Social Entreprenuership Finds a Home in Uruguay

Leon Kaye | Friday October 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments
Uruguay, Sinergia Cowork, Montevideo, social entrepreneurship, Social entrepreneurs, social enterprise, coworking, Leon Kaye

Sinergia Cowork is only six months old

On what was once a factory shop floor in the Montevideo neighborhood of Palermo, 20-somethings huddle over their laptops at large tables or gather in minimalist conference rooms. Up one level, a 3D printer is surrounded by funky-shaped parts it had just churned out. A few steps away, past more offices, a ping-pong table is available for those who need a break from writing code or smiling and dialing for investors. Modern furniture in bright primary colors adds to a setting one would take for granted in tech centers such as Silicon Valley, Santa Monica or Boston. Judging by the logos I saw, the tenants here are an eclectic bunch: social entrepreneurs, tech companies and non-profits are among the of occupants.

Welcome to Sinergia Cowork, the first shared office space in Uruguay. For those of us long accustomed to co-working spaces—such as us at Triple Pundit, where we have churned out content and held events at San Francisco’s Hub for years—our reaction at first may be ho-hum.

But for Uruguayans dedicated to building businesses that can help create social change, this six-month old space is a huge and exciting step forward because there had never been a place for them to work, meet and learn from each other. The three floors of Sinergia hum with excitement—quite a contrast in this city of 1.5 million that otherwise I would describe as calm, placid and relaxed.

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Indiana’s First Single Bin, Energy-from-Waste System

| Friday October 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

CovantaCovanta is making a $45M investment in a single-bin, recycling system paired with an energy-from-waste facility, the first complete solution of its kind in North America. This might not be news somewhere like San Francisco or Austin, both cities have high recycling rates and are often held up as municipal examples to follow, but Covanta is making this large investment in Indianapolis, in the middle of the Rust Belt, where the current city recycling rate is less than 10 percent.

Covanta operates or has an ownership stake in more than 40 energy-from-waste facilities in North America, Italy and China, but this is the first time it has combined a single stream recycling solution (Covanta Advanced Recycling Center) with its already existing energy-from-waste facility (Covanta Indianapolis Energy-from-Waste Facility) that has been supplying the city of Indianapolis with steam power since 1988.

Covanta’s Director of Communications, James Regan, explained that Covanta is always striving for more advanced ways to dispose of waste that “are a sustainable alternative to landfilling.” In addition to the commonly heard mantra, “reduce, reuse, recycle,” the company adds a fourth R: “recover energy.”

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Federal Agencies Launch Great Lakes Restoration Plan Part II

Bill DiBenedetto | Friday October 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

http___www.glriA host of federal agencies known as the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force have laid out a comprehensive “action plan” for the next five years to protect water quality, control invasive species and restore habitat in the Great Lakes, the largest surface fresh water system in the world.

It’s also the largest conservation initiative in American history, says Tom Vilsack, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The task force, created by an Executive Order in 2004, includes eleven U.S. Cabinet and federal Agency heads. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy chairs the task force, which released the latest action plan on September 24 in Chicago.

“The new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan lays out the steps we need to take to get us closer to the day when all Great Lakes fish will be safe to eat, all beaches will be safe for swimmers and harmful algal blooms will not threaten our drinking water supplies,” said McCarthy. “During the next five years, federal agencies will continue to use Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem and to accelerate progress toward long term goals.”

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A West Coast Perspective On Sustainability

3p Contributor | Friday October 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

4436427104_2b0983ffb4_zBy Andrew Wilson

Stephen Covey, the best-selling American author, wrote that “strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”

I was reminded of this sentiment as I reflected on what I have learned from spending the past month living and working in San Francisco.

As corporate citizenship moves ahead with establishing a strong presence on the West Coast of the U.S., I have had the great opportunity to spend time here talking to a wide range of companies on what sustainability means to them.

In my view, it is the differences between the companies I have met that is the key to explaining the vibrant and innovative approaches to corporate responsibility I am hearing about.

For some companies, the most important driver of success is employee engagement. People in San Francisco talk a lot about the “war for talent.” This is not simply confined to the tech sector where skilled graduates are fought over with bigger pay checks and better perks.

Across a range of industries, people now acknowledge that a company’s wider reputation and the values it displays can be a differentiating factor in recruitment decisions. So sustainability and citizenship programs are aimed firmly at employees (and prospective hires) with some amazing results in terms of participation rates.

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‘Stories & Beer’ NYC on Fashion+Water

Marissa Rosen
| Thursday October 2nd, 2014 | 2 Comments

Stories & Beer is a monthly “Fireside Chat” hosted by TriplePundit in San Francisco — BUT, this month, we’re taking it on the road to Philadelphia and New York City! Join us here in person – or online!

TriplePundit is continuing our focus on sustainability in the fashion and apparel industry for the rest of 2014. We have explored sustainability trends in fashion throughout the lifecycle: from the cotton fields all the way to the landfill. Water, is one of the most important and overlooked ingredients in fashion.  How are fashion brands looking to work with the challenges of water conservation?  With cotton and other crops?  What are some of the ways companies are reducing, exploring less water-intensive textiles and working within a circular economy?

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Brazilian Startup Solidarium Connects Artisans with the Global Marketplace

Mary Mazzoni
| Thursday October 2nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Join TriplePundit, SAP and our special guests for a Twitter Chat about millennials and social entrepreneurship. Follow along at #SAPsocent on October 23 at 9 a.m. PST/Noon EST.

Tiago Dalvi (far right), founder and CEO of Solidarium, began with a big dream -- and he's already touched the lives of more than 15,000 people in his native Brazil.

Tiago Dalvi (far right), founder and CEO of Solidarium, began with a big dream — and he’s already touched the lives of more than 15,000 people in his native Brazil.

Brazilian native Tiago Dalvi had big dreams from the start. He was accepted into business school at the tender age of 16, where he first noticed his talent for sales. While Dalvi loved talking to customers and devising new ways to sell a product, he didn’t want to sell just anything. Rather than peddling the standards like cars or appliances, he wanted to sell something that made a difference.

A few years later, he started working with an NGO called Entrepreneurial Alliance in Brazil. He soon realized that a large percentage of its partner entrepreneurs were artisans, many of whom lived below the poverty line. Most made quality goods for competitive prices, but they didn’t know how to sell their products.

“Most of these artisans used to live in a local bubble,” Dalvi told Triple Pundit in a recent interview. “They sell their product in their community and in street fairs, but they have no idea how to sell their products outside of these communities.”

The young businessman saw an opportunity to use his penchant for sales to make people’s lives better by connecting artisans with the resources they need to sell their products to a wider customer base. Armed with a bright idea and a passion for the cause, the then 20-year-old entrepreneur began approaching small retail shops in Brazilian cities, where owners were even more receptive than he’d hoped.

“We actually realized that the other end [retailers and consumers] really wanted to purchase those kind of products but had no idea where to find them. So, there was no company bridging that market,” he remembered.

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Corporate Donors Pledge Support for Syrian Refugees

3p Conferences
| Thursday October 2nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Vestas-V110b3-big-672x372By Cindy Mehallow

Commitments made at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting tend to respond to pressing global needs, and this year’s event was no exception. Five of the initiatives announced at the CGI’s 10th annual meeting will help Jordan and other Mideast nations cope with the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis.

The crisis in Syria, now in its fourth year, has laid a heavy burden on Jordan and its neighbors. A key U.S. ally, Jordan welcomes Syrian refugees who daily stream across its northern border. About 1.3 million Syrians now live in Jordan, including about 630,000 of whom are registered as refugees. More than 120,000 live in the refugee camp Zaatari, which is now the fourth largest city in Jordan and the second biggest refugee camp in the world. The burden this places on Jordan’s infrastructure and services is almost crippling.

“We will always do the right thing. We punch above our weight. But how much can we do by ourselves?” asked King Abdullah II of Jordan. “We are asking the international community to watch our backs.”

The new commitments announced at the CGI are intended to do just that.

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Demand for Grid-Scale Energy Storage Grows

| Thursday October 2nd, 2014 | 2 Comments

Greensmith_logo_PMS3268_flatSouthern California Edison (SCE) on Sept. 24 commissioned the nation’s largest smart energy storage system at its Monolith substation near Tehachapi, California, a hub of the Golden State’s wind energy generation capacity. Lithium-ion (Li ion) batteries manufactured by LG Chem provide SCE with 32 megawatt-hours of energy storage capacity.

The combination of falling costs, technological advances and supportive government policies are spurring interest — and investments — in grid-scale smart energy storage systems. Integrated with solar energy generation assets, electric vehicle charging stations and smart grid technology, smart energy storage is being viewed as a keystone element of distributed clean energy microgrids and distribution networks that could make for a low-carbon, sustainable energy infrastructure for the 21st century.

Emeryville, California-based Greensmith, a leading provider of intelligent energy storage management software and services, “is seeing dramatic growth in the grid-scale energy storage market,” the company announced in a Sept. 30 press release. So far this year, 23 megawatts worth of projects that make use of Greensmith’s flagship GEMS intelligent energy storage software platform have been commissioned.

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Helping Millennials Succeed WIth Homewise

3p Contributor | Thursday October 2nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in “The Millennials Perspective” issue of Green Money JournalClick here to view more posts in this series.

Homewise logoCecePhotp By Cece Derringer

A new survey published in May 2014 by the Global Impact Investing Network and JPMorgan Chase offers clear evidence of the impressive growth of impact investing.

The survey, the authors’ fourth annual report on the state of impact investing, queried leading fund managers, foundations and development finance institutions in the United States and Europe. It found that the amount of capital they had committed to impact investing increased by 10 percent between 2012 and 2013, and the number of investments increased by 20 percent. The groups surveyed also reported that they committed $10.6 billion to impact investments in 2013 and intended to invest $12.7 billion in 2014 — an increase of 19 percent.

While the popularity of impact investing is reaching unprecedented heights, the practice itself is anything but new. Community investing has long been considered one of the three main strategies that form the foundation of socially responsible investing. What sets it apart from the other two strategies — social screening and shareholder advocacy — is that it offers a way for investors to make a tangible, even visible, difference in the communities where they invest. Indeed, community investing has the power to transform communities and the lives of the people who live in them.

Nevertheless, community investing has never been as widely practiced as social screening and shareholder advocacy. A variety of issues — including the limited number of investment options and a general lack of public awareness of the practice — have checked its growth.

But that is beginning to change.

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Stem to Install Smart Energy Storage at Extended Stay Hotels

| Thursday October 2nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Extended-Stay-America-San-Jose-Sunnyvale-Hotel-ExteriorEnergy storage systems are catching on fast in California following passage of AB 2514 – legislation that requires the state’s three principal investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to install 1.325 gigawatts of energy storage capacity by 2020. It’s not only electric utilities that are deploying smart energy storage systems, however.

California is also offering incentives for installation of distributed, “behind the meter” energy storage systems at utility customer sites. The state government also requires that 200 megawatts of “behind the meter” energy storage capacity be installed, and a growing number, and variety, of organizations are capitalizing on the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CUC) Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) to help meet the state’s goal.

An early leader in the fast developing market for advanced energy storage systems, Millbrae, California-based Stem on Sept, 30 announced it has finalized an agreement with Extended Stay America – the largest company-owned and operated hotel chain in the U.S. – to install and manage a fleet of “energy intelligence systems across 68 hotels in California.”

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Symantec Brings Cyber Security Jobs to HS Grads

| Wednesday October 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

cc_connection_logo_2 Even as the economy continues to recover from the near-collapse of the financial system in 2008, the slow pace of job creation and stagnation of real income of the large majority of Americans continues to constrain economic growth and erode the U.S. middle class. That’s not to say there aren’t lots of job openings. There are – it’s just that many of them apparently go unfilled.

While some say there is a dearth of qualified U.S. candidates, a study from Harvard Business School points out that while “America’s capitalists take every chance they get to remind us that they are our ‘job creators’ … it turns out that their least-favorite thing on earth to do is create jobs.”

Cyber security industry leader Symantec is looking to turn that conclusion on its head. In late June, Symantec joined with Life Journey, NPower and Year Up to launch the Symantec Cyber Career Connection (SC3). High school graduates enrolled in SC3 — an intensive short course — receive general professional skills and specialized cyber security jobs training. To cap the program off, they intern at supporting partner companies — a step towards possible full-time employment and a long-term career path. The program is now up and running in Baltimore, New York and San Francisco.

Triple Pundit spoke with Donald Ger, Year Up’s National Director for Partnerships and Innovation, and SC3 student Ashley Williams to gain greater insight regarding the SC3 program’s structure and goals, as well as how the initiative is progressing. 

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Climate Change Requires New Approaches to Food Security

Bill DiBenedetto | Wednesday October 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

FAO Local_EWH-7132-0If coping with climate change is central to achieving a sustainable future for the global population, then food security lies at the heart of this effort, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said last week in a speech at the United Nations Climate Summit last week.

“We cannot call development sustainable while hunger still robs over 800 million people of the opportunity to lead a decent life,” he said in a reference to the latest U.N. report on world hunger, The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014.

The report found that while the number of people who experience chronic hunger was reduced by 100 million over the past decade, there are still some 805 million people that go without enough to eat on a regular basis.

Despite overall progress, the 57-page report says, “marked differences” across regions persist. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of undernourishment, with only modest progress in recent years: Around one in four people in the region remains undernourished. Asia, the most populous region in the world, still has the highest number of undernourished people. “Southern Asia has made slow progress in hunger reduction, while more rapid progress has been achieved in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia with the latter having already met the WFS hunger target,” Graziano da Silva said.

In the past, efforts to feed the world focused on boosting agricultural output to produce more food, but today’s challenges – including climate change – demand a new approach, Graziano da Silva said.

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Fair Trade Goes Full Circle on Supply Chains

| Wednesday October 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is part of a series on “The Future of Fair Trade,” written with the support of Fair Trade USA. A 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, Fair Trade USA is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. To follow along with the rest of the series, click here.

Rwandan coffee grower Mukantelina Soline is able to pay for school fees and electricity with the extra income she earns from her Fair Trade cooperative

Rwandan coffee grower Mukantelina Soline is able to pay for school fees and electricity with the extra income she earns from her Fair Trade cooperative.

In honor of Fair Trade month, Fair Trade USA created a great infographic to explain how fair trade really works to improve workers’ lives and, in turn, the health of our ecosystem. While certifications like Organic ensure that farmers and a consumer’s family won’t be exposed to harmful pesticides, Fair Trade USA focuses on the producers and the well-being of their families. What organizations like Fair Trade have found is that a focus on the health of workers far up the supply chain leads directly to a higher-quality product and a healthy planet. That is to say, Fair Trade goes full circle. Here’s how they do it.

Improving lives

Fair Trade means that workers — from farmers to factory workers — get a fair wage for the goods they produce, through a guaranteed minimum purchase price. Workers on Fair Trade farms also have the right to organize into unions if they wish and the right to safe working conditions. Forced child and slave labor are strictly prohibited.

Workers and farmers decide collectively how to spend the Fair Trade premium on community development: building schools, clinics, improving roads, offering school scholarships, or whatever the community needs.

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U.S. Promises Action on U.N. Human Rights Principles

Michael Kourabas
| Wednesday October 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

2767099314_77272ba8b8_zLast week, the U.S. State Department announced that the government would develop a National Action Plan to “promote and incentivize responsible business conduct,” in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).  Once complete, the U.S. will join the U.K., the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and Spain as the only states to have released National Action Plans on business and human rights (BHR NAPs).  According to the U.N. Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Switzerland and Finland are also in the process of developing their own plans.

The announcement comes in advance of official United Nations guidance on the subject, promised by the U.N. Working Group for December 2014, which ought to inform the U.S. process.  While this news may barely register on the radar of even those most interested in corporate social responsibility, organizations like Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) have been publicly pushing President Barack Obama to develop a BHR NAP for some time. (ICAR is also working with the Danish Institute for Human Rights on a larger NAP project that aims to provide guidance for governments in the development, implementation, and review of BHR NAPs.)

What is a BHR NAP and why does it matter?

In short, a BHR NAP is a policy document that explains how a particular state intends to go about fulfilling its duty to protect human rights from corporate abuse.  In general, NAPs are useful tools in the advancement of any particular policy objective in that, among other things, they tend to mobilize various stakeholders, promote collaboration and outline the parameters of expected action. Three years after the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UNGPs, it called on all Member States to develop BHR NAPs in order to promote the implementation of the UNGPs within each state’s national legal framework.

In a sense, the creation of a NAP is akin to the crucial step of domestic implementation of a treaty or other international instrument (and the future of the rights or obligations it purports to protect/enforce), including international human rights treaties, like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), or those creating international institutions, like the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

By ratifying the ICCPR, for instance, the U.S. committed to “prevent and protect against discrimination and ensure equal treatment for all … without any limitations or exceptions.”  Yet, domestic implementation of the ICCPR has been lacking.  Who, for instance, can argue that the federal government has come close to accomplishing this (admittedly lofty) aim?

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North American Beekeepers Sue to Stop Pesticides

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday October 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

honey_bee_beekeepers_ Rakib_Hasan_SumonLast year, beekeepers and environmental organizations took to the court in what was to be one of the first legal efforts to protect declining bee populations. The move was bold: Citing the Environmental Protection Agency’s purview over the approval of a class of chemical pesticides called neonicitinoids (neonics), they sued the EPA for circumstances that they say led to Colony Collapse Disorder. The suit maintained that through the approved use of pesticides like clothianidin and thiamethoxam, the EPA failed to prevent conditions that have led to mass deaths of bees and untold financial losses for beekeepers.

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