It might have been Earth Day last week, but it is increasingly apparent that taking collective positive action one day a year is not enough.

Indeed, it has been a heady few weeks of climate activism – from David Attenborourgh’s rousing and shocking BBC documentary laying bare the facts about climate change, and Greta Thunberg’s fierce criticism of the UK’s environmental record, to the Extinction Rebellion protesters camping out on the streets of London to highlight the need to take immediate, urgent action.

The warnings are stark: we are running out of space, time and food. It is estimated that due to degraded soil fertility and climate volatility we have just 35 growing seasons remaining to double food production in order to meet the needs of nine-billion+ people (and our pets).

It’s now not just the Earth’s climate that is changing rapidly; the climate of public opinion is shifting too. And businesses who ignore this do so at their peril.

Consumers increasingly want to see the brands they buy act in ways that don’t harm the planet, according to a recent report from J Walter Thompson Intelligence. The study discovered that:

  • 89% of those surveyed ‘care personally’ about protecting the planet
  • 92% said they are trying to live more sustainably
  • 83% would always pick the brand that has a better record of sustainability
  • 90% agreed that companies/brands have a responsibility to take care of the planet and its people.

Crucially, 70% of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for products and services if they protect the environment. Meanwhile last month, the Carbon Trust revealed research showing that two-thirds (67%) of consumers support the idea of a recognisable carbon label demonstrating that products have been made with a commitment to measuring and reducing their carbon footprint.

The consumer demand for environmental transparency and mindfulness is as real as climate change, and it is imperative that the very businesses we buy from, work for, invest in, and sell to, reflect how we want the world to be treated. No business in 2021 should gain from treating nature badly, especially when this is ultimately at the expense of our future – whether we like it or not.

Action to foster a ‘green’ image is a good start. However, only fundamental shifts in business practice will genuinely differentiate those who care from those who just say they do.

True, some have launched or revamped products to appeal to increasingly climate-conscious consumers, and increasingly, shareholders who see little point in investing in a future that comes with a degraded planet. But, with some notable exceptions, very few businesses have made the necessary structural changes that will not only prepare themselves for the impact of climate change or global water shortages on their business processes, but actually give them the means to actually exist 20, 30, 40 years from now.

To paraphrase Jesse Barron who wrote of the hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham, in the New York Times  “If he were right he could make billions. If he were wrong, it wouldn’t matter, because the world would be on fire.” So the smart money is hedging on acting now – the alternative is catastrophe.

So, as a business where do I start?

First, recognise that you have a blindspot.

A recent paper in Nature Climate Change found that companies were wildly underestimating the impact of climate change on their supply chains, customers and employees.

And before either Mother Nature or government regulation strong arms businesses to adapt, you could act now: new technology enables companies to protect themselves from climate volatility while responding to genuine customer needs for a more sustainable business.

Cervest is on a journey to help. It is building an AI platform to address these challenges by predicting land productivity, simulating climate impacts and providing early signals for land-based decisions (relating to agriculture, forestry, water, soil). We enable growers, food and beverage sector companies, insurers and policy makers to plan with confidence — taking the right immediate mitigating actions and helping them to plan longer term adaptations too.

Our AI is designed to help companies make better, climate smart decisions in the face of increasing climate volatility – so that they can ensure business continuity, and sustainable growth – ‘sustainable’ in both senses of the word.

Please reach out to find out how Cervest’s technology can help you future proof your business.

Ernesta Baniulyte 
Product Designer

Ernesta has been a full-stack product designer for more than five years. She has valuable experience in the B2B, B2C and B2B2C worlds, and while working at both agencies and product/service companies, she has learned to develop UX research infrastructures to support strategy.

At Cervest, Ernesta contributes to all stages of the product development process – from initial ideation to the exacting detail of UI design – finding new ways to visualise data, and ensure our product is intuitive and user friendly.

Ernesta’s decision to join Cervest was inspired by her desire to make the world a safer, better and more aware place.

Ramani Lachyan 
Junior Research Scientist

Ramani joined Cervest after obtaining her Master’s in Physics from ETH, Zurich. She brings with her valuable experience gained through working on model building and data simulation pertaining to neutrino physics.

Ramani has joined Cervest as a Junior Research Scientist and will be working on creating algorithms that allow for the extraction of physical observables from data from a range of sources.

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Lukas Scholtes 
Statistical Scientist

Lukas completed his maths BSc at ETH Zurich, followed by an MSc in statistics at Imperial College. He wrote his MSc thesis in collaboration with Cervest, on the modelling of North American wheat yields via Bayesian parametric and non-parametric methods.

Following an internship in the NGO sector in Bangladesh and a stint in the world of fintech, Lukas comes to Cervest, excited to apply himself to the challenges that are arising as a consequence of unsustainable land-use policies and climate change.

Aidan Coyne
Junior Researcher

Aidan is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Science and Engineering at University College London with a focus on computer science and data informatics.

At Cervest, Aidan is working on researching and assimilating a database of articles categorising the reasons for extreme decreases in crop yields across Europe. The information will be used to help predict the impact of weather events on crop yield and contribute to  Cervest’s ability to bring clarity to decision making around climatic and extreme events.

While studying, she also volunteers with environmental conservation groups and youth engagement programmes.

Jasmine Thompson
Engineering Resident

Jasmine’s background is primarily in Python programming with a focus on data analysis and visualisation.

Since graduating, she has worked on data insights for a London-based dating app startup, helping the company understand the user base and guide new growth. She is now excited to use her skills to help Cervest deliver playback data and useful data analysis and is passionate about the potential of data science, machine learning and visualisation tools.

While studying at Westcliff High School for Girls she was involved in a variety of projects including GUI design for BAE Systems and data collection for a surveillance vehicle project sponsored by Leonardo S.p.A. She was also the Data Analyst for a long-running Southend Youth Council project that advocated for students having better mental health services in school.

Stoyan Binev
Junior Software Engineer

Stoyan is a BSc student at King’s College London with two years’ experience in software engineering.

With experience working for Amazon and Google as a software engineer, as well as for a fintech start-up, Stoyan was inspired to join Cervest’s by its planet-wide scale and the opportunity to make a positive impact in the world.

He is currently finishing his degree and dissertation while also specialising in data processing at Cervest.

Agnes Schim van der Loeff
Policy Researcher

Agnes joined Cervest after completing her BA in Arabic and Development Studies from SOAS University of London. She is interested in the intersection of the social, economic and political dimensions of climate change and passionate about climate justice. During her studies she was also engaged in environmental activism, including as environment officer in the SOAS students’ union.

Agnes started at Cervest as a research resident exploring the ethical implications of AI in relation to climate change, which resulted in a paper selected for an oral presentation at the NeurIPS 2019 workshop on AI for social good. Building on this, she is developing an ethical framework for Cervest. As policy researcher she now does research on the regulatory context of Cervest’s work and on emerging policies relating to climate change. 

Kate Chkhaidze
Machine Learning Scientist

Kate joined Cervest after completing her PhD study at the Institute of Cancer Research, University of London. Her Project was on statistical and computational modelling of cancer evolution. Her educational background is in pure mathematics (BSc – Tbilisi State University) and statistics (MSc – Imperial College London). Before deciding to study for a PhD, she worked as a junior analyst/developer at the Bank of Georgia and in parallel was giving lectures in Statistics to undergraduate students in Tbilisi for almost two years.

At Cervest, she will be working as a Machine Learning Scientist on crop classification problems. She loves the mission and goal of the company and is very excited to be a part of the process of achieving it.