“He said that despite the failures of successive governments – including his own 1992-2000 administration in the US – to forge working treaties on climate change, and to cut greenhouse gas emissions, people should take the initiative by working together and individually to reduce their own impact on the environment. He pointed to the work of the biologist EO Wilson, whose most recent work suggests that human beings and other complex natural societies prosper through co-operation. “I believe that in a complex world … these creative networks of co-operation have to triumph over conflict-driven models,” said Clinton.”
Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category
Bill Clinton: cutting use of natural resources would help US economy | World news | guardian.co.uk Leave a comment
“Profile: 100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders
Not one but 100 profiles in this issue.
The selected Global Sustain Ability Leaders from six continents include Nobel prize
winners, scientists, architects, designers, artists, and CEOs of international
companies. Besides the well-known, there are the quiet achievers who are making
a name for themselves and their NGOs, institutes, universities or businesses.
One is Alison Rowe (left) Fujitsu’s global head of sustainability and another
is Singapore’s Ho Kwon Ping (right).
Here’s the full list. “
“Peter Busby of powerhouse architecture firm Perkins+Will has made it his mission to improve people’s lives through design. His projects include the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (a “living lab” that generates extra power for the University of British Columbia campus) and Dockside Green (a mixed-use community that is one of the world’s greenest developments).
Busby recently stopped by GOOD’s headquarters and talked to us about the components of sustainable design and how a background in philosophy has helped shape the way he looks at his work. Watch our GOOD Talks video and learn more about Busby’s work in a recent Architect feature.”
Sustainability of another sort. When manufacturing components become diminished and in short supply, there is a need for concern and a need to pre-emptively seek out alternatives.
The element indium , or more specifically indium tin oxide ( ITO ), is used extensively in high tech screens. ITO’s ideal properties to become transparent plus its tremendous ability to conduct electricity, allows our mobile phones to be smarter, our TV flatscreens to be larger and our tablet computers to be more sleek. Availability of indium is decreasing and alternative have not tet taken hold in the manufacturing process. Graphene is a potential viable alternative.
So why have we not already moved from ITO to carbon?
Mark Hersam, a carbon nanotubes pioneer at Northwestern University in Illinois, believes we’re waiting for an industry tipping point. “There’s tremendous inertia in the electronics sector because the entire industry is modelled around ITO. Big companies like Apple are wedded to the ITO manufacturing processes and will need to invest substantially to start using carbon,” he says. However, as the price of indium goes up and it becomes harder to get hold of, there is likely to be a switch.”
With solar cells and electronics all competing for the same rare metal, industry is already under increasing pressure to start using a different material, whether that’s another metal oxide or novel carbon chicken-wire. Looking through the breathless coverage of the iPad 3 launch on my phone, one thing is for sure: our unwavering enthusiasm for touchscreen/display-screen technologies means we desperately need to find alternatives soon. ”
“Shifting Mindsets: Sustainability has Five Ps
(Written by Warren Te Brugge)
This is a recently released definition of sustainability:
“Sustainability is an honest attempt to create positive social, environmental, and economic impacts through transparent organizational and sustainable performance.”
Among people engaged in the sustainability movement in its many variations, most talk about ‘People, Planet, Profit’—the ‘triple bottom line’ of sustainable enterprises. At a recent conference, though, a person I respect added two more words: Passion and Purpose.
These are vital and powerful additions to the worn triple bottom line metaphor: When there is no passion and when work is not undertaken with an inspiring purpose, strategy often fades from active consideration as mitigating or ‘normal’ business factors intrude. The original intent is diluted when actions don’t follow leaving financial considerations to reemerge as the only imperatives.
Broadly speaking, then, sustainability is about shifting mindsets: How can we evolve social norms inside organizations to think about sustainability proactively and embed sustainable perspectives in day-to-day decision-making? For many in third world economies, sustainability is simply about creating a life that is acceptable as a community and even a nation. What can we learn from this perspective?
In a Washington Post article today, “Giving is Personal. Make it Political,” the writer expresses the surprising strength of the status quo: What is reasonable and acceptable is still being defined by a small group remote from where this ‘normality’ will be established—rather than being defined by local members of affected communities, based on their real current needs and cultural beliefs. Creating change is about changing the mindset of the global population: Real, lasting progress on sustainability needs to be part of who we are as a global society—not the exception of individual choice and expression.
Shifting mindsets requires more than rational arguments: Minds are changed when people and communities see a vision of a better life—Purpose—and are inspired to pursue it—Passion.
Five Ps sustainability balances people, planet and profit, while also engaging communities—political or corporate—to see their day-to-day work in a broader context, and energizing them to pursue the grand vision. Leaders cannot impose their own values on their communities. Instead, they must engage and cultivate the values of the culture that already exists. (And that’s a significant part of Manzimvula’s approach.)
What do you think?”
The first Sustainability Report for the port of Antwerp has now appeared. For a whole year, various workgroups laboured at the production of this report that demonstrates how the various companies within the port are able to reconcile “people, planet and profit” with their day-to-day activities.
The initiative-takers behind the report are Antwerp Port Authority and the Left Bank Development Corporation in the public sector, and Alfaport Antwerp representing the private sector.
The port of Antwerp aims to position itself as the sustainability leader in the Hamburg – Le Havre range. While in the 20th century the emphasis of port policy was firmly on economic development, in the 21st century greater importance will be placed on social concerns that impact the port’s activities. For example, environmental management will be given a more prominent role, and stakeholder management will be further developed. Finally, significant efforts will be devoted to making hinterland transport more time-efficient as well as reducing its environmental footprint. In this respect the port of Antwerp has a decisive advantage thanks to its geographical location deep inland, as this reduces transport costs while limiting the environmental effects of transport.
The nine stages of the report
The Sustainability Report follows the route that goods take in reaching their destinations all over the world via the port of Antwerp:
1. The port of Antwerp as gateway to Europe. Antwerp is not only a multi-capable port, it is also a secure port, where moreover vessels can hand over their waste for safe disposal free of charge (for barges) or at a modest fee (for seagoing ships). The arrangements for disposal of ship’s waste in Antwerp serve as an example of “best practice” for other European ports.
2. Engine of the economy and employment. The port of Antwerp provides work directly or indirectly for some 145,000 people, or 7% of the working population of Flanders. It employs more men than women.
3. A port that invests. The port of Antwerp invests not only in infrastructure and superstructure in order to maintain its leading European position, it also invests in sustainable energy, R&D and people. The number of hours devoted to training rose until 2008 both in absolute and in relative terms (number of hours per employee). This investment in people is sorely needed, as no fewer than 4,000 vacancies will have to be filled by 2013.
4. A productive, healthy port. Labour productivity (added value per employee) in the port of Antwerp is about 50% higher than in the rest of the Belgian economy, and the difference is actually increasing.
5. A port that reconciles economy and ecology. The area devoted to port activities expanded by around 1,000 hectares to 6,416 hectares between 2002 and 2010, equivalent to some 10,000 football fields. Up to 5% of the actual port area or around 600 hectares will be set aside and managed as habitat for plant and animal species that are typical of ports and harbours. Investment will also be made in core areas of nature conservation around the port area.
6. A port for industry and logistics. The industrial and other activities within the port consume energy and water, and produce emissions. Energy consumption rose by 16% during the period 2000-2008, with the biggest consumers being the chemical and refining industries. This increase is partly the result of higher production (up 7%). About 95% of the water consumption is cooling water that is pumped from the docks and the river Scheldt and ultimately returned to them; only minimal use is made of rainwater. Valuable groundwater is seldom used in production processes.
7. A port in harmony with nature and the environment. The port of Antwerp is a “hot spot” for emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxide. To counter this an action plan for particulates and NO2 was introduced in 2008 for the port and the surrounding municipalities, with eight concrete initiatives. This has resulted in a clear and systematic improvement in the values measured. Indeed, no excess PM10 concentrations were observed within the port in 2010.
8. From port to hinterland. The modal split within the port of Antwerp is developing slowly but surely away from road transport, in favour of other, more environment-friendly modes. Road transport now accounts for less than 50% of all freight movements except for containers. And even in the latter case, about one third of all containers now travel by barge. Large quantities of liquid products are transported via the European pipeline hub and the network of pipelines within the port. In fact, 88% of liquid goods moved around by industry within the port go by pipeline.
9. Building up relations with local inhabitants and young people. The I-bus service has been introduced to encourage sustainable transport between home and work. It is now used by 2,900 employees. There is also a shuttle bus that carries some 140 permanent and temporary employees to and from work every day. Sponsorship projects such as the King Baudouin Foundation and the New Belgica also form part of this policy.
The Sustainability Report forms part of the “Total Plan for a More Competitive Port” that was launched in 2010 in response to the global financial crisis. To implement the Total Plan it was decided to draw up a joint vision for sustainability, as all the parties involved are keenly aware that sustainability can become the new competitive advantage of the port. Competitive advantage is no longer limited to the economic sphere; increasingly it is being sought in a wider social and indeed international context. This conviction formed the basis for the port’s first Sustainability Report. A key characteristic of sustainability is that it is an ongoing process, one that is never completed. Of course it is essential to define the initial situation and to measure the progress of situations, figures and indicators. This is where the value of the report lies, as it provides a framework, presents the measurements and demonstrates the results.
A study published last August by the UN Environment Programme found that current agricultural trends are destroying the world’s natural resources, particularly its water supplies. Reversing this trend would require integrated land-use planning that coordinates decision-making for farming, biodiversity, water management and air pollution, according to the study.
Another report from the UN – its latest World Economic and Social Survey, found that to stop deteriorating land conditions and depleting natural resources, the world would have to move away from large-scale, intensive agricultural systems as they exist today. Instead, smaller scale farms in developing countries should be improved and expanded using ‘green’ technology that minimised the use of water, energy and chemicals, noted the report.
Natural capital: putting a price on the priceless | Guardian Sustainable Business | guardian.co.uk Leave a comment
“With all eyes fixed on the latest global share prices and bond yields, there was relatively little interest in the most recent figures published in the annual red list.
This is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. It shows that 25% of all mammals and one in three of the world’s amphibians are at risk of extinction.
While these trends are not as turbulent as the global financial markets, the steady decline of the world’s biodiversity could be just as critical to long-term economic success and prosperity.
This is because the loss of biodiversity causes ecosystems to stress, degrade or even collapse altogether. This reduces the environment’s ability to deliver the goods and services that nature provides for free, such as clean air, water, soils and waste disposal, as well as the raw materials that industry depends upon.
As a result, it is evident that the protection of biodiversity, while complex to value and quantify accurately, is essential for future well-being and economic development.
Policy will inevitably have to rise to this challenge and businesses must look ahead to what this might mean for them and how they should act responsibly.
That is why the Aldersgate Group, an alliance of leaders from business, politics and society, has recently convened a series of discussions on how to make this agenda more tangible for key decision makers. The findings were published today at the Business of Biodiversity Symposium with government ministers and leading chief executives.
It became immediately evident from our dialogue that the value of biodiversity must be reflected in prices and policy appraisal. We cannot take for granted the services that ecosystems provide for free – such as regulating the climate, absorbing pollution and reducing flooding.
The UN estimates that these services deliver to humankind over $72tn a year – comparable to World Gross National Income – but nearly two-thirds of the globe’s ecosystems are considered degraded. The global importance of understanding, measuring and capturing the value of nature is undertaken by the UN through TEEB, a major international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity.
The endeavour to reflect environmental values in prices is an essential one, but for complex challenges such as biodiversity loss, some tipping points exist beyond which damage to human welfare is irreversible. Already in certain coastal areas there are “dead zones”, where coral reefs and lakes are no longer able to sustain aquatic species.
Inevitably, there are limits to pricing the priceless. For example, how can you put a value on a species of Himalayan yew tree, on the brink of extinction, that is used to produce Taxol, a chemotherapy drug used to treat cancer?
That is why good resource management requires a combination of price, regulation and information to achieve the desired behavioural change, and caution is required when there is uncertainty about nature’s thresholds.
As policy develops, what should businesses be doing to address these risks and take advantage of the potential opportunities?
It is evident that many businesses are assessing their dependency on biodiversity and integrating measures for the sustainable use of natural resources into their corporate strategies. This is vital as all businesses, directly or indirectly, depend upon biodiversity and ecosystem services for their ongoing commercial success and should therefore address the significant risks and opportunities relating to their impact on nature.
In the first instance, an organisation needs an efficient method for determining the materiality of biodiversity to its operations and stakeholders. While a number of reports claim that there is an increased awareness from communities, NGOs, customers, consumers and shareholders on biodiversity issues, the evidence is mixed.
And businesses also struggle to communicate the more technical language of biodiversity and ecosystems to their customers, who are much more familiar with concepts of nature, place and landscape.
Despite improvements, the measurement of biodiversity remains challenging and identifying the implications for decision making can be complex. This is why it is often treated superficially in company reports.
However, that has not stopped forward-looking businesses leading the way. The Aldersgate Group’s upcoming report illustrates case studies from a range of companies in a variety of sectors such as M&S, PepsiCo, Puma, Willmott Dixon, InterfaceFlor and The Co-operative Group.
One example is Wessex Water which has undertaken an initiative to protect water quality upstream rather than pay for removing pesticides downstream – achieving bottom-line savings of more than 80%.
The failure to address risks can lead to significant costs. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill, for example, demonstrates how a major oil company was suddenly faced with society’s valuations of marine and coastal ecosystems, and forced to internalise the costs of environmental damage.
As more businesses begin to address such impacts, it is essential that biodiversity rises up the political and boardroom agenda. While we might be some way off the chancellor presenting a natural capital budget alongside the fiscal budget, more attention on the long-term implications of the red list would be a good start.
Andrew Raingold is executive director at the Aldersgate Group, an alliance of leaders from business, politics and society that drives action for a sustainable economy.”
Governments fall behind on sustainability agenda ahead of Rio+20 | Guardian Sustainable Business | guardian.co.uk Leave a comment
“Government leaders have fallen well behind leaders of NGOs, corporations and multilateral organisations in advancing the sustainability agenda ahead of the Rio+20 Summit, according to GlobeScan and SustainAbility’s recent survey of experts in the field.
GlobeScan and SustainAbility surveyed more than 500 sustainability experts from across 60+ countries on the sustainability performance of key actors that will be instrumental in the Rio+20 summit.
With experts giving high marks to NGO leaders on advancing the sustainability agenda, middling ratings to corporate leaders and leaders of multilateral organisations and poor grades to nationally elected governmental leaders, the expert perspectives mirror global public opinion polling on trust. According to GlobeScan’s research, people across the world have the most trust in NGOs and the least in government. Business enjoys low but improving trust among the general public.
Together these findings suggest an important undercurrent in the lead up to Rio+20. Governments remain the principal actors at the summit, but both stakeholders and the general public are increasingly critical of their performance. While ensuring a strong role in Rio de Janeiro for a range of stakeholders including civil society, business and UN agencies will be important, the results of the survey suggest there needs to be special emphasis placed on the role of NGOs.
Given the high levels of social capital of NGOs, one of the most effective ways to increase the legitimacy of the proceedings would be to elevate their roles and responsibilities in the Rio+20 conference. It would also provide some badly needed cover to national governments and could very well unlock unexpected progress in the negotiations.”
Linking Environmental and Financial Impacts for Sustainability Management | Caelus Green Room 1 comment
Better reporting by companies will help avert systemic risks such as climate change and the banking crisis, according to Mervyn King.
“The annual financial statement as we have known it is no longer fit for purpose,” the former South African Supreme Court judge told Environmental Finance, at the launch of a discussion paper on Integrated Reporting – a global initiative to improve corporate reporting.
The Integrated Reporting initiative will ask companies to reveal “more comprehensive and meaningful information” about themselves. In particular, it aims to demonstrate how a company’s financial performance is achieved in the social, environmental and economic context within which it operates.
Transparency about the impact of a company’s operations will not only help investors make better judgments, but help businesses perform better, King said.