top of page
Image by Matt Howard

Leading Voices in Global Sustainability

Powered by Petrichor Planet

Head Shot.jpg

Jessica Novia

Founder - CarbonEthics, Bumi Journey

10 Questions to Change The World

February 2023

ESG is the source of a lot of controversy these days; what do you think are some of the greatest challenges sustainability leaders face on this topic?

In my country - Indonesia, carbon regulations are not yet in place. In achieving net zero, the world needs Indonesia to take climate more action, given Indonesia is part of the top 10 carbon emitting countries. However, without proper regulations, there’s no button that pushes institutions to measure, reduce and be responsible of their carbon footprints. 


We understand that the carbon offset projects still have a lot of controversy as well, so another challenge is how to make sure the carbon offset projects are highly qualified so that those non-qualified projects are not detrimental to the viability of a vital, yet nascent market. 

How do you think climate change and the global sustainability agenda will impact your industry over the next 3-5 years?

Given both of my enterprises are focusing on sustainability, the global agenda will highly impact us as the agenda will drive attention and support from various stakeholders, ranging from government, public/private institutions or even individuals that will then affect the scale of positive impact that we can contribute to people, planet and biodiversity.

Women have higher levels of socialisation to care about others and be socially responsible, which then leads them to care about environmental problems and be willing to adopt environmental behaviour.

Women are more likely to be appointed to head of sustainability than men. What specific values do you think women bring to these roles that make them better suited for the tasks?

Research from the mid-90s to early 00s pointed to women’s greater tendency to be prosocial, altruistic and empathetic; to display a stronger ethic of care; and to assume a future-focused perspective. Rachel Howell, a lecturer in sustainable development at the University of Edinburgh also mentioned that women have higher levels of socialisation to care about others and be socially responsible, which then leads them to care about environmental problems and be willing to adopt environmental behaviours.

How important do you think diversity is in improving ESG scores overall for a corporation, and how do you see that manifesting itself? 

Scoring highly in all three areas of ESG is no longer a ‘nice bonus’ to business leadership - it’s vital for every business looking to grow.

Many studies have concluded that companies with a working D&I strategy are more likely to have better gross and net margins, investment performance, market value, revenue and multiple other factors involved in financial health. But the investment and business worlds are now looking for more. Eyes are open to the severity of global warming, race and gender inequality, the mental health crisis and miscarriages of justice that haunt our society and have a direct impact on business.

Leaders who put kindness, humanity and respect at the forefront of business decisions are being rewarded and celebrated. Scoring highly in all three areas of ESG is no longer a ‘nice bonus’ to business leadership - it’s vital for every business looking to grow.

How important are partnerships to your sustainability strategy and how are you forging and managing those partnerships?

It’s extremely important. To give you idea about why partnerships are highly important for us : We are partnering with the government to ensure the conservation site is protected; We are partnering with the local community to ensure the conservation work is continuously monitored; We are partnering with international, national and local institutions to promote conservation as part of their sustainability commitment; We are partnering with another sustainability institutions from mobilising resources, sharing knowledge, building capacity, and so on. It shows that partnership is an extremely important factor that helps our organisation to make things happen quicker, bigger, and more sustainably.


When we picture how our major initiatives are going to be executed, we will map the potential external stakeholders, as well as the win – win scenario as the partnership should bring positive benefits for both parties.

Who do you go to for inspiration and thought leadership on sustainability?

There is no one single source of inspiration as there are many great individuals and institutions out there doing great work. However, Paul Polman becomes my top of mind as he is the first person who inspired me to challenge the status quo and create positive impact in an enormous scale.

He has a proven track record to decouple business growth while increasing positive social impact, when it seems like there are barely any business leaders that dare to do so at the same at that time. He’s indeed a visionary leader who knows what needs to be done for the good of the many, in a big scale and in a sustainable way.  

The idea about having net zero cities excites me. Net zero cities are composed of many elements that make modernization go in harmony with nature. This is the way for humans to reconnect with nature through living side by side with nature, for humans to respect the natural resources instead of taking it for granted through adopting circularity, for humans to be creative for instance by installing windows that generate electricity through solar power, etc.

Partnership is an extremely important factor that helps our organisation to make things happen quicker, bigger, and more sustainably.

What’s the coolest new idea or solution you have seen in the impact space?

Jessica is pointing the road we built as part of benefit sharing with local

- Jessica Novia at the newly built road as part of benefit sharing with local communities. -

What is your one ‘guilty / non-eco’ pleasure? (that you can’t live without)?

Travelling. Travel & tourism contributes to 8% of global emissions so someone might call it non-eco. As a person who works in sustainability, I received judgement for not walking the talk as I enjoy travelling so much and sometimes it would require taking an airplane for instance. 


Travelling is a way for me to connect with nature, absorb wisdom from people, plants, animals and nature overall, and most importantly appreciate life instead of taking it for granted. And in the end, it’s recharging me to contribute back to nature. The value of it is too priceless to be exchanged with a narrow view of seeing travelling as merely an activity that contributes emission.


When being done consciously, travelling has a big potential to contribute positive impacts for biodiversity and the local community. It contributes to 1 out of 10 jobs globally and also a powerful way of education. My strong view is that we can't stop people from travelling, but it’s about how we can travel that gives a positive impact to ourselves, the planet and other beings. 


This is also the reason why I built ‘Bumi Journey’, a regenerative travel company that allows people to feel good & do good while travelling. ‘Bumi’ means ‘Earth’ in Indonesian language, so the brand name represents ‘the journey in taking care of the Earth’. By taking Bumi Journey excursions, people can minimise their negative impacts and maximise their positive impacts, so no more guilty feeling when you choose to travel consciously.

What is your favourite place on earth and why?

There are so many beautiful places on earth and they are beautiful in their own way. Indonesia, my country itself, already consists of more than 17,000 islands with different gorgeous terrain from beach to valley, from mountain to cave. Usually, I prefer to visit a place not more than one time, so I can make room to witness and learn from other places, but there are some exceptional places who leave a beautiful mark on my heart that make me visit more than one time.


In the end however, the place that always makes me come back every day is apparently not located outside me, but inside. Because going inside and just ‘be’, gives an indescribably beautiful feeling that is incomparable with anything else in the outside world.

If you could go back in time, when would you go back to and what would you do to impact the current state of climate and social imbalance?

I would like to go back to my childhood and plant more trees. During these 3 years of building CarbonEthics & Bumi Journey, we managed to inspire individuals and institutions to collectively plant trees, which improves the livelihood of 228 beneficiaries and provides habitat for the local biodiversity. If I already started planted trees since my childhood, I would already learn a lot from the nature and make a lot of good karma saving by now! - as conserving nature indeed gives a positive impact for climate and humanity.


Are you our next Leading Voice?

If you have a story to tell, we want to tell it…


"If working apart we are a force powerful enough to destabilise our planet, surely working together we are powerful enough to save it. In my lifetime I have witnessed a terrible decline. In yours you could - and should - see a wonderful recovery.”


-​ Sir David Attenborough

bottom of page