Interview: Jeremiah Owyang, Crowd Companies

| Thursday June 12th, 2014 | 2 Comments

TriplePundit attended Sustainable Brands 2014 in San Diego this month. These videos are part of our coverage. Find the rest here.

Jeremiah Owyang is one of the most interesting people I had a chance to meet at last week’s Sustainable Brands conference.  An analyst by trade, Jeremiah now runs a network called Crowd Companies who propose to “bring empowered people and resilient brands together to collaborate for Shared Value.”   Specifically, this shared value springs from  embracing the “collaborative economy” –  a meta term for business models built on shared ownership and access.  It’s a somewhat more inclusive description of most of what we talk about when we talk about the sharing economy.

In this quick interview, I asked Jeremiah to talk about the collaborative economy – why it’s important, why it’s both a threat and an opportunity for traditional companies, and what it has to do with sustainability.

Permalink discuss Discuss This »

podium[Your News Here]

Investing in Sustainable Fishing: A New Lease on Life for New England Communities

| Wednesday June 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Winslow Homer: Rowing Home. In the days when Cod filled the North AtlanticAmerica was built on Cod.

When Americans today think of the first Thanksgiving feast, we often lean on our childhood history lesson version of events; the brave settlers celebrating with their new neighbors the survival of those first harsh months in a new world. Long tables of turkey and maize are etched in our minds, symbolizing a land of plenty and a unifying, if short-lived, bond with the newcomer’s native benefactors.

It is a foundational moment in the mythology that helped carve out a new country. But it was not as much the turkey and maize, but the even more bountiful harvest from the North Atlantic, cod especially, that underpins the foundation of the new American continent. Cod built colonial America, at least in New England.

It is said that cod was so abundant in those times that you could walk across the ocean on their backs.

Those days are long gone. The North Atlantic cod, once fabled as inexhaustible, is all but a faded memory of the past. What then happens to the towns and villages up and down the Atlantic seaboard that once thrived on what is now a tapped-out resource?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Finding a Narrative: ‘Sustainability’ Doesn’t Mean Anything Real to Consumers

Raz Godelnik
| Wednesday June 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Holstee manifestoLast week at the Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego, gDiapers CEO, Jason Graham-Nye said: “I think sustainability is like fight club. The first rule of fight club is don’t talk about fight club. The first rule of sustainability is the word is so dead.”

And he’s not alone. In one of the conference events, Raphael Bemporad – co-founder and chief strategy officer at BBMG and Tensie Whelan, president of Rainforest Alliance – presented a new report entitled The New Sustainably Narrative, which tries to address the following problem:

“Sustainability doesn’t mean anything real to consumers. Too often, it brings to mind technical issues or seemingly insurmountable environmental challenges.”

I guess this problem statement shouldn’t be surprising news to anyone involved in or following the many efforts to engage consumers in sustainability.  The issue it raises has long become the Achilles’ heel of the sustainability movement, making companies wonder what on earth can be done to get consumers on board.

So, what can be done to change the status quo when it comes to consumers with or without using the ‘S’ word?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Report: Government Could Catalyze Growth in U.S. ‘Impact Economy’

| Wednesday June 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Impact-Investing-image-e1380654822276Employing as many as 10 million Americans and generating an estimated $500 billion in annual revenue, the U.S. “impact economy” is already sizable, and still developing. Growth could be accelerated substantially were the federal government to make a concerted effort to support the social enterprise sector’s ongoing development, according to a policy paper from Deloitte Consulting’s GovLab.

Emerging over the course of the past decade, the so-called “impact economy” has grown rapidly as entrepreneurs, investors and nonprofit sector leaders across the U.S. began developing more socially and environmentally conscious and responsible business models, legal structures and investment vehicles. Yielding triple bottom line returns, 2020 growth prospects for “impact investing” have been estimated to range between $400 billion and $1 trillion.

Part and parcel of a broad-based effort to spur further growth in the impact economy, federal government action to develop a market for “Payment for Success” (PFS) financial instruments, such as social impact bonds, would help make up shortfalls in government budgets and deliver substantial social and environmental, as well as economic, benefits across society, Deloitte GovLab asserts in, Government and the impact economy.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Finland Aims for 80 Percent Emissions Cuts with New Climate Act

| Wednesday June 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

saaste+tehdas+ilmastonmuutos Not heavily industrialized and with large tracts of remaining forest, Finland contributes a small percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, like many nations around the world, it is experiencing the effects of climate change to a disproportionate degree. Situated at Western Europe’s northernmost extreme, climate change is making an impact on just about every aspect of Finnish life and society.

Nearly 500 national climate change laws have been passed in 66 countries, according to the 2014 GLOBE Climate Legislation Study. Adding to these numbers, Finland’s government on June 6 approved a proposal for a National Climate Act that entails reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Why Finance is (and Always has Been) an Important Sector for Impact Investors

3p Contributor | Wednesday June 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Hand money 302By Marta Maretich

If you were asked to guess which sector attracted the biggest proportion of impact investment, which would you say it was? Looking at the websites of major impact intermediaries and financial institutions you might guess the answer was agriculture, clean energy, water, or healthcare. But you’d be wrong. Finance still makes up the biggest single slice of the impact investing pie. According to the recent survey by GIIN and JP Morgan, 42 percent of all impact investing assets under management in their sample were finance, with microfinance and financial services each accounting for 21 percent of the total. This compares to just 8 percent for agriculture, 11 percent for energy, 6 percent for healthcare and just 3 percent for water. This means that a significant proportion of impact investments are actually made into finance institutions, and not directly to companies or individuals.

This answer may surprise you — it may even disappoint you — but it shouldn’t.

The social investing movement has its origins in banking, with well-meaning pioneers trying to find ways to use the tools they understood — financial tools — to better the lot of their fellow men and women. Providing finance, whether in the form of small loans or more sophisticated services like consumer credit or banking, was the possibly earliest form of social investing and it still makes sense to many responsible investors who choose to put their capital into finance businesses.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Raising Dough: Two Bakery Chains Drive Social Innovation

3p Conferences
| Wednesday June 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

paneraBy Annika Hoeltje

The Social Innovation Summit in NYC brings together organizations that aim to scale their social impact, such as the two large bakery chains Greyston Bakery and Panera Bread. Both are utilizing their core competencies in order to drive positive social change and community development. Greyston Bakery provides jobs and training opportunities for people, who haven’t been given a chance before, and Panera Bread addresses the problem of food insecurity in their community cafes.

Greyston Bakery creates apprenticeships for people who might otherwise not get the opportunity, so that they can move forward on their path to self-sufficiency. The certified B Corporation provides integrated training programs for individuals such as Dion Drew. After leaving jail in 2008 it was very hard for Dion to find a job that paid a salary he could survive on or that would enable him to start a family. Greyston Bakery took him on as an apprentice. During his yearlong apprenticeship he learned patience, self-discipline and a new attitude. He successfully completed the training program and was later promoted to the position of Lead Operator in the Research and Development Department. Dion finally had the means to support a family and his first child, a daughter, was born in 2010. The training program provided structure, taught him applicable hands on skills, and let him contribute to the making of high quality products.

Greyston Bakery shows how vocational training can open up opportunities for people that want to turn their lives around. This is a great example of how a company can tackle one of America’s most pressing social challenges, while operating a profitable business.

Another example for creating social impact is Panera Bread. Panera founder and CEO Ron Shaich believes that everyone deserves a dignifying dining experience in an uplifting environment regardless of their means. According to Shaich, one out of six people in the U.S. live in food insecure homes. At the Social Innovation Summit, he explained how this unique purpose guides the organization’s new initative, Panera Cares: At Panera Cares cafes guests will find the same menu of freshly baked goods, but no set prices. Instead they pay what they can into a donation box based on the honor system.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Interview: Dan Persica, Domtar

| Wednesday June 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

TriplePundit attended Sustainable Brands 2014 in San Diego this month. These videos are part of our coverage. Find the rest here.

We’ve been getting to know the paper industry a bit better in the past year. It’s always refreshing to hear a first hand account of what sustainability means for a fiber or paper company.  Last week at Sustainable Brands 2014, I had a chance to talk to Dan Persica of Domtar. Specifically we discussed Domtar’s earth choice brand and how it has evolved over time as well as some of the ways that Domtar is tracking sustainability metrics and what the future holds.

Permalink discuss Discuss This »

Investor Ready Cities: From London to Rio de Janeiro

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday June 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Ed note: This article is part of a short series on financing smart city infrastructure, sponsored by Siemens. Please join us for a live Google Hangout with SiemensPwC and Berwin Leighton Paisner on June 12 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET, where we’ll talk about this issue live! RSVP Here.

The ‘Metro Cable, Linea K' cable car in Colombia stretches 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) into the neighborhood of Santo Domingo -- creating a link directly from the city center into one of the city’s poorest areas.

The ‘Metro Cable, Linea K’ cable car in Medellin, Colombia stretches 1.2 miles into the neighborhood of Santo Domingo — creating a link directly from the city center to one of the city’s poorest areas.

Yesterday, we went over a few success stories told in timely and valuable report from Siemens, PwC and  Berwin Leighton Paisner. Entitled Investor Ready Cities: How cities can and deliver infrastructure value, the report examines in some detail how cities that have “the appropriate foundations of institutional stability can leverage financial mechanisms to their advantage to help deliver the infrastructure that is so critical to their future.”

Here are three more inspiring snapshots that tell the story of cities moving towards a more sustainable future.

Medellin

The second-largest city in Colombia, with a population of nearly 2.2 million in 2005, saw a threefold increase in population over a 20-year period. This came at a time when governance and power was concentrated at the national level and control of financing was distributed to nationally important projects. As a result, informal settlements appeared on the city fringes and up onto the precarious hillsides that surround the city, leaving residents disconnected from the commercial heart of the city and the employment opportunities they had sought to access.

“Poor infrastructure and lack of opportunity led to Medellin experiencing some of the highest levels of crime endured by any city across the globe,” according to the report.

In 1991, a new constitution increased the influence and powers of municipal governments. For Medellin, this meant the power, authority and responsibility to tackle these issues through strategic intervention that was to literally change the city landscape.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Employee Engagement: The ‘Human Thread’ Between Sustainability and Results

Mary Mazzoni
| Tuesday June 10th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Andy Savitz, author of, speaks about employee engagement at SB'14 in San Diego on June 3.

Andy Savitz, author of “Talent, Transformation and the Triple Bottom Line,” speaks about employee engagement at SB’14 in San Diego on June 3.

The 2014 Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego gathered some of the most influential companies, organizations and thought leaders in the sustainability space. During the event, one unexpected theme arose over and over: employee engagement and its role in corporate sustainability.

A recent PwC study found that more than half of recent college graduates are seeking a company that has corporate social responsibility (CSR) values that align with their own, and 56 percent would consider leaving a company that didn’t have the values they expected. As Andy Savitz, author of “Talent, Transformation and the Triple Bottom Line,” put it in a panel discussion on Tuesday: “They’re looking for purpose, not just a paycheck.”

While some business leaders may have a first-instinct shrug when it comes to employee engagement, it offers scores of benefits for companies. In a 2012 report that compiled 263 research studies across 192 companies, Gallup found that companies in the top quartile for engaged employees, compared with the bottom quartile, had 22 percent higher profitability, 10 percent higher customer ratings, 28 percent less theft and 48 percent fewer safety incidents.

In a panel discussion on Tuesday, Desso CEO Alexander Collog d’Escury called employees a company’s “most important resource,” while Savitz identified employee engagement as “the human thread between sustainability, the triple bottom line and business results.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Farmers Insurance Drops Climate Change Lawsuits Against Chicago-Area Cities

Alexis Petru
| Tuesday June 10th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Illinois floodingWho should pay for the impacts of climate change? This conundrum was at the center of nine class action lawsuits filed by Farmers Insurance in April against dozens of cities in the Chicago area for failing to prepare for the floods that hit Illinois last spring. The insurance company argued that local governments should have known that rising global temperatures would result in heavier rains and did not do enough to secure sewers and storm drains. But, in a surprising turn of events, Farmers withdrew the suits last week, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In a statement, company spokesman Trent Frager said that Farmers initiated the lawsuits to recover money on behalf of its policyholders for losses that could have been avoided by municipalities, as well as to encourage cities and counties to take more preventative actions to reduce the risks of future natural disasters. But it seems the threat of legal action was enough to accomplish the insurance giant’s goals.

“We believe our lawsuit brought important issues to the attention of the respective cities and counties, and that our policyholders’ interests will be protected by the local governments going forward,” Frager said in the statement. “Therefore, we have withdrawn the suit and hope to continue the constructive conversations with the cities and counties in Chicagoland to build stronger, safer communities.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Millionaire’s Social Mission Pushes Tech Geeks to Think Local, Hack Global

Sherrell Dorsey
| Tuesday June 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Hackathon, code for india, code for America, random hacks of kindness, karl Mehta, peace corps, goodie hack, tech innovation, social impact, technology and social impactTechnology has significantly impacted the way that we live our lives in the 21st century, making most traditional systems more efficient or distilling antiquated systems. The privilege of having access to a wealth of information at any given time has also made us a global society that is plugged in to other people’s problems. In this interconnected landscape, it is the tech geeks who are using their superior skills for good by posing as the new wave of activists challenging systems of injustice and oppression with something as small as a carefully designed smartphone app.

Take for instance tech millionaire Karl Mehta, who sold his online payment business Playsap to Visa back in 2011 for a hefty $240 million. In lieu of retirement and endless leisure on a private island, Mehta made better use of his time and his talent by launching Code for India — an initiative that partners with nonprofits and NGOs to help solve critical issues in India.

Housed in Mountain View and Bangalore, India, Code for India kicked off a 24-hour hackathon in early May that brought together more than 224 programmers to address a variety of challenges facing the country including financial literacy, girls’ education, voting and natural disaster management, among other things.

“Code for India is special because hundreds and hundreds of NGO’s in India, and instead of starting another NGO to try to focus on education, or healthcare, or crime, or women’s issues, we can cut across horizontally, and provide a technology backbone to dozens or even hundreds of NGOs that are already doing wonderful work,” Mehta told Business Insider.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Big Change Dwells in Tiny Houses: Corporate Sponsorships and Making a Difference

3p Contributor | Tuesday June 10th, 2014 | 3 Comments
An architect's design of a tiny home village in Olympia, WA that houses 29"chronically homeless" disabled adults.

An architect’s design of a tiny home village in Olympia, Wash. that houses 29 “chronically homeless” disabled adults.

By Camille Szramiak-Arneberg

What they say seems to be true: Bigger isn’t always better, and the trend of “tiny” that has been sweeping the country affirms that truth.  Several years ago Coca-Cola debuted its tinier 7.5-ounce soda cans. T.G.I. Friday’s and Ruth Chris’s Steakhouse, among dozens of other eateries, now offer smaller portion sizes at their restaurants, and smaller cars such as the popular Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta have replaced the super-sized Hummer as the shrewd vehicle of choice. Achieving gains by downsizing is a common theme in sustainability, and much of the tiny movement has to do with the health and environmental consciousness of millennials and a desire to minimize carbon footprints and waist sizes.

Choosing smaller options such as a 7.5-ounce rather than a 12-ounce can of soda for long-term benefit is often a no-brainer. But what if the tiny movement applied to your personal living space? While the average American home size has actually grown over 140 percent from 1950 to 2012 the burgeoning Tiny House Movement is fighting this trend and taking the “less is more” axiom to the next level. In about 400 square feet (and sometimes as little as 100 square feet) tiny homes capitalize on smart and creative design to deliver a fully functioning home with a greatly minimized structural, environmental and financial footprint.

Tiny houses have been on the fringes for the past few decades, but some think that their moment has finally come as the average family size shrinks and more people seek debt-free, minimalist living while decreasing their environmental impacts.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Add Some Spice to GDP with Sex and Drugs

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday June 10th, 2014 | 1 Comment

GDP_CunninghamFor many years a discussion about what Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should include to accurately measure the scope and health of a country’s economy has continued in more or less desultory fashion with little movement to change the indicators — until now.

Why not include sex and drugs in the GDP mix, as Italy and the United Kingdom have done? After all, those are economic activities, right?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »