Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

CDP to push water disclosure

November 26, 2009

Seeking to replicate its success in increasing voluntary reporting by companies on carbon emissions, the CDP develops a mechanism for corporate reporting on water use.

See here for full details

“Outstanding” response to PepsiCo acceptance of the human right to water

November 12, 2009

Dan Bena 2009

Dan Bena, is currently the Director of Sustainability, Health, Safety, and Environment for the international division of PepsiCo. He is also the opening keynote speaker at next month’s Corporate Water Footprinting conference in San Francisco. PepsiCo is one of the first, and probably the largest, companies to make an explicit commitment to the human right to water. In this pre-conference, 60-second interview he gives some details of the strategy and its place within a more comprehensive sustainability strategy.

GPC: Why has PepsiCo made a commitment to respect a “human right to water”?

DB: We worked with an NGO to commit to support water as a basic human right in the context of the UN/WHO document on the topic.  We believe intuitively that water is a human right, so we agreed on the elements of our commitment, and thought it was important to make this public.  By making it public, we hoped to raise awareness, and also bring other companies along to build momentum.  The elements of our recognition of water as a fundamental human right include safety, sufficiency, acceptability, physical accessibility, and affordability.

GPC:What operational issues does this create?

DB: I wouldn’t call them “issues” because they really aren’t.  They are merely challenges which are understandable at the start of any such journey, and challenges which can be overcome.  We believe that we have been satisfying many of the elements, to varying degree, all along in our daily operations.  The challenge is formalizing the process, and making it systemic.  This is where the journey will lead.  We are better at some elements than others, and need to make sure that we excel in all elements, to assure that our commitment is real.

GPC: What has been the response to this from your peers and from the NGO community? 

DB: In a word, outstanding.  When we presented this on a panel in Stockholm during World Water Week in August, the reaction was uniformly positive…from peers, NGOs, and other stakeholders.  They applaud this public recognition for a company of PepsiCo’s size and reach, since it brings immediate attention and awareness to the global issues, and to the potential global solutions.  Everyone is quick to point out, though, that this is clearly a first step, and we will need to report our progress transparently all along the journey.         

GPC: What are the main barriers to effective water stewardship across such a large organisation?

DB: Three main challenges: 

(1) Going beyond the proverbial “low hanging fruit.”  Usually, when you begin a water conservation program, there are easy wins.  Things that can be done economically, which result in significant water savings.  Once those are implemented, however, to continuously improve might require more innovative approaches, capital expenditure, or technology development. 

(2) Nothing exists in a vacuum…so another challenge is balancing the overall eco-footprint of our facilities.  We must be mindful that by saving water, we might, in fact be using more energy (and therefore more emissions). 

(3) Engaging our global supply chain in our water stewardship journey.  Our supply chain is huge, diverse, and complex, but also represents tremendous opportunity for not only water stewardship but also overall environmental stewardship.

GPC: What do you hope to hear from your fellow presenters and delegates at the conference?

DB: I would like to hear that we are all aligned on the objectives–ultimately doing our part to help mitigate the global water crises, and doing it together–collaboratively.

The human right to water

October 27, 2009

 Last year was our first Corporate Water Footprint conference. The event, held in San Francisco, attracted vociferous and theatrical protest as well as local main stream media interest

The conference was criticised for not involving more NGO voices with most criticism coming from Food and Water Watch and the Council of Canadians. This year both of these groups have been invited to speak at the conference. We are delighted that Anil Naidoo from the Council of Canadians Blue Planet Project and Mark Schlosberg from Food and Water Watch will speak in the session on the human right to water.

The background to PepsiCo’s commitment to the human right to water

October 27, 2009

Though announced in April this is still an interesting read for those involved in water issues, corporate governance, shareholder activism. Dan Bena from PepsiCo International will discuss this at Corporate Water Footprinting in December in San Francisco.

Full details here

The first water offset product

October 1, 2009

Bonneville Environmental Foundation has launched what is the first water offset product. Rob Harmon from BEF will be speaking about this innovation at our Corporate Water Footprinting event in San Francisco in December – press release below

BEF Water Restoration CertificatesTM Help Americans Take Responsibility For Their Water Use

PORTLAND, Ore. /Businesswire/ – In an effort to bring life back into U.S. rivers and streams that are critically dewatered, the nonprofit Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) announced the creation of the first and only national voluntary water restoration marketplace via BEF Water Restoration CertificatesTM (WRCs). 
“Americans use twice as much water as Europeans and almost forty times more than people in developing countries,” said Margie Gardner, CEO of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. “At least 36 U.S. states anticipate water shortages by 2013. Clearly we need to think more deeply about how we use water. BEF invented Water Restoration Certificates so businesses and households could learn more and take direct action to help solve our water scarcity issues.”
 

Through WRCs, BEF offers businesses and individuals an opportunity to take responsibility for their water consumption by restoring to nature an amount of water equal to what they use. Each WRC represents one thousand gallons of water restored to critically dewatered streams.

“Water rights are managed in the Western U.S. with a ‘use it or lose it’ system that forces water use even when it’s wasteful. When businesses and consumers buy BEF WRCs they create a revenue source that provides economic incentive to leave unneeded water in rivers and streams,” explained Rob Harmon, Chief Innovation Officer at BEF, who led the development of the new program. 

Charter customers that have invested in BEF WRCs to balance their water use include the Bullitt Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and WhiteWave Foods Company.

“I’m excited to see a product that so elegantly addresses one of Earth’s most pressing problems – our looming fresh water crisis,” said Denis Hayes, President and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation and National Executive Director of the first Earth Day in 1970. “The BEF Water Restoration Certificate is a simple and immediate way for businesses and consumers to help bring water and life back to streams that are currently dry.”

BEF has launched www.BEFwater.org, which features a host of resources, including tips on how to reduce water use, calculate water consumption and purchase WRCs to rebalance water use. Businesses can download white papers and learn more at www.BEFwater.org/business.

“At WhiteWave, we take great pride in working with a nonprofit like BEF that has vision and leadership in both the renewable energy and emerging water market categories and shares our commitment to making it easier for businesses and consumers to make environmentally responsible choices,” says Ellen W. Feeney, VP Responsible Livelihood, WhiteWave Foods Company. “The BEF water calculator and Water Restoration Certificates are simple, cost-effective tools that we can all use to to make more sustainable choices about our water use and create real environmental benefits.”

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has certified the standards and criteria for all BEF WRC projects to ensure that water is returned at a time and place that will produce real environmental benefits, providing increased water flow to critically dewatered ecosystems so they can better support fish and wildlife. Also, BEF has partnered with water trust organizations at each location who work with local irrigators and monitor flow restoration.  To ensure that water returned to the environment is never counted twice, WRCs are individually numbered and tracked by Markit Environmental Registry, a leading global provider of registries for ecosystems markets.

Joanna Silver, Vice President, Markit Environmental Registry said “The new WRC is a first of its kind. We are very excited to be at the forefront of this new environmental market with an innovative organization like BEF and to play a part in creating a robust and credible product. Only with quality infrastructure can environmental markets be scalable and easily implemented regionally, nationally and globally.”

The BEF WRC market is having initial success:

  • For years, Prickly Pear Creek in Montana did not flow throughout the irrigation season, running dry in the late summer season. This summer BEF and the Montana Water Trust expect to restore the creek to continuous year-round flow, supporting approximately two river miles of additional habitat for fish and wildlife.
  • In Oregon, where BEF works with the Deschutes River Conservancy, water flow in the Middle Deschutes River is almost four times what it has been historically, fostering a healthier ecosystem for people, plants and wildlife and prompting local fly fishing guides familiar with the area to report improved fish populations.
  • Evan’s Creek, which is also in Oregon and where BEF works with The Freshwater Trust, is enjoying a 50 percent improvement in summer stream flow, prompting a return of wildlife to the area with beavers actively pooling up the small stream and steelhead trout and Coho salmon using the stream as rearing habitat. 

EPA Finalizes the Nation’s First Greenhouse Gas Reporting System/Monitoring to begin in 2010

September 23, 2009

WASHINGTON – On January 1, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will, for the first time, require large emitters of heat-trapping emissions to begin collecting greenhouse gas (GHG) data under a new reporting system. This new program will cover approximately 85 percent of the nation’s GHG emissions and apply to roughly 10,000 facilities.

“This is a major step forward in our effort to address the greenhouse gases polluting our skies,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “For the first time, we begin collecting data from the largest facilities in this country, ones that account for approximately 85 percent of the total U.S. emissions. The American public, and industry itself, will finally gain critically important knowledge and with this information we can determine how best to reduce those emissions.” Read more.

Greenbiz story on last week’s Sustainability Stakeholder Engagement conference in NYC

September 22, 2009

Stakeholder engagement is a critical, yet often overlooked or under-prioritized aspect of many organizations’ sustainability efforts. The Sustainability Stakeholder Engagement (SSE) conference offered insights and practical ways to build effective relations with stakeholders, from customers, employees and investors, to suppliers, NGOs and communities. Read more.

The first food product with a water footprint label

September 15, 2009

H2O_ilman_lukua

Raisio CEO Matti Rihko  is speaking at our Corporate Water Footprinting conference in December. In this 60-second interview he outlines the details of what is thought to be the first water-footprint label on a food product.

What prompted you undertake the water footprint and label product?

As a pioneer in plant-based, ecological food, and as one of Europe’s most innovative grain companies, Raisio Group is in an extremely good position to answer the new challenges facing the food industry.

During the past years we in Raisio have thought about the motives that are becoming increasingly important to consumers and how to take these factors into consideration when meeting consumer demand. Such key factors include ecology and ethics. Raisio is strongly investing in developing products that comply with consumer needs. Climate change and increasing consumers’ environmental awareness made us realise that it is the time to offer information about our products’ greenhouse gas emissions that the company already had. 

 We have received very positive feedback on adding the CO2 label on consumer products. This feedback encouraged us to expand the labelling and further convinced us that we are on the right track. The H2O label was the natural follow-up step to the CO2 label as we had the information and skills needed to calculate the product’s water footprint.

What did you hope to achieve my determining and publicising the footprint?

We believe that carbon footprint labels will become standard on consumer products. The label will form an integral part of product data in a package to complement the price and nutrition information.

 When launching the CO2 label Raisio wanted to see how consumers react and to get feedback. It was also a kind of risk to add CO2 label to an icon brand that Elovena is in Finland because the single figure looks high without any comparison.

The CO2 label that Raisio introduced has been very well received. Raisio’s actions come as an answer to the quickly strengthening changes in living habits. We firmly believe that people are moving from words to action in order to curb climate change, and the CO2 and H2O labels give them important information in this respect.

Where is the greatest uncertainty in the usage quantity you derived?

Most of the water consumption of Elovena oat flakes, that are H2O labelled, consists of the water that oats use during the growth period and originates from rain water, as a part of the natural water cycle. Since the oat grown in Finland is not irrigated, it does not compete for clean, drinkable water. We wanted to include green water to be able to calculate the total water consumption.

We have asked for feedback to be able to discuss about the water footprint in order to further develop the calculation and labelling. We believe that the water footprint, as a concept, will gain global significance, but it will take years before the related consumer product labelling becomes more common. If consumers find that the H2O label gives them additional information they need for consumption choices, Raisio will enlarge the labelling to other products as well.

What has been the response to the labels from consumers and the industry?

We have received very positive feedback on the labels from experts, consumer organisations and other such sources. The labels have aroused a lot of interest in Finland, and they have also been widely noticed abroad. Footprint labelling is a very young concept in the food industry but awakened consumers awareness about climate change will make footprint label as a standard.

The food industry is more and more aware about environmental impacts caused by food production. Changing consumer demand is encouraging food processors to develop products that are also environmentally friendly.

Media and NGO reaction to the climate bill

May 25, 2009

Last Thursday (May 21)  the Waxman and Markey cap and trade climate bill was passed which should see new environmental legislation come in to effect by the end of the year.

Here are what some of the media and ngos think of the legislation.

Time – Greens Celebrate Cap-and-Trade Victory — Cautiously

WSJ – Pollution politics and the climate bill giveaway

BBC – Interview with Steven Chu – US CO2 goals to be compromised

NY Times – Climate Bill Clears Hurdle, but Others Remain

NRDC – “An historic step to unleash clean energy and rein in global warming pollution”

Greenpeace – Democrats pass bogus climate bill

May 20, 2009

Citizen journalism, open government, status updates, community building, information sharing, crowdsourcing, and the election of a President.

Editor’s note: This is first guest post from Max Gladwell.

Our children will inherit a world profoundly changed by the combination of technology and humanity that is social media. They’ll take for granted that their voices can be heard and that a social movement can be launched from their laptop. They’ll take for granted that they are connected and interconnected with hundreds of millions of people at any given moment. And they’ll take for granted that a black man is or was President of the United States.

What’s most profound is that these represent parts of a greater whole. They represent a shift in power from centralized institutions and organizations to the People they represent. It is the evolution of democracy by way of technology, and we are all better for it.

For most of us, social media has changed our lives in some meaningful way. Collectively it is changing the world for good. Given the pace of innovation and adoption, change has become a constant. Every so often we find the need to stop and reflect on its most recent and noteworthy developments, hence the following list.

Please note this is not a top-10 list, nor are these listed in any particular order. It’s also incomplete. So we ask that you add to this conversation in the comments. If you’d like to Retweet this post or take the conversation to Twitter or FriendFeed, please use the hashtag #10Ways.

1. Take Social Actions: The nonprofit organization Social Actions aggregates “opportunities to make a difference from over 50 online platforms” through its unique API. It recently held the Change the Web Challenge contest in order to inspire the most innovative applications for that API. The Social Actions Interactive Map won the $5,000 first prize. The result is a virtual tour of the world through the lens of social action. “People are volunteering, donating, signing petitions, making loans and doing other social actions as we speak — all over the world. To capture the context of the where, this project uses sophisticated techniques to extract location information from full text paragraphs.” You can also join the Social Actions Community, which is powered by Ning…which now boasts more than one million individual social networks.

2. Twitter with a Purpose: This list could be exclusive to Twitter. The micro-blogging sensation was featured on our first two lists (a three-tweet), and it’s certain to be a fixture. From Tweetsgiving, the virtual Thanksgiving feast, to the Twestival, which organized 202 off-line events around the world to benefit charity: water, it’s become the de facto tool for organizing and taking action. Tweet Congress won the SXSW activism award, and celebrity Tweeps Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Rose Tweeted their two million followers about ending malaria. Max Gladwell recently initiated the #EcoMonday follow meme as a way to connect and organize the Green Twittersphere.

3. Visit White House 2.0: Inside of its first 100 days, the Obama administration has managed to set the historic benchmark for government transparency and accountability. The President’s virtual town hall meeting used WhiteHouse.gov to crowdsource questions from his 300 million constituents, complete with voting to determine the ones he’d have to answer. All told, 97,937 people submitted 103,978 questions and cast 1,782,650 votes. The White House continues to raise the bar with its official Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter channels. In so doing President Obama is not just setting the standard for state and local government in the U.S. He’s establishing the world standard. The Obama administration is spreading democracy not by force but through example. Because you don’t have to be an American citizen to be a friend or follower of White House 2.0.

4. Claim your Zumbox: What happens when all mail can be sent and delivered online to any street address in a paperless form? That’s the big question for Zumbox, which has created an online mail system with a digital mailbox for every U.S. street address. And while the answer to that question remains to be seen, it promises to be as liberating as it is disruptive. A key quality for Zumbox is that it’s closed system much like that of Facebook, only instead of true identity it’s true address. This will enable people to better connect with their communities including their neighbors, local businesses, and the mayor’s office. The primary agent of change, though, might not be that this uses street addresses but that it enables direct and potentially viral feedback, which is a virtue that e-mail and the USPS do not offer. The first methods are to request exclusive paperless delivery and to block a sender, but others are certain to evolve such as real-time commenting and ways to share mail with friends, family, and colleagues. Welcome to Mail 2.0. (Disclosure: Zumbox is a client of Rob Reed, the founder of Max Gladwell.)

5. Host a Social Media Event: This is the year of the social media event. No meaningful gathering of people is complete without an interactive online audience, especially when it’s so easy and cost effective to pull off. Essential tools include a broadband connection, laptop, video camera, projector, and screen. Add people and a purpose, such as entrepreneurship. Promote it through social media channels, and you have a social media event. A recent example in the green world is the Evolution of Green, which was hosted by Creative Citizen, a green wiki community. It celebrated the launch of a new Web property, EcoMatters, while also establishing a new Twitter tag. By posing the question, “How can we go from green hype to green habit?” and including the #GreenQ hashtag, it sparked a conversation between attendees and the Twittersphere in real time. Thus was born a new mechanism for getting answers to green questions via Twitter.

6. Travel the World: More than anyone else, Tim O’Reilly knows the potential for social media to change the world. In his opening keynote at this year’s Web 2.0 Expo, he called for a new ethic in which we do more with less and create more value than we capture. This provided the context for SalaamGarage founder Amanda Koster, whose presentation followed O’Reilly’s. The idea is that social media has enabled each of us to have an audience. Whether through Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, or a personal blog, each of us can have influence and reach. What’s more, it can be used for good. SalaamGarage coordinates trips for citizen journalists (that means you) to places like India and Vietnam in conjunction with non-government organizations like Seattle-based Peace Trees. The destination is the story, as these humanitarian journalists report on the people they meet and discoveries they make. Their words, images, and video are posted to the social web to gain exposure and because these stories just need to be told.

7. Build It on Drupal: You may not have noticed, but the open-source Drupal content management system (CMS) has quickly become the dominant player on the social web. While we still prefer WordPress as a strict blogging application, Drupal has emerged as the go-to platform for building scalable, community-driven Web sites. It powers Recovery.gov, a key part of President Obama’s commitment to transparency and accountability. PopRule uses it as a social news platform for politics. And Drupal will soon become the platform for Causecast, a site where “media, philanthropy, social networking, entertainment and education converge to serve a greater purpose.” This is especially significant because Causecast CEO Ryan Scott is transitioning the site off of Ruby on Rails because Drupal has proved more efficient, user friendly, and cost effective. (Disclosure: Max Gladwell founder Rob Reed is co-founder of PopRule.)

8. Green Your iPhone: Looking for an organic diner within biking distance that has a three-star green rating? There’s a app for that. It’s called 3rd Whale, and you can download it for free. (Except that the star rating is actually a whale rating.) Complete with Facebook Connect, this iPhone app locates green products and businesses in 30 major North American cities. It uses the iPhone’s dial function to select a category (food), sub-category (restaurants), and distance (walking, biking, or driving). In Santa Monica, this might give you Swingers diner for its selection of veggie and vegan fare. You could then get directions from your current location using the iPhone’s built-in Google map, rate your experience on the three-whale scale, and write up a quick review. 3rd Whale recently released a new feature that integrates green-living tips, which can show how much energy or waste you’ll save by taking a given action.

9. Unite the World Through Video: Matt’s dancing around the world video inspired many to tears. Today, more than 20 million people have viewed his YouTube masterpiece, where he performs a kooky dance with the citizens of planet earth. The most recent example of this approach is Playing for Change, which connects the world through song. The project started in Santa Monica with a street performance of the classic Stand By Me and expanded to New Orleans, New Mexico, France, Brazil, Italy, Venezuela, South Africa, Spain, and The Netherlands. The project was superbly executed via social media, complete with a YouTube channel, MySpace, Facebook, and Blog. It’s received tremendous mainstream media exposure and also benefits a foundation of the same name.

10. Rate a Company: The conversation about corporate social responsibility (CSR) takes place across the social web on blogs, Twitter, and YouTube, but a central hub for this information and opinion is still to be determined. SocialYell seeks to address this by building an online community around the CSR conversation, where users can submit reviews of companies together with nonprofit organizations and even public figures like Michelle Obama. The major topics are the Environment, Health, Social Equity, Consumer Advocacy, and Charity. The reviews are voted and commented on by the community in a Reddit-like fashion with both up (Yell) and down (shhh) voting. The site is relatively new and still gaining traction, but there’s no question that a resource like this is needed to shine a bright light on CSR and and other related issues.

11. Publish a collective, simultaneous blog post on a universal topic: As Nigel Tufnel might say, this list goes to eleven. Let the #10Ways conversation begin…

Final note: This is Max Gladwell’s third list of “10 Ways to Change the World Through Social Media.” The first was posted a year ago today on Sustainablog.org, and the sequel followed five months later. If a single headline can capture the Max Gladwell raison d’etre, this is it.