Interview: Carlos Celaya Chaín – Earth X

1. Could you share with us a bit of your professional experience?

In the middle of my career, I started working in a renowned marketing agency in Guadalajara; they are experts in franchise marketing management. I learned a lot in that place and I made friends which I respect a lot, but the most valuable thing of having been there was to realize that I wanted to have my own companies. After I graduated and came to Culiacán to start my first serious project: (after a couple of previous names). Today, I manage my own projects and continue collaborating with those who were my first partners. We sail in a world of uncertainty and lots of creativity, our challenge is: How solve important problems? Having these 2 factors as a common ground. Creativity is an undervalued asset in this country, so I like to think that by this and a lot of investment (either of time or money), everything is possible, and I call myself a bearer of that message.

2. Could you explain a little about what is sustainability to you?

Something sustainable is any action that doing it harms the natural ecosystem in which it is found in a total or minimal manner. It is an economic subject, because it essentially lies in managing shortages. It is a social subject because it has to do with the exponential growth of population. It is a political and industrial subject because it involves clean production, both from industry and agriculture. And of course, it is an environmental subject because it coexists with pollution and depletion of natural resources from the planet. It is a macro planet subject; as it affects everything that means life.

3. Why do you think is so important to create a philosophy of sustainability in Mexican companies?

Thinking sustainably should be automatic in human beings and it is not always clear why, although it is: this planet exists much earlier than we and will endure much later, we are mere guests, and this land has been lent for us.

But more pragmatically, simply because if we do not navigate through life with sustainable thoughts, we are signing our own death sentence, and worse, that of our successors. Only a few days ago, the UN said that, if things continue as they are, we are lucky to reach 2050. This is very alarming. And I repeat: we are the ones in depletion, as we need basic resources to live, the planet we are living in will adjust to continue existing, maybe now without our presence.

4. What is the Earth X event?

EarthX comes to make proposals. It comes to empower us with the tools, information and global trends towards sustainability. It is a global event that aims to propose, raise awareness, inform, and educate about sustainability subjects such as: waste treatment (trash), clean energy, care of the oceans, soil rehab, consumption patterns, sustainable economic models and, in general, presenting trends on what is still for many: a new way of conceiving development and growth.

EarthX was born in Dallas, Texas in 2011 and since then it has been engaged to spreading the message of sustainability. It is a free and massive event, and intends to reach the maximum amount of people as possible, as the subject needs to be completely inclusive; the more they know and learn, the better.

5. What are the main purposes this organization has?

Speeding up the environmental movement. Taking the debate to all the corners of the planet, informing everyone, making alerts on the urgent and teach new ways.

Generating environmental impact and commitment projects. Creating agendas needed for some people to join others to develop some sort of environmental industry that counteracts the existing ones.

Implementing specific strategies and actions. Creating agendas which allow bringing action into all the proposals and ideas arising. Making commitments, signing agreements, and push the public policy that allows to establish sustainable operating margins for the entire industry.

Being a facilitating platform for integration, dialogue and action. Being the bearer of the message in a committed way. Laying down the conditions, setting the rules and paving the way to cause an effective transition towards sustainability.

6. What are the main events and subjects to be discussed?

Within EarthX, there are three organizational axes:

Conferences. Scholars, activists, businessmen, journalists, movie directors and technicians in general, will come to exhibit on different subjects related to creating a sustainable planet. The talk will be about wastes, energy, soil, ocean, animals, production and distribution chains, consumption patterns, biodiversity, and much more.

The Expo. Within this event we may find NGOs, companies, government, universities, fine arts, gastronomy, workshops, outdoor activities (yoga, tai chi) and any organization, brand or group of people that has something to exhibit and illustrate new ways of coexisting with the planet.

Cinema. Documentary content on interesting subjects, virtual reality and augmented reality which allows to be informed and creating a general awareness about the subjects in question.

In Sinaloa, EarthX will last one day and will hold all of its events in one location. The most that it may be outside its influence space would be some movie theaters which may be interested in playing the feature films in their screens.

7. What is EarthxHack and what have been the results from previous editions of the event?

In previous editions of EarthX hackathons have been carried out; which, as in any other similar event, their purpose is to solve a specific problem being initially raised, which requires lots of resources to be solved, oftentimes technological resources.

A hack, unlike what many may think, is a creative solution to a complex problem. This solution may exist on a physical and tangible plane, or also in a digital and abstract plane. The so-called “hackers” are individuals able to break down barriers to obtain something specific (sometimes positive or negative, depending on who is judging).

There has been an attempt to develop water preservation and reutilization systems, big data use projects to deliver executive projects to companies, in order to turn their agendas and efforts into sustainable or green. Entire projects have been created entire projects for channeling clean energy and even systems of daily waste treatment through robotic technology and AI. In short, the idea is to raise problems that are consistent with the city in which the Hack is being made and present timely solutions for them.

8. When will the next Earth X be and how could companies in Sinaloa be a part of it?

Right now, we as SALUDALATIERRA, the organization from which we are bringing the event to Sinaloa, we are trying to place it in Culiacán or Mazatlan. We are currently seeking the support of any organization that may be interested, whether in contributing and helping in the event or also being a part of the expo and conferences by proposing their ideas, projects, and companies. As a very wise man once said to me: “there are only 3 ways to support a project: with time, money or both“.

9. How do you see the farming sector in the next 10 years and what will be the main changes in terms of sustainability?

First, I tell you that the agricultural subject is not one of my domain; in fact, I am not even close to it, but I see some things that seem minimal to me, in order to continue collecting fruits from this. First, learning how to treat soils. Soils erode and expire, so to speak; and it is the job of the user to keep them fertile, well nourished, and fruitful. For that inputs must be used, which are friendly and ultimately, improve the soil.

I also believe that the subject of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is a generally misunderstood subject; as not all genetic modifications of fruits are negative; there are others which are better. This is definitely a subject that requires information and education towards the consumer.

Another subject that seems more political and logistical to me, is implementing measures to move towards an industry not so dependent from the US market. Today, over 85% of Mexican “produce” has an “American” destination. Growers may not allow themselves to enter the comfort zone; I believe this is at least their responsibility and vision for the future to take other markets into account, and to do what it takes to make such trade relationships possible with other markets. I believe my suggestion may involve both logistical and financial subjects, but it would also imply not relying on one single client; market diversification is what I consider to be healthier and an alternative with a vision for the future.

10. What are the main sustainability actions you think farming companies in Sinaloa may implement?

  • Taking care of soils
  • Taking care of water
  • Taking advantage of the weather
  • Taking advantage of technology
  • Investing in brand building (communicating these unique actions through the environment)

11. Do you believe that working under a sustainability philosophy in companies may improve commercial positioning and consumer preferences?

Definitely. It is a virtuous cycle that replaces the vicious circle. The more we can spread the sustainable philosophy, the more people, more consumers we will have looking for sustainable companies which sell sustainable products. Otherwise, we would be having irresponsible consumers looking for irresponsible companies as well, as the only way to compete would be knocking down the prices of their products; this is the world we still live in Mexico.

Both positioning and the top of mind in the consumer com as an addition if all of us as population start coexisting with nature. Fruitful business relations, as well as successful projects are known for costing more; more time, more money, more effort, but they are always able to give back, proportionally. We can get as much as we want out of nature, but for it to be sustainable, we must also give it back proportionally.