Corporate Sustainability Strategies – a feel-good gimmick or good for the planet’s bottom line?

Corporate Sustainability Strategies – a feel-good gimmick or good for the planet’s bottom line?

The failed attempt of voluntary corporate sustainability strategies to save the planet.

Corporate sustainability strategies developed in response to the resource constraints of the 21st century.  These constraints are the result of over population and over consumption and their damaging effect on the health of the earth.

Even the gentle Sir David Attenborough has joined the chorus of people arguing for fewer people in the interest of more biodiversity and a quality environment in his speech People and Planet in March 2011.

We have been trying to persuade companies to engage in voluntary corporate sustainability programmes of all kinds in order to address the obvious negative impacts of the way the ‘developed’ world does business.

Corporate sustainability strategies or planned abandonment?

However, do we ever stop to consider if it actually makes sense for a particular industry to engage in sustainability programmes or should it rather be a question of planned abandonment of this particular industry/product/ manufacturing process?

Water courtesy coca colaTake the issue of water. [Read more…]

hybrid flowers at the Byron Bay farmers markets – let’s get real!

hybrid flowers at the Byron Bay farmers markets – let’s get real!

Beach...The Byron Bay Farmers Market is doomed!  Why? A hybrid flower stall turned up not long ago and selling these particular, non local, non native varieties of flowers point towards a bigger issue. Because hybirds are artificially refined.  Because of us manipulating nature to ‘improve’ it without consideration of unintended consequences or in the worst case scenario, through simple carelessness.

For more than two decades I have been in love with Byron Bay due to its natural beauty and as an experiment in sustainable living – healthy living on a small footprint in harmony with the environment.

[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…]

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…]

the girl effect

On the 8 March 2011 we are celebrating the centennary of International Women’s Day – a good occasion to remind us of the plight of girls around the world.

Did you realise that currently:

  • women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half the world’s food, and yet earn only 10 % of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property?
  • women make up 70% of the worlds 1.3 billion people who live in poverty?
  • women over the age of 15 in the least developed countries are twice as likely to be illiterate than men.

The solution? [Read more…]

how to start a movement for sustainability

how to start a movement for sustainability

The beginning of a new year offers an opportunity for a fresh start full of good intentions.

2010 marked the beginning of a new decade with great hopes for sustainable development including biodiversity – BUT it  was not a good year for global sustainable development. It was marked  and marred by an entirely preventable, highly publicised, major environmental disaster and, in the main, a “business as usual” approach.

It was also marked by increased calls for true sustainability versus the rhetoric of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and its various incarnations. So what kind of year will 2011 become and be remembered for? Will it become known as the year where we galavanise into  positive action? Will it be remembered for a substantial swing towards long term planning? 2012 will mark the 25th anniversary of the 1987 Brundtland Commission report, Our Common Future – what do we have to show after 25 years of mainstreaming sustainable development ? Not much I am afraid.

BUT, there is hope yet.

There are many excellent initiatives aiming to  deliver a sustainable lifestyle for all. What can we do to accellerate positive change?  Among many other things we need to highlight and promote the work of  entrepreneurs who drive worldchanging intiatives, small and large, wherever they may be. It has long been a passion of mine to build on existing achievements and I adore Derek Siver’s simple but compelling TED video below on how to start a movement which brings home the importance of courage to go against the tide, team work and puts a smile on ones’ face!

Check out these articles and intiatives for further stimulation and I look forward to your comments!

‘Splashing around in the citizenship shallows‘ by John Elkington

The Transition Decade for a safe climate future 2010 – 2020

medium sized enterprises united through First 5000

medium sized enterprises united through First 5000

First 5000 launch 20 Oct at NSW Parliament House

According to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) SMEs account for about 90 per cent of business worldwide, employing 50 to 60 per cent of the world’s workforce. In Australia, Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicate small businesses in Australia comprise up to 89 per cent of all employing enterprises, with medium businesses making up another 10 per cent.

The SME sector is not only huge but also extremely diverse – with  60% of all of these businesses not having any employees – this diversity creates challenges on many levels and  areas including responsible business practices,  corporate sustainability and philanthropy.

[Read more…]

hello cool world!

hello cool world!

true love between two speciesThis blog is an opportunity to voice our uncensored views and share ideas with others. It focusses on individual action and corporate sustainability activities to assist us to reconcile our lifestyles and corporate behaviour with the needs of society.

The blog will be managed by me, Ulrike Schuermann alias chief blogger. My passions are social justice, the environment and positive social change – which is an increasingly difficult challenge considering the current state of the world.  My desire to stimulate positive change has influenced the choices I have made to date.

Having been educated in Germany at the University of Duesseldorf in adult Psychology, Sociology and Pedagogic I tend to drift towards educating and sharing the lessons I learn with as many others as possible. I love to de-clutter and de-mystify the vast array of corporate sustainability and responsibility approaches and create meaning for those who work in these areas. I also love to focus diverse groups of people on common ground to achieve results. [Read more…]