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Sea Change: Anisa Kamadoli Costa on how Tiffany & Co support marine sustainability

8 August 2017By Harriet Mays Powell

Anisa Kamadoli Costa tells Harriet Mays Powell what Tiffany & Co is doing to save precious resources and why it is one of the top brands helping save our oceans...

You run the Tiffany & Co Foundation and also serve as the company’s chief sustainability officer. How do you combine these two roles?

While both jobs are distinct, they are ultimately connected because the foundation’s grant-making initiatives are strategically aligned with the company’s sustainability efforts. As a company, Tiffany develops sustainability programmes and practices that continue to improve efficiency, enrich communities and steward natural resources. The foundation furthers these goals through its environmental programme areas: responsible mining, and coral and marine conservation.

Anisa Kamadoli Costa, chief sustainability officer at Tiffany & Co

There is an obvious connection between your brand’s iconic colour and the world’s oceans. How is the foundation helping to save the marine environment?

I’m often asked if the inspiration behind the work of our foundation is our brand colour, Tiffany Blue, which recalls the beauty of the sea. But we are inspired by a greater cause: the ocean is a critical resource for all the world’s people, and yet many are still unaware of its plight and the myriad threats to the world's oceans such as climate change, overfishing and pollution. At Tiffany we eliminated coral from our jewellery more than 10 years ago when we couldn’t ascertain the sustainability of the supply chain. Through the Tiffany & Co Foundation, we seek to educate people about the importance of coral protection, while awarding grants to non-profits that are working to protect coral reefs through research, education, and the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs).

The iconic blue of the Tiffany & Co jewellery box is reminiscent of the ocean. Picture courtesy of shutterstock.com/Iuliia Chugai

What is your involvement with Oceans 5?

The Foundation is proud to be a part of Oceans 5, a funder collaboration dedicated to the oceans. Philanthropy is not about one group or organisation working independently. It’s about working collaboratively, putting the issues first, and generating a multiplier effect with our grant-making dollars.

What has been the effect of your partnership with Sailors for the Sea?

We have supported Sailors for the Sea for many years in its efforts to engage the sailing and boating community in ocean conservation. In particular, its successful Clean Regattas programme has certified more than 1,000 events and engaged more than 400,000 sailors over the past 10 years.

Tiffany & Co has worked with organisations such as Sailors for the Sea to help involve the boating community in ocean conservation. Picture courtesy of Twitter/@extremesailing

What is Tiffany & Co doing to help coral reefs?

The foundation recently supported Conservation International to create Valen’s Reef, an incredible virtual reality film set in Indonesia’s Bird’s Head Seascape, which has one of the most biologically diverse reefs on the planet. The film transports viewers into this beautiful place and tells the story of the successful conservation efforts there. We hope it will inspire broader stewardship of the marine environment. We’re also supporting a new initiative called 50 Reefs, which will bring together leading scientists to develop a list of the 50 most critical reefs to protect from climate impacts.

The world’s marine reserves recall the expansion of America’s state parks. Do you think this trend will continue?

An unprecedented number of MPAs have been designated in the past few years but still only about two per cent of the ocean is fully protected, compared to 15 per cent of land, and many oceanographers say that we will need at least 10 per cent to make a real difference. The work of our grantees, and the collaborative efforts taking place, gives me the hope and the confidence that we can change our course and not only save these ecosystems but delight in watching them thrive.

Main top image photo:  AdobeStock