2019 Young Alumni Inspiration Award nominee: Puninda Thind
Since graduating from the University of Waterloo’s Environment and Business program in 2015, this class valedictorian has not slowed down. Named one of the Top 30 Under 30 in Sustainability by Corporate Knights in 2017, Puninda Thind is one millennial who is trying to make the world more sustainable. “Climate change is the pertinent issue of our times, and young people today know that their future is at stake,” says Puninda. “As a result, we are questioning and challenging the way things have always been done.”
Puninda is currently Manager, Sustainable Investing at BentallGreenOak, a leading global real estate investment management advisor and provider of real estate services. Her responsibilities include managing environmental social and governance (ESG) risks across the company’s real estate portfolio and playing a leadership role in the organization’s corporate sustainability reporting. Puninda’s work has led to the implementation of a number of portfolio-wide green building initiatives, including an award-winning sustainability tenant engagement program. Most recently, she was part of a project team that led one of the largest ESG-focused surveys of global real estate investors ever conducted, which included collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).
Puninda’s passion for climate action extends into her commitment to volunteerism. Most notably, her participation at the Conference of Parties (COP) 19 and COP 24 included direct involvement in the United Nations climate change negotiations process. At both international conferences, Puninda played a leading role in advancing meaningful youth engagement and dialogue in the global climate policy processes.
The co-op program at the University of Waterloo allowed Puninda to explore the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors and gain insights on the role and impacts of sustainability on a variety of sectors. She is passionate about the potential of interdisciplinary knowledge to create robust solutions for the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
“I think any significant advancement on climate solutions requires a broader realization of the fact that environmental sustainability is not disparate from economic and social justice. The SDGs are a powerful vision for our global society – they acknowledge that the problems we face today are inextricably linked, thus, the solutions to these must be interdisciplinary. Empowering all facets of our society - the public and private sectors, academic institutions, and civil society - to harness the unparalleled opportunity of SDGs is absolutely critical.”