent renewable energy globally.
These partnerships catapult us ahead of the timeline that we outlined three years ago when we joined RE100, a coalition of businesses pledging to source 100 percent renewable energy across all operations.
All across Nike, we’re harnessing what we know from the playing field to redefine sustainability for a new business era.
In addition, we’re mobilizing industry collaboration on sustainability through a new partnership with Global Fashion Agenda, the leadership forum for industry trailblazers. As a strategic partner, we’re working with world fashion leaders to accelerate the global sustainability movement across the industry – and beyond.
All across Nike, we’re harnessing what we know from the playing field to redefine sustainability for a new business era: it’s steady momentum, not just the occasional standout moment, that ultimately transforms the game.
When I think about how far Nike’s sustainability journey has come, I can’t help but think about my own story – and how far I’ve traveled, too, to serve in my role today.
Growing up, I was fascinated by the stories my dad would tell about his work as a nurse at a VA hospital. Even at the end of a long day in the wards, he would come home and talk passionately about his patients – not in terms of cases or conditions, but gratitude for the conversations he would have with them. Above all, he felt a deep sense of privilege for the chance to serve and connect, one patient at a time.
The most hopeful idea in sustainability is the belief that we get to decide how the story is going to end.
That’s what inspired me to join the Peace Corps, serving for two years in Honduras. I also wanted to find a path that would enable me to help others, to connect deeply with people I might not otherwise have ever met.
In Honduras, I saw firsthand how it’s often the most vulnerable communities who feel the effects of environmental degradation first – how time and again, people with the fewest resources are pushed to their very brink. Yet I also witnessed the incredible resilience of people who have so much to overcome – people who have so much to give, if only given a chance to grow themselves, to pursue their potential.
To me, the most hopeful idea in sustainability is the belief that we get to decide how the story is going to end. If we act boldly, if we step up decisively, if we connect across borders and divides, there are no limits to what we can achieve together.
And if we do that, one day we’ll be able to look back and say: we always knew that we could come this far. Not just because of what we do or what we believe.
Because of who we are.