Welcome To Greenigeria

This is a forum to share and disseminate information on Business and Environmental Sustainability, directed particularly to less engaging parts of the global community. It is an expert platform to engage with professional, business owners and policy makers on the need to have both business and environmental sustainability issues on the forefront of any decision making process.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


The participation of women in sustainable environmental development has been largely overlooked until recently when Governments and development organizations and NGO’s recognised the roles of women in the development process. There is no intention to discount the input of our male counterparts in the regard.
It is obvious that women alone cannot work towards environmental sustainability, though they are direly affected by the decrease in the availability of natural resources. Women suffer the most in an event of loss of natural resources especially in the remote parts of the globe where their primary responsibilities include housekeeping and children rearing, food preparation, water and fuel wood gathering and agricultural production.
The loss of forest habitat that supplied supplementary foods, fibres, medicines and other products, has adversely affected the rural household subsistence requirements with a direct bearing on women. For instance, where wood is the primary source of fuel for domestic activities, women bear the burden of trekking long distances to fetch firewood; hence with deforestation due intense lumbering activities, one could only imagine the fate of the rural poor.
There is, therefore the need for women to participate more in natural resources conservation, and to stand up against extreme poaching and lumbering.
They should seize every opportunity to engage the Governments at whatever level to be more responsive in enforcing Natural resource conservation legislation as well as encourage more female professionals to manage such organisations that have the mandate to regulate environmental activities. They should be fully integrated into planning and implementation of intervention projects such as rural water management projects.
Environmental development is to a great extent incomplete if it fails to capture the importance and contribution of women in any development process. More so, that every environmental development policy; plan or project has an obvious impact on women and would be more successful with women participation.
There is a saying which goes thus; “educating a woman is educating a whole generation”, hence, the active participation of women calls for measures and initiatives that will give women more affordable access to education, training and better positions at jobs. This will result in better women representation; engender equality in terms of job of opportunities and economic empowerment of the women folk etc. Also there will be social inclusivity, better community awareness and engagements in formulation and implementation of programmes and projects as priorities and needs expressed by the women are well captured.
Supporting programmes that aim at putting women at the mainstream of development through women’s empowerment, welfare and self-reliance projects should be encouraged at all levels. There are a number of such projects in Africa. For instance, in Nigeria, we have had many mostly initiated by the sitting First ladies like the Better lives for rural women initiated by Maryam Babangida, and presently, Women for change initiative by Patience Goodluck.
Women have played a vital role in activities such as Harambe Projects (Kenya), brick making at Chitepo Agricultural Centre (Zimbabwe), housing projects by Kikuyu women (Kenya), corn mill societies (Cameroon), the Senegalese groundnut basin, cereals projects II (Senegal) and the Swaziland project of the UN Voluntary Fund (Swaziland). All these projects were aimed at reducing the heavy work-load of women and improving their socio-economic status.
These say a lot about women being an integral part of development if given the chance though with support from the male folks.
If women become more aware of the facts of the "situation" and assess the desired changes, then they can work towards closing the gap between the two genders and also participate fully in environmental and economic development at the community, national, regional and international levels. They would then overcome this historical gender inequality as well as perception of being "invisible" or "inferior" to men. This will engender socio- political and economical independence. Policies and programmes must provide for the roles that women must play as users of the environment and must seek to remove the constraints that hinder their participation in the development process.
Environmental strategies that enhance livelihoods and fulfil needs can probably help lay the basis for reduced rates of mortality and fertility. This will ensure reproductive strategies that cater for health and social development.
There is a strong need for initiatives focusing on group meetings, community participation, publicity awareness on environmental issues and education for behavioural change in terms of community’s attitudes towards women participation in the development process at the local, national and regional level as this is vital to ensure gender balance. To achieve environmental sustainability, there should not be a masculine tag to environmental concerns as Women and men complement each other in society.
I must admit that the road to gender sensitivity in environmental issues is long and winding, full of cultural humps and gender stereotype potholes; however this calls for a shared responsibility in our quest to achieve a sustainable future.

                                                By   Co-author, Maureen Agumagu, Nesrea- Nigeria

Monday, December 20, 2010

Women and the Environment

Women have long been associated with the environment, from the language used in describing nature to the individuals working the land. The language of “Mother Earth” and its weather is often feminine. Although some would discourage the use of these ideas due to personal standpoint, one cannot help but notice the connections the society has made in our ideas of a nurturing nature, and the similarities made between the roles of women in the society, as mothers. Women are also more likely to be working in agriculture or environmental movements around the globe. Although environmental concerns directly affect lives of on the Planet Earth, the relationship between women and these environment concerns remains unique and worth addressing. The information about environmental issues, specifically with respect to gender can be discouraging and, to some, scary. However, in no way is fear meant to be the end result. Instead, being informed is a way to call for action, a way to begin to make a difference in the environment, and in one’s self.
One of the many definitions of Sustainability, which I personally accept is that ability of meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. We can ensure that we do not undermine the ability of the future generation to meet their needs in various ways, such as Sustainable agricultural practices, Fair Trade policies as well as simple day-to-day life choices. The key concepts of sustainability directly affect the lives of women. Everyday choices concerning energy use and general consumption may not change your personal life, but can aid workers and farmers from around the world especially the emerging world. Sustainability promotes and protects the health of farmers and farm produce consumers as well as works to preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations.
Fair Trade:
Arguably, a key component of Sustainability is Fair Trade principles, which include Fair Wages, Conducive Workplaces, Consumer Awareness and Education, Environmental Stewardship, Financial and Technical Support, Respect for Cultural diversity, and Public Accountability etc.
According to the Fair Trade Federation, 70% of the worlds 1.3 billion poor people surviving on less than $1 a day are women. It is evident that 70% of the artisans participating in Fair Trade practices are women. Hence adopting Fair Trade policies, which allow women to earn a good income and increase their control over their families spending, could rapidly reduce poverty and give women better representation. With such Policies, Women are more likely to spend their income on better schooling for their children, better healthcare, and overall healthier food. Therefore, it is obvious that a support Fair Trade Policy is a direct support to women.
There is also the environmental benefit in adopting fair trade. Here, farmers incorporate sustainable farming practices that guarantee safe and chemically free farm produce, mostly organic, and harness bio-diversity, as well as, which keep contamination from entering the ecosystem. In this respect, Fair Trade not only positively influences the environment but also transforms our lives especially women and children.
Climate Change:
One of the major areas of global environmental concerns and research is tied to climate change and global warming. Scientists and environmental activists link a number of catastrophic events through the years, and around the world to the excessive warming of the planet earth. Though there are many schools of thought on this subject which of the divide you belong and no matter the cause, or type of these catastrophic events or disasters women and children are generally more vulnerable.
The various cultural roles of women place them at greater risk during natural disasters; they play roles in maintaining their household, assisting in organizing the community and strive to do any work available in a fairly new informal economy created after disasters.
Coupled with Environmental crisis, this means that women would have to spend more time finding food, shelter as well as fetching water and firewood. Women are more likely to suffer illness and even death as they stay behind during evacuations to help the elderly and young.
Education is paramount in terms of mitigating the effects of global warming and taking steps to live more conscientiously with respect to the earth. Becoming aware and changing ones negative impact on the earth can help save lives around the world and preserve the Mother earth.
The Environment and Women’s Health:
The US Food Drug Administration (FDA) standards of acceptable exposure to environmental contaminants are often based on how men are affected. However, women’s bodies are different- they have different organs, hormones, and the higher potential to store contaminants in their bodies due to how women carry their natural body fat. The ability for chemicals and contaminants to stay in the body known as body burden is tested through urine, blood, body fat, and breast milk. Women carry these chemicals in higher dosage and in more ways than men. One of the greatest potentials of harm is to the fact that women’s bodies are humans’ first natural environment. In this respect in-vitro harm can be done to babies and also later through breast milk. The effects of pesticides, and other harmful substances contained in household products  such as plastic are linked to diseases in women, and consequently passed on to their children.
There is growing evidence that many of the diseases affecting women such as cancers of all kinds; heart disease; endometriosis and fertility challenges are all connected to environmental concerns.  These facts are scary, however there is HOPE if we stay informed as well as take personally steps to be the change we all desire and in our communities.
                                              By Co-author, Maureen Agumagu- Nesrea Nigeria

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sustainable Future- Energy Efficiency

Our world economy faces unprecedented challenges, whether from soaring population growth, resource constraints, a warming climate and myopic financial markets. Energy demand is expected to be 35 percent higher in 2030 than in 2005. Energy efficiency is, more than ever, a critically important 'energy source'. It is anticipated that the increasing costs of energy would more than encourage serious action on efficiency across the globe. For instance, the European Council approved a 20% cut in energy consumption through improved energy efficiency by 2020 in the European Union’s Strategy for energy and climate change, EU 202020. 
It is expected that other Political and Economic blocs across the globe would consider similar or better energy saving and efficiency policies with the necessary political backing to ensure proper implementation. Although there are no Policy pronouncements from the African Blocs yet, the Bloc is not waiting, but is working on actions and initiatives in energy efficiency and climate change adaptation at large.
Considering the fact that over 560 million people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to modern energy, the need for clean and efficient energy access can no longer be ignored.  Hence, African bloc must expand its efficient power generation and effective access for economic development and also if, indeed we must succeed in reducing or eradicating poverty, which ever one you prefer.
A World Bank study, Africa's Infrastructure Country Diagnosis revealed that addressing Africa's power challenges  and implementing regional trade will require spending US$41 billion per year; also that reforming power utilities to reduce inefficiencies would save US$3.3 billion a year. This thus, suggests that simply implementing energy efficiency projects or initiatives will save a lot of money as well as free up some energy access capacity.  
Some remarkable examples of the energy efficiency initiatives by African Governments include:
  • World Bank’s new compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs distribution project in Ethiopia, in which the Ethiopian Government distributed 5 million CFL bulbs. This scheme saved 80 megawatts of electricity with only half of the bulbs in distribution. To put this savings in perspective, a power plant with 80 megawatts of electricity capacity will cost about US$100 million. This implies that just investing US$4 million in new light bulbs yielded a US$100 million worth of savings in energy costs. This scheme ensured that low-income households reduce their electricity consumption by 55% which means lower electricity bills. the Country report stated that the Ethiopian Government besides designed a conservation campaign, upgraded street lighting, negotiated with large power users, and distributed 2.5 million efficient household cook stoves that use 40-60% less wood fuel. The catch also is that this saves women and children precious time fetching wood as well as saves trees; and
  • In Uganda and Rwanda 800,000 and 200,000 CFLs were distributed respectively in similar world-bank's projects with similar outcomes.
Remarkably, one would expect that this kind of initiative spreads faster across the African bloc, only time will tell if this will be the case.  I hope the that necessary measures have been put in place to ensure that these initiatives are sustained long after the World Bank’s projects end.
In my opinion, African Governments should reflect more on how to reduce energy consumption, conserve energy, and make access to energy to more people for more sustainable economic development and not scheme on how to stay in Power forever with nothing to show for it, at worst throw the country into civil unrest like recent events in Ivory Coast.
What do you think?
                                                                   Credits: Jamal Saghir, Worldbank Group

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cancun Accord Synopsis Contd..

Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)
Governments once again agreed to step up action to curb emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. More specifically the agreement calls on developing countries to begin laying the groundwork for the proposed Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanism by establishing forestry base lines and developing national forest protection action plans and monitoring methodologies. It also calls upon industrialised countries to reach bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements to help fund this "capacity building".
Implications: REDD edges ever closer. Reports suggest most of the fine print for a full blown global forest protection mechanism based on a carbon offset model is pretty much agreed. It could still be scuppered by the failure to agree other parts of the deal, but the chances of a whole new adjunct to the carbon market being launched within the next few years look healthier than ever.
Agreement: Countries have agreed to establish a new Cancun Adaptation Framework to ensure improved planning and access for finance for adaptation projects in developing countries. They have also agreed to continue work with the insurance industry to better understand climate losses and damage and have stressed that "adaptation must be addressed with the same priority as mitigation and requires appropriate institutional arrangements to enhance adaptation action and support".
Implications: It has been under-reported, but this is one of the defining outcomes from Cancun. No one is turning away from the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but focus is increasing on the urgent need to invest in adaptation. More and more countries will begin to produce formal climate adaptation plans and will increase investment in climate resilience, opening up huge opportunities and risks for businesses.
Technology Transfer
Agreement: Negotiators have agreed to establish a new Technology Executive Committee and Climate Technology Centre and Network to help foster technology cooperation on adaptation and mitigation projects.
Implications: Again the timeline remains unclear, but this could have sizable implications for businesses, particularly those working on cutting edge clean tech projects. Expect more bi-lateral and multi-lateral technology sharing agreements over the next few years.
The future of Kyoto
Agreement: In the end countries agreed to kick the most contentious issue at the Cancun Summit into next year. The two page agreement on Kyoto simply states that countries will agree on the future of Kyoto "as early as possible and in time to ensure that there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods", which means before the end of next year.
Implications: Who knows? Japan, Russia and others insist they will not sign up to a second commitment period; China, India and virtually every other developing country insists they must sign on to extend the deal or the talks will collapse. It is shaping up to be the defining issue in the run up to next year's summit in South Africa.
The EU looks set to act as a go-between in an attempt to broker a deal, although both sides are currently adamant that they will not compromise. One mooted proposal is that Kyoto is extended for just two years; while a parallel binding treaty is finalized covering all nations. That way industrialised countries will remain covered by a legal instrument for cutting emissions, while developing countries will also be folded into an agreement with binding targets for all. It is a long shot, but it is currently the best idea in circulation.
For businesses the debate over Kyoto is the one area of uncertainty following an agreement that has otherwise served to increase certainty that they will come under increased pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions and invest in clean technology.
                                                                                               credits: Businessgreen.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cancun Accord Synopsis

Unlike last year's two page Copenhagen Accord, the Cancun Accord, or to be more precise Cancun Accords, run to tens of pages and provide a good deal more detail on how the international community plans to cut emissions than previous deals.
Overall 26 agreements were reached in Cancun, ranging from the crucial outcomes from the working groups on Kyoto and Long-term Co-operative Action (LCA), to somewhat arcane reforms such as Kazakhstan's proposal to amend annex B to the Kyoto Protocol, to housekeeping measures such as the resolution thanking the people of Cancun for their hospitality.
The main areas of progress, the on-going road-blocks, and the business implications include:

  • 1.       Emission targets

Agreement: The emission targets and action plans put forward by both developed and developing countries in the Copenhagen Accord have been officially recognised under the UN negotiating process for the first time. In addition, countries have reiterated their intention to limit average global temperature rises to 20C. Crucially, they have also agreed to review this goal and have acknowledged that a "gigatonne gap" exists between emission targets pledged and the cuts required to stand a reasonable chance of limiting temperature increases.
Implications: This is a major step towards a treaty as it moves developing countries and the US a step closer to accepting some form of "binding" emissions targets in the future, albeit targets they put forward themselves.
For businesses it solidifies the voluntary emission targets already adopted by many governments and provides further evidence that if these targets do change they are only going to get more demanding.
As the LCA text reaffirms, the world's governments are in agreement that "climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time" and are prepared to take action to tackle it. In other words, this is not a fad.

  • 2.       Monitoring, Verification and Reporting

Agreement: Developing countries will provide updates every two years on their progress against their climate change action plans. Crucially, all parties also agreed that "internationally supported mitigation actions will be measured, reported and verified domestically and will be subject to international measurement, reporting and verification in accordance with guidelines to be developed under the Convention"
Implications: A huge victory for the US. The details are yet to be finalized, but developing countries will submit to a regime of international verification for their emissions targets in return for access to climate finance. This was one of the major barriers to a deal and it looks to have been overcome after China and India appeared to accept the need for some form of monitoring.
For businesses it means they will inevitably come under more and more legal pressure to report on their greenhouse gas emissions.

  • 3.       Climate funding

Agreement: Countries will start a process to design a new "Green Climate Fund", with a board with "equal representation" from developed and developing countries. Crucially, it will be run by the UN and not the World Bank. The timeline for the formation of the fund remains unclear, but the agreement also reiterated the commitment to deliver $30bn of funding between 2010 and 2012 and $100bn a year from 2020. The agreement will also see the launch of a registry to record and match developing country mitigation action plans to the finance and technology support they require from industrialised countries.
Implications: A significant breakthrough and a sizable victory for developing countries which were adamant that any new fund should not be run by the World Bank.
The formation of a single fund should drastically simplify the labyrinthine world of climate financing and make it easier to avoid double counting of aid payments. It should also ensure that investment is more clearly focused on projects that work.
However, negotiators have agreed a fund, but are no closer to agreeing where the money will come from to pay in to that fund. The main issues for businesses will come when next year when governments begin to address which fund raising mechanisms should be used post-2012. It will be interesting to see if the negotiations can continue to move forward as smoothly when proposals such as levies on aviation and shipping are being discussed.

  • 4.       Carbon trading

Agreement: The Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) offsetting scheme will be strengthened and extended. In particular, Carbon Capture and Storage projects will be eligible for the scheme for the first time and registration processes will be streamlined to ensure emission reduction projects are approved quicker. There were also some indications the scheme could continue post-2012, despite on-going uncertainty over the future of the Kyoto Protocol.
Implications: A major boost for CCS projects in the developing world, but analysts in the carbon market remain concerned that the scheme is not being reformed fast enough and a number of key decisions are not now expected until next year. A lot still depends on the Kyoto negotiations. to be continued...
                                                                                 credits: Businessgreen.com

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Quest for Environmental Sustainability- Climate Change Deal

Hurray at last, we have a deal on climate change that commits all major economies to greenhouse gas cuts. This feat is no doubt has but to rest the speculations that Cancún will not deliver as was the case at Copenhagen. The deal, brokered at Cancún, if not for any other thing, has restored hope in the multilateral UN process, though it does not satisfy all stakeholders, for instance it will not deliver the temperature reductions predicted by most professionals as would be needed, as well as the fact that it pushes many of the most important decisions to future negotiations.
The deal, which took four years of negotiations to reach, would lead to
  • Less deforestation;
  • Transfer of technology to developing countries; and
  • Establishment of a yearly fund, potentially worth up to $100bn, to help countries adapt to climate change.
Mixed reactions arising from the Climate Change Deal
Chris Huhne, who led the UK's negotiating team, said that it's a good deal which gives a new sense of momentum to [climate change] discussions. There was nothing inevitable about this package. "This is a significant turning point. It clearly says that there should be reductions from developing countries. I would like to have seen a 2020 date for global emissions to peak but this takes us forward to a legally-binding overall outcome," he added.
In a series of late night exchanges, the only opposition came from Bolivia who complained that the deal was being pushed through without consensus. It eventually gave in after intense pressure from the chair of the talks and other countries.
"This has violated the multilateral rules because they didn't respect the consensus – they are breaking the rules," said Pablo Solon, Bolivia's ambassador to the UN, "This agreement won't stop temperature from rising by 40C and we know that 40C is unsustainable," he added.
Japan, the one rich country that tried to delay progress in the talks by refusing to sign up to a second commitment period to the Kyoto protocol, gave in after complex legal manoeuvres and pressure from other G20 countries.
Connie Hedegaard, the EU commissioner for climate action, had earlier in the week spoken of a "very frank exchange of views" with the Japanese delegation. Welcoming the deal, she said, "We have helped to deliver the successful outcome the world expected and needed. But the two weeks in Cancún have shown once again how slow and difficult the process is. Everyone needs to be aware that we still have a long and challenging journey ahead of us to reach the goal of a legally binding global climate framework."

Is the Climate Change Deal Adequate or Not?
As one would expect, the deal was greeted with strong reservations by environment groups. This is evident in the reactions from many professionals.
Jeremy Hobbs, a director at Oxfam said  "With lives on the line, we must now build on this progress. Long term funding must be secured to help vulnerable countries protect themselves,"
"Cancun may have saved the process but it did not yet save the climate," said Greenpeace International Climate Policy Director Wendel Trio. "Some called the [UN] process dead but governments have shown that they can cooperate and can move forward to achieve a global deal."
Friends of the Earth International said the agreement was "a slap in the face of those who already suffer from climate change", and could still lead to a temperature rises of 50C. "In the end, all of us will be affected by the lack of ambition and political will of a small group of countries. The US, with Russia and Japan, are to blame for the lack of desperately needed greater ambition," said Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth international director.

Other measures agreed in outline included the establishment of a climate fund to handle and deliver the billions needed for the developing world to adapt to climate change and a system to inspect the actions taken to avoid climate change by rich and larger developing countries.
However, no date was included in the agreement by when countries must "peak" their emissions. This is considered essential to avoid more serious problems later.

A departure from Copenhagen's accusation- a shift worth mentioning
The Mexican presidency was roundly praised for its handling of the negotiations. Becky Chacko, director of Climate Change policy for Conservation International said: "The Mexicans have tried very hard to maintain an atmosphere of transparency and inconclusiveness. In Copenhagen, there was a hope that things could get pressed through so you had a situation where there was text being written behind closed doors and not everyone was included in all of the processes… Here, they made sure that everyone was included and that led to a level of buy-in and consensus that we didn't have last year."
Now, what is your own take on the climate change deal?
         Excerpts from various media sources

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Keeping the Eye on the Ball – Act now or Lose out

Systems’ thinking implies taking a holistic view of a situation or circumstance that impacts on all stakeholders involved including all their interactions. Such a view becomes more imperative when management of the situation or circumstance is considered; as an obstructed view will lead at best to a partial approach to management or at worst to a wrong or misleading one. Above all, management goal must be kept in focus so that management action does not become isolated and ineffective, which could lead to business loss.

Business mega-trends force fundamental and persistent paradigm shifts in how companies compete. Some Businesses come out of them stronger as winners while others as losers. In the May, 2010 edition of the Harvard Business Report, the authors of the Big Idea feature, David Lubin and Daniel Esty, argue that sustainability is the next transformational business mega-trend comparable to past mega-trends like mass production, manufacturing quality movement, Information Technology revolution, and globalization. As one may recall, during the manufacturing quality mega-trend, General Motors’ failure to react led to its decline whereas Kodak’s dominant position in photography quickly eroded in the IT revolution mega-trend, as it ignored the signals that digital technologies would displace film.
Arguably, the sustainability mega-trend will again shuffle businesses into winners and losers, depending on how they react or who loses his eyes on the ball. Therefore, Businesses must keep their eyes on the ball, in this case on sustainability if they would survive with this next fundamental shift, though at an early stage. For Businesses not to miss out the trend, the following has been suggested:
a.       Getting the vision right, which simply put means knowing what to do. many will agree that Vision is an imperative step in any policy process, more so that if we don’t know where we want to go, it makes little or no difference that we make great progress. However, I would like to emphasize that the point here is getting the vision right because vision can be very dangerous like the ones that brought wars and famine to mankind.  Another example in my opinion is the vision some environmentalists project about a sustainable world, which has led many to associate environmental activism with restriction, prohibition, regulation, and sacrifice. This has resulted in an obstructed view of a sustainable world as one which is of a tight and probably centralized control with low material standard of living.
Having said that, Businesses in knowing what to do can start by focusing on risk and cost reduction and over time develop strategies for increasing value creation, ultimately including intangibles such as brand and culture. As reported by carbon49, a Canadian climate change blog, some pioneering companies are already seeing payoff. In focusing on outperforming competitors on regulatory compliance, 3M’s Pollution Prevention Pays reduced its pollutants by more than 2.6 billion pounds and saved the company more than $1 billion, while DuPont’s ‘zero waste’ commitment led to its decision to shed businesses with big Eco-footprints, such as carpets and nylon, as the environmental risks were deemed to outweigh their potential contribution to future earnings.
b.       Getting execution right means knowing how to do it. Corporations tend to understand this better than some Governments and Government related businesses, as probably 90% of all Public discourse involves several arguments about execution or implementation. Most policy debates start and end at this stage.
Businesses could focus in five critical areas: leadership, methods, strategy, management, and reporting.
        i.            Leadership: The IT revolution mega-trend created the leadership position Chief Information Officer. Many companies now have Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) to lead the company through the sustainability stages. Notable companies with CSO include AT&T (U.S.), SAP (Germany), and LoyaltyOne (Canada);
        ii.         Methods:   Sustainability is bringing new business methods and tools such as business-case analysis, trend spotting, scenario planning, risk modelling to encompass the specialized requirements of environmental sustainability;
     iii.    Strategy: With a solid base of analytical data, businesses will be positioned to develop distinctive sustainability strategies. Many aspects of strategy development will remain internal, but businesses will increasingly adopt open-source approaches that engage outsiders;
  iv.  Management should consider incorporating sustainability objectives into compensation models, reviews, and other management processes; and
        v.    Reporting: Some Businesses have invested in technology to record and report environmental events such as spills and waste disposal. For instance, IBM uses their environmental management system as the foundation for policy deployment, practice management, goal setting, decision making, and data capture.
Getting the vision right and getting execution right can help businesses keep their eyes on the ball, compete through the sustainability mega-trend and come out as winners. Failure which or simply ignoring sustainability would impact on corporation’s ability to compete, as evident in the GM and Kodak cases through past mega-trends. Although at a relatively early stage of the sustainability mega-trend, the time for businesses to think and act is now, as this mega-trend appears to be unstoppable.
                                                                      Credits: carbon49

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sustainability in daily life - 5 things to remember

Understand the scale of your daily decisions
Some decisions seem small and have big impacts, some seem big but aren't as huge as you think. The difficulty comes in identifying which decisions fall into which category. For instance, recycling seems like a big deal, and it helps to diminish the waste stream going to landfills. However, purchasing a product that has zero waste in the first place is actually the more imperative decision.

Remember “Everything” is connected
It can be difficult to grasp how vastly interconnected everything is. With how specialized we are and our lives have become, we can forget that everything we do affects something else. But taking our thinking at least four or five steps down the chain of cause and effect helps us understand the impacts of our actions and choices.
We need to remember to think about things in terms of their wide-ranging effects. For example, looking at a food product on a store shelf not just in terms of what ingredients it contains, but also how the ingredient choices impact the health of both the consumer of the final product as well as the people working harvesting the ingredients (the poor remunerations and living conditions of workers in various coffee and cocoa farms in Africa and South America) and their exposure to any chemicals, and the health and longevity of the ecosystems impacted by gathering the ingredients used in the product, and how our political systems impact and are impacted by raising, importing, and exporting the ingredients...and the chain can keep going. So, we can see how one food product on a shelf is actually connected with much broader parts of our lives. Hence, keeping this in mind will guide us towards more sustainable living choices.

Consider the True Cost
Sometimes buying green seems expensive, and it's difficult to bring ourselves to spend more money for organic or locally made products. However, one thing that helps us understand that greener is cheaper is considering true cost. While something like a factory farmed steak may have a lower price tag than a locally raised grass-fed steak, the true cost is actually far higher, because it takes into account things like increased health-care costs because the factory farmed steak is actually less nutritious than the other to your health, the higher amounts of water used to raise factory farmed steak thanks to the vast amounts of corn raised to feed the cattle, the higher cost of pollution emitted into the atmosphere and water systems, and so on. In the long run, our unsustainable choices have a far higher true cost than our sustainable choices. Eventually the market will adjust to true costs as people more and more value making sustainable purchases. For now, you can invest a bit more for your health and the planet's on sustainable products and save money by buying less stuff you don't need and reading tips on going green and saving green.

Remember your two Footprints – Water and Carbon
While many aspects of our lives leave footprints, these are the two big ones. We use water heavily in everything from manufacturing and processing goods to running buildings, from growing food and livestock to landscaping. Our water consumption in our home lives, like showering and washing the dishes, is just a tiny fraction compared to the amount of embodied water we consume throughout the day. In the same way that our water consumption is embodied in the goods and services we access all day long, so too is carbon. We might not think of the computers we use or books we read as having a carbon footprint, but just like the methods of transportation we choose, most of everything we use and consume during the day has a carbon footprint. Learning more about water footprints and carbon footprints, and working to minimize both our own and that of everything we produce and use, will get us much closer to sustainable living.

Don't get discouraged or overwhelmed
Easier said than done, right? But the key to achieving success here is not letting yourself overwhelmed by the amount work to be done ahead of us, rather focusing on the many ways we can tackle the challenges and make progress. Simply sit down in the evening, look back on your day, and ask yourself, "Did I go through my day in a way that moved us all closer towards living sustainably?" If you can say yes, consider yourself successful. 
Live sustainably by staying informed, thinking logically and connecting dots as you interact with your world during the day.                  
                                             Adapted from http://planetgreen.discovery.com