NGO Lists Companies, Countries Most Responsible for Deforestation

Leon Kaye | Wednesday February 11th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Global Canopy Program, deforestation, Forest 500, Leon Kaye, New York Declaration on Forests, supply chain

Deforestation is a growing problem, and an NGO says companies and investors are not doing enough.

Despite promises from companies stating that they are committed to stopping deforestation, the United Kingdom’s Global Canopy Program (GCP) insists more needs to be done to halt this worldwide problem. To that end, the GCP has assembled what it calls the Forest 500, which includes a list of 250 countries, 150 investors and 50 countries that together largely control the global timber supply chain.

In a nutshell, this group of stakeholders controls about $1.7 trillion in shareholdings that are exposed to “forest risk commodities.” These actors, from Fortune 500 companies to the world’s largest financial institutions, have revenues exceeding $4.5 trillion while dominating the global supply chains of soy, beef, leather, palm oil, timber, and pulp and paper. Corporate promises aside, the GCP insists that this group has much to do in guaranteeing the survival of the world’s forests. The study, however, does acknowledge that some of the individual companies have done much to confront deforestation — but as a group they need to do much more.

So, who are some of the success stories?

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Will Denver Allow Fracking in its City Limits?

Hannah Miller | Wednesday February 11th, 2015 | 1 Comment
Speaker from neighbood in Denver where fracking is to take place

Ronda Belen of Green Valley Families Against Fracking speaks about affected communities.

After years of local battles across the state of Colorado, the fracking debate is about to come home to roost.

On Feb. 10, a coalition of youth, businesses, community and religious leaders announced their opposition to fracking — which is currently in the planning stages not only in Denver neighborhoods, but also the plateau up in the Rockies that supplies almost 40 percent of the city’s water.

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Facebook Doesn’t Enforce Its Own Standards On Hate Speech

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday February 11th, 2015 | 2 Comments

FacebookHate speech and the Internet can go hand-in-hand, including on Facebook. It recently came to my attention that Facebook does not enforce its own standards regarding hate speech. While scrolling through posts on my Facebook feed, I came across a post about an anti-Armenian group. The name of the said group was “F–k Armenia.” The posts in the group were very derogatory of Armenia and Armenians. Using “F–k Armenia” as a search term turned up about 10 other groups with that name.

There is a context to the proliferation of anti-Armenian Facebook groups that many may not know. This year on April 24, Armenians worldwide will mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government. About 1.5 million Armenians, or 3 out of every 4 Armenians living under the Ottoman Turkish empire, were murdered. To this day the Turkish government refuses to recognize the genocide and continues its campaign of denial, even going to the extreme of stating that Armenians murdered Turks.

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How To Write a Winning Green Business Plan

Bill Roth | Wednesday February 11th, 2015 | 2 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in a two-part series on how to write a green business plan. In case you missed it, you can read part one here.

The Secret Green Sauce by Bill Roth green csr business coachBusiness plan success in today’s multi-trillion dollar green economic revolution is determined by how successfully it fulfills the customer’s search for products that align value with values.

If you are a retail business, then your business plan must align with the millennial generation’s focus on sustainable business practices in deciding what companies to buy from and who to work for. The business plans for businesses that sell to other businesses must articulate how their bids competitively satisfy corporate America’s green supply chain procurement criteria. Every business plan must address a company’s sustainability practices for managing commodity price volatility and supply chain disruptions impacted by climate change.

Part one of this article series focused on the elevator speech. I chose to talk about the elevator speech first because a business that can compellingly explain its opportunity in three sentences has the vision for crafting a winning business plan that’s attractive to investors, work associates and customers. This second article outlines the steps for writing a successful green business plan.

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Manure-to-Energy Plant Launches in San Joaquin Valley

Leon Kaye | Wednesday February 11th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Biofuels, clean energy, renewable energy, biofuels, biogas, cow manure, waste diversion, Pixley, Calgren, Regensis, Tulare County, DVO, Leon Kaye, California Energy Commission, dairy industry, San Joaquin Valley, Fresno

What looks like a concrete bunker from above converts manure into fuel in Pixley, California.

Tulare County, California, recently surpassed nearby Fresno County as the top agriculture-producing county in terms of economic value within the U.S. It’s also the country’s top dairy producing county. The result has been more investment and economic growth in a rapidly booming area already home to 450,000 people.

But there is also a downside to the local dairy industry’s continued surge: The San Joaquin Valley suffers from some of worst air pollution in the U.S., and cow effluent is a threat to the region’s already troubled watersheds.

The launch yesterday of the Calgren Ethanol Biogester, a manure-to-ethanol plant in Pixley, about 60 miles south of Fresno, is a step toward reducing emissions and dependence on fossil fuels while helping California meet its clean energy goals. According to the companies that worked together on this project, the plant is also the first digester in California to transform agricultural waste into cleaner natural gas to power another renewable energy facility. Instead of relying on the local grid, the otherwise energy-intensive ethanol plant is part of what is close to a closed loop and zero-waste system.

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Companies, Not World Bank Make Progress on Forced Labor in Uzbekistan

Michael Kourabas
| Wednesday February 11th, 2015 | 0 Comments
A cotton field in Samarqand, Uzbekistan.

A cotton field in Samarqand, Uzbekistan.

Last year, another cotton harvest in Uzbekistan made its way to the market on the backs of Uzbek citizens forced to labor in the cotton fields.  Yet, while some significant corporate holdouts remain, recent research by the Responsible Sourcing Network suggests that several international brands — including Hanes, Sears and Target — are doing more to keep Uzbek cotton out of their products and supply chains.

In light of the World Bank’s recent decision not to investigate connections between the Bank’s development projects and the forced labor in Uzbekistan, positive steps by apparel and home goods companies are vital.

The RSN pledge and survey

In 2011, the Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN) launched its “Cotton Pledge” campaign, asking apparel and home goods companies around the world to commit to keeping Uzbek cotton out of their products for as long as Uzbekistan continues to rely on forced labor.  As of Jan. 16, 165 companies have signed the pledge — including household names like adidas, Gap, Patagonia and Sears, the latest corporate signatory.

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$280 Million More for Rural Renewables

| Wednesday February 11th, 2015 | 0 Comments

ruralenergyforfarms The Obama administration continues to forge ahead in its drive to promote energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy use in urban and rural areas alike. Passage of the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill has paved the way for the Department of Agriculture to expand funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects among farmers, ranchers and small businesses in rural communities nationwide.

In a press conference on Feb. 10 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $280 million for new REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) grants and loans is now available. In addition to more secure funding that came with passage of the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill, Secretary Vilsack also highlighted improvements that streamline REAP and make it easier for rural residents and businesses to apply for and obtain REAP funding.

Illustrating the beneficial real-world impact REAP is having in rural communities across the U.S., two rural small business owners reported on their experiences applying for, being awarded and putting REAP grant and loan funds to work.

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Your Poop: Now for Money and Science!

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday February 11th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Lab_technician_poop_USN_SWeaverShort of cash these days? A new medical enterprise may have just the cure.

A nonprofit organization in Medford, Mass., is on the cusp of a medical frontier that (at least for now) promises a lucrative outcome for its donor base. And that, is in part, because it can be really hard to find that perfect donor.

OpenBiome, which was launched by Mark Smith and James Burgess in 2012, is in the business of curing clostridium difficile — a gastrointestinal disorder that has become increasingly more frequent in the last 20 years. It’s also become increasingly more difficult to cure, with at least 20 percent of the cases treated lapsing into recurrent symptoms.

The answer that OpenBiome, and researchers from institutions like the Mayo Clinic, have come up with may not seem your standard treatment regimen. But it works.

Each year, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. contract C. difficile, explains OpenBiome on its website. That’s because, “[In] a healthy gut community, C. difficile is out-competed by the hundreds of strains of bacteria that are normally present.” But with antibiotic therapy for, say, a tooth infection, that bacteria is often killed off. The result is an opportunistic environment where C. difficile can not only live — but really thrive.

“However, in hundreds of treatments in many independent institutions, fecal transplantation, which reconstitutes the healthy gut community, has been shown to cure over 90 percent of the most recalcitrant C. difficile cases,” says OpenBiome.

Yes, you read that right. Fecal microbiota transplantation, or FMT, is the magic potion that’s been shown to cure C. difficile, largely by replacing the much-needed friendly bacteria that has been killed off by routine antibiotics.

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SVN ‘Best Advice’ Series: Banking from the Habits of the Heart

3p Contributor | Wednesday February 11th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Join Social Venture Network for the 2015 SVN Spring Conference, April 16-19, in San Diego. The event is open to active members, affiliates, family members and first-time prospective members. Click here to register.

As a lead-up to the conference, SVN is sharing best business practices from its members in a series of short video clips. Follow the series here.

SVNBy Social Venture Network

SVN members have launched some of the most innovative organizations in the mission-driven business community. They’ve experienced success, failure, setbacks, and breakthroughs… and are very candid about the lessons they learned the hard way.

In this video, SVN member Vince Siciliano, CEO of New Resource Bank, talks about the role purpose and values have played in his career as an executive in the banking industry.

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As Congress Mulls Keystone XL Pipeline, States Champion Renewables

3p Contributor | Wednesday February 11th, 2015 | 0 Comments
The San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm in Whitewater, California.

The San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm in Whitewater, California.

By Michael Blauw

While the House hones in on its flagship energy issue for the new session, attention on the Keystone XL pipeline detracts from a number of other significant developments in our quest toward a more vibrant economy.

Keystone is a symbolic issue for our new Congress, but despite the pipeline’s virtues and vices, the legislation is only one small piece of America’s overall energy strategy. Consequently, as Keystone garners the bulk of recent media coverage, policies with much more impact are quietly being enacted at the state and local levels — policies that truly bolster energy infrastructure.

As state lawmakers have shown, even as oil issues remain salient, the hyper-influence of fossil fuels is waning in the grand scheme of energy and infrastructure policy. Three significant pivots made by state officials in the last month have solidified that clean energy’s importance to America is swelling — much to the benefit of the economy.

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One Year Later: McDonald’s Slow Lurch Toward Sustainable Beef

Leon Kaye | Tuesday February 10th, 2015 | 2 Comments
McDonalds, sustainable beef, global roundtable for sustainable beef, Leon Kaye, fast food, beef, meat industry, Canada, supply chain

McDonald’s sales are suffering around the globe–can a shift to sustainable beef save the company?

It has been a rough year for McDonald’s, which of course has resulted in plenty of Schadenfreude from its critics.

The fast food giant keeps losing market share to fast-casual restaurants such as Chipotle and Panera Bread, and other competitors find a way to thrive while its new marketing campaigns fall flat with customers. Despite a modest uptick in business in its largest markets, Europe and the U.S., last month’s sales dropped overall due to a plunge in revenues within the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

In a world where more people are concerned about their food choices, the company is trying to change. McDonald’s has listened somewhat to consumers’ demands for more healthful and sustainable menu choices. The company now serves 100 percent sustainable fish, and a year ago said it would start sourcing sustainable beef in 2016.

So, how is that working out for McDonald’s?

The short answer is . . . it’s well, . . . going. Slowly. As would be the case with any massive shift in business practices, transforming McDonald’s supply chain is going to take some time. But will this change come soon enough at a time during which customers under the age of 35 are abandoning the company while the company struggles to reinvent itself, digs in its heels, then changes course again?

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Washington State Pursues Clean Fuels

RP Siegel | Tuesday February 10th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Biofuel pumpThe state of Washington just released a draft rule for a clean fuel standard. This was done under the umbrella of the state’s 2008 goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Given that transportation accounts for nearly half of the state’s GHG emissions, it is an obvious choice for specific action.

The new rule is modeled after the California law that was adapted under Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, which mandates a declining proportion of fossil content in transportation fuels. That rule directs suppliers toward a targeted 10 percent reduction in GHG emissions by the year 2020.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s Executive Order 14-04 directed the Office of Financial Management to prepare a report evaluating “the technical feasibility, costs and benefits, and job implications of requiring the use of cleaner transportation fuels.” This new report is an update to a report prepared in 2009, reflecting numerous changes that have occurred in the past five years.

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How To Write a Green Business Plan That Stands Out

Bill Roth | Tuesday February 10th, 2015 | 2 Comments

The Secret Green Sauce by Bill Roth green csr business coachHaving a green business plan is mission-critical to your company’s success in the global green economic revolution that has leaped in less than a decade to trillions of dollars in annual revenues. Business success is now being determined by a company’s ability to sell solutions that align value with values.

This article begins a two-part series on how to write a green business plan that will win customers, successfully recruit millennial generation work associates and attract investors.

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Obama Administration Deems Climate Change a National Security Threat

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday February 10th, 2015 | 2 Comments

coal trainClimate change is a national security issue. That’s the conclusion of the Obama administration’s recent National Security Strategy report. Or, in the words of the report: “Climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water.”

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More Than a Trend: Why We Must Focus on Women and Girls

3p Contributor | Tuesday February 10th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Unreasonable.is.

Only 2 cents of every international development dollar is spent on women and girls.

Less than 2 cents of every international development dollar goes to girls.

By Daniel Epstein

Today, with so many initiatives focused on women and girls, the conversations around the importance of gender dynamics may feel trendy. I agree. That said, I’m writing this post because I believe that this trend is warranted, it’s accurate, and it needs to pick up momentum and transform from a trend to a movement. We have a long way to go in convincing the world about the importance of investing in women and girls globally. Yes, a lot of people are talking about it, but in my mind, not nearly enough.

Focusing our efforts on women and girls, especially those living in poverty, is critical if we are ever going to have a chance at living in a world in which no one is limited by their circumstances. I’d argue there is possibly nothing more important that we can rally behind.

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