social investment implications of 7 billion people

social investment implications of 7 billion people

Dusseldorf Mediahafen

At the end of  October 2011 it is estimated that the world population will have reached 7 billion people – an achievement and challenge at the same time.

This article focusses on just three challenges and corresponding opportunities that might stretch the traditional mindset for social investments by corporates, trusts and foundation and governments. All three are interdependent and addressing one can have postive impacts on the other.

1: Addressing [Read more…]

Bicycle Riding

Bicycle Riding

Bicycle riding to benefit our health, pocket and planet!

Car and bicycle sharing schemes have emerged from urban centres worldwide as a new form of sustainable transport. More and more commuters are navigating our urban environment by bicycles and cities are coming to terms with accommodating cyclists. We are also discovering cycling as a fun family activity supported by the evergrowing network of cycling ways. [Read more…]

Investing as if the Future Matters

Investing as if the Future Matters

harmonizing giving and investing as a necessary step for Foundations to meeting the ‘public benefit’ test

by Stephen Viederman

I listened and lectured in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in October 2005 and I admit I became an Australiaphile. While there I was struck by many similarities and differences between our philanthropies. One similarity of special interest to me was the limited interest in and even lesser practice of using assets as a way of adding value to giving as an instrument of change.

Each year the effort to “invest as if the future mattered” becomes easier as new and more sophisticated investment vehicles in all asset classes enter the market. In addition, the concept of ownership and stewardship has grown urging shareowners to engage with the companies they own by voting proxies and in other ways.

The public benefit is how the Charity’s Commission of England and Wales describes the charitable purpose of foundations. This is as clear and concise a definition as I have seen.

Unfortunately, however, this only seems to apply to giving, not to the use of the assets that make the giving possible. In Australia, I suspect, as is the case here in the US, the chasm between mission and giving, on the one hand, and investment, on the other, is still more the rule than the exception. I firmly believe that harmonizing giving and investing is a necessary step toward meeting the ‘public benefit’ purpose. [Read more…]

let’s break the population taboo

let’s break the population taboo

Ulaanbaatar Mongolia

Following consultation for a population strategy for Australia, the Australian Government has just released its ‘Sustainable Population, Sustainable Communities’ strategy and ignored the most important factor: the negative unsustainable environmental impact of population growth. How is this possible when submissions pointed these implications out so eloquently and conclusively? What a missed opportunity to engage in a mature debate about population control and pave the path to a sustainable Australia that considers itself part of a global community and wishes to maintain a decent quality of life for all.

Unfortunately, the Australian Government is not alone – although this is by no means to be interpreted as an excuse.  The much loved  and extremely well respected Sir David Attenborough, known for his wonderful nature documentaries, pointed out in his President’s Lecture at London’s Royal Society of Arts: ” … the [UK’s] Government’s ‘Foresight Report on the Future of Food and Farming’….[It] shows how hard it is to feed the seven billion of us who are alive today. It lists the many obstacles that are already making this harder to achieve – soil erosion, salinisation , the depletion of aquifers, over-grazing, the spread of plant diseases as a result of globalisation, the absurd growing of food crops to run into biofuels to feed motor cars instead of people – and so on. … …It recommends the widest possible range of measures across all disciplines to tackle this.. but doesn’t state the obvious fact that it would be much easier to feed 8 then 10 billion people.” [Read more…]

Reduce not off(jet)set!

Reduce not off(jet)set!

The sustainability mantra of the 21st century ought to be:

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE & OFFSET – in THAT priority order. Instead, we lead a pseudo-sustainable lifestyle of the well to-do. We consider ourselves successful if we can afford to jet set around the world, following the lead of the rich and famous. For more on that read the Guardian article: Hypocrisy of champagne environmentalists is deceitful and distracting. [Read more…]

Going Grey

Going Grey


Apparently 8% of men do not know the real haircolour of their wives… approximately 70% of women and up to 30% of men in Australia dye their hair regularly. Consider the amount of chemicals going down the drain every day in large parts of the world! And not to mention the potential health risks associated with chemicals in hairdyes like amonia and peroxide.

[Read more…]

from earth hour to earth day

from earth hour to earth day

Did you know that  2011 to 2020 is the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity, that this year is the International Year of Forests, that 22 April is Earth Day and 5th June World Environment Day, celebrated since 1972? If yes, you belong to a relatively small group of ‘insiders’ and if not, why not?

Earth Hour on the other hand – the one day a year where we are prompted to symbolically turn our lights off for one hour is known by millions around the world. How come the latter has become a global phenomenon and yet directly related, mature environmental awareness raising initiatives lack momentum?

The United Nations has celebrated World Environment Day on the 5th June since 1972. So how can we focus the millions of people who symbolically turn their lights off on rapid action for the environment, including forests and biodiversity?

Apart from collaborating with Earth Hour organisers to ensure it is more than a feel good exercise (more about this here), we can learn and transfer those social marketing lessons.  Any social campaign that moves us to change our habits needs to: [Read more…]

confessions of an Earth Hour sceptic

Saturday the 26th of March was Earth Hour – a social marketing phenomenon that started in Australia in 2007  and is now known around the world. The high visibility of switching off lights makes Earth Hour  a corporate responsibility dream.  In just 5 short years it has captured the imagination of a global audience with its initial intend to

” make a bold symbolic statement about the critical issue of climate change and to engage Australians in taking action”.

This rapid growth must make it one of the most successful social marketing campaigns globally.

I have been an Earth Hour sceptic since its inception, wondering how on earth switching the lights off for one hour could possibly assist in moving us towards a sustainable lifestyle – although I did switch off our lights on Saturday at 8.30pm.  I do, however, recognise Earth Hour’s potential to build on its success and speed up positive social change.

My main concern is that this ‘bold symbolic statement’ let’s us off the hook, offers an easy way out. [Read more…]

integrated sustainability reporting

integrated sustainability reporting

Integrated Reporting for Corporates by Terence Jeyaretnam & Amanda Nuttall

I have spent a significant part of my life focusing on how corporate reporting could be expanded from traditional financial accounts to non-financial (environmental, social and economic metrics).  I have not been alone on this path.  Happily, a number of us recently convened at the Harvard Business School (HBS) in Boston to talk about the future of corporate reporting; that is to pave a vision forward for a framework for Integrated Reporting.

“Integrated reporting” is a term that is generating excitement in sustainability circles.

The idea that sustainability issues should be fully integrated into business strategy and reporting seems like a no-brainer. [Read more…]

business and human rights & CSR

There are few if any internationally recognised rights that businesses cannot impact.

Why should business care about human rights?

There are few if any internationally recognised rights business cannot impact – or be perceived to impact – in some manner.  Therefore, companies should consider all such rights.” Professor John Ruggie, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Business and Human Rights. Protect, Respect and Remedy: a Framework for Business and Human Rights, April 2008.

So now that’s clear, what are we doing about it? And how do much covetted corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives fit into the business and human rights agenda? [Read more…]