Exclusive Interview: IKEA Foundation CEO Says We Must Tackle Climate Change to Help Children in Need
IKEA Foundation was announced the winner of the Childhood ThankYou Award by the World Childhood Foundation USA last week for its outstanding achievements in supporting vulnerable children and promoting their rights.
“IKEA’s extraordinary commitment and investment in children’s rights and environmental sustainability is unprecedented in the corporate sector," said Joanna Rubinstein, president and CEO of World Childhood Foundation USA. "Over the past 15 years, IKEA and the IKEA Foundation have embarked on improving the situation of vulnerable children in the world showing the way we can help ending the abuse, exploitation, trafficking and violence of children.”
#IKEA Foundation receives ThankYou Award from World Childhood Foundation | http://t.co/Z9ExZNcJTi #unhcr http://t.co/1X5Ur8sGuR— Jolanda van Ginkel (@Jolanda van Ginkel)1443362031.0
The IKEA Foundation was honored at the World Childhood Foundation's Gala on Friday for its extraordinary, longstanding efforts and investments in helping vulnerable children living in poverty and children affected by conflicts in order to ensure they have the opportunity to develop to their full potential. Since 2010, the IKEA Foundation has donated $475 million (EUR 420 million) to help 178 million children in more than 60 countries.
“IKEA and IKEA Foundation have demonstrated that protecting the most vulnerable members of our society, children, is not only a moral obligation. To be a 'good' company means happy employees, happy clients and as a result good business," said Her Royal Highness Princess Madeleine of Sweden, creator of the ThankYou campaign, a global initiative with the goal of building greater awareness about child abuse and exploitation, and to mobilize support for children in need.
"I hope that more companies will use the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the new Sustainable Development Goals framework as their guiding principles to show that economic growth is not in conflict with social inclusion and environmental sustainability,” concluded Princess Madeleine.
Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation—the philanthropic arm of the Swedish home furnishings company, IKEA—accepted the award. “We’re working toward a world where children living in poverty have more opportunities to create a better future for themselves and their families," said Heggenes. "Funding in crisis areas and tackling climate change are critical to achieving this goal. We are grateful to receive this award."
I had the chance to interview Heggenes to get a deeper understanding of IKEA Foundation's work in helping children, combatting climate change and expediting renewable energy.
Q. Can you share how IKEA Foundation's commitment to helping children in some of the world's poorest communities transcended into the foundation's work to combat climate change?
A. Our current work at IKEA Foundation grew from IKEA’s efforts to fight child labor in its supply chain. Early on in the endeavor, IKEA learned that to prevent child labor, it is vital to address the root causes of why children work.
We realized that if we wanted children to be kept out of our suppliers’ factories, we also have to make sure that children can go school, so they don’t end up working again, elsewhere. It didn’t take us long to realise that if we wanted children to stay in school and out of factories, we also had to improve their health, so that easily preventable diseases would not keep them out of school. Today, IKEA Foundation supports projects that change attitudes towards child labor and that provide education and support so children and families can break the cycle of poverty. We also fund programmes to empower women.
Climate change threatens a lot of the progress that has been made for children living in the world’s poorest communities. Climate change has become the negative undercurrent that threatens children’s rights, as well as pretty much everything else. Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi argues that disasters resulting from climate change are pushing poor Indian families into poverty so deep that they are lured by traffickers into selling their children into bonded labor or prostitution.
A recent report published in India revealed that 40 percent of the children living in Delhi suffer from irreversible lung damage due to air pollution. Unfortunately, India will continue to be hit by climate change impacts, so poor communities will need to adapt to a changing climate and even become renewable energy champions. We believe that the world’s poorest people constitute a massive force for good, as “planet positive champions”—this is one of our guiding principles.
Q. IKEA and IKEA Foundation pledged in June, $1.13 billion for climate action. Can you share the goals of the campaign and what your decision-making process has been like in deciding how to spend that money?
A. We are spending the next several months meeting with leading children’s rights and environmental voices, as well as searching for our own insights from communities where we are already working. Overall, our focus will be on helping communities hardest hit by climate change, we’ll be looking at ways to help them both prepare for and overcome these impacts, as well as recover when disasters do hit. A few weeks ago we met with some of the leading climate foundations in Europe, and we were in New York this week to meet with the leading foundations from the U.S. We will continue to develop our insights over the coming months as to where we could have the biggest impact. In early 2016, we expect to have a clearer sense of how we want to go about supporting communities impacted by climate change, so stay tuned for more information!
Q. IKEA has made some of the largest investments in renewable energy of any Fortune 500 company, with rooftop solar on nearly 90 percent of its stores. What role has the foundation played in IKEA's commitment to reducing its carbon footprint?
A. The IKEA Foundation is a charitable foundation separate from the IKEA retail business. Indeed, IKEA has been making a lot of progress on this front, from its commitment to produce as much renewable energy as it consumes by 2020, to introducing veggie meatballs, energy-saving light bulbs and seafood from certified sources but that’s very separate from our work at the IKEA Foundation.
Our experience at the foundation tells us that people in some of the world poorest communities are also those most affected by, and vulnerable to, climate change events. In general, we will be looking to strengthen resilience building measures to help children and families recover from natural disasters, or lessen the severity of likely disasters. As you can see, we work on different sides of the same issue, and our work here at the foundation will focus at the intersection between children’s rights and climate change. We are the first generation to experience the impacts of climate change, and the last one that can do something about it. This is a huge challenge that requires everyone, from governments to companies, civil society and communities. I recently came across a quote by Franklin Roosevelt, which remains very current in the context we are in: “There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation has a rendez-vous with destiny.”
Q. One of the most pivotal moments for the future of our planet is just months away when world leaders will meet in Paris for COP21. As CEO of the IKEA Foundation, what are you hoping the outcome will be for these critical climate talks?
A. I would leave the experts to comment on that, but I think business has an important role to play in driving change towards a more sustainable future. We all know that working together gets more done, so I think it’s obvious that it will take a massive joint effort to create a renewable energy future and help communities, especially the poorest ones, adapt to a changing climate. We are doing our part and we are asking for others to join efforts, corporates and foundations alike.
Q. You recently received the ThankYou Award from the World Childhood Foundation, founded by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden. What does that mean for IKEA Foundation?
A. We are humbled to receive the World Childhood Foundation’s ThankYou Award for our work to promote children’s rights globally. There is so much work to be done! The founder of IKEA and IKEA Foundation, Ingvar Kamprad, once said: “The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow."
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Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
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