Nico Mumm introduces himself

Four questions for Nico Mumm, who joined corsus as a consultant in February 2020:

What did you do before you joined corsus?

I studied medical engineering at the Technical University of Hamburg. Like sustainability consulting, the department thrives on a high degree of interdisciplinarity. This is exactly the aspect I find fascinating – bringing together diverse perspectives for a holistically thought-out result. Following my master’s degree, I worked for a medtech start-up as a development engineer and developed an innovative procedure for skin transplantation. The collaboration with international project partners took me to South Africa, among other places, where the product was manufactured.

The start-up was closely linked to the Technical University of Hamburg, which is why I supervised student projects in addition to the research and development of the product. Technically, the work was very appealing to me, but the topic of sustainability and the holistic view came up short for me in the work. For this reason, I took a different path and have been with corsus for over two years now. Here, it just fits: the projects are technically demanding and sustainability is the top priority.

corsus advises on sustainability. What do you associate with sustainability?

For me personally, sustainability means shaping my life in such a way that my impact on my ecological and social environment is net positive. I am constantly working on myself and on minimizing my negative impacts and increasing positive impacts. Therefore, I am happy to be able to expand my private commitment now for more than two years through the work at corsus and also to work in a professional framework on a major transformation towards a sustainable future.

The basic principle for me is the priority model of sustainability, i.e. ecology before social before economy. I understand the three aspects as strongly interacting. The loss of ecological resources, essentially ecosystem services, indirectly leads to negative social impacts, and vice versa. A resilient society is more likely to change consumption and thought patterns and have a positive impact on ecosystems. Sustainability encompasses a lot and the different impact pathways are strongly linked and recursive. On the one hand, this makes sustainability so exciting. On the other hand, many aspects are also difficult to understand and comprehend. Some impacts of our actions are well researched and can be quantified accordingly. Others, on the other hand, involve a lot of uncertainty and can still have catastrophic effects. Therefore, for me, part of sustainability is the precautionary approach to avoid potential nasty surprises in the future.

In my opinion, the planetary boundaries provide a good orientation with regard to the ecological sphere. Another beacon is the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, which encompass all aspects of sustainability.

Is there a topic that is particularly close to your heart?

We live in an incredibly complex world. Everything is interconnected, and we often don’t even realize what impact our consumption has in the links of the global supply chain. That’s why I’m particularly interested in the topic of transparency. How can we make negative as well as positive effects visible? Where does the data come from for a well-founded statement about these effects? And what happens with this information?

These are questions that occupy me every day. For me, deciphering these interconnected relationships is a fundamental building block for sustainable development. This is the basis for further instruments such as communication strategies for end consumers, the design of political frameworks or the adaptation of corporate actions. In short, transparency is the engine for sustainable transformation.

What are you currently working on at corsus?

My focus at corsus is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Carbon Footprinting. We are currently in the final stages of a life cycle assessment of cotton farming in various African countries. As part of the project, we not only conducted the LCA, but also developed a user-friendly dashboard based on the results, which will be used to support future strategy and action planning.

In the project “Climate Impacts of Food” we will conduct several LCAs on products from the food sector. This involves the cultivation and processing of various food products in four different countries. I am responsible for Thailand and coordinate the exchange with the project partners on site. In addition, together with my colleagues at corsus, I am developing a uniform method of data processing for the evaluation of all life cycle assessments from the four countries. What particularly appeals to me is that in this project we have the opportunity to calculate the impact category “biodiversity” for many products from different regions. For the impact assessment, we use a method that I am involved in researching and developing in my second position as a research assistant as part of my doctoral thesis at Bochum University of Applied Sciences.

I am also advising the product development team of a large energy supplier on the development of a prosumer product. This project is about including and minimizing the climate impact of the product from the beginning of the development. A very exciting and innovative project.

In addition to the focus on LCA, I am working on assessment methods of products and organizations with regard to the Sustainable Development Goals and human rights due diligence.

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