Joe Solly

A trail-blazing sustainability innovator
Joe Solly
From a childhood spent farming the land to choosing the first-of-its-kind degree in environmental studies and a long career advising on sustainability across numerous sectors, Joe epitomizes a sustainability champion. Involved in building many of Deloitte’s sustainability solutions, he currently advises consumer industries, leveraging Deloitte’s interdisciplinary knowledge and experience and new technologies to help clients solve their sustainability challenges and realize opportunities. Joe sees circular products as vital to their success in reducing waste and pollution, driving sustainability, and achieving net-zero.
Meet Joe

Raised on a farm in Windsor, Ontario, Joe forged an early bond with the land, instilling valuable lessons in ecology, biodiversity, and environmental awareness.

This foundation fuelled his passion for environmental studies, leading him to a pioneering degree at York University in 1991.

“It was exciting because it blended everything from environmental science, ecology, biodiversity, law, policy, climate, society, and more. Still, given the degree was the first of its kind, I wasn’t sure what kind of jobs it was for.”

Reaching the summit on an amazing day hike in Acadia National Park (Maine, United States)

Joe celebrating one of the many fish he has caught and released (Lake Erie, Ont.)

A providential passion for sustainability

After graduating with distinction, Joe entered the automotive industry, overseeing environmental, health, and safety protocols.

In 1997, at the age of 25, he seized the opportunity to join Deloitte and establish its nascent environmental audit division.

“When Deloitte Canada hired me, I was their first environmental specialist employee.”

For the next six years, he spearheaded environmental problem-solving efforts in both Canada and the United States.

In 2003, Joe took his experience to a new team tasked with building what is now Deloitte Canada’s Sustainability & Climate practice.

“It was exciting because it blended everything from environmental science, ecology, biodiversity, law, policy, climate, society, and more. Still, given the degree was the first of its kind, I wasn’t sure what kind of jobs it was for.”

—Joe Solly

Source of inspiration

One inspiration for Joe has been Paul Hawken and his book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, which presents a systematic approach to combatting climate change.

Steering industries to     net-zero

Over his 26 years at Deloitte, Joe has been a trusted advisor to clients in various sectors and instrumental in developing many of the firm’s sustainability solutions.

Today, he focuses on consumer industries, advising on climate change, sustainability strategy and implementation, risk assessments, and audits.

Leveraging Deloitte’s interdisciplinary experience and knowledge and innovative technologies, Joe and his team tackle multifaceted sustainability challenges and opportunities.

“For clients faced with meeting new mandatory climate-related financial disclosures, we might pull in our Human Capital team to help navigate new requirements on data processes and controls.”

“For clients with reduction targets, we might conduct carbon emissions audits, modelling, and scenario analysis to determine their net-zero road maps, required capital, and business case. Once their targets are approved, we can provide comprehensive execution support.”

Joe and his family enjoying a day of mountain biking

Enjoying an afternoon of mountain biking with his family (Dundas Valley, Ont.)

Addressing climate change risks and opportunities

Underscoring the imperative for organizations to confront climate change, Joe cites both business risks and potential gains:

“How long can companies keep doing what they’re doing? For example, how much longer can food, cosmetics, and detergent producers use palm oil from monoculture plantations before they must find a substitute? How long can the clothing industry rely on fossil fuels for its energy supply and materials before it switches to renewable energy and plant-based nylons?”

“Conversely, if you get ahead of this and tie it to your brand, people will want to buy your products because it meets their expectations of quality, fit, form, function, performance, and cost and is also sustainable. If you change your thinking now, people will help you win.”

Fostering an inclusive approach to climate action

“We have to be mindful of the transition risks and unintended consequences of our decisions. For example, if we stop sourcing palm oil from communities that rely on its economic benefit, we need to find alternative economic models for those areas to build a transition plan that’s fair and equitable.”

The significance of circular practices

Joe highlights the significance of circular products, which are kept in use longer and reduce waste and pollution by being reusable, repairable, and recyclable.

“In consumer industries, circular economy initiatives include take-back programs for apparel, product redesign for repairability, maintenance and repair programs, and materials recovery efforts. These measures contribute to sustainability and are a big step in the right direction.”

Connect with Joe

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