Introducing Affiliate Member Earth Company
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.” This Native American proverb underlines the philosophy at the very core of Earth Company’s existence.
Earth Company, founded by Aska and Tomo Hamakawa, realise a world that can be passed onto future generations through four pillars: 1. Impact Hero: offering transformational support to change-makers, 2. Impact Academy: delivering inspiring educational programs, 3. Impact consulting: providing professional consulting services and 4. managing a next generation eco-hotel in Ubud, Bali called Mana Earthly Paradise.
Here we chat to Tomo and Aska about their mission, the future of travel, and joining The Long Run community:
What motivated you to join The Long Run?
First of all, we share the same mission of creating a world where business, nature, and people work together for a sustainable future. Secondly, The Long Run is one of the world’s most significant sustainable development movements led by nature-based businesses. We hope by joining the community, we will be able to collaborate and learn from the best practitioners in the field.
How are the 4Cs — Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce — already embedded in your project?
As an affiliate member, we share the same drive to support sustainable, ecologically, and socially responsible projects through the 4Cs — Conservation, Community, Culture, and Commerce.
We support the sustainable use of natural resources by adopting circular design and eco-practices at Mana Earthly Paradise, our next-generation eco-hotel in Ubud, Bali.
At the community level, we actively partner with local projects and NGOs, such as Plastic Exchange Bali, The Togetherness Project Bali, Bumi Sehat, and Ranu Welum, to organize Covid-relief campaigns and fundraising events. Our latest community initiative is “Mana School”, an educational program aiming to engage local children around Mana Earthly Paradise to raise awareness around sustainable living and nurture the next generation eco-citizens.
In the cultural aspect, we honor the heritage of Bali through the ethos of Mana Earthly Paradise. Its design responds to the Balinese philosophy – Tri Hita Karana: harmony between people, gods, and nature. We also strengthen intercultural relationships and understanding through our Impact Bali Program, which offers transformative, experiential opportunities to professionals and students worldwide to learn sustainability and social innovation projects in Bali.
We recognize that business can be a force for good, and profit can and should go hand in hand with productive ecosystems and prosperous communities. We set foot to achieve this through Mana Earthly Paradise, which not only creates an ecologically and socially regenerative model but also economically. It sets to exemplify a genuinely circular economy where “the more profits businesses make, the better the world would become.” Moreover, Mana’s profits are channeled to support Earth Company’s Impact Heroes Program, bringing critical resources and services to inspiring change-makers in the Asia Pacific.
What are you most proud about your project?
We treat every project as precious and proud as our children. Still, here we’d like to point out our latest initiative, “Asia’s Next Gen Hotels”. It is a monthly video series shedding light on sustainability pioneers that pass a high standard around natural, cultural, and social capital. We released our first episode in January 2021, and the result was phenomenal! We received a lot of positive feedback and encouragement. This series was launched in the COVID era for a reason; it’s a statement to build back the tourism industry in a more conscious manner.
At The Long Run, we help businesses and organisations embed long-term thinking into everything they do. What is your biggest hope for the future of your project?
Mana Earthly Paradise is our official project in the tourism industry. The reason was pretty straightforward: At Earth Company, we deliver educational programs in Bali focused on sustainability and social innovation. But before we established our accommodation facilities, these participants stayed at mainstream hotels in Ubud, many of which aren’t the most sustainable. Tourism here has contributed to many environmental issues. So we decided to be part of the solution, not the problem.
We also want to demonstrate a business case that running a sustainable business can be financially successful. Subsequently, this can influence and inspire other properties to adopt sustainable measures. We hope that we would contribute to making sustainable tourism mainstream through Mana Earthly Paradise and Asia’s Next Gen Hotels.
What do you look forward to most about being part of The Long Run community?
As mentioned earlier, one of our motivations to join The Long Run is to exchange best practices. Indeed we got valuable insights from the monthly 4C Call, where the organization invites industry experts and practitioners to share their experiences and expertise. We are also looking forward to connecting with other members to exchange ideas and best practices.
Do you think the travel industry overall is changing for the better? How?
The travel industry for sure is forever changed after the pandemic, and we are optimistic because all the indicators show it’s changing for the better. The crisis forced many, if not all, of us to pause and contemplate what’s most important in life. Is it an economic success at the cost of the planet? Before, the sustainable tourism industry was mainly driven by a small group (in proportion to the mass tourism) of conscious tour operators and hoteliers catering to a niche market. We observed a rise from the demand side that more people prefer to choose sustainable options when available. We believe that sustainable/conscious tourism will become the future mainstream.
Do you see greater awareness about conservation and sustainability in Bali?
Definitely! Bali is home to many world-class pioneers in sustainability; for example, the world-renowned Green School is located in Ubud. What excites us is that more and more sustainability and conservation projects are initiated from the local communities. The Bali Pledge, which Earth Company is a part of it, is a classic example. Inspired by the Palau Pledge and the Balinese philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, it is an initiative developed by a group of mindful business owners and general managers in the local tourism industry who seek to inspire a more sustainable model of tourism in Bali.
What are the negatives of tourism in Bali, Asia or globally that you most hope to tackle?
For Bali, I would say water shortage and overflowing waste due to mass tourism are the key challenges we face. In the south of the island alone – where the famous Kuta Beach is located – solid waste exceeds 240 tonnes every day. During the rainy season, the trash is flushed to the shore through streams and rivers, bringing major health problems and marine pollution. According to the official data, a single tourist uses 1,785 liters of water per day compared to the 14 used by a local Balinese. Consumption skyrockets to 4,000 liters a day for hotels.
What still needs to be done to help travel regionally and globally be truly a force for good?
Mindset shift. We need to make more travelers realize that choosing sustainable accommodations doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort and convenience. On the contrary, eco destinations like Mana Earthly Paradise offer an excellent opportunity to connect with nature and community.
Lastly, how does Earth Company help travellers to have a positive impact?
Our unique model of having the Impact Bali program at Mana Earthly Paradise offers a transformational experience for our program participants. It takes a holistic approach from understanding the dark side of mass tourism, visiting local social innovation projects, to being provided a tool-kit to start their sustainability journey. We take every opportunity to showcase our eco-practice at Mana Earthly Paradise as well.
We also share our Impact Hero Program at the eco-resort wherever we can, and the profit is used for supporting the program.
Find out more at earthcompany.info
Earth Company, Co-founder & Executive Director
Since leaving PricewaterhouseCoopers as a management consultant, Aska’s career and studies have revolved around the areas of climate change and disaster relief in the Asia Pacific. She managed disaster relief efforts after the 2009 Samoa Earthquake and the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Aska served as the Vice President of a climate change NGO, Tuvalu Overview while working with MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence to run its crowdsourcing initiative, Climate CoLab, to help solve climate change. Aska has two BAs from Boston University, a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii, focusing on climate change in the Pacific Islands. In 2014 Aska was awarded the Dalai Lama’s Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award.
Earth Company, Co-founder & Managing Director
Tomo is a seasoned development professional who lived and worked in various corners of the world from the Tibetan, India, Indonesia, and Japan. He has extensive field experience working for international and local development NGOs across Asia and Africa, including Kopernik, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Save the Children, UNICEF, and The Bridge Fund. Tomo has a BA in Social Anthropology from Harvard College, a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. In 2014 Tomo was awarded the Dalai Lama’s Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award.