American multinational technology corporation Microsoft has appointed Melanie Nakagawa as its new chief sustainability officer. She will oversee the company’s sustainability team and report to Microsoft president Brad Smith.
Most recently, Nakagawa worked in the Joe Biden administration’s National Security Council as a special assistant to the president and senior director for Climate and Energy. Her responsibilities included tackling international and domestic climate initiatives.
“Melanie Nakagawa has been someone I’ve trusted for well over a decade on climate and energy, and she’s been a terrific partner at the White House for my team and me,” said John Kerry, US special presidential envoy for Climate, in a statement.
Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft commented on Nakagawa’s hire saying that the new CSO is joining “at a critical time”. Following this up, Smith said, “While I’m pleased with our progress, we must accelerate our momentum, and broaden even further our climate-related work.”
Microsoft has already set carbon goals — reaching carbon neutrality by 2030 and being carbon negative by 2050 — and has been involved in efforts at the national and international levels to drive private and public progress.
Prior to her National Security Council position, Nakagawa was director of climate strategy for Princeville Capital for nearly four years. She has also held other government jobs with the US Department of State and worked as an attorney for the non-profit Natural Resources Defence Council.
“What I get really excited about in this [Microsoft] role is that it’s using all of my professional muscles,” Nakagawa said, adding that they include diplomacy skills; working with tech companies and scaling their innovations, and engaging with communities and non-profit organisations.
By 2030 the company aims to become carbon neutral, contribute more clean water than it uses and produce zero waste, while also benefiting biodiversity and providing sustainability-enabling technology, including Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, to its customers.
Nakagawa is taking the helm from Lucas Joppa, who became Microsoft’s first chief environmental officer in 2018. The roles will be similar, according to the company, despite the title change.
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