This is the kind of article I like to see – An editorial in the Manila Times on the basics of sustainability and Triple Bottom Line reporting. It’s a basic article, but seeing it in the business section of what (to me) is a fairly distant place shows how far the concepts of sustainability in business have spread, and it ensures that more and more people are being exposed to them.
- 16 Global Companies Contribute to Corporate Citizenships ‘Creating Resilient Strategies’ Research
- Evolving a language for abundance
- ECORE International Supports Renowned The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp by Renovating Facilities, Enhancing Safety
- CollaborateUp and Global Impact Co-Host Executive Education Program for Creating Shared Value & Maximizing Strategic Philanthropy
The concept of “free market environmentalism” comes as counterintuitive to many people the first time they hear it. People have been taught that saving the environment is about restricting business, or the free market, because the free market, if left unchecked would wreck everything in sight. But, as explained in this great WBCSB article, it’s more a matter of recognizing the actual economic benefits a clean, functional ecosytem can provide, and letting business run its course, albeit more enlightened.
What lights people up is the idea of seeing ecosystem assets as working-capital assets that provide a stream of benefits, and then figuring out, using standard business and economic approaches, what an optimal investment strategy would look like.
As reported by Clean Edge, the wind industry recently had a “shot fired across the industry’s bow” on the eve of the American Wind Energy Association’s largest ever convention. The culprits: Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and John Warner of Virginia. They are the two driving forces behind the Environmetnally Responsible Wind Power Act of 2005, which calls for the increased legislation of windmills.
Senator Warner has already gone on record as being opposed to the first ever U.S. offshore wind farm off Cape Cod. While this could easily take the wind out of the sails for those advocating renewables, it may mean that wind power’s increased viability is causing those most vested in traditional energy sources to shake in their boots. As cited earlier on Triple Pundit , Shell WindEnergy has plans in the works to create the world’s largest windfarm, which could supply London with up to 25% of its power. As wind’s lack of large scale viability continues to blow away, we will likely see an increased resistance to windfarms overall. Odd as it may seem, this actually may be a good sign.
One of the most difficult aspects of promoting sustainably grown food (or ornamentals) is how to properly label it so that the customer knows what he or she is getting. There’s certification to deal with, plus politics, science, and industry pressure. The floral industry is making an effort with a certification system called “VeriFlora” which promotes a number of strict standards including organic practices. More details are spelled out on GreenBiz.
But this is not only good for consumers, it’s also good for business – if the demand for organic milk is any indication of postential success, then having proper labels on flowers is bound to take off too.
About 60% of all food consumed in the U.S. has a relationship with the bee through pollination. The services these oft feared insects provide is beyond measure. In fiscal terms, America would lose an estimated $20 billion in crops without the pollination bees provide. Lately however, their numbers are declining fast due to the varroa mite, an invasive species first found in the U.S. in 1987. Phenomenons such as this underscore one of the potentially negative economic consequences of globalization. While much of the world has enjoyed the economic pleasures of the expanding global market, the increased proliferation of world trade allows for a greater exchange of invasive species such as the varroa mite. More details on this issue can be found in The Economist (subscription required).
Demand for organic food continues to grow, and in the case of Milk, is greatly outstripping supply – as reported in Cheese Market News.
Consumer demand for organic dairy products has eclipsed industry expectations. Growth predictions that once seemed overly optimistic are lower than actual growth. Yet, despite the market potential, organic companies are failing to cash in on the demand. There simply is not enough organic milk to keep the shelves fully stocked.
Although it’s stressful for farmers, as pointed out on Sustainablog, it’s also a great sign for the future of organics, and those who do business in the market. (via Sustainable Marketing)
Business people who turn a blind eye to environmental and social issues are ignoring elements that are fundamental to their strategic future. Ironically, CSR advocates often operate defensivly and also are distanced from actual strategy making, reports this week’s Economist. The article continues by saying that the time is now to recognize some of the gaps in understanding that this dichotomy has produced. Read on for some solutions.
TIME Inc., the world’s largest maganize publisher has taken a strong stance on sustainable forestry practices, reports The Vancouver Sun. David Refkin, director of sustainability at time, says “Our strategy has been to reward leaders, encourage laggards, and for those who have egregious practices: No business”. How influential TIME’s stance will be remains to be seen.
Each year The GLOBE Foundation and The Globe and Mail (Canada’s national newspaper) proudly supports the commitment of leaders of sustainably driven corporations by recognizing outstanding achievement in environmental stewardship with the GLOBE Awards for Environmental Excellence.
Canadian mining firm Alcan Inc. has won a 2005 Globe Award for Environmental Excellence for demonstrating a commitment to sustainable business strategies. According to eSource Canada Business News Network, Alcan has cut its carbon dioxide emissions to three million tons lower than 1990 levels, primarily by reusing bauxite residue and redesigning its packaging. Read about the other 2005 Globe Award winners.
FedExKinkos will increase post-consumer content in its ‘full service’ paper area from 10% to 30%. The ‘full service’ paper area is Kinko’s biggest paper consumption area (what you get behind the counter). The move should conserve almost 20,000 tons of wood per year and have a major impact on the price and availability of post-consumer paper. (FedExKinkos Press Release)
Worldchanging has an entire category called “leapfrog nations” – the phenomenon of developing countries making technological leaps forward without the burden of making the mistakes other countries made in their evolution. If Evan Mills’ work at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab pans out, then LED lighting may be the next great leapfrog technology (press release). LEDs are supremely efficient light sources that are getting cheaper and more powerful by the day. With a market as vast as the developing world, the business potential is an enormous as the potential to light people’s worlds:
Commercially available 1-watt WLEDs require 80 percent less power than the smallest energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps and can be run on rechargeable batteries charged by a solar array the size of a paperback novel… Such LEDs could actually deliver more light to tasks than even 100-watt light bulbs.
If one assumes that in most cases terrorism is a symptom of a set of circumstances – “neglect, despair, dashed hopes, thwarted opportunities” etc… then it can also be seen to be a side effect of unsustainable development. Although we have managed to lock up a great many potential threats, the underlying economic and cultural circumstances do not seem to have changed much. Stuart Hart addresses this problem in a new book (introduced on Next Billion) that looks for non-political answers:
The major challenge–and opportunity–of our time is to create a form of commerce that uplifts the entire human community of 6.5 billion and does so in a way that respects both natural and cultural diversity. Indeed, that is the only realistic and viable pathway to a sustainable world. And business can–and must–lead the way.
A truly massive wind-farm has been seriously proposed for the Thames Estuary off the coast of England by ShellEnergy. If built, the farm could power as much as 25% of greater London – a metroplex of over 10 Million. It’s so gigantic that it could singlehandedly mark the tipping point after which wind energy ceases to be a trivial component of the world’s production. Not only that, but it’s enormously significant for Shell as well. I’ve no idea what kind of percentage of Shell’s revenues are currently generated by alternative energy, but this would certainly change things. (via Alt-e blog)
Denver mayor John Hickenlooper takes sustainability seriously enough to author a special article in the Rocky Mountain News business section on the concept of the Triple Bottom Line. In the article, he outlines some of the outstanding steps the city has taken to embrace sustainability, and makes reference to his past as a small business owner aware of the needed balance between society, environment and economy.
A company that manufactures gas-powered vehicles would not ordinarily be expected to take steps to reward employees for NOT driving to work. Nonetheless, Japan for Sustainability reports that Yamaha is rewarding communters with a small allowance if they walk or ride a bike (pedal bike that is). Employees report feeling healthier and less stressed.