‘More precious than gold’

21 03 2023

Photo: Candace Maracle/CBC

Canada’s Haudenosaunee say inconsistent weather is proving to be a sticky situation for maple syrup season. By Candace Maracle from CBC News • Reposted: March 231, 2023

The ideal temperature for maple sap to run is when temperatures fall below 0 C at night and rise above zero during the day.

It’s something Tehahenteh Miller grew up knowing about collecting sap to make maple syrup. Miller, who is Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) and lives in Six Nations, Ont., has been tapping his trees for over a decade.

“If the sun shines, it increases the volume considerably and it’s usually the sunny side that we tap,” said Miller.

Maple trees tapped on Six Nations. Photo: Candace Maracle/CBC

Miller said he has seen changes in the last four or five years. Warmer winter weather followed by cold snaps impedes the maples’ sap flow.

“You look around and you can see a lot of the tops of the trees are dying,” he said.

Miller said that Haudenosaunee teachings predict that once the maple tree starts dying from the top, any conservation effort may be too late to turn things around. He hasn’t tapped his trees for the past three years “to give his trees a rest” from the stress climate change has put on them. 

A full bucket of maple sap. Photo: Candace Maracle/CBC
Sap is used in Haundenosaunee ceremony to honour the maple trees. Photo: Candace Maracle/CBC
Tim Johnson collects sap from buckets twice a day during the season when sap is running. Photo: Candace Maracle/CBC

Dawn Martin-Hill, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at McMaster University, has researched how climate change is affecting Six Nations. She’s one of the co-authors of a 2021 report in Climate Services on observed and projected trends of climate change in Six Nations.

“What the climate change study showed here was that Six Nations was going to experience drought, flood, cycles of instability and that will impact the ability for the trees to run sap for the length that they used to,” she said.

Martin-Hill said Haudenosaunee have always understood the inter-connectedness of life.

“Our people don’t have to change a single story that we have in order to adjust to what modern science is beginning to find out and understand,” she said.

Sap drips from a newly drilled tap. Photo: Candace Maracle/CBC)

The sap that is collected from the maple tree is used in ceremony to honour the opening of the maple trees – the time of year when sap runs and can be collected to make syrup.

Origin of maple syrup

Miller said, according to Haudenosaunee teachings, after a harsh winter a Haudenosaunee village was on the verge of starvation when a young man went into the forest and sat by a tree, thinking of a solution. He noticed a squirrel climb a maple tree and lick the water droplets from a broken branch.He fashioned a small bowl from bark to collect sap where it was leaking from the broken branch. After being left out in the sun, the sap began to evaporate, making it extra sweet.

The young man drank the water and determining it was safe to consume, he told the others in the village. The maple sap nourished them and got them through winter without starving.After that, it was decided the maple tree would be honoured every year for this gift.

The Mohawk Longhouse in Six Nations held a ceremony to open the maple trees last week.

Family tradition

Maple sap must be boiled for hours to make syrup.

Mel Squire and her husband, Angus Goodleaf, collect sap on their property in Six Nations.

This is her second year tapping trees after learning from her family who have been doing it for generations.

“I think just getting older and reflecting back on my childhood and watching my grandfather do it … inspired me to get into doing it myself,” she said.

Angus Goodleaf boils sap for maple syrup. Photo: Mel Squire

They check their 20 taps daily to see how much sap has accumulated in buckets. The sap can only be stored for a few days before it must be boiled for hours.

“Forty gallons of sap gave us one gallon [of syrup],” said Squire.

“We can’t sell it. I don’t even know what I’d price it at. It’s more precious than gold at this point. So, it’s quite priceless.”

Of the Haudenosaunee tradition of tapping maple trees each spring, Miller said, “We owe [the trees] a responsibility to not just acknowledge them, but to be participatory. We’re actually practising our culture, reinforcing our culture by doing that. That’s part of our culture and it needs to be kept alive.”

The finished product. Photo: Mel Squire

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.cbc.ca/newsinteractives/features/more-precious-than-gold


IPCC report: Climate solutions exist, but humanity has to break from the status quo and embrace innovation

21 03 2023

Image: Fotograf Sune Tølløse –

By Robert Lempert, Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School and Elisabeth Gilmore, Associate Professor of Climate Change, Technology and Policy, Carleton University via The Conversation * Reposted: March 21, 2023

It’s easy to feel pessimistic when scientists around the world are warning that climate change has advanced so far, it’s now inevitable that societies will either transform themselves or be transformed. But as two of the authors of a recent international climate report, we also see reason for optimism.

The latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including the synthesis report released March 20, 2023, discuss changes ahead, but they also describe how existing solutions can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help people adjust to impacts of climate change that can’t be avoided.

The problem is that these solutions aren’t being deployed fast enough. In addition to pushback from industries, people’s fear of change has helped maintain the status quo. 

To slow climate change and adapt to the damage already underway, the world will have to shift how it generates and uses energy, transports people and goods, designs buildings and grows food. That starts with embracing innovation and change.

Fear of change can lead to worsening change

From the industrial revolution to the rise of social media, societies have undergone fundamental changes in how people live and understand their place in the world.

Some transformations are widely regarded as bad, including many of those connected to climate change. For example, about half the world’s coral reef ecosystems have died because of increasing heat and acidity in the oceans. Island nations like Kiribati and coastal communities, including in Louisiana and Alaska, are losing land into rising seas.Residents of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati describe the changes they’re experiencing as sea level rises.

Other transformations have had both good and bad effects. The industrial revolution vastly raised standards of living for many people, but it spawned inequality, social disruption and environmental destruction.

People often resist transformation because their fear of losing what they have is more powerful than knowing they might gain something better. Wanting to retain things as they are – known as status quo bias – explains all sorts of individual decisions, from sticking with incumbent politicians to not enrolling in retirement or health plans even when the alternatives may be rationally better. 

This effect may be even more pronounced for larger changes. In the past, delaying inevitable change has led to transformations that are unnecessarily harsh, such as the collapse of some 13th-century civilizations in what is now the U.S. Southwest. As more people experience the harms of climate change firsthand, they may begin to realize that transformation is inevitable and embrace new solutions.

A mix of good and bad

The IPCC reports make clear that the future inevitably involves more and larger climate-related transformations. The question is what the mix of good and bad will be in those transformations.

If countries allow greenhouse gas emissions to continue at a high rate and communities adapt only incrementally to the resulting climate change, the transformations will be mostly forced and mostly bad

For example, a riverside town might raise its levees as spring flooding worsens. At some point, as the scale of flooding increases, such adaptation hits its limits. The levees necessary to hold back the water may become too expensive or so intrusive that they undermine any benefit of living near the river. The community may wither away.

A person in a boat checks the river side of sandbag levee protecting a community during a flood.
Riverside communities often scramble to raise levees during floods, like this one in Louisiana.  Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The riverside community could also take a more deliberate and anticipatory approach to transformation. It might shift to higher ground, turn its riverfront into parkland while developing affordable housing for people who are displaced by the project, and collaborate with upstream communities to expand landscapes that capture floodwaters. Simultaneously, the community can shift to renewable energy and electrified transportation to help slow global warming.

Optimism resides in deliberate action

The IPCC reports include numerous examples that can help steer such positive transformation.

For example, renewable energy is now generally less expensive than fossil fuels, so a shift to clean energy can often save money. Communities can also be redesigned to better survive natural hazards through steps such as maintaining natural wildfire breaks and building homes to be less susceptible to burning.

Charts showing falling costs and rising adoption of clean energy.
Costs are falling for key forms of renewable energy and electric vehicle batteries. IPCC sixth assessment report

Land use and the design of infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, can be based on forward-looking climate information. Insurance pricing and corporate climate risk disclosures can help the public recognize hazards in the products they buy and companies they support as investors.

No one group can enact these changes alone. Everyone must be involved, including governments that can mandate and incentivize changes, businesses that often control decisions about greenhouse gas emissions, and citizens who can turn up the pressure on both.

Transformation is inevitable

Efforts to both adapt to and mitigate climate change have advanced substantially in the last five years, but not fast enough to prevent the transformations already underway.

Doing more to disrupt the status quo with proven solutions can help smooth these transformations and create a better future in the process.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://theconversation.com/ipcc-report-climate-solutions-exist-but-humanity-has-to-break-from-the-status-quo-and-embrace-innovation-202134

It’s mid-March and the Great Lakes are virtually ice-free. That’s a problem.

19 03 2023

By Caitlin Looby from the Akron Beacon Journal • Reposted: March 19, 2023

It’s the middle of March and the Great Lakes are virtually ice-free. 

Ice has been far below average this year, with only 7% of the lakes covered as of last Monday — and no ice at all on Lake Erie. Lake Erie’s average ice coverage for this time of year is 40%, based on measurements over the past half-century. The lake typically freezes over the quickest and has the most ice cover because it’s the shallowest of the five Great Lakes. 

But communities along Ohio’s north coast, including Cleveland, Sandusky and Port Clinton, have seen considerably less ice forming on Lake Erie in recent years.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Lake Erie’s ice coverage peaked in early February at 40%, a nearly 20% decrease from the historical average.

Seagulls sit on the thin ice along the shore of Lake Erie in Michigan's Monroe County in March 2022.

No ice isn’t a good thing for the lakes’ ecosystem. It can even stir up dangerous waves and lake-effect snowstorms.  So, what happens when the lakes are ice-free? What does it mean for the lakes’ food web? Is climate change to blame?

Little ice cover can be disastrous

This winter has already proved how dangerous lake-effect snow can be. 

At the end of November, more than 6 feet of snow fell on Buffalo, New York, which sits on the shores of Lake Erie. A few weeks later on Dec. 23, more than 4 feet of snow covered the city and surrounding areas once again. The storm resulted in 44 deaths in Erie and Niagara counties, which sit on Lakes Erie and Ontario, respectively. 

Cleveland and Sandusky reside on the shores of Lake Erie as well. The 2022 storm that swept the region on Dec. 23 dropped relatively little snow, only about 2-4 inches, but created dangerous conditions nonetheless.

In some places in Northeast Ohio, temperatures dropped from nearly 40 degrees to zero and below. Wind chills fueled by hurricane-force winds dragged the temperature even lower to minus 30 or even 35 below zero. This storm was the first time in almost a decade that the Cleveland Weather Forecast Office issued a blizzard warning.
A 46-vehicle pileup on the Ohio Turnpike near Sandusky claimed four lives

A 46-vehicle pileup killed four people injured many others on the Ohio Turnpike during a winter storm with whiteout conditions Dec. 23.

During stormy winter months, ice cover tempers waves. When there is low ice cover, waves can be much larger, leading to lakeshore flooding and erosion. That happened in January 2020 along Lake Michigan’s southwestern shoreline. Record high lake levels mixed with winds whipped up 15-foot waves that flooded shorelines, leading Gov. Tony Evers to declare a state of emergency for Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties. 

And while less ice may seem like a good thing for the lakes’ shipping industry, those waves can create dangerous conditions. 

The Great Lakes are losing ice with climate change 

The Great Lakes have been losing ice for the past five decades, a trend that scientists say will likely continue. 

Of the last 25 years, 64% had below-average ice, said Michael Notaro, the director of the Center on Climatic Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The steepest declines have been in the north, including Lake Superior, northern Lake Michigan and Huron, and in nearshore areas. 

But this also comes with a lot of ups and downs, largely because warming is causing the jet stream to “meander,” said Ayumi Fujisaki Manome, a scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research at the University of Michigan who models ice cover and hazardous weather across the lakes. 

There is a lot of year-to-year variability with ice cover spiking in years like 2014, 2015 and 2019 where the lakes were almost completely iced over.    

Ice fishermen stay close to shore off of Bay Shore Park in New Franken, Wisconsin, in January, which saw relatively little ice cover on the Great Lakes.

No ice makes waves in the lakes’ ecosystems

A downturn in ice coverage due to climate change will likely have cascading effects on the lakes’ ecosystems. 

Lake whitefish, a mainstay in the lakes’ fishing industry and an important food source for other fish like walleye, are one of the many Great Lakes fish that will be affected, said Ed Rutherford, a fishery biologist who also works at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. 

Lake whitefish spawn in the fall in nearshore areas, leaving the eggs to incubate over the winter months. When ice isn’t there, strong winds and waves can stir up the sediment, reducing the number of fish that are hatched in the spring, Rutherford said. 

Whitefish haul from the Great Lakes.
A walleye caught during a fishing trip in Lake Erie near Marblehead, Ohio.

Walleye and yellow perch also need extended winters, he said. If they don’t get enough time to overwinter in cold water, their eggs will be a lot smaller, making it harder for them to survive. 

Even so, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife released a report stating that Lake Erie’s 2022 walleye and yellow perch populations in the central and western basins are above average. Yellow perch hatches in the central basin are below average, however.

Declining ice cover on the lakes is also delaying the southward migration of dabbling ducks, a group of ducks that include mallards, out of the Great Lakes in the fall and winter, Notaro said. And if the ducks spend more time in the region it will increase the foraging pressure on inland wetlands. 

Warming lakes and a loss of ice cover over time also will be coupled with more extreme rainfall, likely inciting more harmful algae blooms, said Notaro. These blooms largely form from agricultural runoff, creating thick, green mats on the lake surface that can be toxic to humans and pets. 

In this 2017 photo, a catfish appears on the shoreline in the algae-filled waters of Lake Erie in Toledo.

Lakes Erie and Michigan are plagued with these blooms every summer. And now, blooms cropping up in Lake Superior for the first time are raising alarm. 

“Even deep, cold Lake Superior has been experiencing significant algae blooms since 2018, which is quite atypical,” Notaro said. 

More: Blue-green algae blooms, once unheard of in Lake Superior, are a sign that ‘things are changing’ experts say

There is still a big question mark on the extent of the changes that will happen to the lakes’ ecosystem and food web as ice cover continues to decline. That’s because scientists can’t get out and sample the lakes in the harsh winter months.

“Unless we can keep climate change in check … it will have changes that we anticipate and others that we don’t know about yet,” Rutherford said.

Caitlin Looby is a Report for America corps member who writes about the environment and the Great Lakes. Reach her at clooby@gannett.com or follow her on Twitter @caitlooby. Beacon Journal reporter Derek Kreider contributed to this article.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.beaconjournal.com/story/news/2023/03/19/lack-of-ice-upends-great-lakes-food-web-incites-algae-blooms/70005026007/

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: https://theconversation.com/disaster-survivors-need-help-remaining-connected-with-friends-and-families-and-access-to-mental-health-care-200247

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’s.com • 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: https://www.edie.net/stop-the-siloes-how-a-successful-sustainability-strategy-involves-the-whole-business/

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: https://www.fox5ny.com/news/de-influencing-how-social-media-stars-are-encouraging-responsible-consumerism


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: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/why-sustainability-must-play-major-role-your-boardroom-today-and-tomorrow

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: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/consumers-switching-brands-esg/768956

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: https://theconversation.com/new-pfas-guidelines-a-water-quality-scientist-explains-technology-and-investment-needed-to-get-forever-chemicals-out-of-us-drinking-water-201855

Fines for breaking US pollution laws can vary widely among states – that may violate the Constitution

16 03 2023

The Clean Water Act was meant to keep pollution out of U.S. waters. David McNew/Getty Images

By Jerry Anderson, Dean and Professor of Law, Drake University via The Conversation • Reposted: March 16, 2023

It’s expensive to pollute the water in Colorado. The state’s median fine for companies caught violating the federal Clean Water Act is over US$30,000, and violators can be charged much more. In Montana, however, most violators get barely a slap on the wrist – the median fine there is $300.

Similarly, in Virginia, the typical Clean Water Act violation issued by the state is $9,000, while across the border in North Carolina, the median is around $600.

Even federal penalties vary significantly among regions. In the South (EPA Region 6) the median Clean Water Act penalty issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional office is $10,000, while in EPA Region 9 (including California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii), the median is over six times as high.

We discovered just how startling the differences are in a new study, published in the Stanford Environmental Law Journal. My colleague Amy Vaughan and I reviewed 10 years of EPA data on penalties issued under the Clean Water Act.

The degree of disparity we found in environmental enforcement is disturbing for many reasons. Persistent lenient penalties can lead to lower compliance rates and, therefore, more pollution. At the extreme, a lax enforcement regime can lead to environmental disasters. Disparate enforcement is also unfair, leaving some companies paying far more than others for the same behavior. Without a level playing field, competitive pressure may lead companies to locate in areas with more lenient enforcement.

There is a relatively simple solution, and another good reason to implement it: These disparities may violate the U.S. Constitution.

Why such big differences?

We think the main reason for the differences is that the EPA has not fulfilled its duty to require robust state enforcement.

Many federal environmental statutes – including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and toxic substances laws – enable the EPA to delegate enforcement to state agencies. In fact, state agencies undertake the vast majority of enforcement actions of these federal laws.

However, the EPA is supposed to delegate enforcement only to states that are deemed capable of taking on this responsibility, including having the ability to issue permits and conduct inspections. Importantly, the states must have laws authorizing an agency or the courts to impose sufficient penalties on violators.

Water spills out of a pipe into a river.
Federal laws like the Clean Water Act helped end corporate practices of pouring toxic wastewater into rivers, as this paper plant was doing near International Falls, Minn., in 1937. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Most state delegations occurred long ago, in the 1970s and ‘80s, shortly after Congress passed these major environmental statutes. In 1978, EPA decided that it would require states to have a minimum of $5,000-per-day penalty authority before they would be delegated enforcement power for the Clean Water Act. Forty-five years later, that required minimum is still the same.

In contrast, the Clean Water Act gives the EPA and federal courts much higher penalty authority – it started at $25,000 per day and, because of congressionally mandated annual inflation adjustments, had risen to $56,540 by the end of 2022.

That difference shows up in the fines: We found the average penalty issued by states is about $35,000, while the average penalty issued by the federal EPA is over five times as high at $186,000. The median state penalty is $4,000, while the median federal penalty is almost $30,000. While the EPA tends to be involved in the most serious cases, we believe low state penalties can also be traced to more lenient state penalty provisions.

There is also a wide disparity among state penalty statutes. At one end, Idaho law limits civil penalties to $5,000 per day, while Colorado’s law allows for penalties of up to $54,833 per day.

In some cases, penalty differences might have a legitimate explanation. However, the degree of disparity among statutes and penalties that we found with the Clean Water Act suggests the U.S. doesn’t have uniform federal environmental law. And that can run afoul of the Constitution.

A question of unconstitutional unfairness

The EPA has the power to require states to have more robust penalty provisions, more in line with federal penalties. The EPA also can provide better guidance to the states about how those penalties should be calculated. Without guidance, virtually any penalty could be justified.

As an environmental law expert, I believe the U.S. Constitution requires EPA to take these steps.

A basic tenet of fairness holds that like cases should be treated alike. In federal criminal law, for example, sentencing guidelines help limit the disparity that can result from unlimited judicial discretion.

Unfortunately, environmental law doesn’t have a similar system to provide uniform treatment of pollution violations by government agencies. Extreme penalties, at both the high and low ends, may result.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that disparate fines can reach a degree of randomness that violates the fairness norms embodied in the due process clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

In a case in the 1990s, the Supreme Court determined that a $4 million punitive damage award in a complaint involving only $4,000 in actual damages violated the due process clause. The court held that the amount of punitive damages imposed must bear some relationship to the actual harm caused by the conduct. Moreover, the court noted that punitive damages must be reasonable when compared to penalties imposed on others for comparable misconduct.

I believe the same test should apply to environmental penalties. 

Unless we have some uniform system of calculating penalty amounts, the discretion allowed results in vastly different penalties for similar conduct. Our study focused on the Clean Water Act, but the results should trigger more research to determine whether these issues arise in other environmental areas, such as the Clean Air Act or hazardous waste laws.

The comparatively lenient enforcement we discovered in some states is not only unfair, it’s ultimately bad for the environment.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://theconversation.com/fines-for-breaking-us-pollution-laws-can-vary-widely-among-states-that-may-violate-the-constitution-201457

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: https://www.forbes.com/sites/afdhelaziz/2023/03/14/the-stakeholder-model-of-purpose-how-cause-marketing-csr-sustainability-dei-and-esg-can-operate-harmoniously-in-this-new-age-of-purpose/?sh=27616a3af777

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 GreenBiz.com • 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: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/5-key-facets-strong-sustainability-strategy

The value of sustainability in students’ university choice

14 03 2023

By Pete Moss from University World News • Reposted: March 14, 2023

The year 2023 saw the launch of a new league table for higher education institutions based on sustainability.

The QS Sustainability Rankings 2023 set out to measure a university’s ability to tackle the world’s greatest environmental, social and governance challenges. Likewise, the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which were introduced four years ago, aim to assess universities against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

But do students really think about an institution’s approach to climate action when deciding where to apply? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’.

According to Times Higher Education research, prospective international students are more likely to choose a university based on its commitment to sustainability than for its location. Considering that a global survey in The Lancet revealed that almost half (45%) of 16- to 25-year-olds are suffering from climate anxiety, it’s understandable that they want to study at an institution which shares their vision for a sustainable future.

Demonstrating climate commitment

If sustainability is now a key factor in attracting and retaining students, institutions need to demonstrate that they are taking genuine, targeted climate action.

The institution that holds the top spot in the QS Sustainability Rankings is the University of California, Berkeley. The university has drawn up a sustainability plan with an ambitious and wide-ranging statement of goals covering aspects such as travel, buildings, health, research and energy.

Second and third place in the rankings go to Canadian institutions, the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia, both of which are building sustainability right through their operations, from their academic course content to their student accommodation.

Prospective students are looking at factors like these and weighing them up when they make their application decisions.

Strategies for net zero

The higher education sector certainly has a key role to play in responding to the climate emergency. Ground-breaking research is taking place in universities across the world to find alternative energy sources and reduce harmful waste. Academic faculties are educating a whole new generation of experts who will go on to drive innovation and explore new ways to tackle climate change.

However, could institutions be doing more to make their operations sustainable? In the United Kingdom, the Royal Anniversary Trust launched its Platinum Jubilee Challenge which proposes a series of strategies to accelerate the tertiary education sector towards net zero. The initiative has identified three action pathways for universities to address in reducing emissions.

These pathways encompass the built environment, travel and transport, and supply chains – which together make up 80% of the UK higher education sector’s overall carbon footprint.

Perhaps surprisingly, supply chains are by far the biggest contributor to an institution’s carbon emissions, causing 36% of emissions compared with travel at 24% and buildings at 19%. Taking into account the sheer complexity of a university’s supply chain, ranging from research equipment, teaching materials, data storage, catering and business services, perhaps its impact isn’t all that surprising after all.

Sustainable procurement

Fortunately, there are many ways universities can build more sustainability into their supply chains.

Institutions could explore circular economy principles to bring down costs and reduce waste by monitoring the purchase of new equipment.

As part of its environmental strategy, the University of British Columbia in Canada is updating its zero-waste action plan to prioritise emission reductions. The university is also identifying ways to embrace the circular economy on its campuses by promoting sustainable procurement and re-use.

There are opportunities for universities to refresh their procurement policies by adopting sustainable criteria for tenders to support responsible purchasing in all areas of their operations, from laboratory equipment to food and beverages.

One area which offers scope to reduce emissions is IT and data storage. When universities move their systems to the cloud, the shift away from large servers and onsite data centres can significantly reduce carbon emissions. In fact, moving to a cloud solution has the potential to reduce an institution’s IT-related carbon emissions by 90% over a five-year period.

Institutions could also look into offsetting their carbon emissions. Offsetting has attracted criticism in the past, but there has been considerable progress in the sector, led by the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education, to provide a vetted higher education-friendly scheme.

Some vendors are including carbon offsetting as a core part of their commercial offers to the sector, enabling institutions to work towards their carbon reduction goals while supporting climate action.

By putting sustainability at the heart of their operations as well as their research, institutions will address the challenges of the climate crisis and attract students who share their goals.

Pete Moss is a former manager at Staffordshire University, United Kingdom, and is now a director at Ellucian.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20230308144203119

Otrium Is The Sustainable Discount Designer Retailer You Didn’t Know You Needed

13 03 2023

By Kristen Philipkoski, Contributor from Forbes.com • Reposted: March 13, 2023

Eco-conscious fashion is on the rise, but one of the most environmentally damaging industry practices—overproduction—is still common.

Fashion brands routinely produce up to 40% more clothing than they think they’ll ever sell, according to several reports. Clothing companies hope overzealous consumers will surprise them and buy more than forecasts predict. But, as frenzied as shoppers can get, they never buy all the goods manufactured.

As a result, many designers destroy extra merchandise to prevent it from winding up on the racks of off-price retailers and potentially devaluing the brand. Burberry was outed for burning $37.8 million in clothing in 2018. Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Coach have also been caught in the act.

A new online marketplace called Otrium is providing a safe space for designers to sell their extra, previous-season merchandise at up to 70% off without diluting brand identity. With more than 400 brands already signed on, it’s the responsible shopper’s best kept secret—but it may not be that way for long.

“Every person I tell about this is like ‘how have I not heard of this before?’ This is the year we plan to make that no longer the case,” Otrium’s president and COO Zuhairah Scott Washington said during a recent press call.

Otrium was founded in 2015 by Milan Daniels and Max Klijnstra in Amsterdam and launched it’s American presence in 2021. Business in the states is quickly ramping up, with new brands consistently signing on—Closed and Rosie Assoulinebeing two of their most recent additions. In 2022, Otrium featured more than 5 million products, grew revenue by 1,000% year over year, and grew new members by 500%.

Its growth is thanks to its coveted designers and great prices, certainly, but also because of the unique business to business solutions it offers brands. The company prides itself on giving its partners access to tools that allow them to control their merchandizing, creating less of a warehouse feel and more of a luxury experience.

Brands can also track customer behavior and sales in real time.

“Partners are floored by the level of detail and data that they get about their businesses on our platform,” Washington said. “We really want them to see Otrium as their outlet and another channel for them… to help make better decisions about replenishing on our platform or even reproductions from their own core line of clothing.”

Otrium hosts both mass brands like Diane von Furstenburg and Tommy Hilfiger alongside higher-end (in the Designer Edit section) and cultish ones: Farm Rio is viral on Instagram, Reiss and Belstaff products are hard to find in the states, and Daily Paper is an edgy, inclusive favorite of the avant-fashion set, just to name a few examples.

This is not an entirely new concept—brands like Bluefly, Gilt, and RueLaLa pioneered the concept of selling past-season designer goods at lower prices—and all of those brands struggled to become profitable, eventually pursuing acquisitions in the early 2000s.

But Otrium hopes to differentiate its business by focusing on the sustainability angle and becoming a go-to for both brands and consumers who want to make more conscious consumption decisions.

Otrium also facilitates discovery across brands and hopes to guide customers to current-season, full-price products.

“We connect our consumers to a curated selection of brands they either already know and love, or brands they can discover with a great incentive to try them at a discount,” Mariah Celestine, Otrium’s U.S. General Manager said in an emailed comment. “This ease of discovery may also lead customers to pay full price for a brand’s regular collections, thereby preventing additional fashion waste and furthering our purpose.”

Celestine added that 60% of Otrium customers have tried a brand they’ve never heard of just because it’s on sale.

Fast Company recently named Otrium one of the most innovative companies of 2023 in the fashion and apparel category, “For convincing luxury brands to sell, rather than burn, last season’s merchandise.”

Industry experts say innovation is key to solving fashion’s pollution problem.

“Fashion has always been a hotbed for innovation, as well as a catalyst for social change; it’s time to leverage the industry’s creative energy to design better business models—ones that operate within the means of the planet rather than a take-make-waste approach,” wrote Angela Adams, a senior sustainability consultant at Quantis in 2021. “These could include rental, resale and repair schemes; pre-order models of production, print on demand and a departure from the traditional seasonal cycle; and a greater emphasis on product quality and durability, which is often compromised to fuel the industry’s unsustainable business model.”

Otrium’s tagline states that it wants to ensure “every piece of clothing that’s made is worn.” It’s a lofty goal, considering the literal mountains of unwanted clothing clogging African beaches, and considering Otrium does not partner with the fast fashion brands responsible for much of that detritus.

Otrium’s “code of conduct” requires partners commit to several environmental, social and government factors including fur-free garments, prohibiting human trafficking, child labor, slavery, discrimination in all forms as well as abiding by laws and regulations.

“Our aim is two-fold: to empower brands to improve their environmental impact and connect them to a base of conscious shoppers, and to help consumers build a timeless wardrobe of quality pieces that can be worn again and again, thus reducing the reliance on a ‘trend-driven’ consumption cycle,” Washington said. “This is not what fast fashion companies are known for.”

Shunning fast fashion just might be the way to go. A “total abandonment of the fast-fashion model, linked to a decline in overproduction and overconsumption, and a corresponding decrease in material,” is essential for reducing environmental damage, according to a 2020 paper published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment.

Other experts say even small changes can make a big difference when it comes to the enormous problem or overproduction.

Reducing overproduction by just 10% could reduce emissions by about 158 million metric tons by 2030, according to a 202o study from McKinsey and Company and the Global Fashion Agenda.

Washington hopes that by helping consumers see fashion as a creative expression instead of a cycle of trend-driven consumption, they can be a catalyst for real change in the fashion industry.

“Fashion is the largest art form in the world,” she said. “And we’re really excited about providing an opportunity that allows individuals to determine their own style—not just take what people say is the hottest today but really giving them a sustainable alternative to find items that speak to them and their own personal style.”

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kristenphilipkoski/2023/03/10/otrium-is-the-sustainable-discount-designer-retailer-you-didnt-know-you-needed/?sh=29b6d0a95494

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 climate.umn.edu 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 HGA.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and  Instagram

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/768271-new-climate-forward-report-advocates-use-climate-projection-data-architecture

Sustainability ‘not the enemy of profit’, says Capgemini

12 03 2023

By Sean Ashcroft from supplychaindigital.com • 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: https://supplychaindigital.com/digital-supply-chain/sustainability-not-the-enemy-of-profit-says-capgemini

What is ‘green hushing’? The new negative sustainability trend, explained

12 03 2023

Photo: Getty

Greenwashing has become part of our modern-day lexicon. Now there’s a new term, ‘green hushing,’ for when a company is too quiet about its accomplishments. By Talib Visram from Fast Company • Reposted: March 12, 21023

Greenwashing—the term referring to businesses exaggerating their commitment to sustainability—is now firmly rooted in our modern-day lexicon. Baseless green claims draw public scrutiny and sometimes outrage, not to mention lawsuits, such as ones filed against companies including Dasani, Kroger, and Whole Foods.

Faced with the threats of tarnished reputations and legal trouble, some companies are instead choosing not to communicate their climate goals at all, leaving them unpublicized and meaning other companies can’t emulate their success. A new term has sprouted to signify the practice: green hushing.


Green hushing refers to companies purposely keeping quiet about their sustainability goals, even if they are well-intentioned or plausible, for fear of being labeled greenwashers.

Xavier Font, professor of sustainability marketing at the University of Surrey in the U.K., defines it as: “the deliberate downplaying of your sustainability practices for fear that it will make your company look less competent, or have a negative consequence for you.”


Since at least 2017. Font had seen the term only once before studying the practice more closely that year. And for something many of us may not have heard of, the practice is pretty prevalent. “Greenwashing is very visible,” Font says. “Green hushing, by definition, is not. [But] I think green hushing happens a lot more than we realize.”

It gained more widespread coverage after October 2022, when Swiss carbon finance consultancy South Pole highlighted the trend of green hushing in a report. It noted that nearly a quarter of 1,200 companies with a sustainability head are not publicizing achievements “beyond the bare minimum.” (Belgium had the highest rate, with 41% of its companies with science-based climate targets not publicizing them.) The report called the trend “concerning,” because publishing green actions has the power to inspire others, shift mindsets, and encourage collaborative approaches.


In his study, Font, who focuses on the tourism industry, found that companies were not communicating environmental successes to consumers, especially odd in an industry where there are many chances to do so, such as at hotels or on websites.

The study concentrated on 31 small rural tourism businesses in England’s Peak District National Park. Font found that companies communicated only 30% of their sustainability actions. He noted that companies feared that by broadcasting their sustainability practices, customers would believe their vacation experiences would be worse.

One issue, he says, is that many companies aren’t sure when to announce achievements. A hotel he worked with that procured sustainable seafood sourcing didn’t know whether to announce it when launching, or when half of its hotels used it, or when all of them did. “If 50% of my supply chain is doing something,” he was asked, “is that a message that is credible for me to communicate to the world?”

Similarly, Font mentions pushback over supermarkets labeling bananas as fair trade, because customers then asked why more goods weren’t fair trade. “Many companies are choosing to not talk about it, simply for fear that the customers will see the glass as being half empty, not half full,” he says.

For larger companies, there are legal motivations to not report extensively. In recent years, lawsuits have been filed against Dasani for claiming its water bottles were 100% recyclable, and Kroger for claiming its sunscreen was “reef-friendly.” Cracking down on these false claims—like the ubiquitous “locally sourced wherever possible”—is a good thing, Font says. “That’s a bit like me saying, ‘I’m a good husband whenever possible,’” he says. “It has no value.”


Like in Europe, American companies are receiving pressure from environmental groups to stop greenwashing. But in the U.S., companies have to worry about the other political side, too, as there is an increased politicization of the climate crisis and environmental and social governance (ESG).

Several states, most notably Florida, are divesting billions of dollars from BlackRock because it has developed strong ESG portfolios. “We see attacks being more irrational and so fierce,” says Peter Seele, a professor of corporate social responsibility and business ethics at Università della Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland. This has created another reason for companies to stay silent, or else also be on the receiving end of “anti-woke” tirades.

That polarization is troubling, Font says, and seeps into customers’ beliefs, which requires businesses to be culturally sensitive in the markets they operate in. “If I was a company in the U.S., serving the full range of customers, I would downplay the ‘S word,’” he says, referring to sustainability. They may want to spin a sustainable practice as one that is beneficial to customers in some other way. 

“In the U.S., we’re just more litigious,” says Anant Sundaram, professor of business and climate change at Dartmouth University. “You say something in your 10K, or you put out some document, [and] immediately it becomes the basis for a lawsuit.” So American companies “tend to prefer to stay under the radar, and are a little gun-shy.”


Climate reporting is now prevalent across developed nations. And the disclosures on climate risks, mitigation, and sustainable strategies that companies submit to government agencies are publicly accessible. But mostly, they are voluntary—allowing businesses to green hush.

Companies are keeping relatively quiet about most of their climate data. In the U.S., a report found that while 71% of S&P 500 companies report their greenhouse gas emissions, only 28% of smaller companies do so. And only 15% of S&P 500 companies disclose information on biodiversity and deforestation, and 12% on water risks. 

But public reporting is changing soon. In the EU, climate disclosures will become mandatory in 2025, and for a wider swath of companies than previously. In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission aims to roll out stricter regulations for 2024 (which will initially be for larger, publicly traded companies, with market caps of at least $700 million). This stricter enforcement may give businesses less of a choice to practice green hushing.


It’s not ideal. As the Swiss report noted, companies discussing their climate actions can have positive knock-on effects and create change. But not if they’re silent.

Greenwashing crackdowns are valuable, but not if they are indiscriminate. Seele says there is a trend of attacking companies no matter how good their actions or intentions—which has brought about another phrase in the German media: “greenwashing truther,” for people who launch those kinds of accusations.

And in France, new greenwashing laws will place fines on companies for making misleading claims like being carbon neutral. While well-intended, such laws may serve to reduce greenwashing but heighten green hushing.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.fastcompany.com/90858144/what-is-green-hushing-the-new-negative-sustainability-trend-explained

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 ross@accredited.com.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.startribune.com/know-what-esg-investing-is-and-isnt/600258025/

Unilever: Influencers have greatest impact on consumer sustainability choices

11 03 2023

By Chris Kelly from marketing dive.com • Reposted: March 11, 2023

Influencers have the single largest impact on consumers’ sustainability choices, ahead of TV documentaries, news articles and government campaigns, according to a study shared with Marketing Dive conducted by Unilever with the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT).

Three-quarters of consumers surveyed said that social media content made them more likely to adopt sustainable behaviors, with 83% of consumers, and 86% of those 18-34, saying that TikTok and Instagram are helpful places to seek out advice on how to be greener at home.

The study, commissioned by Unilever brands Dove and Hellman’s alongside experts from across the business, demonstrates how brands can utilize social media and influencers to create content in line with larger sustainability efforts.

The results of the study conducted by Unilever and UK-based organization the Behavioural Insights Team — unofficially known as the “nudge unit” for how it attempts to influence action — demonstrates some of the strategies and tactics that brands use as part of sustainability efforts that seek to encourage consumers to change their behaviors, like using less plastic and wasting less food.

“People are finding it hard to make sustainable choices due to a lack of simple, immediate and trustworthy information,” said Conny Braams, Unilever’s chief digital and commercial officer, in a statement. “Our ambition is to continue to collaborate with our partners to improve the sustainability content produced by our brands and support the creators we work with.”

Influencers were rated as impactful by 78% of consumers, ahead of TV documentaries (48%), news articles (37%) and government campaigns (20%), reinforcing the power of influencers at a time when consumerdistrust of media and government institutions is increasing. The high marks for Instagram and TikTok as places consumers turn for information underscores the continued importance of the social media platforms. 

The study measured the impact on 6,000 participants in the UK, US and Canada that were shown various pieces and styles of content on a simulated social platform crafted by the BIT. The content was either pragmatic, with a focus on the scale of environmental problems and a heavy use of data and statistics, or optimistic, with an emphasis on practical demonstrations of how to live sustainably, often with a humorous tone. Both types of content encouraged consumers to try to change their behaviors, with pragmatic (69%) slightly outperforming optimistic (61%).

The study focused on sustainability efforts from two Unilever brands, with 76% of consumers encouraged to act after watching Dove’s plastic reuse content and 82% encouraged after watching Hellmann’s content on food waste reduction — the focus of the latter brand’s recent Super Bowl ads. 

Consumers largely support influencers’ focus on sustainability, with eight in 10 supporting creators encouraging their audience to act sustainably and seven in 10 supporting influencers selling products or services focused on sustainability.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.marketingdive.com/news/influencers-impact-sustainability-marketing-unilever/644478/

In the War on Climate Change, Many Companies are Picking the Wrong Battles

10 03 2023

By Austin Simms, Dayrize from retailtouchpoints.com • Reposted; March 9, 2023

Concerns over climate change continue to mount, and there is an increasing demand for companies to decrease their environmental impact through whatever means possible. Take CO2 emissions for example. In 2020, 140 of the largest companies stated their intentions to completely eliminate emissions within the next few decades. Since then, many of their initiatives have focused on transportation. It makes the most sense on the surface, as cars and trucks are responsible for almost 20% of emissions in the U.S. alone. CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) brands that have chosen to focus on the optimization of supply chains or reducing emissions within the “last-mile” of delivery may seem like the most logical, efficient step — but is it?

Many environmental champions also see sustainable packaging as a concrete measure to reduce CO2 or tackle environmental concerns, such as water depletion, due to the large consumption of water by various industries. Brands will often highlight their transition toward more eco-friendly packaging as one of their major initiatives to become more green, with hundreds of major corporations joining the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. Unfortunately, there is reliable evidence that these are not the right targets.

Surprisingly — and according to aggregate, anonymized data derived from over 10,000 products from a number of CPG brands and companies tracked via Dayrize’s environmental impact assessment technology — transportation and packaging are responsible for a relatively negligible amount of CO2 emissions by makers of CPGs and apparel. In fact, creating more sustainable methods for consumer products to be packaged and transported addresses a mere 2% of CO2 emissions. Another surprise revealed by the same data: when it comes to apparel, packaging is far less of a factor in water depletion than the actual product inside the packaging.

Dayrize environmental impact assessment technology makes these calculations by combining the latest technology with the most recent developments in sustainability science. At the core of the software solution are  31 databases — including 14 that are proprietary — that provide rapid, accurate and actionable impact results. The technology was created by a team of 80+ industrial ecologists and sustainability experts over a period of two years to provide the fastest and most accurate impact results available.

The results are generated using five key factors that produce a simple-to-understand Dayrize Score, which is out of 100. The factors include:

  • Circularity: How well an individual product minimizes waste by reusing and recycling resources to create a closed loop system;
  • Climate Impact: How greenhouse gas-intensive the production of the product is;
  • Ecosystem Impact: What the impact of the product is on biodiversity and water depletion;
  • Livelihoods and Well-being: How each product impacts the health and well-being of the people involved in creating it;
  • Purpose: How meaningful a product’s purpose is by looking at the value that it provides, and the potential it has to be an accelerator for good.

The environmental impact score helps companies and consumers gain insights into the environmental impact of virtually all products, including consumer packaged goods and apparel. 

The necessity for environmental impact research is demonstrated in part by our look at the sources of CO2 emissions from consumer products and water depletion in the apparel industry. Even incredibly popular and “common knowledge” solutions about how to address environmental harm meaningfully can often be incorrect in very significant — and possibly damaging — ways.

When it comes to CPGs, it’s crucial that companies keep the following facts in mind:

  • On average, only 1% of emitted carbon is due to packaging, while 1% comes from transportation and 2% can be traced to manufacturing for a typical consumer product.
  • The lion’s share of CO2 emissions come from the materials that are used in products. Up to 96% of the emissions that CPGs are responsible for are from a product’s materials.

CPG companies that want to be truly eco-friendly need to ensure their products are eco-friendly. To reduce carbon emissions, CPGs need to reassess the design of their products and the materials they’re using.

Packaging has a more consequential impact on water depletion when it comes to apparel, but nowhere near the impact of the apparel itself. For every 3.2 gallons of water that packaging depletes, the average garment depletes ten times that: 32 gallons. More eco-conscious packaging can increase an apparel company’s sustainability, but shifting attention to producing more sustainable garments can help reduce the 90% of water that is being used to create the garment.

There is an enormous opportunity to make garments more sustainable. After scoring tens of thousands of pieces of clothing, we found that only 1% of garments utilize materials that are reused. Additionally, only 5% of garments use recycled materials. This is paltry compared to the number of clothes disposed of each year: “The EPA reports that Americans generate 16M tons of textile waste a year, equaling just over 6% of total municipal waste…2.5M tons of clothing are recycled. But over three million tons are incinerated, and a staggering 10M tons get sent to landfills.”

Clearly, there are more than enough materials to re-integrate into apparel, which would help companies mitigate water depletion and other harmful environmental effects of their products.

Many companies may have good intentions, but they need to research how to achieve their goals of creating sustainable products. There are myriad ways to make it seem to the public that sustainability is a priority, but making it a reality requires both the willingness to make some tough choices and a clear understanding of what steps will truly make a difference.

Austin Simms co-founded Dayrize in 2019 and serves as its CEO. After 20+ years spent working in senior commercial positions at major corporations around the world, Simms had a desire to use his skills to address climate change. With a strong commercial background, he believed that empowering corporations was key to make real change. He recognized that the first thing that companies needed to change was access to information to make better decisions, which is why he developed the Dayrize Score tool. Simms believes commerce and sustainability are linked, and business needs to be a major catalyst for addressing climate change.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/sustainability/in-the-war-on-climate-change-many-companies-are-picking-the-wrong-battles

KPMG Survey: Do consumers care about sustainability and responsibility?

10 03 2023

By Dan Berthiaume, Senior Editor, Technology from chainstoreage.com • Reposted: March 9, 2023

A new survey reveals how many consumers consider environmental sustainability and social responsibility in buying decisions.

According to the 2023 KPMG Winter Consumer Pulse Survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers, 37% of respondents consider environmental sustainability and 33% consider social responsibility when making a purchase. Following is a closer look at data from each set of respondents.

Environmental sustainability findings

Of respondents who consider environmental sustainability, more than 75% are looking for environmentally friendly products and/or packaging.

In addition, approximately 50% of these respondents determine a product’s environmental sustainability based on product labels, descriptions, images, or marketing. And 50% of respondents age 13-17 say that environmental sustainability is important to purchase decisions.

Overall, respondents are most likely to choose a product/service based on environmental sustainability features in the personal care products (48%), groceries (44%), restaurants (42%), and apparel (42%) categories.

Social responsibility findings

Of respondents who say a company’s social responsibility is important to their purchase decisions, over half (51%) determine a product’s social responsibility based on product labels. Respondents age 13-17 are more likely to say that social responsibility is important to their purchase decisions (41% vs. 33% overall).

The categories for which respondents are most likely to choose a product or service based on social responsibility features are restaurants, apparel, and personal care products. And over 75% of respondents are at least somewhat familiar with social responsibility, with more than 50% of them associating social responsibility with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); employee human rights; health and safety; and fair wages.

“When a sizeable segment of consumers considers environmental sustainability and social responsibility in their purchase decisions, consumer goods and retail companies are taking note,” said Julia Wilson, KPMG consumer and retail ESG leader. “As they consider both factors, companies will need to continue to innovate and push supply chains to deliver on increasing consumer expectations for their products.”

“The power of consumer purchase preferences to drive more socially responsible and sustainable practices from companies cannot be underestimated,” said Rob Fisher, KPMG US ESG leader. “Increasingly, consumers are aligning their purchase preferences with their values and priorities, incentivizing brands to publicly disclose what they are doing, why they are doing it, and where they are on their ESG journeys with their customers.”

To see the original post, follow this link: https://chainstoreage.com/do-consumers-care-about-sustainability-and-responsibility

Which state you live in matters for how well environmental laws protect your health

9 03 2023

Concerns about smog from vehicles that choked cities like Los Angeles helped lead to environmental laws in the 1970s. Image: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

By Susan Kaplan, Research Assistant Professor of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago via The Conversation • Reposted: March 9, 2023

Our child could go to gym class on Monday morning and play soccer on a field that was sprayed over the weekend with 2,4-D, a toxic weedkiller that has been investigated as possibly causing cancer. Alternatively, the school grounds may have been treated with a lower-toxicity weedkiller. Or maybe the grounds were managed with safe, nontoxic products and techniques.

Which of these scenarios applies depends in large part on your state’s laws and regulations today – more so than federal regulations.

For example, Texas requires all school districts to adopt an integrated pest management program for school buildings; IPM prioritizes nonchemical pest control methods and includes some protections regarding spraying of groundsMassachusetts also restricts pesticide use on school grounds. Illinois requires IPM for school buildings only if economically feasible. States also vary greatly in the education and technical assistance they provide to implement these practices.

Two men with sprayers connected to hoses walk across a lawn, spraying it. One has a backpack container with liquid inside.
Chemical pesticides can be harmful to human health. Huntstock/Brand X Pictures via Getty Images

Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is involved in some baseline pesticide functions, shortcomings of the main pesticide lawalong with industry influence, can leave vulnerable groups like children inadequately protected from these exposures. 

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EPA registers products for use based on a finding that they do not cause an “unreasonable” risk but considers economic costs and benefits, an approach that can result in decisions that pose health risks. And required labels may omit ingredients considered trade secrets.

As an environmental health lawyer and professor, I teach, write and think about the pros and cons of one level of government or the other overseeing environmental health – the impact of the natural and human-made environment on human health. Pesticides on school grounds are just one example of the problem of uneven protection from one state to the next.

Congress eased off, states stepped in

State policy choices have become more important for limiting people’s exposure to pollution and toxins as the federal government has increasingly retreated from major environmental health lawmaking.

Many of the country’s major environmental health laws were passed in the 1970s on the momentum of the environmental movement and with bipartisan support that is rarely seen today. 

For example, the Clean Air Act amendments of 1970 required U.S. EPA to regulatea wide range of air pollutants, in some cases based explicitly on protecting human health. They were approved 374-1 in the House and 73-0 by the Senate and signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon. Nixon signed the law that created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1971.

One analyst has written that groups that pressed legislators for environmental protection later splintered into groups advocating for and against environmental laws, reflecting an emerging debate over the appropriate extent of regulation.

At the same time, after the success of many federal environmental health laws, attention turned to problems that are harder for Washington to solve. With state environmental programs growing, some suggested that the U.S. EPA’s role should shift from compelling to catalyzing – from requiring specific pollution-reducing actions to helping states act by providing increased information and help with compliance. Yet this view acknowledged that under this scenario, residents of some states would enjoy stronger environmental health protections than others.

Reflecting this dynamic and the extent of political division in the U.S., even when the federal government does create tougher environmental regulations, they are often reversed by the succeeding administration or challenged in court.

Sometimes, states should make the decisions

In some cases, it makes sense to leave decisions to states. A health department in a western state may focus on protecting vulnerable groups from wildfire smoke, given the growth of blazes in that part of the country. Some states may welcome fracking operations while others prefer to keep them out.

States can also serve as laboratories of innovation, and the experiences of state programs and policies can inform federal actions.

But this regulatory patchwork creates inequities. If you live in one of the dozen-and-a-half states that follow California’s tailpipe emissions standards rather than the less stringent federal standards, you probably benefit from reduced air pollution. 

The same holds for East Coast residents within the confederation of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which limits greenhouse gas emissions – and other air pollutants in the process. A recent study that compared RGGI states with neighboring non-RGGI states concluded that data “indicate that RGGI has provided substantial child health benefits,” including a reduction in childhood asthma cases.

Drinking water limits or labeling requirements for PFAS – perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances – also vary by state. PFAS are found in products from nonstick cookware to some personal care products, and they have been linked with a range of troubling health effects. Because of their toxicity, broad scope of contamination and longevity in the environment, 18 states’ attorneys general are asking for a federal law.

How you can hold lawmakers to account

Environmental health often suffers from a cycle of panic and neglect. People worry about a concern like the chemical alar used on apples, until the next issue erupts. The public can keep up pressure on state and federal decision-makers to consider how the environment affects health in an array of ways:

  • One person can be dismissed as an outlier, so start a group or join other groups that have similar interests.
  • Research the problem and best practices and possible solutions, like program or policy development, education or stepped-up enforcement. Then call, email and send letters to elected representatives and request a meeting to clearly and concisely explain your concerns and ideas.
  • Identify a “champion” – someone in a position to spearhead a change, like a school nurse or facilities manager – and reach out to them.
  • Get the issue into the local news media by writing op-eds and social media posts. Be sure to communicate benefits of the action you’re advocating, like improved school attendance or financial return on investment.
  • Attend public meetings and speak on the issue during the public comment period. Successes at the local level can provide examples for state officials.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://theconversation.com/which-state-you-live-in-matters-for-how-well-environmental-laws-protect-your-health-200393

What ESG Issues Do Consumers Really Care About?

9 03 2023

Image credits: georgerudy/Adobe Stock and Glow

By Terry E. Cohen from triplepundit.com • Reposted: March 9, 2023

Research has more than made the case for linking environmental, social and governance 
(ESG) strategies to corporate profitability. What’s good for people and the planet does, indeed, benefit a company’s bottom line. The trickier part is determining what programs will yield the best results for the investment.

Some ESG pathways are easier to attain and measure direct results, such as cost reductions. But top-line market growth demands a greater understanding of customer wishes and perceptions of a company’s ESG efforts. Those expectations and priorities will differ by industry sector, as well as by geographies, cultures, and demographics like age and gender.

While studies and reports can point companies in the right direction with top-level overviews of trends and industry insights, real-time survey and data collection can dig deeper into what consumers prize in ESG efforts.

Measuring consumer ESG priorities across industries, brands and more

Glow, a research-technology business with offices in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, first started tracking what consumers think about ESG issues in relation to purchasing decisions over two years ago. It began with a field of approximately 40 issues that, through multiple research studies across three markets (U.S., U.K. and Australia), were then synthesized into 13 ESG drivers of consumer priorities and perceptions.

The process yielded a diagnostic tool called the Social Responsibility Score (SRS) that not only provides a number to tell a company how it is perceived in its ESG efforts, but also where it stands in its industry and against its competitors and why consumers score it that way.

For example, among food and grocery (F&G) companies in particular, three environmental drivers — reducing emissions, respecting natural resources, and protecting wildlife and ecosystems — ranked highest for importance among consumers, as shown below.

ESG issues that are important to consumers for food and grocery brands - graphic
The ESG drivers that matter most to consumers for the food and grocery sector. The longer the ‘wedge,’ the more important that driver is for the industry. (Click here to enlarge  

This isn’t to say social drivers like health and well-being aren’t important to F&G customers — they are. But understanding consumers’ top concerns at a given time can help companies prioritize, in terms of both programming and messaging successes. Communicating accomplishments in the areas that matter most to consumers can translate into customer loyalty as well as brand switching. 

On the other hand, if a brand and its competitors are all communicating about the same things, it can be harder to stand out. In cases like these, a brand may opt to lean into an area that isn’t as much of a focus for peers and competitors. Or, if it finds it’s under-performing compared to peers on key issues that matter to consumers, it may decide to invest more in those areas and communicate an improvement story. 

Listening to consumers via data capture enables this kind of decision-making, helping brands to get the most return on their ESG investments.

comparison of ESG risks and opportunities for two brands - graphic
ESG risks and opportunities for two anonymized F&G competitors from Australia. (Click to enlarge)

Take, for example, these two anonymized F&G competitors from Australia, shown above. Both brands mapped their SRS in relation to the industry benchmark (the green line). Brand A clearly outshines Brand B on virtually all of the 13 drivers. The achievement gap in the areas most important to consumers, such as “reducing emissions”  is substantial enough to be a significant opportunity for Brand A to message that success to customers hungry for guidance on where to invest their purchasing power. Meanwhile, Brand B can see where it’s progressing and where further investments can help it improve credibility. 

ESG drivers differ across industries 

What weighs heaviest on consumers’ minds will vary across industries. For example, Glow found that governance and social drivers are the biggest influences on ESG credentials in the health insurance industry in the U.S., as shown below. 

The ESG drivers that matter most to consumers for the health insurance sector - graphic 
The ESG drivers that matter most to consumers for the health insurance sector. The longer the ‘wedge,’ the more important that driver is for the industry. (Click here to enlarge)

In travel and tourism, on the other hand, U.S. customers view all three divisions of environmental, social and governance factors as important for the sector to address.

The ESG drivers that matter most to consumers for the travel and tourism sector - graphic
The ESG drivers that matter most to consumers for the travel and tourism sector. (Click here to enlarge)

In a balanced framework such as the latter, drilling further down into age, gender, geography, and competition among brands is vital to determine the focus for programs and messaging to avoid spreading investment and resources too thin.

Continuing to zero-in on what matters to who

Price and quality are typically the engines powering consumer choices, but business leaders may be surprised at how strong “sustainability” has become as a beacon to consumers looking for safe harbor for their purchasing dollars. 

This is especially true in the F&G sector — where 1 in 2 U.S. consumers have switched brandsbased on sustainability considerations, and 1 in 5  ranked ESG/sustainability as one of the top three drivers for deciding what brands to purchase, according to Glow data.

ESG issues that matter to consumers
(Click to enlarge

Diving deeper to look at age segmentation, millennials prized ESG/sustainability even higher, with 1 in 3 such consumers rating it as one of their top three considerations, behind price and quality. Further, 10 percent of millennials rated ESG/sustainability as the top influencer of their purchase decisions, even more than price and quality, Glow found.

These findings demonstrate the importance of ESG initiatives and messaging to any company’s bottom line. To fail in listening and responding to consumers in this regard is to surrender profits and reputation to competitors that are willing to leverage the feedback.

Data and surveys give a brand that feedback continuously since the measurements can be taken over set time periods, in connection with program launches or in tandem with media campaigns.

“The response from people taking these surveys is actually very clear. You can understand what it is that’s driving the consumer response and what’s driving the metric you receive,” said Tim Clover, CEO of Glow. “It allows you to line up the programs you’re running with the different areas and ask, ‘Are these the programs we should be communicating?’ If so, to whom do we communicate and through which media?”

Alignment of ESG programs with consumer expectations, coupled with alignment of messaging to bring about positive public perception of those programs, creates a winning combination for brands. 

The tools exist to know what ESG concerns consumers really care about. The decision to use those tools enables business leaders to enhance brand profitability while “doing the right thing.” 

This article series is sponsored by Glow and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/esg-consumers-care/768091

Regulating ‘forever chemicals’: 3 essential reads on PFAS

7 03 2023

Medical assistant Jennifer Martinez draws blood from Joshua Smith in Newburgh, N.Y., Nov. 3, 2016, to test for PFOS levels. PFOS had been used for years in firefighting foam at the nearby military air base, and was found in the city’s drinking water reservoir at levels exceeding federal guidelines. AP Photo/Mike Groll

By Jennifer Weeks, Senior Environment + Energy Editor, The Conversation • Reposed: March 7, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to release a draft regulation limiting two fluorinated chemicals, known by the abbreviations PFOAand PFOS, in drinking water. These chemicals are two types of PFAS, a broad class of substances often referred to as “forever chemicals” because they are very persistent in the environment. 

PFAS are widely used in hundreds of products, from nonstick cookware coatings to food packaging, stain- and water-resistant clothing and firefighting foams. Studies show that high levels of PFAS exposure may lead to health effects that include reduced immune system function, increased cholesterol levels and elevated risk of kidney or testicular cancer

Population-based screenings over the past 20 years show that most Americans have been exposed to PFAS and have detectable levels in their blood. The new regulation is designed to protect public health by setting an enforceable maximum standard limiting how much of the two target chemicals can be present in drinking water – one of the main human exposure pathways. 

These three articles from The Conversation’s archives explain growing concerns about the health effects of exposure to PFAS and why many experts support national regulation of these chemicals.

1. Ubiquitous and persistent

PFAS are useful in many types of products because they provide resistance to water, grease and stains, and protect against fire. Studies have found that most products labeled stain- or water-resistant contained PFAS – even if those products are labeled as “nontoxic” or “green.”

“Once people are exposed to PFAS, the chemicals remain in their bodies for a long time – months to years, depending on the specific compound – and they can accumulate over time,” wrote Middlebury College environmental health scholar Kathryn Crawford. A 2021 review of PFAS toxicity studies in humans “concluded with a high degree of certainty that PFAS contribute to thyroid disease, elevated cholesterol, liver damage and kidney and testicular cancer.”

The review also found strong evidence that in utero PFAS exposure increases the chances that babies will be born at low birth weights and have reduced immune responses to vaccines. Other possible effects yet to be confirmed include “inflammatory bowel disease, reduced fertility, breast cancer and an increased likelihood of miscarriage and developing high blood pressure and preeclampsia during pregnancy.”

“Collectively, this is a formidable list of diseases and disorders,” Crawford observed.

2. Why national regulations are needed

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to set enforceable national regulations for drinking water contaminants. It also can require state, local and tribal governments, which manage drinking water supplies, to monitor public water systems for the presence of contaminants.

Until now, however, the agency has not set binding standards limiting PFAS exposure, although it has issued nonbinding advisory guidelines. In 2009 the agency established a health advisory level for PFOA in drinking water of 400 parts per trillion. In 2016, it lowered this recommendation to 70 parts per trillion, and in 2022 it reduced this threshold to near-zero

But many scientists have found fault with this approach. EPA’s one-at-a-time approach to assessing potentially harmful chemicals “isn’t working for PFAS, given the sheer number of them and the fact that manufacturers commonly replace toxic substances with ‘regrettable substitutes – similar, lesser-known chemicals that also threaten human health and the environment,” wrote North Carolina State University biologist Carol Kwiatkowski

In 2020 Kwiatkowski and other scientists urged the EPA to manage the entire class of PFAS chemicals as a group, instead of one by one. “We also support an ‘essential uses’ approach that would restrict their production and use only to products that are critical for health and proper functioning of society, such as medical devices and safety equipment. And we have recommended developing safer non-PFAS alternatives,” she wrote.

3. Breaking down PFAS

PFAS chemicals are widely present in water, air, soil and fish around the world. Unlike with some other types of pollutants, there is no natural process that breaks down PFAS once they get into water or soil. Many scientists are working to develop ways of capturing these chemicals from the environment and breaking them down into harmless components.

There are ways to filter PFAS out of water, but that’s just the start. “Once PFAS is captured, then you have to dispose of PFAS-loaded activated carbons, and PFAS still moves around. If you bury contaminated materials in a landfill or elsewhere, PFAS will eventually leach out. That’s why finding ways to destroy it are essential,” wrote Michigan State University chemists A. Daniel Jones and Hui Li

Incineration is the most common technique, they explained, but that typically requires heating the materials to around 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,730 degrees Fahrenheit), which is expensive and requires special incinerators. Various chemical processes offer alternatives, but the approaches that have been developed so far are hard to scale up. And converting PFAS into toxic byproducts is a significant concern.

“If there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s that we need to think through the full life cycle of products. How long do we really need chemicals to last?” Jones and Li wrote.To

To see the original article, follow this link: https://theconversation.com/regulating-forever-chemicals-3-essential-reads-on-pfas-201263

Curbing Plastic Consumption Will Require Drastic Measures — and Business Should Lead the Charge

7 03 2023

Image credit: Nick Fewings/Unsplash

By Riya Anne Polcastro from triplepndit.com • Reposted: March 7, 2023

By 2050, plastic consumption in the world’s top economies could be almost twice what it was in 2019. And it’s not even on track to peak this century. That’s according to a new report from Back to Blue, a multi-year joint initiative from the Economist Impact and the Nippon Foundation. Researchers from the initiative say it’s possible to avoid an extreme plastic waste crisis through “bold and sweeping reforms” — and they’re urging U.N. countries to enact multiple stringent and binding policy changes.

But while pushback is expected from certain industries, “Peak Plastics: Bending the Consumption Curve” demonstrates that — when it comes to curbing the tide of plastic pollution that is barreling down the pipeline — there is no room for half-measures. Rather, businesses must choose long-term purpose over profit and lead a cultural change away from single-use plastics.

No single policy can do it alone

Back to Blue researchers used modeling to determine the effectiveness of three different policies that are being considered for inclusion in the U.N. Treaty on Plastic Pollution, compared to the business-as-usual scenario that would lead to 451 million metric tons of new plastic consumption per year by 2050. The forthcoming U.N. treaty is the culmination of agreements made in March 2022 that will bind 175 countries to its stipulations. Negotiations are in progress, and policies should be implemented by the end of next year. 

Researchers chose the three policies deemed to have the most potential to affect total plastic consumption for modeling: taxes on the production of new plastics, measures for extended producer responsibility, known as “polluter pays,” and a ban on single-use plastics. They found that no single policy would be capable of substantially curtailing the problem by itself.

Multiple measures needed to curb avalanche of plastic consumption

Banning single-use plastics proved to be the most beneficial of the three policies. Under that scenario, plastic consumption in 2050 would be roughly 1.5 times what it was in 2019 ⸺ as opposed to the 1.73 times that can be expected if nothing is done. Likewise, if a tax on new plastics were the only strategy implemented, it would still lead to 1.57 times more plastic produced each year by 2050. A “polluter pays” policy would also do little on its own, with consumption increasing 1.66 times.

Put together, implementing all three strategies would lower the increase to 1.25 times 2019 levels. However, the study’s authors doubt that the U.N. treaty will ultimately have the teeth needed to force the trajectory of plastic consumption downward.

“This report confirms that an urgent, global effort is needed to stop the flood of plastic pollution at its source,” David Azoulay, director of environmental health at the Center for International Environmental Law, said in a statement announcing the report. “The entire lifecycle of plastics, from feedstock extraction and production of plastic precursors to disposal, must be addressed by the future, legally binding U.N. treaty to end plastic pollution. The policy levers examined in this report will not be sufficient: bolder action is needed, including globally coordinated tax mechanisms coupled with ambitious caps on virgin plastic production.”

Negotiators must maintain ‘the highest levels of ambition’

Of course, neither the petrochemical industry nor producers of consumer goods will take such changes lying down. Like all regulations that threaten profits, they will likely fight tooth and nail against any limits that affect their bottom lines.

“Negotiators of the U.N. plastics treaty must maintain the highest levels of ambition possible when entering the next round of negotiations, and industry needs to play a constructive, not obstructive, role in reaching a deal,” Charles Goddard, editorial director of Economist Impact, said in a statement. “So far, commitments by industry, retailers and brands to reduce plastic waste are short on detail and have failed to materialize. We have to slow the soaring production of single-use plastic. Only a bold suite of legally-binding policies will result in plastic consumption peaking by mid-century.”

Making room for purpose and creative solutions

The transition away from plastic consumption will be painful at first, but it also presents an opportunity for leadership. Businesses that value purpose and choose to make the most out of coming policy changes could see elevated brand loyalty — especially among Gen Z consumers — as well as increased competitiveness when it comes to securing talent and even potentially higher profits in the long run.

The policy changes that are being considered for the U.N. treaty could also increase the market share of certain industries and products as consumers adjust to a world without plastic take-out containers and bottled water. In fact, while an entire cultural overhaul will be necessary, businesses with a strong sense of purpose can help lead the charge by offering innovative products and strategies to help the planet recover from our plastic addiction. Regardless of how business reacts, the U.N. must move forward with drastic new regulations.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/curb-plastic-consumption-regulations/767626

Gartner: Corporate Sustainability Suffers From Tragedy of the Commons

6 03 2023

Image: Shutterstock

By Emma Chervek | Reporter from SDxCentral • Reposted: March 6, 2023

Sustainability is one of the first areas enterprises will reduce spending in response to inflated economic environments, according to new research from Gartner. Senior Director Analyst Brendan Williams told SDxCentral that despite executive recognition of sustainability as an important objective, this is “a classic example of the tragedy of the commons at work.”

The analyst firm’s “2022 Inflation Response Survey” found 39% of respondents expect sustainability will be one of the first two areas where their company limits investment. And just 15% believe this area will be one of the final areas impacted by reduced spending.

A major driver of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives has been the cost savings of efficiency improvements tied to sustainability efforts. But many corporate leadership teams seem hung up on the fact that it still costs money to implement those types of measures. “The question with environmental sustainability is whether executives see these initiatives simply as costs, or whether they view them as having a positive impact on cost and efficiency,” Williams explained.

While Gartner research shows that business executives directly involved with sustainability-related decisions are four-times more likely to view ESG as supportive of cost reduction rather than as another cost itself, “there is still work that needs to be done to convince certain stakeholders,” he admitted. It’s pretty self-explanatory that improving energy efficiency, for example, will have a positive environmental and economic impact, but that relationship can be less obvious with long-term projects or programs.

When it comes to cutting spending, the challenge lies in prioritization and the difference between urgent and important. Most executives understand sustainability is important, and “a difficult macroeconomic background isn’t going to change their minds, but it could cause them to prioritize issues that are viewed as more urgent, over issues that are important but seen as less urgent,” Williams said.

He argued a case needs to be made that environmental sustainability is both of those things: important and urgent. To that point, the next few years will determine just how resilient companies’ sustainability efforts are, considering it’ll be “the first time that we experience a cyclical economic downturn” since sustainability fell into mainstream corporate focus.

Sustainable Tragedy

Environmental sustainability exists chiefly to mitigate and respond to climate change’s near- and long-term impacts. Williams noted sustainability’s ties to the corporate world are ultimately driven by scientific evidence, but the reality of climate change alone isn’t enough to land sustainability in both the urgent and important categories of enterprise activities.

Williams highlighted the COVID-19 pandemic for its acceleration of corporate sustainability and ESG efforts, “and if you look at what has changed over that period, I don’t think it was anything particularly new in the underlying scientific knowledge, but rather that there has been a change in how society as a whole thinks about the importance and urgency of environmental sustainability,” he said.

For many corporate leaders, the impact of climate science has been less direct and has surfaced through customer, employee, shareholder, and regulator pressures. While there are certainly enterprise execs leading these changes, many are “simply responding to a change emanating from society at large,” he noted.

This scenario represents a clear example of the tragedy of the commons, Williams argued. Certain sustainability initiatives carry obvious positive business results like revenue increases, cost reductions, and risk limitations, but companies would likely implement those initiatives regardless of the environmental benefits. That’s why profit tends to be a weak motivator for positive environmental behavior.

“Unfortunately, [environmental sustainability] is not always that neat or convenient, and the individual profit motive is poorly suited to incentivize for many of the changes we as a society need to enact to achieve our environmental goals,” Williams said.

At the end of the day, corporations can’t be left to their own devices and be expected to meaningfully respond to climate change, he argued, citing economists’ term for environmental challenges: negative externalities. “This is one of the reasons why governments and other institutions have such an important role to play in incentivizing behavior (amongst individuals as well as businesses) that serves the common good,” Williams said.

Without well-designed industry regulations, an enterprise that does want to take responsibility for its role in climate change “may be worried that doing the right thing will put them at a competitive disadvantage,” he explained.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/interview/gartner-sustainability-suffers-tragedy-of-the-commons/2023/03/

The Sustainable Brand Is the Successful Brand

3 03 2023

Stephen Ardern, managing director at Continuous on the need for brands to incorporate sustainability to improve operations. Reposted: March 3, 2023

In today’s boardrooms, sustainability is increasingly becoming a vital aspect of an organisation’s brand strategy. Consumers are becoming more conscious of the environmental and social impacts of the products they buy, and they are looking for brands that align with their values. Investors are also increasing pressure on organisations to consider sustainability in their operations. As a result, successful brands are increasingly becoming those brands that are truly sustainable.

Boston Consulting Group highlighted that companies that prioritise sustainability outperform their peers financially, with a median total return to shareholders of 16% per year compared to non-sustainably focused companies’ median of 3%.

At its core, sustainability is about creating value for all stakeholders in a way that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It involves balancing economic, social, and environmental considerations to create long-term value for everyone involved. In the context of branding, sustainability means creating a brand that is resilient, responsible, and responsive to the changing needs of consumers, employees, and the environment. And the payoff is increasing the value of your brand. 

Accenture found that companies that prioritise sustainability and have a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) reputation have a higher brand value and customer loyalty.

Sustainability is becoming a key differentiator in the marketplace. As more and more brands make environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments, it becomes harder for brands that are not sustainable to compete. Consumers are becoming savvier, and they are increasingly choosing to buy from brands that they perceive as responsible and environmentally friendly. Brands that don’t take sustainability seriously risk losing market share to those that do.

A clear commitment to sustainability also helps create a strong sense of purpose, identity, and values that are clear to customers. This creates a sense of authenticity and trust that is hard to replicate. Additionally, by investing in sustainable solutions, brands can tap into growing consumer demand for products that align with their values.

Sustainability can also help brands to improve their operations, which in turn can help to improve their bottom line. Brands committed to more sustainable working practices often take a more holistic view of their operations, and they can identify areas that can improve efficiency and reduce costs. By committing to sustainability, brands can often create new revenue streams by selling sustainable products or services.

A study by the Carbon Trust found that companies that implement sustainable practices have a lower risk of operational disruptions and supply chain issues

A report by McKinsey & Company found that companies that prioritise sustainability in their operations and supply chain have a more resilient and efficient business, with cost savings of up to 20%.

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership found that companies prioritising sustainability are more likely to be innovative, with a higher likelihood of introducing new products and services.

Sustainability can help to improve employee engagement and retention. Brands committed to sustainability often create a sense of purpose and meaning among employees, which can lead to improved employee satisfaction and retention. By making clear commitments that resonate with employees, brands can create a positive reputation, which can help to attract top talent.

A report by Deloitte found that companies with strong sustainability practices have lower employee turnover rates and higher levels of employee engagement.

This isn’t only true of the B2C space. Sustainability is equally important to B2B. More scrutiny than ever before is being placed on the supply chain. And improved employee engagement, enhanced brand reputation, and stronger customer loyalty are vital regardless of whether an organisation is B2C or B2B.

Those brands leading the charge in this area are increasingly recognised for their progress. This, in turn, is helping differentiate from competitors, creating a strong sense of purpose and identity, improving employee engagement and retention, and operational efficiency that improves the bottom line. With more demand from customers and within the supply chain, it’s clear that the brands unable to adapt to these demands will fall behind and will eventually face extinction.

The most important consideration is communication. Stakeholders must understand the priorities around sustainability and any progress made. Communication needs to be clear and make sense. All too often, corporate messaging is lost in highfalutin or oblique messages that are ambiguous or simply lost. Here are five considerations for improving communication in this area: 

1. Be transparent: Be open about the practices and policies that make your brand sustainable.

2. Use clear language: Use specific, measurable terms and avoid buzzwords and vague claims.

3. Show your impact: Use data and storytelling to demonstrate the impact your brand is making, but make it clear for everyone to understand. 

4. Engage your customers: Encourage customer involvement in your sustainability initiatives by offering ways to get involved.

5. Continuously improve: Continuously evaluate and improve your sustainability practices. Set new goals, experiment with new technologies, and communicate your progress to your customers. 

We work with a growing number of clients that have the ambition to be more sustainable. They realise there’s lots of work to do. They plan for the long term and adapt to changes in the short term. They communicate clearly and regularly. They have the ambition to be better. And they will be more successful for it.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.lbbonline.com/news/the-sustainable-brand-is-the-successful-brand

Values Driving Value: Reaping the Business Benefits of ESG

1 03 2023

By Mandi McReynolds, Head of Global ESG, Workiva • Republished: March 1, 2023

A recent Workiva survey has revealed that a majority of senior decision makers surveyed have noted a positive correlation between their ESG practices and tangible business value.

While the idea of building corporate value through ESG isn’t new, the path to success in this area isn’t always clear. 

During a panel discussion organised by the Financial Times in partnership with Workiva titled ‘The Future of ESG and Sustainability Reporting’, I argued that “it all comes down to values translating to value.” But how does this work in practice? 

Where ESG and value creation come together

When considering the link between ESG and value creation, the incentives and pressures brought in by governments and external stakeholders may be the first things to come to mind. 

As expectations and regulations rise, the immediate benefits of keeping up soon become apparent—both in the form of ‘carrots’ like ESG-linked executive compensation schemes, and ‘sticks’ such as potential penalties from regulators  or limited access to capital financial institutions or customers.. 

Although these considerations are crucial, focusing exclusively on external, shorter-term motivators and detractors fails to dive deeper into the true purpose and complexity of ESG, thereby limiting the potential for greater growth and value creation over a much longer period of time. The relationship between ESG and financial success is multi-layered, requiring a more holistic view in order to be fully harnessed.   

If done correctly, ESG strategies can help companies increase their value in a number of key areas, including:

  • Top-line growth
  • Lower costs
  • Alignment with governmental initiatives
  • Talent retention
  • Return on company investments
  • Stronger risk management practices

While these are all potential areas for value creation through sound ESG practices, not each of these will be equally important for every company. To stand out, business leaders need to determine specific areas of focus that make sense for their company. 

‘Values’: a question of materiality 

This brings us to the idea of ‘values’. 

It’s worth unpacking what is meant in this context. In a politically and socially divided world, the term—which carries with it implications of a shared moral code—can feel loaded. 

To some extent, it’s undeniable that ESG initiatives on a global scale follow a particular ethical framework (regarding, for instance, human rights or environmental sustainability). But while companies are obliged to follow certain standards in how they operate and report, they are not being asked to single-handedly address and solve all of the world’s problems—a common misinterpretation of ESG that can lead to disjointed initiatives, a ‘scattergun’ approach of trying to address everything at once, or even accusations of greenwashing.  

The purpose of ESG is to enable company stakeholders to make sound, informed decisions that take into account the wider environmental and social context within which the company is operating. The idea of ‘values’ in this context therefore relates more closely to a shared company mission and questions of materiality. 

Of course, being seen to make a positive impact on the world is becoming a highly material question for many organisations. Consumers, stakeholders and governments are expecting more from corporations, and these expectations need to be taken into account. However, standalone ‘feel good’ initiatives which are divorced from the bread and butter of the organisation are more likely to be ineffective, or even do real damage, than to provide tangible benefits.  

To build real value for the business, the focus of an ESG strategy needs to be closely tied to the company’s daily activities, taking into account its particular circumstances alongside its existing strengths and resources. While a multinational food distributor, for instance, may wish to leverage new technologies for tracking the journey and carbon footprint of individual items of food, a consultancy might choose to focus their efforts on adopting innovative solutions for measuring the happiness and wellbeing of their staff. 

Determine your purpose, then tell your story 

The final—and perhaps most crucial—piece of the puzzle is the ability to communicate the information in a transparent, consistent and reliable manner, underpinned by verified and verifiable data. 

While the CSRD comes into play in Europe, the SEC begins to introduce new disclosure requirements and mandatory ESG reporting looms on the horizon throughout the world, this level of rigour and transparency will soon become a baseline requirement. Having ready access to reliable data is essential, but organisations also need to understand why they’re in the data and what story they’re telling. By having established a purpose and area of focus underpinned by shared organisational values, leaders will be able to tell a compelling ESG story that has clear meaning and direction in a way that both showcases and increases the value of the organisation. 

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/767456-values-driving-value-reaping-business-benefits-esg

Investing in communities builds climate resilience

1 03 2023

How local leaders can partner with financial institutions to support frontline communities. By Erin Ceynar & Samantha Ender from Greenzbiz.com • Reposted: March 1, 2023

Image courtesy of Wells Fargo.

This article is sponsored by Wells Fargo and written by Erin Ceynar and Samantha Ender from the Tides Foundation — a Wells Fargo Climate and Social Justice Fund partner.

Climate change isn’t a problem for the future. It’s happening right now. In 2022 alone, the United States endured wildfires, hurricanes, extreme flooding and decreased crop production.

Despite this real and growing threat, the global community is not moving quickly enough to address climate change. The 2015 Paris Agreement aims to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, a U.N. report released in October notes that without drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the world is on track to warm by an average of 2.1 to 2.9 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels by the end of the century.

Climate change affects every person on the planet, but frontline communities — those that inhabit areas that face the worst consequences of climate change — are more vulnerable than most. Small fractions of a degree can affect these communities, leading to infrastructure failures, food and water scarcity, and worsening health outcomes. Rather than addressing these imminent dangers to human lives, however, most climate change relief funding focuses on our relatively slow transition to a low-carbon future.

In 2021, the United States and Canada received $810 million in foundation funding for climate change mitigation. Most of those mitigation dollars were directed towards lowering emissions and improving carbon capture in sectors such as forest protection, overlooking the effects of climate change on American communities experiencing floods, landslides and drought.

In New Orleans, devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, extreme rainfall is an ongoing threat. The challenging natural landscape, combined with disinvestment in infrastructure, leaves the community vulnerable to dangerous flooding. In particular, heavy rain in the city’s 7th Ward significantly affects low-income residents of color who live in low-lying areas where affordable housing is more accessible. The flooding also drives toxic contaminants into the soil, producing respiratory and gastrointestinal health concerns.

The Partnership for Resilient Communities (PRC), a project of the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), supports community leaders of color in strengthening resilient communities. New Orleans community activist Angela Chalk, executive director of PRC partner Healthy Community Services, partnered with ISC to work alongside residents and install rain gardens at their homes to minimize flooding in their neighborhood. The gardens hold water, easing the burden on the city’s old drainage system. This attainable and impactful solution demonstrates how community-driven work can educate residents about climate change while also expanding resources that deliver results.

The rain gardens highlight what we can achieve when frontline communities have a seat at the decision-making table. They intimately understand the challenges they face, the resources they can bring to bear and the solutions that will be successful and durable. In other words, engaging with community leaders provides invaluable context, helping financial partners avoid pitfalls that would otherwise remain hidden.

These grassroots and community-led approaches present homegrown solutions to promote equitable development. Climate interventions that target community-identified problems and give communities decision-making power are more likely to be both successful and sustainable. The goal is to uplift community-driven efforts to create a more resilient, sustainable and vibrant future. However, a lack of access to capital and technical expertise can hamstring these efforts.

Frontline communities need genuine partners who can offer financial support while allowing the community to lead. Financial partners shouldn’t shy away from this approach, falsely assuming that it is slower, less efficient, and less impactful than the usual top-down model.

To achieve climate justice for disinvested communities, financial partners can adopt a cooperative playbook:

  • Partner with communities from the outset.
  • Work with community leaders to identify challenges, opportunities and resources.
  • Work with community leaders to co-develop solutions.
  • Support on-the-ground, community-designed programs.
  • Provide the expertise, training and technical resources needed to strengthen community organizations.
  • Remain committed and engaged for the long term.

Following these steps drastically increases a grant’s impact, strengthens civil society and ensures that the community’s perspective is respected and centered.

As climate change intensifies, the coming years will challenge us all. Resilience demands committed partnerships with funders who have a shared vision of a prosperous and just world. Enduring change is possible when we invest in our communities and find ways to offer support that goes beyond checkbooks. Through these partnerships, we can ensure a robust and lasting impact.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/investing-communities-builds-climate-resilience

Climate Justice Innovators Get $27 Billion Boost From the EPA

27 02 2023

Image credit: KE ATLAS/Unsplash

By Mary Mazzoni from Triple pundit • Reposted: February 17, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund forward and making good on its recently renewed commitments to environmental and climate justice.

Created by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the Fund aims to mobilize public and private capital to reduce emissions and combat air pollution across the U.S., with a focus on low-income and historically marginalized communities. 

As a first step, the Fund will host two grant competitions worth $27 billion, the EPA announced in its initial guidance last week. A $7 billion competition will award grants to 60 organizations providing clean technologies like community solar and energy storage within U.S. communities. A second will disburse $20 billion to anywhere from two to 15 nonprofit lenders, including community-based lenders and green banks that provide financial assistance for low- and zero-emission technologies in low-income communities. 

“The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund will unlock historic investments to combat the climate crisis and deliver results for the American people, especially those who have too often been left behind,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, the first Black man to head the agency, in a statement. “With $27 billion from President Biden’s investments in America, this program will mobilize billions more in private capital to reduce pollution and improve public health, all while lowering energy costs, increasing energy security, creating good-paying jobs and boosting economic prosperity in communities across the country.”

Those are pretty big words, but a host of environmental and climate justice advocates agree about the Fund’s promise. “This is a huge step,” Adam Kent, Sarah Dougherty and Douglass Sims of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s People and Communities Program, wrote of the Fund in a blog. “It has the potential to not only improve lives, but ultimately transform ‘green’ investments into ‘mainstream’ investments by catalyzing far, far more than $27 billion of investments and building a more equitable clean energy future.”

$27 billion and beyond: Mobilizing funds for climate justice in U.S. communities 

An estimated 1 out of every 25 premature deaths in the U.S. can be linked to air pollution — more than traffic accidents and shootings combined. People of color and low-income people are more likely to be exposed to high levels of air pollution and as such are at greater risk of premature death. These communities also face outsized impacts from climate change. 

Addressing environmental and climate justice issues like these is a key focus in President Joe Biden’s plan to leverage federal funds to advance racial equity. Launched during Biden’s first week in office, the Justice40 Initiative looks to direct 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are underserved and overburdened by pollution.

The Fund will align with Justice40 and take things a step further. “Although the law requires that just over half of Fund investments target low-income and disadvantaged communities, EPA will aim to prioritize investments in these communities throughout the entire $27 billion program,” report Kent, Dougherty and Sims of the NRDC. “This decision could transform how funding flows to underserved communities, and Fund investments can support critical, life-improving projects that otherwise would not have moved forward.”

The $7 billion in grants for clean technologies has the potential to scale transformative solutions like community solar and energy storage that can decarbonize underserved communities while reducing the burden of air pollution. The idea is that a cash infusion from the EPA can help recipient organizations grow and deploy even more community-based projects in pursuit of climate justice, similarly to how a $456 million federal loan helped Tesla become the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer. 

“These projects have the potential to create local benefits including savings on energy costs, reliability improvements, and improved air quality, as well as reducing climate pollution,” said Heather McTeer Toney, vice president of community engagement for the Environmental Defense Fund, in a statement. 

Further, the EPA’s decision to diversify its portfolio of nonprofit lenders — rather than investing in a single entity — will allow funds to reach more communities through institutions with proven track records of community-based and green lending. “This is a sound decision, as NRDC and many of our environmental justice and community-based partners have pushed EPA to select multiple recipients as a critical feature of Fund implementation,” Kent, Dougherty and Sims wrote. 

The next step

Both grant competitions are expected to launch in early summer. Organizations will have two to three months to submit their applications, and the EPA plans to make awards by late September of next year. 

The architecture of the Fund is based on input from state, local and Tribal governments, community financing institutions, environmental justice organizations, industry groups, and labor and environmental finance experts, the EPA said — and advocates are calling on the agency to keep the engagement up as it moves to start disbursing grants. 

“This is a positive step toward making the just transition affordable and accessible to those most in need,” Jessica Garcia, climate finance policy analyst at Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund, said in a statement. “The EPA should continue collecting feedback from the directly impacted communities that this fund aims to serve and developing robust criteria for its applicants to achieve its dual directive of protecting communities from climate impacts and providing them financial tools to safeguard their future. ”

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/climate-justice-epa/766666

How can brands bridge the sustainability-trust gap?

27 02 2023
How can brands truly earn trust through their sustainability efforts? / Image: Michal Matlon via Unsplash
By Lucy Usher | Sustainability Lead • The Drum Network article • February 27 2023

Lucy Usher of Oliver looks into research that suggests that few people really trust brands to follow through on their sustainability promises – and recommends how to bridge that gap.

No one likes making promises they can’t keep, least of all businesses in the public eye. Yet, right now, as the world heads deeper into financial instability, some fear that brands and businesses won’t be able to keep their sustainability promises.

Achieving net zero is, wrongly, seen as expensive, difficult and only for the fortunate few. But by slowing down on sustainable and net zero goals, businesses put themselves behind the transformation needed to succeed in a net zero world that continues to sprint ahead.

Promises matter now more than ever (just look at the state of politics). Delivering on the commitments we’ve made will not only deliver better brands and companies for this and future generations; it’ll also deliver trust, responsibility and accountability within boardrooms. 

Here are the ways brands and businesses can become uncompromisable on their sustainability promises in 2023 (arguably one of the most challenging years for the climate on record).

The far-reaching financial benefits of being a trusted brand

Globally, we’re far from reaching the IPCC’s goal of keeping global warming within a 1.5°C temperature rise. Advertising emissions add an extra 32% to the annual carbon footprint of every person in the UK. That’s like running an extra nine coal-fired power plants every year (in the UK alone). 

As a measurable framework for advertising emissions emerges, brands will no longer be able to ignore the tension between growth targets and net zero investment. 

Alongside reputational benefits, there are clear financial benefits to being a trusted sustainable brand. Brands with a strong sustainability DNA outperform competitors by 21%, in both profitability and environmental and social impact. Businesses’ bottom lines and the planet can both benefit from effective and economical sustainability plans that cater to all, not just ‘ethical consumers’. 

Bridging the sustainability-trust gap

According to data from market research company GWI, 62% of consumers are only a little trusting that brands will stick to their environmental claims or pledges. 22% don’t trust brands at all. With a significant rise in greenwashing, it’s no surprise that shoppers are skeptical. 

How can brands bridge this sustainability-trust gap? Here are four considerations.

1. Start

Sustainability isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. Brands must enter this journey with a spirit of inquiry and a can-do attitude. 

Define what you want your business to stand for and what you want its sustainability purpose to be. Then, talk to customers. Use feedback to prioritize areas of the business where people would most like change, whether that’s packaging, manufacturing processes, distribution methods, or recycling. This will open the conversation in the long run. 

2. Collaborate

With evolving technologies and breakthroughs happening all the time, brands don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to adopting sustainable ways of working. But nor do we have time to all work in silos on the same problems. Instead, we must collaborate on reaching common goals rapidly.

There’s a wealth of existing credible sustainability frameworks to choose from that offer help with structural, operational, and cultural change. From the Conscious Advertising Network and Purpose Disruptors’ Advertised Emissions Framework to the Change The Brief Alliance, there are many resources to tap into. 

3. Upskill 

Education and training are key to embedding sustainability into the core values and practices of any business. It is important that sustainability considerations become business-as-usual: from creative ideas to operational deliverables. This means providing staff (at all levels) with training and aligning them to the brand’s commitments. 

The opposite of this is a workforce ignorant of the rapidly changing landscape. They will be forced to focus on risk avoidance only (like adhering to the Green Claims Code), rather than seizing the opportunities awaiting upskilled businesses who are able to act on the ‘system upgrades’ that sustainable thinking brings.

Small changes add up. In terms of building trust with customers, an upskilled workforce is the biggest advocate for your brand.

4. Shout

Tell everyone about your commitments – but only if you mean it. It should stem from a genuine desire to be a better brand, not just to win brownie points. 

When goals are communicated and measured, they stand a better chance of being delivered. As a key trust-builder for customers (with their growing cynicism around authentic commitments to change), brands need to share transparent, data-backed sustainability progress. 

Be, do, tell

Putting it even more simply, brands need to apply the ‘be, do, tell’methodology. Brands tend to shout about sustainability pledges before putting the work in, which leads to distrust when targets aren’t met. 

Instead, they should be sustainable, do the things that make them authentically sustainable businesses, then tell consumers about it. Even more simply: be better, do better, then tell customers how you’ve made better.

Sustainability investments aren’t just about reaching net zero targets. They’re heavily focused on improving overall performance. It’s up to everyone to drive change, and those at the top will benefit faster in the future by keeping their promises now.

Be, do, tell – and enjoy being one of the few that actually deliver.

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business. Find out more

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2023/02/27/how-can-brands-bridge-the-sustainability-trust-gap

7 Best Practices for Creating an Impactful CSR Strategy

26 02 2023

Photo: Submittable

From Submittable.com • Reposted: February 26, 2023

Once upon a time, businesses could focus on profitability above all else.

Not any more: modern companies are expected to care about making the world better. They’re expected to serve their communities, listen to their customers, take public stances (and action) on important issues, value and support employees, work for sustainability, and respond to current events.

CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs are one way businesses are meeting this mandate. And standout programs addressing social and environmental issues are most often the result of thoughtful CSR strategies.

Whether you’re new to CSR or looking to refine existing initiatives, understanding the ins and outs of CSR strategy is a prerequisite for creating successful programs with lasting impacts. The new “business as usual” demands smart social responsibility-are you ready to meet the challenge?

What is CSR strategy? 

CSR strategy is the comprehensive plan companies and funders use to design, execute, and analyze their corporate social responsibility initiatives. It includes specific focus areas, program design, promotion and communication approaches, and evaluation procedures.

Most companies with thriving CSR initiatives use strategy to build and monitor their programs; a few of these companies also share their strategy publicly. Nestle is a great example, offering detailed insight into their brand’s approach (called “Creating Shared Value”) that includes long-term goals for serving individuals, families, communities, and the planet, as well as measurement procedures and transparent performance and reporting.

Some companies also release an annual corporate responsibility report which is another useful way for you to see what a CSR strategy can look like. Google’s 2020 Environment Report includes priorities, company mission, performance targets, and detailed analysis in five key focus areas.

Why have a CSR strategy?

In the world of CSR, it’s especially prudent to look before you leap.

This is because successful CSR initiatives are intricate, complex, and require demonstrable impact. They’re also public-facing (and potentially brand-damaging when done poorly). And they offer a host of business benefits you might miss out on by failing to plan.

A well-crafted CSR strategy can help you:

Keep everything organized

Great CSR initiatives involve lots of people, multiple goals, tons of data, and countless responsibilities. Your CSR strategy is an opportunity to get everything in order and prepare to stay on top of all the details.

Improve impacts

According to Deloitte’s third annual global survey of more than 2,000 C-suite executives at companies with societal impact goals, the presence of comprehensive strategy directly correlated with greater success (measured by innovation, growth, and employee acquisition).

Protect your brand reputation 

Launching a corporate responsibility initiative without proper foresight is a big risk-that’s because your CSR program will be a public-facing endeavor with multiple stakeholders and partners who expect follow-through. Strategic planning can reduce the possibility that your company will gain a reputation for big talk and no action, which can ultimately harm your bottom line.

Take full advantage of CSR program benefits

CSR has a host of potential benefits for your company. A successful corporate responsibility initiative will benefit your community and serve your employees. It will also improve your brand image, attracting new talent and increasing customer loyalty. Ultimately, these outcomes can contribute to revenue and drive your company’s growth. 

In order to reap the full business benefits of CSR, you’ll want a strategy that’s brand-aligned, well-researched, responsive, partnership-driven (at all levels), and constantly evolving in pursuit of positive impacts everyone can feel good about.

Best practices for creating a CSR Strategy

Understanding the role and value of a CSR strategy is an important first step.

Now, how do you create and develop a CSR strategy that gets results? There are seven key tactics for strategic planning that will help improve the outcomes of your business’s CSR activities.

1. Link to company values

Whereas CSR was once seen as a peripheral approach to boosting business performance and legitimacy, today’s best CSR initiatives are squarely brand-aligned and central to operational strategy.

Connecting CSR to business strategy is increasingly a corporate best practice, as evidenced by the 181 CEO’s from brands like Amazon, Citigroup, and Ford who signed Business Roundtable’s latest Statement of Purpose, indicating a commitment to “to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders-customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and shareholders.”

What it looks like to align your CSR strategy with your brand, core competencies, and operational strategy, will be different for every company.

WarnerMedia’s Access Writers Program is a great example of a CSR initiative that clearly links back to company values: WarnerMedia is a media corporation focused on diverse entertainment whose latest program seeks to improve the access marginalized community members have to professional opportunities in television.

2. Get insights from your various stakeholders

You’ll want to develop a strategic plan for CSR inspired by what your customers, employees, and community members care about. You might also seek inspiration from what’s worked for other brands already. Here’s how:

Poll your customers

The creation of a CSR strategy is a great excuse to connect with your customer base. Build a short, easy to access poll to collect the following information:

  • Which environmental and social issues matter most to your customers?

Design your poll in alignment with your brand. For example, if you sell custom T-shirts, are customers most interested in your sustainability, supply chain, dedication to labor and human rights, or donations to kids in need? Focused questions will lead to more actionable results.

  • What do customers know about your current giving and initiatives?

If you have run programs in the past or currently engage in CSR, how well did you communicate about them? Are your initiatives known for success?

  • What associations do customers have with your brand? 

This is a great opportunity to collect data about your business’s image, which you can try to influence in your new CSR strategy.

To help boost participation, consider offering an incentive to customers who complete your poll, such as a discount or entry into a drawing.

Collect employee feedback 

Your CSR strategy doesn’t move without your employees. Start by determining your employees’ preferences and using that information to help build your overall strategy.

A survey is a great tool to collect this important information, combining multiple-choice and open-ended questions.

It’s easy to build a responsive, employee-friendly survey in Submittable’s social impact software.

As an example, for your T-shirt company, you might have employees select between three brand-aligned volunteer opportunities followed by an opportunity for open feedback. This approach will you help you get the targeted data you need and also help employees feel heard and valued.

Assess community needs

What “community” looks like is unique for every business. Taking time to research and consider what your community needs is a great first step towards building the partnerships your CSR program will need to succeed.

Community Tool Box offers great suggestions for understanding community needs and resources, with methods that can be combined, depending on the extent of data you’re looking to connect.

3. Borrow great strategy

Your CSR strategy doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Spend time exploring where other businesses have succeeded in their sustainability, charitable giving, and employee engagement, for example. Don’t worry about being derivative: your strategy will necessarily be unique because your brand is unique and so are the people you care about and listen to.

One way to find brands doing the best CSR is via reports like “America’s Most Responsible Companies” from Newsweek and Statista-and congratulations to HPCisco, and Dell for top success in three focus areas: environment, social, and corporate governance.

Harvard Business School’s Baker Library offers a comprehensive list of social responsibility ratings and reports for companies. Of particular interest is Fortune’s “Change the World” list-you’ll find PayPal and Zoom in the top 10 for 2020.

Many companies have aligned their CSR activities in some way with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that include issues like poverty, hunger, education, gender equality, and action around climate change. Chevron’s corporate sustainability program, for example, clearly lays out how the company is addressing every SDG, and Target includes an SDG index in their 2020 corporate social responsibility report.

4. Establish internal buy-in

You’ll need your team’s support, enthusiasm, and dedication to make your social responsibility program thrive. Engage employees early in the strategy process by being responsive and inclusive.

Respond to team values

Once you’ve assessed what your employees care about most and where they want the company to focus, put this data to work.

It probably won’t be possible to incorporate everyone’s feedback in your strategy, but at the very least, share your findings with the group. Your team will enjoy learning about what their colleagues value.

Use the information you’ve collected to identify top areas of interest and common suggestions for your CSR strategy. Try to actively pursue at least one employee-sourced initiative every quarter or fiscal year, with formal plans for addressing additional issues in the future.

Involve employees in strategy-building

Research shows that shared leadership and employee-empowerment have a number of benefits, including increased team effectiveness, a stronger sense of community, improved employee perceptions of management, higher levels of employee satisfaction, and less burnout.

That data combined with evidence that corporate social responsibility boosts employee motivation and increases employee engagement makes sharing the planning of your program with staff a natural win-win.

Whether you establish an employee-led committee or include employee representatives in planning sessions, be sure employees are actively engaged and aligned with your CSR visions and values, missions and goals, and on-the-ground initiatives.

5. Build external partnerships

There’s already good work going on in the communities you’re looking to empower. Seek out the organizations and individuals doing this work early in your CSR strategy development process.

Many businesses are already reaping the value of partnership-driven CSR. This list from Donorbox offers examples of 14 major brands, including Adidas, IKEA, Apple, and BMW, that have partnered with community nonprofit organizations to better meet their CSR goals.

Community organizations will have the knowledge and experience to put your brand’s funding, sponsorship, or employee volunteerism, for example, to the best use. As philanthropic leader Edgar Viallanueva recently advised, “You shouldn’t feel that you need to recreate what’s already in place. Find organizations that have established relationships with grassroots communities and trust them to get the money to the right people. These bridge organizations often have the relationships and trust, but lack sufficient capital.”

Approach community partnerships with humility and take a learning stance-what do partner organizations need most and how can your business help? In addition to deep listening, be sure you’re establishing authentic relationships with partners. Sustainable and equitable partnerships (as opposed to shallow partnerships for the sake of PR) require that community members hold actual decision-making power, especially regarding campaigns that will directly affect them.

6. Be clear and transparent

Once you’ve tackled brand-alignment, stakeholders’ concerns (including customers, employees, and community members), and partner-driven strategy, it’s time to distill this wealth of information into a clear communication plan.

Get specific about goals and outcomes

Your CSR strategy should be as clear and specific as possible for a few reasons:

  • A clear strategy helps keep everyone on the same page
  • The more focused your goals are, the easier it will be to assess if you’ve met them
  • Clarity reflects positively on your brand’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, demonstrating rigor and care

Aim for precise language, numbered goals (each communicated in a single sentence if possible), key strategies and initiatives for meeting each goal, and measurement tactics for assessing progress towards each goal. Be sure to include your mission, vision, and partners.

Campbell’s Soup provides a great example of clarity and synthesis in its corporate responsibility strategy-especially this goals chart which lists target objectives alongside current progress displayed numerically and graphically.

Make a communications plan

Your CSR strategy shouldn’t be a secret. Think through how you’ll share this information internally and externally to foster enthusiasm, boost stakeholder engagement, and enhance accountability.

Your CSR strategy should include your plan for regularly and publicly discussing your CSR initiatives-via your website, social media, newsletters, email updates, reports, and even press releases.

Sharing high-level corporate strategy publicly can help generate interest in your CSR programs. It also indicates transparency and accountability-you’re sharing your plan because you intend to follow through and be accountable.

Use the same principles for sharing your strategy that you will to talk about your active and completed CSR campaigns, including these considerations adapted from the EMG group:

  • Objectives: What do you want to accomplish with your CSR communication plan?
  • Audience: Who will you communicate with?
  • Subjects and key messages: What will you tell your audience about?
  • Timescales: When will you communicate about CSR?
  • Channels: Where will you communicate with your audience?
  • Feedback: How will your audience be able to engage with you?

7. Learn, respond, and improve

In the world of CSR, there is always room for improvement, because CSR is about people and people are dynamic. Our needs change and so does the world we live in.

Accordingly, your CSR strategy won’t be complete without a plan for learning, adjustment, and growth-or as Global Giving puts it, the opportunity to “Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat.”

Plan for reporting and feedback 

Data and feedback collection should be an essential part of your CSR strategy. Don’t wait for an initiative to finish to consider how you’ll assess outcomes-planning ahead will help ensure your whole strategy is aligned with what you hope to achieve and how you’ll demonstrate progress.

You also shouldn’t wait until the end of a campaign to begin your learning process. Establish a timeline for collecting information at regular intervals throughout your initiative.

There are plenty of ways to collect data and feedback, including interviews, surveys and questionnaires, observational data, focus groups, public forums, oral histories, or some combination of these. Plan to use the tools that make the most sense for your CSR initiative.

Whichever method you choose, be sure your strategy involves connecting with all relevant groups and stakeholders. What results did you achieve among community members and where could you improve? How did employees feel about your CSR program and what suggestions do they have going forward? Were customers interested in your campaign?

Your plan for measuring CSR performance should include how you’ll collect information and from whom, how you’ll assess the data, how you’ll share your findings, and how you’ll incorporate suggestions for improvement.

Be responsive to learning and to the moment

Your CSR strategy shouldn’t be iron-clad. It should evolve in response to new insight and data. Think of your strategy as a working, living document that can and should continue to improve, even mid-campaign, as necessary.

As an example, the events of 2020 forced businesses to reconsider their existing CSR programs. Many companies chose to pivot in response to COVID-19 and movements for racial justice. The publicity around these shifts, including critiques of hollow brand statements, underscored the importance for socially responsible companies of clearly linking action (via CSR) to rhetoric.

According to Mark Horowitz, CEO of Moving Worlds, global events have resulted in a tipping point for CSR, wherein business leaders are making bigger promises without changing operations to support their proposals. More than ever, he argues, companies must respond to the moment and take real action: “The next 10 months will define the CSR space for the next 10 years … CSR leaders within companies have the opportunity to right the position of corporations in society.”

While it’s vital to stay responsive, be wary of altering key goals and measurement tactics before you’ve had time to accurately assess them. Not only do you open your company up to critique for empty promises, but change doesn’t happen overnight and long-term objectives require longer-term measurement.

As Neil Buddy Shah, Managing Director at GiveWell, shared in a recent panel on impact data, you risk good ideas failing when organizations run an impact evaluation that is too rigorous too early.

Time for action: Bring your CSR strategy to life

A thoughtful CSR strategy requires time, thought, and teamwork to build. Make the best use of your efforts with tools that help transform your vision into action and results, faster.

Submittable’s CSR solution can connect your business to important causes while dramatically reducing the time it takes to oversee your corporate giving program. Manage corporate grants and scholarships, coordinate employee volunteers and giving programs, facilitate community sponsorships, and much more. We’d love to walk you through the platform-sign up for a free demo today.

View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Submittable on 3blmedia.com.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/7-best-practices-creating-impactful-150000906.html?guccounter=1

The Many Hats of a Sustainable Marketer

24 02 2023

By Emma Samson from Sustainablebrands.con • Reposted: February 24, 2023

Marketing is becoming inextricable from sustainability. Marketers must collaborate with other departments closely, gather accurate knowledge and work out how to share brand attributes in a humble and credible way.

You might think of the marketing department as advertisers. Or salespeople, capturing the attention of customers with branding and snazzy videos. Or maybe as analysts, monitoring data and adjusting their content to appeal to their target market. But the role of marketers is expanding fast. Selling stuff to customers is no longer the sole focus. Consumers, retailers and employees are all looking for brands that conduct themselves with a higher sense of social and environmental responsibility; so, today’s sustainable marketer must don many hats to satisfy internal and external stakeholders — turning their storytelling superpowers to influence behaviour and drive positive change.

Marketer as Corporate Sustainability Officer

The gap between sustainability and marketing is closing as brands rush to position themselves as ‘green’ – driven by customers increasingly aware of environmental risk. ‘Green’ sells, but the sustainable marketer needs to steer clear of accidental greenwashing as authorities clamp down on ambiguous communication and targets. At COP26, governments agreed to create a new UN greenwashing watchdog to name and shame companies that swerve their sustainability promises. And in the UK, the Advertising Standards Authorityrecently issued stricter guidelines regarding unqualified claims such as ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘plastic-free.’ Marketing buzzwords will no longer be tolerated without substantiation, and ignoring these guidelines could cost a brand both reputation and profit — up to €100,000 in France, where brands are fined for using misleading terminology such as ‘carbon neutral’ without reporting corroborating GHG emissions. Sustainable marketers need to understand the technical truths behind their products so they can communicate authentically and build trust.

Marketer as behavioural psychologist

The average customer spends only 6 seconds deciding what to buy at the shelf. By this point, however, the skilled marketer has directed them through the sales funnel, so the decision is already partially made. Only a last-minute discount or free gift might trigger a change of heart. All sustainability initiatives will require a significant element of behavioural change, and the marketer can use their understanding of motivation to shape that circular journey. For example, Willemijn Peeters of circular plastics consultancy Searious Business thinks the marketer will be crucial to the uptake and success of reusable packaging.

“We see from our clients that the main barriers to reuse are cost-effectiveness and behavioural change. No scheme will succeed without high uptake and return rates. We need to sift through the complex messaging behind reuse and distil it into simple prompts that customers can absorb — marketers know how to do this.”

Marketer as packaging designer

The Ellen Macarthur Foundation states that a circular economy begins with thoughtful design. Products and their packaging need to be designed with the impact of their entire lifecycle in mind. Packaging designers are under tremendous pressure to eliminate waste, choose low-impact materials and increase recyclability while still prioritising functionality. These measures often leave little room for shelf appeal — the final battleground for the marketer. Most marketers are incentivised to sell by volume; they need their packaging to catch the eye, imply quality and add value to the product within. What happens to it after use is often a secondary consideration, and their influence can make or break a sustainable innovation before its leaves the drawing board. According to recent IBM’s research, 41 percent of consumers would shop more sustainably if they understood more about the environmental and social impact. Product packaging is the last opportunity to speak to your customer and leave a positive impression of your brand. Make sure your final words are transparent and honest. Make sure they are ones that attract and continue to engage sustainability-focused consumers.

Image credit: IBM

Marketer as brand leader

As sustainability becomes an inherent part of our global economy, marketers must take on a leadership role in creating and communicating their brands’ purposeful identity — building trust with their customers, suppliers, investors and employees. According to a survey by the UN Global Compact and Accenture, 81 percent of consumers now want businesses to take a stand on important social and environmental issues. However, the customer is not the only stakeholder looking for this commitment; both retailers and suppliers are getting choosier over what brands they stock or sell to. They want to be associated with brands that share their principles and help them meet their environmental and social goals. A recentstudy from digital studio PLAY found that two-thirds of Gen Z employees felt it was important for the company they work for to be committed to acting sustainably. In a pressurised job market, attracting and retaining employees is critical — meaning, brand image is as essential to HR as it is to sales.

Marketing in the future will become inextricable from sustainability. Marketers must collaborate with other departments closely, gather accurate knowledge and work out how to share this in a humble and credible way. The number of hats on the marketer’s hat rack is increasing, but the most important is still the thinking cap.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainablebrands.com/read/marketing-and-comms/the-many-hats-of-a-sustainable-marketer

United Airlines launches $100 million sustainable fuel investment fund

23 02 2023

A United Airlines Boeing 777-200ER plane is towed as an American Airlines Boeing 737 plane departs from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Nov. 30, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

By Rajesh Kumar Singh from reuters.com • Reposted: February 23, 2023

United Airlines (UAL.O) launched on Tuesday a more than $100 million investment fund to support start-ups focused on the research and production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The Chicago-based carrier along with inaugural partners such as Air Canada (AC.TO), Boeing (BA.N), General Electric (GE.N) JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) and Honeywell (HON.O) have invested in the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund, it said.

United said the fund was open to investment by companies across industries and would prioritize investment in new technology and “proven” producers.

The global aviation industry is under pressure to reduce carbon emissions and find ways to meet the 2050 net-zero emissions target set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 2021.

The industry, which contributes about 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions, faces formidable challenges in reaching that goal as technologies such as electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft are still unproven.

Global airlines and aerospace manufacturers are betting on SAF, which is made in tiny quantities from feedstocks such as cooking oils and animal waste, and can cost two to five times more than conventional jet fuels.

United’s Chief Sustainability Officer Lauren Riley said the investment fund was aimed at scaling up the supply of SAF. The company would contribute up to 49% of the fund’s value, she said.

To see related stories and the original post, follow this link: https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/united-airlines-launches-100-mln-sustainable-fuel-investment-fund-2023-02-21/

At What Point Are Companies Doing Enough To Protect The Planet?

22 02 2023

By Jane Marsh from The Environmental Magazine • Reposted: February 22, 2023

Throughout the decades, the global economy has shown little regard for its environmental impact. However, businesses across all industries are now facing a reckoning. Amid increasing climate change, the calls for greater economic sustainability are coming in loud and clear — about 85% of consumers have modified their buying habits, opting for greener purchases. Another 34% are willing to pay a premium for eco-friendly goods and services.

To meet demand, brands have had to modify their operations and manufacturing processes to protect the planet. For some, the transition has been a struggle. Nevertheless, ignoring consumer pressures is a terrible business practice — adhering to eco-friendliness is essential if they hope to survive.

Of course, whether companies will ever do enough to protect the planet is the question. Here’s a closer look at how our economy has wasted our most precious resources and what companies can do to improve their sustainability.

How Companies Impact the Environment

Researchers have theorized and observed that when people gain access to a public resource — such as water, air and habitable land — they consume it based on personal needs, regardless of how its depletion hurts the planet.

This short-term overconsumption of resources can have dire impacts on the public and the environment. Here are four examples.

1. Aquifer Depletion From Agriculture 

Humans require clean groundwater for safe drinking to survive. However, human activities have contaminated and depleted groundwater resources at a rapid pace. In 2015, over half of the 30% of groundwater withdrawals were used and overconsumed for irrigation in the agricultural sector.

2. Food Insecurity From Environmental Degradation

Over 1.7 million acres of arable land were used for crops in 2016. However, poor farming operations — such as overuse of chemical fertilizers and monocropping — amid a steady rise in food demand have rendered fields unusable for future yields. This places our food system and the ability to feed the world at risk. Not even the 15,000 food pantries across the country will be able to resolve the food crisis if we can no longer grow food.

3. Endangered Wildlife From Coffee Consumption

Is it impossible to get through the day without three cups of coffee in the morning? Our overconsumption of goods has degraded habitats for much of the planet’s wildlife. For example, the international trade of coffee, tea and tobacco accounts for 70% of the extinction risk for endangered species.

4. Reduced Air Quality From Traffic

Commerce, traffic congestion and human activities have also affected air quality — one of the common natural resources shared by everyone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 7 million people die prematurely from air pollution annually.

Holding Companies Accountable

In 2017, the CDP released the Carbon Majors Report, indicating that only 100 fossil fuel companies were responsible for 71% of the total global emissions since 1988.

Since then, many companies have begun analyzing their environmental degradation in the name of manufacturing and revenue, from making net-zero pledges to transitioning toward recyclable packaging alternatives to reduce waste.

However, 58% of companies admit they’ve overstated their progress. Despite their pledges, a recent NewClimate Institute report found that 25 major corporations were meeting only 40% of net-zero emissions — only three companies were genuinely committed to reducing 90% of their emissions by the target year.

Are companies doing enough to protect the planet? Not quite, but there is room for improvement. For instance, companies can implement the following measures:

  • Create a carbon footprint assessment to understand where they generate the most emissions.
  • Reduce waste by creating an end-use protocol and ramping up recycling.
  • Improve energy efficiency throughout operations and within office buildings.
  • Encourage employees and supply chain vendors to adopt eco-friendly behaviors.
  • Invest in carbon offsetting programs that address degraded land, water contamination and air pollution.

These measurable initiatives enable a clearer picture of a business’s sustainability. Of course, transparency is critical and companies should avoid greenwashing their efforts at all costs.

Corporate Responsibility the Key to Protecting the Planet

Businesses have come to understand the value of sustainability for their bottom line. In addition to consumer demand, companies more frequently face mandatory emissions disclosures, subsequent fees and arrests for pollution. At the end of the day, protecting the planet and our common goods are in companies’ best interest.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://emagazine.com/at-what-point-are-companies-doing-enough-to-protect-the-planet/

ISSB to launch first two sustainability standards by June

22 02 2023

Photo: ISSB.

The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) has confirmed that it will issue its first two finalised frameworks by the end of June, with an expectation that the first corporate reports aligned with these frameworks will be issued in 2025. From edie.net • Reposted: February 22, 2023

Members of the ISSB gathered in Montreal, Canada, last week, to agree on the technical content of its initial standards following consultations in 2022. The Board is focusing on climate-related reporting in the first instance but its first two standards – IFRS S1 and S2 – will also cover other sustainability-related risks and opportunities.

IFRS S1 is designed to apply globally, to corporates in all sectors. It has been described as the “core baseline” of sustainability reporting, attempting to better unify disclosures on factors such as waste and emissions. It also sets out how companies can integrate reporting, linking sustainability-related and financial information.

IFRS S1 also sets out plans for companies to disclose all material sustainability-related risks and opportunities.

IFRS S2, meanwhile, is more detaied in regard to specific topics – particularly climate mitigation and climate adaptation. It is designed to build on existing disclosure frameworks in this field, chiefly the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).  

While the EU is proposing mandatory “double materiality” impact reporting for big businesses – imploring them to report on their impacts on people and the environment, plus the risks and opportunities that external changes could bring – the ISSB is taking a different approach. Its chief focus at present is enterprise value, which entails getting a deeper understanding of the link between sustainability and company valuation.

“We responded to capital market and G20 demand for a common language of investor-focussed, sustainability-related disclosure, working diligently to deliver standards that fulfil the global baseline,” said ISSB chair Emmanuel Faber.

The ISSB is expected to issue IFRS S1 and S1 by the end of the second quarter, making June the likely issuance date. It is intending to make the standards effective from January 2024, meaning that we will likely see the first corporate reports aligned with the standards in 2025.

Voluntary adoption will be likely in the first case, and some nations and regions may opt for mandatory disclosures in time.

“Given [that] sustainability disclosure is new for many companies globally, the ISSB will introduce programmes that support those applying its Standards as market infrastructure and capacity is built,” the Board said in a statement. But it acknowledged that, in some markets like the EU, disclosure is less new – so there is a need to align with and streamline existing standards.

Commenting on the news, KPMG’s global head of audit Larry Bradley said: “The proposed effective date of 1 January 2024 is ambitious, but – importantly – it’s aligned with the EU timetable, so some companies may adopt on this date regardless of local requirements. It still remains for jurisdictions to decide whether to enforce this date. But the transition provisions, such as not requiring Scope 3 GHG emissions reporting in the first year of adoption, should smooth the path for companies.

“The good news is that companies are going to be explicitly allowed (but not required) to use metrics from GRI and ESRSs where they are useful to investors and there is no equivalent IFRS sustainability standard. This demonstrates a level of pragmatism and a keen awareness of the need to balance cost and benefit for as many companies as possible. However, companies already reporting under GRI won’t be able to simply cut and paste swathes of disclosures, because they will need to apply the ISSB’s investor-focused materiality lens. For companies reporting under multiple frameworks, this will make reporting less challenging.”

The ISSB was first proposed by the not-for-profit International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation (IFRS Foundation) in early 2021, and launched later that year. Its aim is to unify disclosures from corporates, helping investors and other stakeholders to properly compare their sustainability performance and related risks. One year on from its formal launch, in November 2022, CDP confirmed that it will incorporate IFRS S2 into its platform.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.edie.net/issb-to-launch-first-two-sustainability-standards-by-june/

Major businesses praise USPS shift to electric delivery fleet

21 02 2023

Photo: Ron Doke | Creative Commons

From Drawdown.com • February 21, 2023

A group of major corporations led by Etsy and eBay is praising the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for committing to exclusively purchase electric vehicles starting in 2026, in a letter coordinated by Drawdown Labs, Project Drawdown’s private-sector testing ground for accelerating the adoption of climate solutions quickly, safely and equitably.

Etsy and eBay are among the largest e-commerce marketplaces in the country. The USPS is central to their business and to millions of small sellers who run their shops on these platforms. 

The USPS is currently transitioning to an all-new fleet of 106,000 delivery vehicles. It announced in December that 62 percent of those purchases over the next five years will have all-electric powertrains and by 2026, 100 percent of newly purchased vehicles will be electric.

The letter(link is external) from Etsy and eBay also includes signatories Askov Finlayson, Avocado Green, Ben & Jerry’s, Clif Bar, Dr. Bronner’s, A Good Company, Grove Collaborative, Patagonia, Peak Design, Seventh Generation, Stonyfield and Warby Parker.

“This decision sends a message to every business in the United States: it is possible, achievable and necessary to adopt all-electric fleets for corporate transportation and shipping needs,” said Jamie Alexander, director of Drawdown Labs at Project Drawdown. “These companies are working hard to reduce their climate impact, and this move by the USPS enables them to address the difficult-to-abate supply chain emissions. This is good news for all involved.”

With a shift to electric vehicles, the group of companies believe it will not just be good for the environment but good for business as consumers reap the benefits of lower costs and other innovations made possible by electric vehicles. 

The nation and the world are quickly transitioning to electric vehicles, led by consumer demand for the many benefits of EVs, including better efficiency, easier maintenance, zero emissions and better performance. That means cleaner air, reduced climate risk and improved health across the globe. Electrifying vehicles is a key climate solution, with the potential to reduce up to 9.8 gigatons of CO2-e by 2050.

“For millions of small sellers and entrepreneurs on Etsy, a modern USPS committed to innovation and sustainability is crucial for the vibrancy of their small and micro businesses,” said Chelsea Mozen, senior director of impact & sustainability at Etsy. “The USPS’s commitment to a robust electric delivery fleet is good for the postal service, good for small businesses and good for America.”

“USPS’s commitment to electric vehicles is great news for small businesses like the many on our platform who rely on USPS to keep their business moving. eBay is proud to support this move toward greater sustainability and a cleaner world,” said eBay chief sustainability officer Renée Morin.

To see the original post and read related stories, follow this link. https://drawdown.org/news/insights/major-businesses-praise-usps-shift-to-electric-delivery-fleet

New Environmental Sustainability Index Shows Businesses Are Still Optimistic On Climate Goals

21 02 2023

Solar park Goettelborn, Saarland, Germany, photo: GETTY IMAGES

By Daniel Newman, Contribtor, Forbes.com – Reposted: Febraury 21, 2023

Sustainability initiatives are still as important as ever — at least that’s what the data is telling us. Our team at Futurum Research — in collaboration with Honeywell — have released the second edition of the Honeywell Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI). The report is a global, double-blind survey of more than 750 business, tech, and sustainability pros who are directly involved with environmental initiatives in their companies. The report is a continuation of the first edition, that was first published in December 2022. The goal is to provide transparency into corporate sustainability, both here in the United States and around the world. And according to the ESI, businesses are feeling pretty good about the work they’re doing to help save the environment.

Q1 2023 Environmental Sustainability Index: New quarter, new outlook

You wouldn’t think much would change in just a few short months, but it’s clear that the world is in a new — better — place. According to the ESI, the global pandemic has finally dropped to second place in terms of potential barriers to sustainability goals. Instead, the world seems to be moving back to business as usual. Unsurprisingly, economic and geopolitical issues is now the top concern for most companies. And while those are major concerns, it’s not slowing organizations down. Businesses globally continued to rank sustainability goals as their top business priority in the near-term (next six months). Better yet? More organizations are ranking sustainability as the top priority compared to last quarter (71% vs 65%). This is also consistently reflected across geographies as you can see in the table below.

Sustainability Leaders Weigh in on Critical Focus Areas for Business over the Next 6 Months. FUTURUM RESEARCH

Overall, organizations continue to believe they’re at least somewhat or extremely successful in meeting their environmental sustainability goals. In fact, 90 percent or more of businesses felt they were somewhat or extremely successful in reaching their goals in the past 12 months in each of the following areas: energy evolution and efficiency, emissions reduction, pollution prevention, and circularity recycling. Optimism about meeting goals for the next year, as well as goals for 2030, were also up to 72 and 77 percent, versus 61 and 69 percent last quarter. Perhaps it’s new technologies that have hit the market, reallocating budget spend (I’ll get to that in a second), or better education in the organization, but it’s promising to see success and optimism continue to trend in the right direction.

To read more of the original article, follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2023/02/17/new-environmental-sustainability-index-shows-businesses-are-still-optimistic-on-climate-goals/?sh=5ff66483d0cd

Apparel Industry Is Unprepared For New Sustainability Laws

18 02 2023

Apparel Industry Is Unprepared For New Sustainability Laws. Image: GETTY

By Greg Petro, Contributor to forbes.com • Reposted: February 18, 2023

One of the hot topics among fashion execs these days is what’s shaping up to be the industry’s next crisis — government regulation of sustainability. In the US, Europe, and elsewhere, new laws are in the pipeline or on the books that, for the first time, require leading brands to come clean about pollution and waste.

It’s a crisis because the apparel industry, as we’ve come to expect it, is stubbornly unsustainable. There have been numerous examples in recent years of the cost of speed and convenience, including the decision by marquee fashion labels to burn or otherwise destroy overstock merchandise and the annual tsunami of returns that end up in African landfills.

The cost of trying to make the business less harmful to the environment and less wasteful has been, in the short run, a lose-lose proposition — awkward, expensive, and often dismissed by critics as greenwashing. At the executive level, sustainability has been a blip on the radar screen. As a senior exec at one company told me recently, “Right now, I just need to figure out our pricing strategy given inflation.”

As the ideal of sustainability becomes hard law, kicking the can down the road isn’t work anymore, especially with tough new transparency and reporting requirements like those recently enacted in France. “It’s the first time a regulation has required so much disclosure in the entire industry,” says Baptiste Carriere-Pradal of the Amsterdam-based Sustainable Apparel Coalition. In a recent interview with BusinessofFashion.com, he warned, “The industry is not prepared at all.”

In the US, New York and California now ban certain chemicals used in waterproofed outerwear. But the New York State Legislature is putting the final touches on a major new piece of legislation — the New York Fashion Act — that is even tougher than France’s. If enacted, it would be a back-office headache for any company in any industry, let alone one that lives on such thin margins.

As currently written, the proposed New York law requires fashion retailers with more than $100 million in global revenue to produce maps of their supply chains, “… identifying, preventing, mitigating, accounting for, and taking remedial action to address actual and potential adverse impacts to human rights and the environment in their own operations and in their supply chain.” That’s a tall order, and the final legislation may be less burdensome. Either way, the trend toward regulation is gathering steam.

Addressing apparel sustainability is challenging because most retail executives have missed the boat regarding what consumers care most about. A First Insight survey from last year found that two-thirds of retailers believe consumers are not willing to spend more for sustainable brands, but two-thirds of consumers said they would…the key is that it has to be the right stuff.

The survey found that nearly all retailers — 94 % — believe that brand name is more important to consumers than sustainability, but three-quarters of consumers said the opposite. Retail executives ranked brand-operated resale/recommerce programs lowest when asked what type of sustainable shopping formats consumers would most utilize. But 41 % of consumers reported they already shop at brand resale/recommerce programs, such as those offered by Patagonia, Lululemon, or Levi’s.

It’s easy to understand how — after dealing with the pandemic, supply chain, and inventory glut crises — apparel companies have been busy just trying to keep the lights on. But it’s hard to figure out how they could be so poorly informed about what their customers want.

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To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/gregpetro/2023/02/16/apparel-industry-is-unprepared-for-new-sustainability-laws/?sh=1004742e78d7

U.S. SEC Climate Disclosure Rules: What Are They, and How Can You Prepare?

17 02 2023

Image credit: RF._.studio/Pexels

By Andrew Kaminsky from Triple Pundit • February 17, 2023

It’s almost time for the grand reveal. While the final product is still a bit of a mystery, but the anticipation has the business world anxiously awaiting the news.  

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is expected to make a big announcement in April, and if we’re lucky, it will be the full release of its climate disclosure rules. Either way, publicly-traded companies in the U.S. should be preparing to report on the climate metrics that are soon to become mandatory.

What are the incoming climate disclosure rules?

We are in the midst of a climate crisis, and the rules that dictate how businesses and governments operate are changing. The EU already has a climate disclosure system in place for its largest companies — which is being upgraded next year to include more companies and more thorough reporting. The U.S. is following the EU’s lead with the new SEC climate disclosure rules.

The mandatory disclosures are expected to include a company’s carbon emissions, low-carbon transition plans and climate risks. Climate risk is separated into physical and transition risks: Physical risks are climate hazards like drought, flood and extreme heat, whereas transition risks cover the policy changes with which organizations must comply.

While businesses have yet to be shown the final climate disclosure rules from the SEC, there are measures they can take to hit the ground running when the rules are revealed. 

What can companies do to prepare?

“It’s really about being prepared for Scope 3 [GHG emissions] and ensuring that all of the data you are disclosing is traceable and auditable,” says William Theisen, CEO of EcoAct North America.

Scope 3 GHG emissions cover the emissions produced across an organization’s entire value chain, both upstream and downstream. Depending on the size of the business, this can include hundreds or thousands of different companies, from raw material suppliers to distribution partners. It’s an overwhelming task, but it’s much more manageable if taken one step at a time.

“The first step is to do a materiality assessment and get at least an idea of where you should focus first,” Theisen says. “Look at the products and services within your supply chain, and then transform them using an emission factor to equate it to a tonnage of carbon. It won’t be completely accurate, but it will at least give you an idea of areas to dive into and get more granular data.”

Organizations that want to have some idea of what the SEC reporting may look like can explore the current CDP global disclosure system. “As a supplier or publicly- traded company looking to get your bearings on what requirements are probably going to be important, CDP is a good place to start,” Theisen suggests.

Part of the SEC disclosure requirements will include climate risk. While it can be difficult to evaluate how vulnerable business assets are to climate risk — with much of it open to interpretation — honesty and transparency is the best policy, Theisen advises. Trying to downplay climate risk is how a business can get burned.

“It’s the quality of their disclosure. If they understand what the climate risks are and they’re addressing them, that can actually play in a company’s favor,” he explains. “It’s when a company is not disclosing any climate risk that the assumption then is that maybe they don’t know what’s happening — maybe they’re not putting in mitigation measures.”

“Investors and external stakeholders really just want to understand that this is being appropriately managed, that there is a roadmap, and that the roadmap can evolve,” Theisen says. “We’re all adapting to climate change year after year.”

Enlisting climate consultants can help businesses develop strategies for their climate disclosures. This demonstrates to investors that leadership understands the risks associated with climate change and are engaging in methods to mitigate their exposure. 

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/prepare-sec-climate-disclosure-rules/766336