Corporate sustainability needs a gender lens

31 03 2023

Outside the Department of Labour in Dhaka last month workers demanded that their shuttered garment factory be reopened Photo: Mamunur Rashid /

The draft EU directive on corporate sustainability remains gender-blind. And what you don’t see you can’t fix. by CAROLINA RUDNICKVIZCARRASYLVIA OBREGON QUIROZ and ANDRIANA LOREDAN from Social Europe: Reposted: March 31, 2023

When industrial agriculture and salmon production came to Chile, they brought new jobs to rural and indigenous women. But the work came with a hefty price tag.

It wiped out ancestral practices and shattered solidarity-based communities. Those working the graveyard shift in salmon-processing plants endured gruelling hours and saw their family bonds deteriorate.

The salaries were low—so low they couldn’t even be considered a living wage. When the pandemic hit and the food industry shuttered, unemployment grew in nearby communities. Going into debt became unavoidable for many, while others hung by a thread.

The situation was doubly difficult for women workers, because of gender norms and intersecting vulnerabilities. Still the main caregivers, their poverty wages and brutal working conditions also affected children and elderly family members dependent on them.

Especially insidious

Gender discrimination and inequality in global value chains have been widely documented but remain largely unaddressed by European companies and regulators. Abuses of women’s rights are especially insidious in the food-serviceselectronics and garment industries, where women make up most of the workforce. 

Women in these export-oriented manufacturing sectors are vulnerable to wage theft, union-busting and other violations of labour rights—especially if they are young, migrant and/or poorly educated. Reckless business activities prey on and exacerbate inequitable gender roles, such that 71 per cent of those trapped in modern slavery are women.

All of this is hidden in plain sight. The long and winding value chains that stretch across the globe reinforce power imbalances and the maldistribution of costs and benefits. For instance, most brands don’t seem to care that it takes just four days for a chief executive from one of the top fashion labels to make what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her lifetime.

Similarly, fossil-fuel companies have made record profits from the energy crisis while fuelling climate collapse and pushing millions into starvation. Yet TotalEnergies is rewarding its chief executive with a scandalous bonus of nearly €6 million, despite standing accused of causing massive forced displacements in Uganda and Tanzania. What is often overlooked is how land-grabbing affects women, who comprise only 15 per cent of landholders globally but depend on the land to grow food and secure water. 

Sexual violence is another endemic issue, festering in the deep underbelly of multinationals’ value chains. Recent investigations have uncovered abuses in tea plantations and wind parks. These will only be eradicated if we ensure corporate accountability.

Stumbling at the first hurdle

As the largest trading bloc in the world, the European Union must lead on this front. Civil society and trade unions have hailed the forthcoming corporate-sustainability directive as a huge opportunity to advance women’s rights and gender equality globally, while uprooting abuses of human and environmental rights along companies’ value chains and holding them liable for harm.

Yet despite the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, declaring that ‘gender equality is a core principle of the European Union’, the commission stumbled at the first hurdle in making this a reality for the women making our food, clothes and electronics. The draft directive completely ignored the enhanced risks of business for women, girls and other marginalised groups.

Then in December, the Council of the EU, representing the member states, scrapped the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women from the draft directive’s list of human-rights standards corporations must respect. This is a huge setback in the fight for women’s rights.

Do European citizens know how little their governments care about women? This gender-blind approach will simply fortify toxic gender dynamics and leave women further behind. It certainly will not protect women environmental and human-rights defenders from the misogynistic violence disproportionately used to silence and control them.

Changing course

The European Parliament and the council can still change course. Co-legislators must ensure rules extend across the entire value chain, because it is in the lower tiers where women are over-represented and invisible to corporates in head offices.

For women and those in situations of vulnerability, access to justice must also urgently be improved. Removing legal barriers to bringing transnational court cases against companies is essential. That includes reversing the disproportionate burden of proof borne by claimants, who usually have limited access to evidence such as internal documents.

European lawmakers must also oblige companies to carry out impact assessments that identify how corporate activities affect women specifically—and include provisions on gender equality and the protection of human-rights defenders erased from earlier drafts. To guarantee that women’s exploitation is no longer a source of profit, major brands must map their international value chains and collect gender-disaggregated data, to give women the information they need to alert companies about risks and ways to remedy abuses.

World of difference

For women working in salmon-processing plants in Chile, it would make a world of difference to be heard and taken into account. By carrying out due diligence and consulting women in a meaningful way, European buying companies would learn about the problems women face—how supervisors monitor their bathroom breaks or penalise their medical check-ups and maternity leaves. You cannot fix what you do not see.

With key votes in the European Parliament and the ‘trilogue’ negotiations on the directive approaching among commission, council and parliament, EU leaders need to get their act together to guarantee that the products we use are untainted by abuses.

On International Women’s Day, the commission said it stood ‘united with all women to build momentum for their rights across the globe’. The EU must now present a united stand to protect the millions of women who work in the factories, farms and packing houses supplying our essential needs.

To see the original post, follow this link:


How Sustainability is Driving Consumer Purchases in Food and Grocery

31 03 2023

Image: Waste 360

Consumers are increasingly swapping brands for ones that are more sustainable, according to new research from Glow. The online consumer research platform contacted 33,000 respondents between April and December 2022, gathering insight into their food and grocery purchases. By Stefanie Valentic from Waste 360 – Reposted: March 31, 2023

Consumers are increasingly swapping brands for ones that are more sustainable, according to new research from Glow.

The online consumer research platform contacted 33,000 respondents between April and December 2022, gathering insight into their food and grocery purchases. Glow also leveraged data from NielsonIQ research studies to study the relationship between consumers and sustainability expectations.

Glow founder and CEO Tim Clover commented, “Investors, employees, customers and consumers want to see more progress in sustainability initiatives that support people, the environment and the planet. Brands are increasingly sharing their credentials, communicating their milestones and publishing performance against their ESG and sustainability goals.”

He noted the influx of information around sustainability from both “controlled and uncontrolled sources” as a direct driver of consumer purchasing decisions, with one out of 2 consumers switching brands based on their purpose-driven efforts.

The US Brand Sustainability Benchmark report showed behaviors shift across all sectors of the food and grocery (F&G) industry, with the highest occurrences in Health & Beauty, Meat & Seafood, Household, and Beverage.

Respondents indicated they are willing to pay more for brands with ESG goals that align with their values. Nine out of 10 consumers surveyed expressed the importance of brands demonstrating social and environmental responsibility. Furthermore, 64 percent are willing to pay more for these products.

The findings also showed the following economic issues are most important in purchasing F&G products: reducing emissions and climate change; respecting and protecting natural resources; protecting wildlife and ecosystems; and taking care of supplier welfare. Packaging and plastic reduction in Household products also were important to consumers.

“The largest opportunity gap for brands in the US F&G industry exists in the Environmental drivers,” the study found. “They are the most important but consumers are the least satisfied with the industry’s overall performance across them. More than 3 in 10 consumers are not satisfied with the industry’s performance on any of the four Environmental drivers – with reducing emissions & climate change both the most important AND the lowest scoring driver of satisfaction measured. Environmental drivers represent a significant opportunity for the Food and Grocery industry to raise their game to meet consumer expectations.”

Glow concluded that opportunities exist for F&G brands that align their ESG goals with consumer expectations. The industry ranked ahead of 20 others in the report, just behind supermarkets and convenience.

“The F&G industry is deemed to be one of the industries leading the way to a more sustainable future,” the study noted.

To see the original post, follow this link:

Companies pay up to $500,000 for sustainability ratings and are often dissatisfied with the results

29 03 2023
A picture illustration shows U.S. 100-dollar bank notes
A picture illustration shows U.S. 100-dollar bank notes taken in Tokyo August 2, 2011. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao/File Photo

Reporting by Virginia Furness; editing by Simon Jessop and Jane Merriman from Reuters • Reposted: March 29, 2023

Companies are spending up to half a million dollars a year on a sustainability rating to meet investor demands for such data, yet are often dissatisfied with the results, new research shows.

Publicly-listed companies spend, on average, between $220,000 and $480,000 on ratings-related costs per year, with their private counterparts being billed for up to $425,000, based on a survey by sustainability consulting firm ERM. Common criticisms related to the accuracy and transparency of the data and ratings, as well as a company’s ability to correct errors, the report said.

Growing demand for environmental, social and governance (ESG) data and a reliance by many smaller investors on external providers to assess companies has driven rapid growth of the unregulated industry, drawing the attention of regulators.

The ERM report said companies’ dissatisfaction with the accuracy of ratings was based largely on their experience of finding errors in raters’ analysis of company supplied data, undermining their trust in the overall rating.

Almost a third of the 104 companies surveyed said they had a “low” to “very low” confidence that the ESG ratings accurately reflected their ESG performance.

But they are driven to secure ratings by investor demand, with 95% of companies saying this was a factor for them engaging with ESG raters.

Investors, too, are spending large amounts on ESG data and ratings, with costs ranging between $175,000 and $360,000, the ERM said, although many reported having only “moderate confidence” in the accuracy and utility of these ratings.

To see the original post, follow this link:

Responsible brands contributing to provide clean water for 5 million people

28 03 2023

Image: Water Equity

Among the contributors to the $140 million WaterEquity Global Access Fund IV are Ecolab, Starbucks, Gap, Reckitt and DuPont. The companies have contributed to a $140 million fund run by WaterEquity, whose co-founder is Matt Damon. By Patrick Kennedy from the Star Tribune • Reposted: March 28, 2023

Ecolab is investing $10 million to a new fund that hopes to bring clean drinking water to 5 million people around the world.

Among the other contributors to the $140 million WaterEquity Global Access Fund IV are Starbucks, Gap, Reckitt and DuPont.

The fund is being managed by WaterEquity, an impact investment asset manager whose co-founder is the actor Matt Damon. The announcement came last week as the United Nations Water Conference was set to start.

The companies are all part of the Water Resilience Coalition, a CEO-led initiative to bring attention to and take action against a growing global water crisis. Nearly 2 billion people today live in water stressed areas and, according to the coalition, that number may grow to half the world’s population by 2050.

“As a global water leader who helps customers manage 1.1 trillion gallons around the world, Ecolab believes that water stewardship and sustainable business growth must go hand in hand,” said Emilio Tenuta, Ecolab’s chief sustainability officer.

Starbucks’ contribution is $25 million. The fund also has a $100 million commitment from the U.S. International Development Finance Corp.

Tenuta said Ecolab not only believes the cause is the right thing to do but also boosts “the business case for sustainability by showing a positive return on investment and a positive impact,” he added.

The fund is part of a new investment portfolio by the Water Resilience Coalition. More investment will be needed to fund the nearly $1 billion in collective investment opportunities identified by the portfolio.

The portfolio may eventually include other funding vehicles including private equity investments, microloans and impact bonds.

To see the original post, follow this link:

Gearing Up for ESG Reporting: Insights from Public Company Executives

27 03 2023

Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

By Kristen Sullivan from triple • Reposted: March 27, 2023

Committing to meet environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives and targets is one thing. Acting on them is quite another. What are businesses doing to prepare for high-quality sustainability and ESG reporting, and what challenges are they uncovering along the way? To find out, Deloitte surveyed 300 public company executives to get a pulse on current trends and sentiment. Here are five takeaways from the front lines of real-world change.

Embed ESG in the corporate strategy

Nearly 3 in 5 executives (57 percent) say their company has established a cross-functional working group to drive strategic attention to ESG, an increase of 21 percent since last year. Another 42 percent say they’re in the process of establishing one. 

A typical ESG working group includes executives from finance, accounting, risk, legal, sustainability, operations, supply chain and other functional areas. Increasingly, accountability for ESG performance can be most effective with an integrated governance structure that brings together all business functions. A philosophy of ownership across the business, paired with a strategic approach to governance, can establish ESG as a strategic priority highly aligned to corporate strategy. 

Assign roles and responsibilities

Only 3 percent of executives say their companies are prepared for potential increased ESG regulatory or other disclosure requirements, but many are getting ready. For instance, 81 percent of companies have created new roles or responsibilities, and 89 percent say they’ve enhanced internal goal-setting and accountability mechanisms to promote readiness. 

Who has management responsibility over ESG disclosure? Today, in many cases, it’s the chief financial officer (CFO) or chief sustainability officer (CSO), but many respondents indicate that increasingly there is shared responsibility for ESG reporting across the executive leadership team, human resources, supply chain and other functions. 

Of those executives surveyed, board-level oversight has been predominantly assigned to the nominating and governance committee, but we are seeing a trend of expanded oversight responsibility across all committees, aligned to respective remit, to drive greater integration and oversight of ESG risks and opportunities. 

Increase focus on assurance 

Nearly all (96 percent) surveyed executives plan to seek assurance for the next ESG reporting cycle. To prepare for a reasonable level of assurance, 37 percent of companies are starting to apply the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO)’s internal control guidelines, which can help companies measure, manage and validate ESG information with the same rigor typically applied to financial reporting.  

Respondents shared that they use a range of different frameworks and standards for their disclosures. The most common is the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) (56 percent), closely followed by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) (55 percent). Around half of respondents also use standards from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

For multinational firms, the rapid progress of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) signals optimism for convergence of a number of leading sustainability reporting standards and frameworks and the creation of a global baseline for sustainability reporting to help meet the information needs of the capital markets, as well as serve as the basis upon which other jurisdictions can build. 

Develop a workable solution for data gaps

When it comes to sustainability reporting, access to quality ESG data now appears to be a bigger challenge than data availability. Still, a majority (61 percent) of respondents indicate their companies are prepared to disclose details about the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions they directly produce, known as Scope 1. Even more (76 percent) say they’re ready to disclose details of their Scope 2 GHG emissions, or emissions generated by the electricity a company purchases, a substantial increase from the 47 percent who said so the previous year. 

At the same time, Scope 3 emissions — which account for GHGs produced along a company’s entire value chain — appear to remain a challenge. Most respondents (86 percent) indicate they’ve run into challenges measuring them, and only 37 percent are prepared to disclose them in detail. 

To close any gaps, companies may consider focusing on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which currently serves as the leading standard for measuring greenhouse gas emissions and provides for methodologies to promote consistency of measurement with due consideration to the level of measurement uncertainty and data availability. 

Invest in technology for ESG reporting, disclosure and action

New technology is on the horizon for many companies as they embark on their ESG integration and disclosure journeys. Nearly all executives (99 percent) are somewhat likely or very likely to invest in new technology to prepare to meet stakeholder expectations and future regulatory requirements. 

Technology solutions can assist in accelerating preparedness in moving from reporting in accordance with voluntary sustainability standards and frameworks to enhanced disclosure in accordance with authoritative ESG standards and new regulation. 

No matter where a company is in their sustainability journey, strategic attention to ESG integration and disclosure today can help to deliver long term value to  stakeholders into the future. By implementing the insights shared by public company executives, companies can gear up for ESG reporting and work to meet stakeholder expectations while also creating long-term value. 

Kristen B. Sullivan is a partner with Deloitte & Touche LLP and leads Sustainability and ESG Services, working with clients to help address their sustainability and non-financial disclosure strategy needs. 

To see the original post, follow this link:

Companies Face Another Packed Year of Sustainability Shareholder Votes

27 03 2023

Anti-ESG proposals have also jumped, and the first vote this year was for one at Apple that called for reporting on the “risks” of the company’s diversity and inclusion programs. PHOTO: JOHN G MABANGLO/SHUTTERSTOCK

Proposals on social issues have waned slightly but continue to be the most popular while climate action ones are on the rise. By Dieter Holger from The Wall Street Journal • Reposted: March 27, 2023

U.S. companies are facing fewer shareholder proposals on social issues this year but more calls for climate action. Anti-ESG ones are increasing, too.

For annual general meetings taking place in the first six months of the year, shareholders across all U.S. publicly traded companies filed a total of 538 proposals related to environmental, social and sustainability governance issues, according to the Sustainable Investments Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit that tracks such votes. Last year, there were 577 filings over the same period.  

Proposals focused on social issues were again the most popular this year, mentioned in 338 of the filings, down more than 9% from 373 last year. Environmental issues were at the heart of 162 proposals, up slightly from 2022’s comparable tally of 155. Included in the grand total were 48 so-called anti-ESG proposals focused on the risk of ESG-promoting policies, up from 27 in the same period last year. 

Historically proposals sought more transparency, better disclosure or asked for companies to set goals, said Peter Reali, managing director and member of the sustainable investments team at fund manager Nuveen LLC. Now, many are calling for a change in behavior or impact, he said.

While the votes on proposals aren’t binding, they can create pressure for companies to change, to take a position on hot-button issues and can also express a lack of investor confidence in board members. However, Heidi Welsh, director of the Sustainable Investments Institute, cautioned that “it’s far too soon to draw any conclusions about support levels since we only have seen about half a dozen votes.” Sustainability ProposalsFilings are trending down this year compared with 2022, but more are expected to surfaceSource: Sustainable Investments InstituteNote: Proposals filed by March 20 for U.S. public companies with annual general meetings in the first six months of the​year.EnvironmentalSocialSustainability Governance2014’15’200100200300400500600

There are 298 proposals for companies to take more action on social issues, slightly down from 332 in 2022. Again this year, around a third of those concerned politics, including requests to set up board oversight or to report on a company’s lobbying, election spending or trade associations. Last year, politically-focused proposals won an average of 32% support, with only five—including at Twitter Inc., Netflix Inc. and insurer Travelers Companies Inc. —achieving majority support. 

There are also 20 pay equity proposals this year, down from 33 in 2022. These typically ask companies to audit or report on gender-and-racial pay differences. Abortion has also emerged as a flashpoint with 22 reproductive health proposals this year, up from four last year.

Environmental action was the second most popular area of shareholder focus. So far, there are 160 pro-environment proposals this year, up from 154 in 2022. Most environmental proposals ask companies to adopt or report on Paris-aligned climate targets, while a smaller number ask investors, insurers and banks to report on, limit or cease their financing of fossil fuels. 

Shareholders voted on a record number of pro-climate proposals last year, but their support was lukewarm for more ambitious goals such as ending fossil-fuel financing. 

Support has waned slightly since 2021 when proposals calling for emission-reduction targets garnered record backing. Investors have also been more hesitant to support proposals that specifically lay out how a company should meet a climate target, said Mr. Reali: “It’s one thing to ask companies to set goals and targets, it’s another thing to tell companies how to achieve those goals and targets.” 

Evidence of the rise of the anti-ESG movement in the U.S. can also be seen. The 48 anti-ESG filings to date mostly ask companies to report on the “risks” of corporate plans for improving diversity and inclusion in and outside the company. Only five concerned the environment.

Ms. Welsh expects more anti-ESG proposals this season. However, last year, most of these types of proposals received less than 5% support, the threshold necessary to refile it again in the coming year. This year’s first anti-ESG vote—asking Apple Inc. to report on the “risks” of its diversity and inclusion programs—received 1.4% support.

The proposal tally will change over the AGM season, running from January to September but with most meetings happening between April and June. Some proxy statements will include new proposals. Companies will avoid votes when shareholders withdraw some current proposals, usually after they reach an agreement with the company on an issue. Last year, 273 proposals were withdrawn before they could be voted on during the AGMs in the first half of 2022. The comparable figure this year is 120, so far. 

To see the original post, follow this link:

The Guardian: First global water conference in 50 years yields hundreds of pledges, zero checks

26 03 2023

Non-binding commitments, paucity of scientific data and poor representation of global south left a lot to be desired at summit. By Nina Lakhani and Oliver Milman from the Guardian • Reposted: March 26, 2023

The first global water conference in almost half a century has concluded with the creation of a new UN envoy for water and hundreds of non-binding pledges that if fulfilled would edge the world towards universal access to clean water and sanitation.

The three-day summit in New York spurred almost 700 commitments from local and national governments, non-profits and some businesses to a new Water Action Agenda, and progress on the hotchpotch of voluntary pledges will be monitored at future UN gatherings. A new scientific panel on water will also be created by the UN.

Overall, organizers said they were happy that governments and representatives from academia, industries, and non-profits had come together to discuss the often neglected topic of water and to commit billions of dollars to improving water security.

But they conceded that more was needed than a set of voluntary commitments such as a formal global agreement, like the 2015 Paris climate accords and the 2022 Montreal biodiversity pact, as well as better data and an international finance mechanism to safeguard water supplies.

“This conference did not give us a mandate for this, but we brought the world together to ensure there is a follow-up,” said Henk Ovink, special envoy for water for the Netherlands, which co-hosted the conference along with Tajikistan. “We have fragmented water governance across the world, fragmented finance and not enough science and data in place.”

“We know our job is still not done and in fact we are falling behind in our task,” said Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore’s senior minister and co-chair of a summit interactive dialogue. “But we know the job can be done. We must now treat water as a global common good to be protected collectively, in the interests of all nations.”

In closing the historic summit, António Guterres, the secretary general of the UN, urged everyone to turn the pledges into action. “All of humanity’s hopes for the future depend, in some way, on charting a new course to sustainably manage and conserve water … it needs to be at the centre of the political agenda.”

Talks ended with a broad agreement that water should be treated as a global common good, and that the world’s approach to water must be less siloed given its nexus with the climate crisis, and food, energy and national security. But with no internationally binding agreement, experts fear that pledges could slide as it will be hard to hold governments, industry and financial institutions to account.

On Friday morning, more than 100 water experts from research institutions and civil society groups across five continents sent a letter to the UN general secretary slamming the lack of “accountability, rigour and ambition” at the conference, arguing that the paucity of scientific rigour and binding agreements will fail to secure the more just, resilient and sustainable water future urgently needed.

“Trying to solve one of the greatest challenges facing humanity with voluntary commitments and solutions based on half-baked evidence is like taking a knife to a gunfight – it simply isn’t good enough, and represents a betrayal of the world’s poor who bear the brunt of the water crisis,” said Nick Hepworth, executive director of Water Witness.

Charles Iceland, global director for water at the World Resources Institute, said only about a third of these announcements were “gamechangers” that would substantially improve the water crisis. “I think the voluntary commitments are a good start … Each voluntary commitment has a place where you talk about how much money is available, most of them left that blank.”

“We need a Paris agreement for water globally, and national water plans for each country, and regional water plans for each shared basin and aquifer,” Iceland added.

About 90% of climate impacts are related to water – too much, too little, or too dirty – yet only 3% of climate finance is currently dedicated to the world’s water systems. Water related conflicts have risen sharply in recent years as sources dwindle, including many internal disputes between urban and rural dwellers, and pastoralists and farmers, according to research by the Pacific Institute.

Almost 7,000 people attended the conference, but the private sector and global north were far better represented than experts and water insecure communities at the frontline of the water crisis from the global south – many of whom were excluded due to visa and financial barriers. Only a dozen or so world leaders attended the conference, and there were no protests and few activists to call out government and business hypocrisies.

Mana Omar, 28, one of few activists from Fridays for Future Africa to get a visa, said: “As a young person without affiliation to a big organisation there was no opportunity to share experiences of my community,” said Omar, who is from Kenya’s arid Kajiado county where girls and women from pastoral Indigenous communities are facing worsening gender-based violence as drought forces them to travel further to find water.

Australian water scarcity activist Mina Guli, center, after completing her 200th marathon outside UN headquarters on 22 March 2023.
Australian water scarcity activist Mina Guli, center, after completing her 200th marathon outside UN headquarters on 22 March 2023. Photograph: Leonardo Muñoz/AFP/Getty Images

“The water action agenda should include diverse experiences, but too many communities are missing, and there’s nothing legally binding so how can we hold the countries to account?” added Omar.

A UN spokesperson said they were unaware of any access issues.

The conference also failed to address the violence and threats faced by communities trying to protect dwindling water sources from mining, industrial agriculture and other polluting industries. “It is a very bureaucratic event where only large NGOs, governments and private companies could express themselves,” said Juan Gabriel Martinez, 34, a land and water defender from Manizales, Colombia, where the community is under attack by armed militias.

A quarter of the world’s population still does not have access to safe drinking water while half lacks basic sanitation – which is one of the sustainable development goals for 2030. Progress has been slow due to the lack of financial investment from rich countries – which has moved towards loans not grants, insufficient political will and a siloed approach to water. At the current rate, universal access to clean water and sanitation will not be achieved for decades after the 2030 target.

Samuel Godfrey, the UN Development Programme’s principal water resources advisor, said: “What’s come out of this is the need to move toward regional goals after 2030.”

And while the summit may have nudged the world in the right direction, as Musonda Mumba, secretary general for the convention on wetlands, said in her closing statement: “The crisis is everywhere … we have no time.”

To see the original post, follow this link:

What Does It Mean To Be ‘Water Positive’?

24 03 2023

Submitted photo

By Nicole Loher from Meta • Reposted: March 24, 2023

When it comes to water scarcity, the numbers are global, but the impact is hyperlocal.

Community by community, neighbor by neighbor, the issue of water stress impacts humanity’s health and wellness as well as economic development. And yet, more than 1.7 billion people live in water basins that are being depleted by overuse and a 40% shortfall in freshwater resources is predicted by 2030. New water cannot be created, so we must be efficient with the water we use, and return what we take — particularly in highly stressed water basins. Water stewardship means taking care of the communities and ecosystems that share water resources.

In 2021, Meta announced an ambitious goal to be water positive by 2030 and in 2022, joined the Water Resilience Coalition of the UN CEO Water Mandate, a cross-sector initiative to raise the ambition of corporate water stewardship and foster collective impact in priority basins.

“Meta is honored to be a member of the Water Resilience Coalition alongside leading organizations and businesses committed to taking action on water. We’re committed to becoming water positive by 2030 by sourcing water responsibly, driving water efficiency across our facilities and operations, and investing in local water restoration projects where our facilities are located. Through the Water Resilience Coalition, we can work together to collectively protect this shared and precious resource.”


Striving for Water Positive and Water Stewardship

For Meta, being water positive is about using water efficiently in our operations and returning more water than we consume in water-stressed basins through projects that address local needs and context. We seek to be good water stewards in water basins where we have operations through water efficiency measures and by taking into account the local context and needs of the shared basin.

Water stewardship aims to make sure local access and use of water is culturally equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial. It requires understanding the ecological and geographical context of local water use — along with issues of governance, balance, quality, sanitation and hygiene — and calls for meaningful individual and collective action.

We are listening to that call. Good water stewardship is intrinsically linked to our other sustainability priorities, which affect how we operate, how we create and how we collaborate. As climate change continues to impact water scarcity on a global scale, good water stewardship will remain a critical collective concern, especially for those living in low-income and disadvantaged communities that face increased climatological risks. 

The road to water positive begins, of course, with saving as much water as possible in the first place. From there, Meta prioritizes the basins where we operate that face water stress and collaborates with partners to preserve and restore the health and resilience of local watersheds, based on local need, even as our need for water grows.

Minimizing Water Use in Our Data Centers

Around the world, our 21 data centers power our family of apps and services 24/7. Maybe it’s no surprise then, that they account for most of Meta’s water use as well.

Since 2012, we’ve tracked and reported water usage effectiveness at our data centers as a first step to good water stewardship, but we’re constantly seeking innovative ways to minimize our water use as well — like using direct evaporative cooling, which relies on outside air rather than chilled water and cooling towers, to keep internal temperatures down.

Additionally, we’re proactively choosing plant species, efficient irrigation, alternative water sources, Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified new wood products and smart scheduling technologies that together save more than 80,000 kilogallons of water per year at our data centers.

Restoring Local Watersheds

Our restoration efforts not only play a critical role in advancing our water stewardship goals, but promote biodiversity in neighboring communities too. Working with local organizations and utilities, we are investing in restoration projects in water-stressed regions that support the local water supply and help restore local habitats and wildlife.

Since 2017, we have invested in 25 water restoration projects in seven watersheds where we operate data centers. One of the most impactful has been in the Rio Grande basin in New Mexico, which faces water stress and drought. In partnership with the Middle Rio Grande Flow Restoration Project, the 2020 program leased 450 acre-feet of water from the City of Bernalillo, NM, to support wetland and channel areas in the Isleta Reach of the Rio Grande. The water was commingled with volumes acquired through other leases to help keep 35 river miles flowing to support the wetlands and water channels on which the area’s birds, fish and wildlife depend.

Water restoration will remain a high priority for us going forward. As of August 2021, we have invested in water restoration projects that will replenish more than 850 million gallons of water per year in water-stressed basins. You can read more about our ongoing efforts in our Volumetric Water Benefits report.

Increasing Water Efficiency in our Workplaces

With nearly 72,000 employees in our offices across 80 cities, our facilities teams work hard to track our water withdrawal. Many offices, including our headquarters in Menlo Park, CA, utilize on-site recycled water systems to reclaim water from a variety of sources. And across all facilities, we’ve reduced our water needs by installing efficient plumbing fixtures and planting low-water-use plants.

It’s a lot but we still have a long way to go to meet our goal of water positive by 2030. By combining transparency with collaboration and collective action to address local needs, we aim to be good water stewards for our local communities and our planet, ensuring a sustainable future for all.

Curious about what else we’re doing to be water positive? Check out our 2021 Sustainability Report.

To see the original post, follow this link:

Workforce Diversity Disclosures Hit An All-Time High

23 03 2023

Image credit: August de Richelieu/Pexels

By Mary Mazzoni from • Reposted: March 23 2023

As companies make bolder commitments to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), stakeholders are looking for more information to back up their claims. Shareholder resolutions related to racial equity more than doubled at U.S. companies last year, many focused specifically on convincing companies to publicly disclose diversity data about their workforces. 

Likewise, the vast majority of the American public — 92 percent, according to 2022 polling from Just Capital — feel it’s important for companies to promote racial equity in the workplace. And they recognize data is an important tool to do it, with 76 percent of respondents to Just Capital’s survey agreeing that disclosing demographic data is an important step toward advancing racial equity.  

While some corporate commitments related to racial equity have failed to fully materialize, the area of diversity disclosures in particular is one where companies are stepping up in a big way, with record levels of best-practice disclosure across the world’s largest public firms. 

The state of corporate diversity disclosures

What’s often missed in conversations about diversity disclosures is that most large companies already track this information because they’re legally obligated to do so. All U.S. public companies with more than 100 employees are required to submit annual reports to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Labor that detail workforce data, including breakdowns by race and ethnicity, sex, and job categories. 

These reports, known as EEO-1 reports, are kept confidential by government agencies unless companies choose to voluntarily disclose them — and more companies are going just that.

Nearly 75 percent of Russell 1,000 companies disclose some form of workforce diversity data, compared to 55 percent in 2021, according to tracking from Just Capital. Within that group, 34 percent of companies publicly disclosed their EEO-1 reports or similar intersectional data last year — a more than threefold increase from 11 percent a year earlier. 

“Over the past year, companies across the Russell 1,000 have made great strides toward improving disclosure of racial and ethnic workforce demographic data,” Just Capital’s director of research insights, Matthew Nestler, and his team wrote in the report. 

When Just Capital last gathered disclosure data in September 2021, nearly half of all Russell 1,000 companies made no diversity disclosures at all. By September of last year, that number had fallen to 28 percent, as more than 150 companies opted to newly disclose their diversity data.

companies making diversity disclosures about their workforce has increased rapidly since 2021
(Click here to enlarge)

Importantly, many of these companies are skipping over the less granular disclosures, such as data about overall “non-white” or “minority” employees without racial and ethnic categories or job title breakdowns, and going right for publication of their EEO-1 reports.

Given increased stakeholder interest, it’s no surprise that companies taking the lead on diversity disclosures are reaping the benefits: Companies that published their EEO-1 or similar intersectional data outperformed those that didn’t by 7.9 percent over the trailing one-year period ending in 2022, according to a companion analysis from Just Capital. 

“Publicly disclosing demographic data represents a critical initial step for companies looking to build more diverse workforces, as well as stronger returns,” Nestler and his team wrote in the report. “It holds corporate leaders to account on their DEI goals and signals commitment to advancing racial equity.”

The bottom line

This type of rapid change indicates that advocacy from investors and consumers is working: Business leaders are hearing their stakeholders loud at clear, at least within the context of diversity disclosures. And even as anti-woke crusaders erroneously blame DEI “distractions” for everything from the Ohio train derailment to the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, companies don’t appear to be backing down

“The story the report tells may not be a perfect one, but disclosure is a crucial first step in holding companies accountable to change,” Nestler and his team concluded. “From there, to ensure lasting progress on DEI, corporate leaders must ultimately go beyond demographic disclosure and measure and disclose the outcomes of their DEI efforts, including whether C-Suite compensation is tied to DEI-related progress, what resources are directed toward DEI efforts, how they drive impact in local communities, and more.” 

Just Capital works to incentivize corporate behavior change on DEI issues through accountability initiatives like the Corporate Racial Equity Tracker and actionable guidance like the CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity. Other resources such as the business-led coalition CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, and its Actions Database of more than 1,900 insights, are also at hand to guide business leaders as they look to advance DEI within their workforces. 

To see the original post, follow this link:

PepsiCo’s chief sustainability officer: ‘Half of the world’s population will face water scarcity as soon as 2025. It’s time everyone does their part in addressing the global water crisis’

22 03 2023

By Jim Andrew, Executive Vice President, Chief Sustainability Officer for PepsiCo via Yahoo Finance • Reposted: March 22, 2023

Water is a fundamental human right. It is indispensable to every community, ecosystem, and economy around the world. Yet water insecurity has become one of the world’s greatest crises–and one that is overlooked, or even worse, ignored entirely.

Globally, more than 2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water and 4 billion people experience severe water scarcity at least one month a year–and many far more frequently than that.

Climate change and other factors are harming water supply and quality, and ecosystems are being degraded as a result. It’s projected that at current rates of consumption, there will be a 56% gap between global water supply and demand by 2030.

And while the private sector and other stakeholders have made progress in addressing the causes of this water stress, the truth is it’s not nearly enough.

We are at an inflection point, which makes the upcoming UN Water Conference–being held for the first time in nearly five decades–a critical moment to drive action. It represents a transformative opportunity to ignite unprecedented collaboration among governments, NGOs, and the private sector to address this growing global crisis.

At PepsiCo, as the second-largest food and beverage company in the world, we know the critical role that water plays in the food system. When it comes to addressing water issues, we use a watershed management approach that encompasses our entire value chain, including on farms, in manufacturing facilities, along our value chain and in local communities. Through PepsiCo Positive–a strategic, end-to-end transformation of our business–we have developed robust goals to support our ambition of being “net water positive” by 2030. The aim is that our presence and action should improve the local water resources where we operate.

For example, we have implemented new technologies and processes in three of our largest food plants in Latin America that have taken us off the water grid, enabling us to make popular snacks like Lay’s, Doritos, and Cheetos without drawing anyfreshwater from local watersheds.

At our Vallejo facility in Mexico City, we source water from our manufacturing processes and other food companies in the area, purify it in house, and reuse the water in our operations. In Funza, Colombia, we treat and reuse our own processed water and capture rainwater for use in our facility. Both sites have operated using zero freshwater, with no burden on local municipalities, for approximately 250 days and counting since 2022, while our plant in Itu, Brazil, has yielded more than 100 days of using zero freshwater through similar approaches.

While operational efficiency is important for our business and water stewardship, it alone does not solve the larger problem. It’s critical that companies like PepsiCo continue to expand efforts beyond the walls of our facilities to protect and restore watersheds, while also ensuring that communities around the world have reliable access to safe, clean water.

In 2021 alone, our projects helped restore 6.1 billion liters of water back into local watersheds through replenishment partnerships with conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund. And, over the last 15 years, PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation have helped more than 80 million people access safe water. We’re aiming to reach 100 million people by 2030.

Fortunately, many companies have set ambitious water goals and are taking action. There are thousands of individual projects around the globe working to tackle water stress, but presently there are few opportunities for the private sector, NGOs, and governments to work together and pool the necessary resources to address this crisis at scale. We’re proud to be part of the CEO Water Mandate, for example, but such coalitions are few and far between.

We believe the only way to address the global water crisis is to get all stakeholders engaged and, through collective action, work towards a common goal of dramatically and urgently improving water conservation and governance, while ensuring that all people have access to safe, clean water. We need more open-source sharing of ideas and best practices. We need technological innovations and to rethink how we approach partnerships. We need collaboration among all stakeholders in impacted watersheds, advocating for solutions that drive fairness and address the specific needs of that locality. Only then will we drive the investment and scale that results in the level of change we need.

We are actively participating in the UN Water Conference and related events to share what we’ve learned and to learn from others, and to help inspire bolder collective action.

Half of the global population could face water scarcity challenges by 2025, according to UNICEF. We don’t have the luxury of time.

Jim Andrew is Executive Vice President, Chief Sustainability Officer for PepsiCo.

To see the orignal post, follow this link:

Disaster survivors need help remaining connected with friends and families – and access to mental health care

19 03 2023

Hatay, Turkey, was hit hard by the February 2023 earthquakes. Ugur Yildirim/dia images via Getty Images

By Daniel P. Aldrich, Professor of Political Science, Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Director, Security and Resilience Program, Northeastern University and Yunus Emre Tapan, Ph.D. Student in Political Science, Northeastern University via The Conversation * Reposted: March 19, 2023

The earthquakes that struck southeastern Turkey and northern Syria in early February 2023 have killed at least 47,000 people and disrupted everyday life for some 26 million more. 

Survivors of big disasters like these earthquakes – among the worst in the region’s history – certainly need food, water, medications, blankets and other goods. But they also need psychological first aid – that is, immediate mental health counseling along with support that strengthens their connections with their friends, relatives and decision-makers. 

As scholars who study how disaster survivors benefit from preserving connections to people in their networks, we know that these social ties help with the recovery from traumatic events that cause significant upheaval.

But often in the rush to keep survivors fed, warm and housed, we’ve observed that the flow of support that focuses on meeting their psychological needs falls short of what’s needed.

Emergency response underway

The Turkish government agency responsible for disaster management – the AFAD – focuses strongly on the delivery of tents, medical care and physical aid. And the few nongovernmental organizations providing mental health care, such as the Maya Foundation and Turkish Psychological Association, have received less than 10% of the donations channeled through the Turkey Earthquake Relief Fund

Many international aid groups, private companies and NGOs have launched campaigns to support search and rescue operations and response and recovery through disaster diplomacyThe United Nations invited its member states to raise US$1 billion to support aid operations. The U.S. is providing more than $100 million in aid.

All this assistance is funding emergency response efforts and humanitarian aid that largely consists of food, medicine and shelter in the area.

The Turkish government has announced it will begin building 30,000 homes in quake-hit areas in March and will give cash aid to those affected.

Psychological aspects of disasters

Research conducted after a wide variety of catastrophes has shown that mental health problems become more common after these events. Many survivors experience anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder because of everything they have been through. 

One reason for this is that disasters can cut people off from their routines and sever access to the sources of emotional support they previously relied on. Often moved to emergency shelters, and away from their doctors, neighbors and friends, survivors – especially those without strong networks – regularly experience poor mental health.

Further, when there are many casualties after major disasters of any kind, families may have lost loved ones and still not have a gravesite at which they can mourn. Within seven weeks of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, for example, nearly half of the residents of New Orleans surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had PTSD symptoms

An important lesson we’ve drawn from researching what occurs after disasters is that robust social networks can soften some of the blows from these shocks. Even after someone loses a home and a sense of normalcy, staying in close touch with family and friends can minimize some of the sense of loss. 

People who are pushed out of their routines but manage to remain connected to their neighbors – who are often going through the same ordeal – tend to have lower levels of PTSD and anxiety. Their friends and relatives can provide emotional support, help them stay informed, and encourage the use of mental health treatment and outside help when it’s needed.

One of us participated in a research team that surveyed nearly 600 residents of a town located near the Fukushima Daiichi power plant after the nuclear meltdowns in March 2011. More than one-fourth of these survivors of the catastrophe had PTSD symptoms. Those with strong social networks, however, generally had fewer mental health problems than other survivors with weaker connections to their friends and loved ones.

Another study of Japan’s Great Eastern Earthquake and tsunami in 2011 that one of us took part in showed that survivors of that disaster with stronger social ties recovered more rapidly and completely following a disaster.

People dressed for winter gather in a semi-outdoor space.
Syrians gather in Aleppo, in a building damaged by the February 2023 earthquake. Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images

4 strategies that can help

In our view, relief organizations that operate in Turkey and Syria and government aid agencies need to focus and spend more on mental health priorities. Here are four good ways to accomplish this:

  1. Include psychologists, therapists, social workers and other mental health professionals in the mix of aid workers who arrive immediately after disasters to begin group and individual therapy. 
  2. Ensure that local faith-based organizations and spiritual leaders play key roles in the recovery process
  3. Get as many public spaces, such as cafes, libraries and other gathering spots as possible, up and running again. Even virtual get-togethers using Zoom or similar software can help maintain connections with displaced friends and loved ones – as long as survivors have working cellphone service, at a minimum.
  4. Disaster recovery efforts should make communications technology a high priority. In addition to spending on food, tents, blankets, cots and medical supplies, we recommend that basic disaster aid should include access to free phone calls and Wi-Fi so that people whose lives have been upended can stay in contact with far-flung friends and loved ones. 

Given the likelihood of more large-scale disasters in the future, we believe that it’s essential that relief efforts emphasize work that will strengthen the mental health and social networks of survivors.

To see the original post, follow this link:

Stop the siloes: How a successful sustainability strategy involves the whole business

19 03 2023

For edie’s Business Leadership Month, Peter Bragg, EMEA sustainability & government affairs director at Canon, looks at how sustainability can be taken out of its silo to the benefit of the whole business. From edie’ • Reposted: March 19, 2023

It’s no longer news that sustainability is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Consumers and companies alike are prioritising the planet by adopting more sustainable shopping habits and making more commitments to improve credentials, with 87% of business leaders planning to increase sustainability strategy investment over the next two years.  While it’s great to see so many companies prioritising sustainability initiatives within their business model, there still remains a large number of business leaders who are struggling with the implementation of effective, large-scale sustainability strategies.

Many companies are establishing sustainability-focused departments, or specific roles, to help address these issues, however, by creating these silos, businesses are hindering the widespread adoption of sustainable practices that are needed to make a difference. Instead, businesses need to make sure every department, team and individual are taking an active part in delivering sustainability goals. Only then will sustainability strategies deliver the impactful and purposeful results needed.

Adopt a corporate philosophy

‘Sustainability’ in itself is an umbrella term that incorporates many different focus areas and methods for making the world a better place. For businesses setting a sustainability strategy, it can be easy to get lost in the generalisations, however every organisation should have a different idea of what sustainability means, because different businesses impact the planet in different ways.

Whether it’s working towards a greener supply chain or focusing also on social responsibility, it’s important for businesses to identify key areas they can improve to better the planet and establish clear goals to unify under. For Canon, we’ve adopted the corporate philosophy of Kyosei, meaning ‘living and working together for the common good’. This has provided a base from which we can launch specific initiatives aimed at both reducing our environmental impact and growing our social impact, while ensuring we are responsible and compliant with our products.

Expand efforts in-house

For better practices to be adopted by all departments in a business, it is key to both engage and educate the team. Building sustainability into the business model means ensuring all departments and business units are engaged and responsible for initiatives in their particular market. Aligning different people from across the business has been made easier with virtual communication, and setting up channels and regular check-ins is a great way to keep teams on track. It also proves incredibly useful to learn from teams in different markets, to understand what initiatives have worked, or haven’t, and use that feedback to inform strategies.

At Canon, we facilitate this open communication by working with our multidisciplinary steerco, where all functions of the business are connected and engaged. Setting up leadership working groups like this to apply practices and policies to individual departments ensures that everyone is aware of the role they have to play.

Partnerships broaden efforts

Just as many different areas of a business are needed to implement sustainability strategies, partnerships with other organisations can be a way of reaching all areas of the business. This can be by ensuring sustainability along a supply chain by only partnering with other responsible businesses, as well as broadening practices through proactive joint campaigns.

At Canon, we’ve developed a partnership with the UN SDG Action Team, and our Young People Programme (YPP) works with local NGOs including the Red Cross and Plan International to empower the next generation to make their voice heard on sustainability issues important to them. These particular partnerships have elevated our efforts in the social purpose side of sustainability, which works in addition to our focus on reducing our environmental impact.

Align with an existing framework

Thinking about the bigger picture in terms of sustainable goals can create difficulties for organisations wanting to coordinate approaches throughout the business – especially if they operate in different markets. Using existing framework is a good way to align teams and speed up the activation of these strategies.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a framework for coordinating action across a wide range of topics, keeping businesses in line to achieve goals by 2030. If these goals are included in sustainability and business strategies, they can unite different areas of the business and support a culture that recognises the importance of prioritising sustainability. The UN Global Compact published The SDG Compass to assist companies in aligning the Goals with their strategies.


Creating and implementing an effective sustainability strategy for your business, therefore, requires four key aspects: a clear and relevant sustainability goal, effective communication and engagement from across teams, appropriate partnerships to broaden sustainability practises and useful frameworks to align different teams under. The key theme here is collaboration, and by breaking down the silos, we can make sustainability a company-wide mission rather than a challenge reserved for business leaders alone. Only then can we start to make real change happen.

To see the original post, follow this link:

De-Influencing: How social media stars are encouraging responsible consumerism

18 03 2023

Image: Dazed

By Stephanie Bertini from Fox 5 New York • Reposted: March 18, 2023

Influencers on social media have long been known for pushing products and promoting brands for cash or perks.  However, a new trend is emerging on social media, with the hashtag “de-influencing” gaining popularity.

The de-influencing movement is all about discouraging purchases, and it’s gaining traction among social media influencers. In part, the conversation is around a rejection of overconsumption.

“It’s become another part of influencing,” says brand collaborator coach Kahlea Nicole Wade.  She has taken to social media to post about de-influencing to her followers. 

Wade has been vocal about de-influencing on her platform. She believes that telling someone not to buy something is the same as telling them to buy it, as it’s still a form of influencing.

Under this new trend, some influencers are advocating for their followers to swap expensive products for less expensive alternatives. By doing so, they are encouraging a cheaper purchase while still promoting products that align with their values.

According to social media expert Ruby Kristen, there are several factors contributing to the de-influencing trend. Firstly, the economy is a significant factor. With financial uncertainty on the rise, people are being more cautious with their spending. 

Secondly, people are starting to question whether the products they’re buying are worth the money. 

Lastly, transparency is becoming increasingly important to social media users, and they’re demanding more accountability from influencers.

The de-influencing movement is an interesting departure from the traditional influencer model. As influencers continue to encourage their followers to make more conscious and responsible purchases, it will be interesting to see how brands respond and whether this trend will continue to gain momentum.

To see the original post, follow this link:


Why sustainability must play a major role in your boardroom today — and tomorrow

18 03 2023

We need to shape the boardrooms of the future by choice, not by chance. By Helle Bank Jorgensen from Greenbiz.con * Reposted: March 18, 2023

Image via Shutterstock/EtiAmmos

Sometimes, if you are like me, it is hard to look at the news or social media in the morning. The war in Ukraine, climate change, the tridemic, disappearing biodiversity, a worldwide cost of living crisis, famines and, oh, did I mention climate change?

Our world faces an unprecedented and barely credible list of monumental challenges. This is a time when we need courage and leadership to steer us all through these toughest of times and into the sunlit uplands.

According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, businesses are trusted more than NGOs, governments and media to provide that steady hand at the economic tiller. So that means current and future board directors and senior corporate executives must provide much of that bravery and direction for the world. But to do that, we need to shape their boardrooms of the future by choice, not by chance.

Sustainability will play an important role in this boardroom transition. It also formed the theme of “Sustainability in the Future Boardroom,” a tremendous panel session that I thoroughly enjoyed being part of at the recent GreenBiz 23 event in Scottsdale, Arizona. Joining me were Michael Levine, vice president and managing counsel, sustainability, Under Armour; and Mary Francia, partner, H.I. Executive Consulting (who is also part of the advisory board at Competent Boards).

The Future Boardroom initiative, which aims to bring business leaders together from around the world to shape a much-needed transformation at company leadership tables, provoked vigorous discussions at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January, and caused the same effect in Scottsdale. Here are 10 key takeaways from our panel session:

  1. It is vitally important that governance is embedded into business and board functions so that sustainability work is not just a project or passing fad that disappears with the arrival of a new CEO. 
  2. There are increasing regulatory and reputational risks and consequences for companies and their boards around sustainability and environmental impact. As a result, board directors and senior business leaders must ensure that they have reasonable systems and controls in place to enable oversight and mitigate risks. 
  3. The board’s oversight of the management team is crucial for how sustainability is integrated and brought to life in companies. Board directors need to understand the concept of sustainability to be able to provide effective oversight. To promote true sustainable change, leaders should avoid a compliance mentality, only doing the minimum necessary to be in good order. Instead, they should look to take their companies above and beyond the regulations. For that to be successful, the education process requires continuous learning, feedback and open, regular communications with stakeholders.
  4. Companies should also be aware of legal developments in different jurisdictions and take immediate steps to mitigate risks. For example, in November, Belgium added ecocide — “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts” — to its penal code. 
  5. Board assessments can help to evaluate the skills and competencies needed in a future boardroom and identify strategic challenges and opportunities. These assessments can also help identify board members who may need to resign or change their skill sets in order to continue providing value to the company. 
  6. Education will play a major role in the transition to a future boardroom. Investors are increasingly zeroing in on directors’ knowledge of sustainability issues and may not vote for those who lack insights and knowledge. Therefore, it is vital to have well-informed board members with sustainability knowledge and skills. Current and future board directors should keep learning by having the courage to take on different roles within the company to gain further experience and knowledge.
  7. Companies must have competent and conscious individuals serving on committees overseeing sustainability, ESG and climate issues. If board members can proactively rather than reactively address ESG factors, that will also be a major asset for companies in terms of outpacing competitors and creating renewed value. 
  8. ESG is not just about climate risks; it also presents opportunities for companies to create value and sustainability over time. It is essential for companies to ask the right questions and have a team that can provide a view of what the company’s portfolio should look like in the future: what needs to be removed, and what needs to be added. 
  9. Boards need to have a better understanding of operations and sustainability to be able to maximize opportunities and minimize risks. Sustainability should not just be a check-mark exercise, but rather should be embedded into different business functions and processes, including supply chains and value chains. 
  10. Being a board director is not just about dealing with short-term financial goals, but also about being a steward of the company’s finances, its employees and its impact on society and the environment. In order to add sustainability expertise to a board, that individual must understand what the board is looking for, be able to think strategically and understand corporate governance.

We also asked the GreenBiz 23 audience a series of poll questions, with really interesting results from almost 300 responses: 

How important is sustainability knowledge as a key consideration in the selection of new board members?
  • Not important = 13 percent
  • Important = 32 percent
  • Very important = 49 percent 
  • Unsure = 7 percent
What drives sustainable change in the boardroom? 
  • Investor demand = 56 percent
  • Customer demand = 17 percent
  • Employee demand = 1 percent
  • Regulations = 26 percent
How does ‘today’s’ boardroom get insight to provide oversight on ESG?
  • Ask the CSO to join meetings = 32 percent
  • Pursue ESG training = 15 percent
  • Appoint BoDs with skill set = 36 percent
  • Unsure = 17 percent
Do you see new competencies (climate, biodiversity, DEI, human rights, cybersecurity, etc.) as necessary for The Future Boardroom?
  • Yes = 90 percent
  • No = 5 percent
  • Maybe = 5 percent
Will proactive addressing of ESG factors by board members be an asset for a company to outpace competition and add value creation?
  • Yes = 86 percent
  • No = 0 percent
  • Maybe = 14 percent

From the results, it is clear that confusion remains over the best sources of sustainability information for board directors, with appointing people with skill sets (36 percent) and asking the CSO to join meetings (32 percent) closely matched. Almost 1 in 5 respondents were unsure, showing that there are many opportunities for better education here. 

On the plus side, the majority of our respondents (81 percent) do see sustainability knowledge as important or very important for future board members. And new competencies to meet the challenges ahead are must-haves.

The discussion around boardroom transitions is only just getting started. Download the Future Boardroom white paper to learn more about why sustainability plays a key role in shaping future boardrooms.

To see the original post, follow this link:

This, Not That: More Consumers Are Switching Brands Based on Sustainability

18 03 2023

Image credit: Gustavo Fring/Pexels


We know shoppers are increasingly interested in more sustainable products, and new research indicates many are ready to leave their standby brands behind. Half of all U.S. consumers, including 70 percent of millennials, have changed food and grocery brands based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations, according to new polling. 

For its latest sustainability benchmark report, the research technology company Glow surveyed 33,000 U.S. adults to get their take on the ESG performance of more than 150 food and grocery brands. Across the board, consumers report changing their spending habits to better align with their personal values — and forward-looking brands are reaping the benefits. Almost 90 percent of respondents believe it’s important for businesses to be environmentally and socially responsible, and two-thirds said they’re willing to pay more for products that support vulnerable groups and communities.

“It is vitally important for companies to contribute to supporting society and the planet. And there is a growing body of evidence that doing so is more than the right thing to do, it is good for business,” said Julia Collins, CEO of Planet FWD, a carbon management platform for consumer brands, in a statement. “This report provides further evidence … that those who are leading in consumers’ minds are already reaping the commercial benefits and are best placed for future success.” Indeed, 8 in 10 respondents said they feel more loyalty to purpose-driven brands.

ESG performance is correlated with revenue growth

Glow also found a positive correlation between ESG performance and revenue growth. Even in a troubled economy with a cost-of-living crisis, environmentally- and socially-responsible companies are seeing the economic benefits of standing for their values: 20 percent of consumers rank sustainability in their top three considerations when shopping at the grocery store, and 10 percent of millennials said sustainability is the single most important factor when making a purchase.

Additionally, while 70 percent of consumers are actively switching food and grocery brands to save money, many consider sustainability a key reason not to do so, particularly among younger shoppers. 

“Now more than ever, if brands want to retain and win consumers, they must stand for something,” Mike Johnston, managing director of data products at Glow, said in a statement. “All consumers are looking for ways to save money. They will need a compelling reason why they shouldn’t walk away from your brand for a cheaper alternative. Along with quality, sustainability is a key barrier to change, especially for millennials.” 

It’s worth noting that what consumers view as “sustainable” will vary based on the product. Consumers report that plastic and waste issues are of greater importance in the household goods department, for example, while health and wellbeing is a top concern for consumers when choosing beverages and beauty products. 

Still, across all categories, products with ESG-related claims on their packaging grew an average 1.7 percent faster than those without. Labels and messaging associated with regenerative agriculture, plastic-free products, cruelty-free operations, water footprint, and renewable energy caught consumers’ attention the most.

Consumer expectations are high

U.S. consumers widely perceived the food and grocery industry as a leader in corporate sustainability, Glow’s data revealed, but the industry still faces significant barriers to meeting consumer expectations in a few key areas. For example, almost a third of responding consumers are dissatisfied with the industry’s efforts to reduce emissions, mitigate climate change, protect wildlife and ensure the welfare of suppliers.

While being misaligned with consumer expectations is never ideal for a company or sector, this gap presents an opportunity for brands to re-engage with this growing segment of consumers and stakeholders. By aligning ESG priorities with consumer expectations, companies can take advantage of a growth opportunity, while reducing risk and improving impacts on the environment.

“There’s a role of education here that’s critical for businesses,” Tim Clover, founder and CEO of Glow, told TriplePundit. “Consumers really want to understand the issues in more detail, to understand some of the science and the lengths to which companies are going to solve these problems. Companies that are brave enough to go and take the time to explain the depth of these issues and educate the market, they’re leading. They’re winning.”

To see the original post, follow this link:

New PFAS guidelines – a water quality scientist explains technology and investment needed to get forever chemicals out of US drinking water

17 03 2023


By Joe Charbonnet, Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering, Iowa State Universityvia The Conversation • Reposted: March 17, 2023

Harmful chemicals known as PFAS can be found in everything from children’s clothes to soil to drinking water, and regulating these chemicals has been a goal of public and environmental health researchers for years. On March 14, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed what would be the first set of federal guidelines regulating levels of PFAS in drinking water. The guidelines will be open to public comment for 60 days before being finalized.

Joe Charbonnet is an environmental engineer at Iowa State University who develops techniques to remove contaminants like PFAS from water. He explains what the proposed guidelines would require, how water utilities could meet these requirements and how much it might cost to get these so-called forever chemicals out of U.S. drinking water.

1. What do the new guidelines say?

PFAS are associated with a variety of health issues and have been a focus of environmental and public health researchers. There are thousands of members of this class of chemicals, and this proposed regulation would set the allowable limits in drinking water for six of them.

Two of the six chemicals – PFOA and PFOS – are no longer produced in large quantities, but they remain common in the environment because they were so widely used and break down extremely slowly. The new guidelines would allow for no more than four parts per trillion of PFOA or PFOS in drinking water.

Four other PFAS – GenX, PFBS, PFNA and PFHxS – would be regulated as well, although with higher limits. These chemicals are common replacements for PFOA and PFOS and are their close chemical cousins. Because of their similarity, they cause harm to human and environmental health in much the same way as legacy PFAS.

A few states have already established their own limits on levels of PFAS in drinking water, but these new guidelines, if enacted, would be the first legally enforceable federal limits and would affect the entire U.S. 

A water droplet sitting on a piece of fabric.
Chemicals used to create water-repellent fabrics and nonstick pans often contain PFAS and leak those chemicals into the environment. Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA

2. How many utilities will need to make changes?

PFAS are harmful even at extremely low levels, and the proposed limits reflect that fact. The allowable concentrations would be comparable to a few grains of salt in an Olympic-size swimming pool. Hundreds of utilities all across the U.S. have levels of PFAS above the proposed limits in their water supplies and would need to make changes to meet these standards. 

While many areas have been tested for PFAS in the past, many systems have not, so health officials don’t know precisely how many water systems would be affected. A recent study used existing data to estimate that about 40% of municipal drinking water supplies may exceed the proposed concentration limits.

3. What can utilities do to meet the guidelines?

There are two major technologies that most utilities consider for removing PFAS from drinking water: activated carbon or ion exchange systems

A membrane treatment system.
Water treatment systems can use activated carbon or ion exchange to remove PFAS from drinking water. Paola Giannoni/E+ via Getty Images

Activated carbon is a charcoal-like substance that PFAS stick to quite well and can be used to remove PFAS from water. In 2006, the town of Oakdale, Minnesota, added an activated carbon treatment step to its water system. Not only did this additional water treatment bring PFAS levels down substantially, there were significant improvements in birth weight and the number of full-term pregnancies in that community after the change. 

Ion exchange systems work by flowing water over charged particles that can remove PFAS. Ion exchange systems are typically even better at lowering PFAS concentrations than activated carbon systems, but they are also more expensive.

Another option available to some cities is simply finding alternative water sources that are less contaminated. While this is a wonderful, low-cost means of lowering contamination, it points to a major disparity in environmental justice; more rural and less well-resourced utilities are unlikely to have this option.

4. Is such a major transition feasible?

By law, the EPA must consider not just human health but also the feasibility of treatment and the potential financial cost when setting maximum contaminant levels in drinking water. While the proposed limits are certainly attainable for many water utilities, the costs will be high.

The federal government has made available billions of dollars in funding for treating water. But some estimates put the total cost of meeting the proposed regulations for the entire country at around US$400 billion – much more than the available funding. Some municipalities may seek financial help for treatment from nearby polluters, while others may raise water rates to cover the costs.

5. What happens next?

The EPA has set a 60-day period for public comment on the proposed regulations, after which it can finalize the guidelines. But many experts expect the EPA to face a number of legal challenges. Time will tell what the final version of the regulations may look like. 

This regulation is intended to keep the U.S. in the enviable position of having some of the highest-quality drinking water in the world. As researchers and health officials learn more about new chemical threats, it is important to ensure that every resident has access to clean and affordable tap water.

While these six PFAS certainly pose threats to health that merit regulation, there are thousands of PFAS that likely have very similar impacts on human health. Rather than playing chemical whack-a-mole by regulating one PFAS at a time, there is a growing consensus among researchers and public health officials that PFAS should be regulated as a class of chemicals.

To see the original post, follow this link:

Forbes: Purpose is the next digital

16 03 2023

The Stakeholder Model of Purpose. Graphic: CONSPIRACY OF LOVE

The Stakeholder Model Of Purpose: How Cause Marketing, CSR, Sustainability, DEI And ESG Can Operate Harmoniously In This New Age Of Purpose. By Afdhel Aziz, Contributor, Co-Founder, Conspiracy Of Love, And Good Is The New Cool via Forbes. Reposted: March 16, 2023

One of the biggest questions in the global movement of business as a force for good is how the different disciplines of CSR, ESG, sustainability, cause marketing, and diversity and inclusion all fit with the idea of Purpose.

I propose this simple model to show how they can all work in harmony.

Purpose is the Next Digital

A good analogy to start with comes from the quote ‘Purpose is the next Digital’ by Max Lenderman. In the same way that businesses had to transform themselves in every aspect (from the supply chains to their marketing) with the arrival of digital technology, the same evolution is happening with the advent of Purpose.

We see the emergence of the term ‘Purpose’ – the overarching umbrella term now increasingly being used to describe the idea of business as a force for good – in much the same way as we see the term ‘Digital.’ Just as ‘Digital’ now covers a myriad of different channels and technologies (from CRM, to supply chain management, to social media), so too does Purpose now encompass a wide range of different disciplines that preceded it (like CSR, ESG, DEI, etc).

Moving from Shareholder to Stakeholder Capitalism

The evolution of business we are seeing has also often been described as a move away from purely Shareholder-driven capitalism (where only the needs of investors were taken into account) towards a more Stakeholder-driven model (where the needs of multiple stakeholders including employees, consumers, investors, communities and the planet are also considered).

As such, mapping different manifestations of Purpose against these stakeholder groups provides a simple way to understand how they can all work in harmony, towards the higher order purpose.

Purpose at the core: The higher order reason for a company’s existence that inspires action to profitably solve the problems of the world. This exists as the core organizing principle of a truly Purpose-driven company, acting as a North Star around which to align all of the following.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) is an Employee-focused manifestation of Purpose, ensuring that there are systems and processes in place in order to ensure a culture of belonging and opportunity, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability or neurodiversity. Inclusion should be baked into every aspect of the employee experience from recruitment to retention to Governance. If done right, it can not only lead to employee motivation and engagement but also innovation that leads to inclusive growth, through identifying new opportunities that less diverse cultures cannot envision.

Of course, DEI is only one manifestation of Purpose as it pertains to employees: there are so many more avenues (from inspiring personal purpose, to volunteering, giving, innovation and more generally, building it into the talent value proposition (TVP) and activating it at every stage from recruitment to onboarding to retention and career planning.

Cause marketing (or Purpose-driven marketing) is the legacy term for the manifestation of Purpose towards Consumers. This has now blossomed into many forms beyond its original basic models of the past.

This could take the form of initiatives that engage consumers via simply buying the product (eg TOM’s famous 1 for 1 model or Product (Red) which helped raise money for HIV/AIDS prevention.

At retail, this could manifest in a portion of revenue from products going to good causes (for instance, see Chips Ahoy raising money for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America).

Or indeed in digital or physical activations (for instance, Airbnb’s Open Homes initiative which invited hosts to donate their homes to refugees and victims of natural disasters).

Corporate Social Responsibility (or CSR) is the manifestation of Purpose towards the Communities a company serves – whether they be geographically contextual (like helping communities in the cities the company is based in) or issue focused (like The North Face funding non-profits that help make the outdoors more diverse via their Explore Fund grant).

This has always been a form of corporate philanthropy that a company has practiced in a more ‘defensive’ mode to deflect criticism of them not being a good corporate citizen. But in recent years, progressive companies have seen the benefit of treating CSR in a more enlightened way. By representing the voice of community to the company, and building deep relationships with non-profits and other partners, it can become a vital force helping drive authenticity, innovation and growth.

Sustainability is the manifestation of Purpose towards the Planet, pertaining to everything from how a company utilizes resources efficiently (like reducing their carbon footprint, stripping plastic out of their supply chain or managing waste) to how it obtains the resources (eg agricultural or mineral) with an ethical supply chain that is respectful not only to the Earth but the people who help them obtain it (eg farmers)

ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) is the manifestation of all of the above in a codified way towards Investors and Shareholders, in a transparent and measurable way, in a way that allows for comparison between companies. Despite attempts to politicize and demonize it, when done correctly it can become a useful tool to help articulate Commitments the company is making in service of environmental and social goals (people and planet) in an accountable and tangible way.

The key to success in this new world of Purpose is orchestration. When all these disparate disciplines are re-aligned around a powerful and inspiring Purpose, the effect is so much stronger than if they were focused on a myriad of different objectives and issues. They become parts of an orchestra playing a harmonious single theme rather than instruments operating on a discordant solo basis.

To see the original post, follow this link:

5 key facets of a strong sustainability strategy

15 03 2023

Image via Shutterstock/NeoLeo

Sustainability strategy can be complicated. Here are five key elements to creating a successful one. By Mike Hower from • March 14, 2023

Strategy is a term thrown around without much thought or rigor. And this sometimes seems doubly true in the world of corporate sustainability. As more companies embark on their sustainability journey, everybody seems to be talking about the importance of creating a sustainability and ESG strategy — yet what this means exactly remains nebulous. 

At its core, strategy is about choices. In a world of limited time and resources, it’s about deciding what to do and what not to do because you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. 

To create some clarity on this important topic, I gathered several sustainability and ESG leaders from across industries for a panel at GreenBiz 23 called “The Non-Negotiables: 5 Key Facets of a Strong ESG and Sustainability Strategy.” The session included Gail Grimmett, senior vice president of sustainability and corporate iInnovation at Delta Air Lines; Annabelle Stamm, director of sustainability strategy at Edison Energy; Blake McGowan, solutions executive at VelocityEHS; and Nancy Mahon, senior vice president of global corporate citizenship and sustainability at The Esteé Lauder Companies.

The breakout room was packed (standing room only, like many of the GreenBiz 23 sessions), with hundreds of attendees curious to learn more from and help contribute to our conversation. After much debate and discussion, the panelists and I — with heavy input from the audience — discussed five key facets of a strong sustainability strategy. Here they are: 

1. Be agile, and integrate sustainability into your corporate strategy 

The best sustainability strategy is a business strategy that advances sustainability. That’s to say, in a perfect world, a company’s business strategy is focused on creating long-term social, environmental and financial value — making a separate sustainability strategy redundant. 

“We always say that we’re trying to work ourselves out of a job,” Mahon said. “But I don’t think we’ll ultimately be able to do that.” 

At The Esteé Lauder Companies, the organization integrates sustainability into its business strategy by assigning senior executives to committees covering the environmental, social and governance pillars. The head of supply chain is involved with environment, human resources with social and the CFO with governance. While the committees are led by people at the highest levels, they are made up of practitioners.

We’re all in this together, and in a role that requires some sort of disruptive thinking.

Delta also used a committee system to better align its sustainability strategy with business strategy, Grimmett said. “We’re all in this together, and in a role that requires some sort of disruptive thinking.”

While a company might have a solid sustainability strategy, the world is changing so fast that flexibility must be baked in. All of the panelists agreed that agility and adaptation is critical to sustainability strategy success. 

2. Set targets, and know how you’ll measure progress

The next non-negotiable practice is establishing clear targets and a plan for getting there. While setting targets is easy, establishing the right ones isn’t always so simple. 

Setting fuel efficiency targets, for example, can be tricky, according to Grimmett, because the airline can’t always directly control every factor impacting fuel efficiency. That’s why Delta has several different councils that encourage integration of all the players responsible for improving fuel efficiency. This could include everyone from airport operations control, which might cause an airplane to burn more fuel when requesting it fly a holding pattern, to technical operations teams that might make technical adjustments to planes to improve efficiency, 

“In some ways, we have control over nothing and influence over everything,” said Grimmett. 

While many companies set 2030 or 2050 targets, they must also remain focused on the immediate needs of running a business. Setting shorter-term milestones can help companies stay on track and also encourage disruptive technology, Grimmett said. Often, the technology doesn’t yet exist for companies to meet their ambitious sustainability targets, and creating milestones can help unlock entrepreneurial innovation to meet the moment, Grimmett said. 

3. Data quality over quantity

We live in an era where sustainability data is plentiful, but its quality is questionable. Rather than focusing on collecting as much information as possible, sustainability teams should focus on finding the right data, the panelists said. 

“Good data is fundamental to a successful sustainability strategy,” Stamm said. “Data that drives decarbonization is key.”

We don’t have decades to collect and analyze data, the panelists agreed. We need metrics that can be acted on immediately, so we can implement measures that drive decarbonization and advance sustainability goals. 

4. Bring your stakeholders along for the ride

Sustainability teams tend to be small with limited immediate spheres of influence — to be successful, they must rely on stakeholders throughout the organization. One of the best ways to do this is by engaging these folks during strategy creation. 

With the language of sustainability being wonky, sustainability leads need to translate things into a language that people understand and link it to a strong value proposition, Stamm said. It’s also important to take cultural differences into account. When it comes to sustainability action, the United States is very carrot-driven while Europe tends to be more about the stick, she added. 

The key is to identify those key people who are going to be the influencers … and who is going to be your biggest champion.

“The key is to identify those key people who are going to be the influencers … and who is going to be your biggest champion,” McGowan said. These internal champions will help ensure that your sustainability strategy is effectively implemented, he said. 

Another key point is that often when an internal stakeholder says “no” to something, it really means they need more information, McGowan added. 

5. Ensure philosophical consistency throughout the organization

Toward the end of the panel, a member of the audience suggested a fifth non-negotiable: achieving a philosophical consensus throughout your organization: To be successful, the same sustainability ethos must be maintained across departments and teams.

If, for example, a company has a strong corporate sustainability strategy yet has a government relations strategy that doesn’t match, this weakens the organization’s overall effectiveness for achieving its sustainability ambitions. 

At these words, the audience erupted into applause and the panelists nodded in agreement. Show comments for this story. 

To see the original post, follow this link:

New “Climate Forward?” Report Advocates for the Use of Climate Projection Data by Architecture and Engineering Professionals

13 03 2023

From The University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership and national design firm HGA • Reposted: March 13, 2023

The University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership and national design firm HGA present the current practice, barriers, and opportunities for use of climate projection data and climate change resilience client services. 

Climate change impacts are growing every year, threatening lives, business continuity, and infrastructure—costing an average of $152.9 billion dollars per year in the U.S. alone (NOAA, 2022). Yet the Architecture and Engineering (A&E) industry still relies on historical weather data as a primary resource for performance analysis, system sizing, and other design decisions, as climate projection data are not available in the formats used by A&E codes, process guidelines, and software.  

The new report “Climate Forward? How Climate Projections Are(n’t) Used to Inform Design” from the University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership (MCAP) and national interdisciplinary design firm HGA, reveals the alarming gap between the current state of A&E practice and climate science.

Currently, energy modelers most often use the Typical Meteorological Year (TMY3) dataset produced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)— based on past median weather conditions for a given location that is sometimes more than three decades old. Our changing climate makes ‘climate normals’ less useful for designers, poorly reflecting the range, frequency, and intensity of potential future weather conditions that a building will need to withstand during its lifespan. Key systems and infrastructure globally will continue to be vulnerable unless design standards change to account for changing climate.  

Risks of Using Historic Weather Data

“We know climate change is here and the past is no longer the best predictor of the future. As we seek to make our buildings more energy efficient and ‘climate-friendly’, we must also use climate projection data to ensure our built environment is resilient to the climate of the future.” say Dr. Heidi Roop, MCAP’s Director and a report author. “This report highlights that there is work to do by the climate science community and A&E professionals to ensure we are designing for climate resilience. Clients and professional societies also play a key role in driving a holistic, forward-looking approach to design of the buildings and infrastructure we all rely on.”

The research makes a decisive case for the development and promotion of industry standards, mandates (including building codes), guidance and training for using climate projections in A&E applications. It also articulates the critical role for boundary organizations and climate data developers to build partnerships and capacities to bridge this gap alongside A&E professionals.

“Climate Forward?” also addresses the missed opportunity to extend the life of our buildings. Today’s sustainable design efforts focus primarily on climate change mitigation—that of reducing carbon emissions. In contrast, MCAP and HGA’s research shows how the industry should also shift to design for climate change adaptation—which are a broader set of design measures that factor in the projected climate over the lifespan of the building and systems. 

Lead author of the report, Ariane Laxo, HGA’s Director of Sustainability said, “There is tremendous potential in climate resilience services—professional services related to climate change resilience and/or adaptation using climate projection data.” She continued, “identifying the right data formats and timescales to factor in the projected climate over the lifespan of the building, landscape, and systems, will dramatically change the way we design to create a more resilient future. Industry associations need to create standards for how to integrate these data into practice, so we are using consistent methodologies.”

The climate is changing rapidly. Action must be taken now, and must involve substantive collaboration with climate data developers, boundary organizations, A&E associations and professionals, policy makers, building code & standards bodies, higher education institutions, and any organization that hires A&E professionals. The report concludes with recommended actions that could close the gap between climate science and the A&E professionals who are designing buildings and infrastructure that must withstand climate change.

Read the full report, “Climate Forward? How architects and engineers are(n’t) using climate projections to inform design.” 

Report authors: Ariane Laxo, HGA, Brenda Hoppe, University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership, Heidi Roop, University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership, Patrick Cipriano, HGA and University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership

About MCAP

The University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership (MCAP) is a partnership among university, public, non-profit, and private sector groups organized to support Minnesota’s ability to adapt to a changing climate. MCAP conducts cutting-edge climate and adaptation research, champions climate leadership, develops the next generation of adaptation professionals, and advances implementation of effective, equitable adaptation actions across sectors, communities, and levels of government. Learn more about MCAP at or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

About HGA 
HGA is a national interdisciplinary design firm committed to making a positive, lasting impact for our clients and communities through research-based, holistic solutions. We believe that great design requires a sense of curiosity—forming deep insight into our clients, their contexts, and the human condition. We are a collective of over 1,000 architects, engineers, interior designers, planners, researchers, and strategists. Our practice spans multiple markets, including healthcare, corporate, cultural, education, local and federal government, and science and technology. Visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and  Instagram

To see the original post, follow this link:

Sustainability ‘not the enemy of profit’, says Capgemini

12 03 2023

By Sean Ashcroft from • Reposted: March 12, 2023

Capgemini Global Retail Lead Lindsey Mazza says retailers need not sacrifice affordability or profitability to meet their sustainability goals. “Our own research shows 41% of consumers globally are willing to pay more for a product they believe to be sustainable,” she says. Submitted photo

Capgemini Global Retail Lead Lindsey Mazza on how a systems engineering background is helping her service the supply chain needs of value chain customers

Your professional background?

I started my career in systems engineering and, over the years, have expanded my solutions to include everything from supplier to consumer. 

I currently work with leading retailers to reimagine how they fulfil consumer promises. An exciting part of my role is leveraging AI, analytics, and emerging technology to reinvent operations and meet consumer expectations. 

What are the challenges of your Capgemini role?

I help retailers navigate today’s many challenges and transform their businesses. I rely on my systems engineering background to research and learn where opportunities exist, then collaborate with our immensely talented teams to deliver solutions that drive business outcomes. 

That might be creating intelligent, adaptive supply chain ecosystems, fulfilment options, unlocking channel growth, underpinned with technology and analytics that deliver personalised and engaging consumer experiences. 

How can retailers counter rising operational costs?

Automation, AI, and other leading technologies can make all the difference, and I am seeing the benefits with our clients. Data and analytics, AI, and automation in product and supply chain planning processes – not to mention that last-mile consumer fulfilment can support optimised costs – maximise use of labour, and further sustainability objectives. 

For example, analytics can be used to reduce inventory, identify underperforming areas, and recommend solutions to increase efficiency. Using real-time data and intelligent integrated planning, consumer products companies and retailers can customise the right assortment mix, and have the right inventory for each store or channel.

And autonomous vehicle delivery – although early in development – could transform the last-mile delivery cost model. 

How can firms best develop sustainable products? 

Sustainability can be embedded throughout the entire product lifecycle, starting from the design process and selection of materials to end-of-life management. 

To address Scope 3 emissions, businesses need to consider the system as a whole. It’s also important to conduct a life-cycle assessment to evaluate the environmental impact of a product – from raw material extraction to disposal – to identify areas where the environmental impact can be reduced.

Can retail be sustainable and affordable in today’s world?

Definitely, and it must be. Retailers need not sacrifice affordability or profitability to meet their sustainability goals. Our own research shows 41% of consumers globally are willing to pay more for a product they believe to be sustainable. 

So, while consumers are keen to buy sustainable products, they are not willing to pay more. Brands and retailers must respond to consumer concerns by keeping prices fair – providing affordable sustainability will therefore be key. Consumers are also conscious about reducing waste and mindful about consumption practices. Retailers embracing circular economy will create a brand ethos that matches the ethics of the consumer.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I’ve had tremendous leaders and mentors throughout my career. There are two lessons I’m so grateful to have learned from them:

  • Always, always, always take the more challenging role, because you’ll learn more. I’ve built a view across the supply ecosystem by taking unexpected roles where I was able to learn. 
  • Create your next job. We can all see areas where our companies can improve. Design that role, develop a benefits case for why that role will create value, advocate for it to be in next year’s budget, and get that role.

To see the original post, follow this link:

Know what ESG investing is . . . and isn’t

11 03 2023

Visitors to the financial district walked past the New York Stock Exchange. There are many ways to match your values and your investing. ESG is one of them, but it is a complex and evolving one. Image: MARY ALTAFFER, ASSOCIATED PRESS

By Ross Levin via Star Tribune • Reposted: March 11, 2023

It is a personal choice whether you are interested in simply having your money make money or if you want to be sure it is directed toward responsible corporate policies. But that choice is not nearly as simple as it would seem. Finance does a great job of confusing by using terms that serve as short-cuts for what you think you are getting. The current finance buzzword for corporate sustainability is ESG investing.

ESG stands for environment, social and governance and is a (sort of) objective way of looking at companies that meet standards regarding their impact on the environment, how they show up in society, and how the companies are managed. While an ESG score is supposed to be objective, there are various rating platforms and standards can vary between them. It’s important to know what ESG is, but maybe more important to know what it isn’t.

ESG is not socially responsible investing (SRI). SRI has been around for a long-time and is generally about excluding business categories that you don’t want to own. Depending on your religion or your values, you may choose to exclude anything from tobacco, fossil fuels, pharmaceutical companies, or even debt. ESG, though, may also include companies that meet its criteria in industries that you would prefer to exclude. For example, the IShares MSGI USA ESG fund has energy companies, companies that are being sued for allegedly faulty products, and companies that may simply annoy you because of how they conduct their business (think your cable company). If an extraction-based energy company is now creating a plan to move away from fossil fuels into alternative energy, is it a good company or a bad one? ESG in this example is the Schrodinger’s cat of investing.

ESG is not impact investing. Impact investing tries to make measurable differences in areas like climate while also generating a financial return, with the financial return a secondary consideration to the impact. Impact investing is often done through private investments rather than public ones with which you may be most familiar. The private markets may relieve some of the natural tension of publicly traded stocks that attempt to increase short-term shareholder value. Impact is long-term, sustainable investments that make money while serving a larger purpose. Investors have different holding periods for the stocks they own; private markets tend to allow for more patient investing.

ESG investing is not without a give-up. In theory, companies that do well should also perform well, but studies are not completely clear about this. ESG is not about exclusion. It is about choosing companies in each sector that score well on the ESG criteria. The best investment results would likely come from pairing ESG along with other technical factors.

ESG is not greenwashing. ESG investments and investing are evolving. There will inevitably be stops and starts along the way. A high profile environmentally friendly company like Tesla was recently booted from the ESG index because of poor governance and social scores. Exxon is a large holding in the S&P 500 ESG Index because it rates well compared with other energy companies. ESG is a framework for company governance and an investment framework.

ESG investing is not necessarily better than earning more and giving away more. Your values are expressed in a variety of ways, far beyond investing. How you spend your money is an obvious expression. How you give money away is also an expression. Some of our clients are charitably inclined and want their investments to grow as much as possible as a way to give more money away.

ESG investing is not insignificant. Whether you are a believer in ESG or not, there is more pressure being applied on companies to be good citizens as well as high-performing businesses. There is some evidence that the two are complementary but there is more evidence that they are not mutually exclusive. There are arguments that those who are investing on behalf of others – in vehicles such as pension funds or retirement plan options – would not be meeting their fiduciary duty by investing solely through the ESG lens. This will continue to be a layered issue.

There are many ways to match your values and your investing. ESG is one of them, but it is a complex and evolving one.

Ross Levin is founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina. He can be reached at

To see the original post, follow this link: