Brazil, once the shining star among developing nations and source of unwavering optimism, has run into major infrastructure, public health, environmental and political challenges. Now, the country must grapple with these setbacks while being thrust into the spotlight as the host of the 2016 Olympic Games.
Although in the past the Olympics presented an opportunity for companies to share their commitments to society and the environment with a global audience, so far, many have commented on the surprising dearth of campaigns this year. Yet, in the midst of a complex Olympic environment, a few companies have stepped forward to leverage their involvement for social or environmental good in Rio and beyond. Here's a quick snapshot:
- As the Official Carbon Partner of Rio 2016, Dow Chemical Company is set "to mitigate carbon emissions of Rio 2016 Olympic Games by two million tons." To help achieve these reductions, the company has created a sustainable agriculture program on the ground in Brazil, implementing more sustainable farming practices to balance the Game's overall carbon footprint.
- Cisco seized its support of Rio 2016 as an opportunity to engage its employees and make an impact. The company is leveraging its CSR Volunteer Program to connect employees to students and instructors of the Cisco Networking Academy in Brazil. The goal of the program is to help students learn from Cisco employees while practicing their English skills and building relationships.
- In advance of the Games, LifeStraw, a company dedicated to making contaminated water safe to drink, has launched the Brazil Project – a fundraising initiative to provide LifeStraw purification filters and water education to villages in the northeast region of Brazil. The company is using Crowdrise as a platform to raise money for the project, in addition to raising awareness for the more than 34 million Brazilians who don't have consistent access to safe water.
As all eyes turn to Rio this evening for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games, the global community will come together to support not only their country's athletes but also the amazing city those athletes will call home over the coming weeks. And companies can play a crucial part, too. In fact, Brazilians already put stock in companies' ability to make progress in their country; with more than three quarters (77%) of Brazilian citizens saying they believe companies have made a moderate-to-significant impact on social and environmental issues. Now, we look to companies to continue to make an impact on the ground in Brazil, long after the Olympic torch has passed on.