Good Business: Luxury, sustainability and ocean conservation

April 25, 2023

Lender School of Business dome

For Earth Week, the School of Business highlighted its commitment to sustainability by hosting a presentation on a unique ocean conservation initiative of global luxury watch brand Panerai.

The Panerai Ocean Conservation Initiative is a global campaign launched in partnership with Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission-United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO). Campaign efforts seek to unveil ocean literacy in the framework of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

As an international stakeholder signed on to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, Panerai has selected 100 universities worldwide, including Quinnipiac, as partners. The partnership involves efforts to educate and raise awareness to help reverse the cycle of ocean decline, and support ocean science toward improvement and sustainable ocean development.

The School of Business is a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Management in Education, or UNPRME, said Poonam Arora, associate dean of faculty affairs for the School of Business. With over 880 signatory members, UNPRME is the largest organized relationship between the United Nations and management-related higher education institutions.

“This is a group of schools from around the world that have signed a declaration that says we are going to teach how to do responsible business and responsible management,” said Arora. “We became a signatory about two and half years ago, and filed our first report this past December, and we’re continuing to be an active part of this group. What that means is we think about these questions in our classes because we firmly believe that business isn’t part of the problem, it’s actually part of the solution, or needs to be."

Arora, together with Bethany Zemba, Quinnipiac vice president for strategy and community relations and chief of staff, welcomed guest speakers Aileen Schiro, Panerai US director, brand communications and events; and Hailey Scott, Panerai US customer relations manager, to the Center for Communications and Engineering on April 19.

“It is Earth Week here on campus, so I think it’s very fitting that we’re talking about sustainability,” said Zemba.

Zemba noted Quinnipiac’s first sustainability strategic plan was written in 2020 with three pillar constructs: Learning, Living and Leading.

“That was brought to fruition in 2020, and then we followed it up with a sustainability implementation plan, which is about how are we going to be held accountable for the things that we pledge in our sustainability strategic plan. And it’s working,” said Zemba.

Panerai’s remarkable story of its company-wide sustainability efforts begins with Panerai Ecologico, the overall framework that embraces all the sustainability practices of Panerai. The program has five pillars, including performance in facilities, processes, products, partnerships and program.

In 2021, Panerai truly arrived on the stage of sustainability when the Submersible eLAB-ID luxury watch came to life as a result of research, innovation, spectacular design and extensive collaboration. The resulting concept watch holds the highest percentage of recycle-based material ever associated with a watch, with 98.6% of its weight from recycled material.

“It wasn’t something that we did by ourselves,” said Schiro. “This watch was a statement of promoting the use of recycled materials; but more importantly it was about the development of a circular economy to reduce environmental impact of the watchmaking industry in a long-term vision. Through this project, we were able to achieve this incredible milestone, thanks to the collaboration of 10 partner companies from completely different industries, and thanks to the support and expertise of 25 highly skilled and specialized engineers who shared their knowledge and commitment with Panerai.”

The visionary project aimed at leading the change in the watchmaking industry, by promoting extensive use of recycled materials instead of virgin materials, with the addition of the development of a circular economy for a more sustainable future. In addition, it was produced as an open-source program, to encourage as many people as possible to embark on the same path toward a sustainable future.

“When we released the watch, we actually released it publicly. We released all of our design notes. We released all names and contacts of all partners who helped collaborate on this, in the hopes that all of the other watch brands, and maybe brands in different industries, would be able to take that knowledge, and we would all be able to move to a more sustainable future in a much faster way,” said Schiro.

Scott shared news of another outreach program assisting with Panerai’s commitment to sustainability, through a partnership with US gaming company Razer.

“Sustainability is really about collaboration, because alone, we’re limited in our ability to make changes at the scale and pace to which they need to be made,” said Scott.

“At Panerai, we look for like-minded companies to share knowledge and ideas in order to proceed faster toward a common goal. Many times, these companies are not in the same business sector, and in fact we reach more people by working with different industries. Gaming is one of the favorite pastimes for people of all ages, especially Gen Z. Razer is one of the most important players. They’ve also been very active in the field of sustainability. Panerai is proud to collaborate with them on the shared commitment to advance ocean preservation through a project called ‘Make Time for Our Oceans,’” said Scott.

As a part of this year-long campaign, Razer and Panerai have committed to enhancing ocean literacy and supporting a cause that focuses on satellite-tagged Manta rays to gather data including temperature, depth and location. When paired with known hazards and other information, the data can be used to inform conservation management of the animals and their habitat.

The partnership also included a limited edition co-branded watch, a very rare piece of collaboration, made of recycled materials.

“How a luxury brand like Panerai can be a force for good for the planet is about understanding how to make real, meaningful long-lasting change through action,” said Shiro. “It’s about sharing the process and the steps, but also the mentality that has to shift to make an impact. It’s about building a community which can change a mindset, and how all of that can really make a difference.”

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