The European chemical industry is determined to play a key role in ensuring that by 2050 over 9 billion people live well, within the resources of the planet, according to Cefic’s first-ever sustainabilityreport released on May 8, 2012.

The report presents a vision for how the chemical industry will help meet future challenges and was unveiled at a special event at the European Parliament in Brussels hosted by European members of parliament Karl-Heinz Florenz and Vittorio Prodi. It also provides 17 key performance indicators that serve as a benchmark of industry sustainability efforts to date that the sector plans to measure itself against in future. The 70-page document details all three “pillars” of sustainability – planet, people and profit. It serves as a starting point in developing a sustainability framework for the European chemical industry, a project the Cefic board tasked its Sustainability Strategy Group to…

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On 10th April 2012, The Three Levels of Sustainability, by Elena Cavagnaro and George Curiel, was officially launched. The book launch was hosted by the Stenden University of Applied Sciences.

In his address, Professor Frans Stokman, from the University of Groningen, insisted on the necessity of approaching sustainability as a multidimensional and multilevel concept. He complimented the authors for having been able to offer a clear framework to their readers. In his own words: “The Three Levels of Sustainability figure is the best summary I have ever seen in the contents of a book.” He then insisted on the need to convert people from consumers to co-producers of, for example, sustainable energy. Professor Stokman has recently co-founded a co-operative for the production of solar energy, Grunneger Power. The co-operative, launched in 2011, now has more than 1,000 members and will start selling their greener energy…

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e-Waste Academy: a pioneering initiative to encourage multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaboration on e-waste policy and management

United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP), Operating Unit SCYCLE, announced recently that the “Solving the E-waste Problem (StEP) Initiative” will be organizing the first installment of the E-waste Academy (EWA) for policymakers and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

The approach for the first E-waste Academy will be a regional one, with policymakers and SME operators in Western Africa as the target group and target region with some participants from other regions of the world to establish vital South-South cooperation. This will enable a more concentrated approach to stimulate fruitful discussion among policymakers and SME operators while also facilitating exchange of best practices and expert feedback, taking into account regional disparities.

The overarching idea will be to replicate the E-waste Academy in different regions of the world, ultimately weaving together academy results and thereby guiding and facilitating effective and coherent dialogue and action on e-waste management and system design at the international level.

The first E-waste Academy is being co-sponsored and co-organized by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI). Further funding is currently being acquired with pledged financial support by other UN organizations, NGOs and various national governments.

The call for applications is set to go live on 15 November 2011 and will close on 15 January 2012. The first E-waste Academy will take place on 25-29 June 2012 at the UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) in Accra, Ghana.

For further information on the EWA vision and concept as well as more information about the project sponsors, you may also visit the E-waste Academy website at www.ewasteacademy.org, on Facebook or Twitter.

You can also download the presentation of the EWA concept at the following link.

On the EWA website the Call for Application and Application Form can be downloaded as well, or filled in online.

For more information please contact the EWA Organizing Team at ewa@unu.edu.

Do you speak Spanish?

I haven’t been very active on Aequology’s Blog lately. The reason is that I’m also blogging in Spanish everyday at www.negociosostenible.es which is definitely time consuming but totally worth it.

Moreover, there are plenty of excellent bloggers in the English speaking CSR & Sustainability community.That’s why I’ve decided to focus on Negocio Sostenible.

So if you speak Spanish, join me! If you don’t, learn it! It’s a great language that opens the door to a large community in Spain, the Americas and, as a second language, in many countries around the world.

I’d also like to share with you some of my favorite blogs in English:
The CSR Reporting Blog by consultant and author Elaine Cohen
The Valuestream Blog by Supply Chain & sustainability expert Dave Meyer
Taiga Company by Sustainability expert Julie Urlaub,an amazing person and great professional.
For a fresh approach on those topics I also recommend A Touch Of Green by Juan Villamayor a sustainability & CSR consultant who I know personally and lives in Barcelona.

Finally, a great resource for Sustainability topics is Fabian Pattberg’s Blog. Fabian also shared few months ago his list of favorite blogs. Enjoy!

Businesses See Climate Change Adaptation as an Opportunity

3BL reports that Climate Change adaptation offers competitive advantages to businesses worldwide, according to the new report, Adapting for a Green Economy: Companies, Communities and Climate Change, jointly released today by the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Oxfam and the World Resources Institute. In response to a survey of global businesses, 86 percent described responding to climate risks or investing in adaptation as a business opportunity.

“Business can only thrive in stable and enabling environments,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “Climate adaptation offers a pathway to help communities that are already feeling the devastating impacts of climate change. At the same time, it creates a wealth of new opportunities for the private sector.”
 
Drawing on the results of a 2010 survey among companies engaged in Caring for Climate, the joint climate action platform of the UN Global Compact and UNEP, the study makes the business case for private sector adaptation to climate change in ways that build the resilience of vulnerable communities in developing countries. Already, businesses worldwide are beginning to see the risks and economic impacts of more frequent and intense storms, water scarcity, declining agricultural productivity and poor health.
 
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “We live in a world where extreme weather events on one day can move food and fuel prices the next, impacting vulnerable and poor communities and a company’s supply chain. We also live in a world where infrastructure established decades ago will become increasingly at risk to events such as storm surges and high winds, that in turn threaten the viability of the business-as-usual models of the past, and the profits or losses of firms for the future.”
 
“There are multiple reasons why the world urgently needs a transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient Green Economy, including climate change and adapting to its impacts. This report underlines that climate-proofing is not just a responsibility of governments, but should be at the centre of more and more companies’ business models and forward-looking corporate strategies,” he added.
 
The study suggests actions that companies and policymakers can pursue to catalyze and scale up private sector engagement. Confirming the notion that the climate threats many communities face are also business risks, 83 percent of companies surveyed responded that climate change impacts pose a risk to their products and service.
 
“Businesses are facing increasing challenges from the rise in extreme weather events— such as droughts, heat waves and floods,” said Manish Bapna, Managing Director, World Resources Institute. “In this changing environment, companies that move first to address the risks and develop innovative strategies to adapt to climate change are likely to be the winners and gain a competitive advantage moving forward.”
 
The study recommends, among others, that businesses integrate climate adaptation into core strategic planning and build a portfolio of climate-resilient goods and services. Addressing policy makers, the authors call for stronger policy and finance commitments to adaptation, financial and risk-reduction incentives to stimulate the market, and for new forms of public-private partnerships.
 
“Communities around the world are already dealing with the impacts of climate change,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America. “Since companies depend on community members as suppliers, customers and employees, and need to count on local services and infrastructure to be able to operate efficiently, the well-being of communities on the frontlines of climate change and the viability of companies are intricately intertwined.”
 
The report can be found at
http://unglobalcompact.org/docs/issues_doc/Environment/climate/C4C_Report_Adapting_for_Green_Economy.pdf.

The Plastic Bottle Flashmob

I love this video available on Youtube! It’s a great idea on how to raise awareness for dealing with plastic trash:

The video has been created by a Canadian group called TESTÉ SUR DES HUMAINS (“tests on humans”).

The comments are in French but you don´t need to be fluent to fully understand the intention.

Basically the comments refer to a few facts:

671 Millions Kg of plastic are being produced per year

In Quebec 400 Millions bottles are not being recycled each year

18000 plastic bottles in average floating on each km² of the oceans

91% of people in Quebec worry about the environment

Watch, enjoy and think !

PS: if you’re in Barcelona, Spain, contact me and let’s try to organize a Flashmob some day!

Brain drain in Spain: interview with one of the young professionals who has left the country.

In an article about “Spain’s lost generation of graduates“, The Guardian recently reported that rising unemployment was leading to an exodus of young Spaniards looking for better opportunities abroad on a scale not seen since the 1960s. This massive departure of educated and professional young people looking for better pay or living conditions is a source of concern for many, although the exact numbers are not easy to figure out according to a recent article in Actualidad Económica (in Spanish).

Experts disagree both on the volume and the consequences of this “brain drain”. They agree on the causes as unemployment among graduates aged 29 or under is running at 19%. Regarding the consequences, some experts are extremely pessimistic, considering that the amount of money spent on the education of those graduates is lost as many will tend to stay abroad, while others believe that those young people will some day come back to Spain with a set of personal, professional and languages skills that will benefit to the economy and to the society.

Sustainability is directly affected by this “exodus” as Human Capital Management is a key element to build a sustainable business. Companies should include in their sustainability strategy the way they plan to get the resources they need in the long-term. Nothing can confirm the prediction that those young professionals will come back to Spain after they’ve developed their skills abroad. At least, a company shouldn’t rely this hope. Instead, a sustainable business should include in their recruitment strategies how they will target Spanish professionals who live abroad.

I’ve interviewed Alex, one of those young professional who recently decided to move to Germany, to understand why he decided to leave Spain and what spanish companies  can learn from this:

Aequology: Hello Alex, can you tell us who you are and where you work?
AM: Hi, my name is Alejandro Martinez, and I am employed by www.misterspex.es, Spanish division of www.misterspex.co.uk ,  German leader in online sales for prescription glasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses. The company, a personal project launched by Dirk Graber with little capital investment, currently has over 140 employees. A successful business story and a new capital injection has led Mister Spex to venture on an international strategy. After launching projects in France and the UK, the company has recently placed its eye on the Spanish market because of its promising future in e-commerce on a mid-term basis. Mister Spex’s headquarters, located in Berlin, host fully autonomous IT, logistics, customer service and marketing departments. I personally work in the marketing department as an SEO specialist, and combine these tasks with website content creation and management.

Aequology: Why did you decided to move to Germany?
AM: Coming to Germany was both a personal and a professional project. Although I had been in love with Berlin for a few years, I wasn’t strong or brave enough to go for it. The tremendous financial crisis in Spain and the fact that I wasn’t enjoying my personal project as a translator brought me to travel to the only European that enjoyed economic growth in 2010. Besides a promising environment, numerous government aids and an alternative lifestyle that I am extremely attracted to, Berlin hosts numerous start-ups that make the effort of taking risks and train motivated people who are eager to learn and renew themselves. My experience tells me that this kind of approach would be absolutely inconceivable in Spain. Generally, German companies do not focus on short term benefit, but undertake actions believing they will be positive in the long run.

Aequology: How’s the workplace in Germany compared to Spain?
AM: Besides German companies’ predisposition to undertake risks, I have sensed that managers and administration boards are much more open to suggestions. If you have a good idea, they will take it and make the best possible effort to execute it. Besides, I feel lucky because, although I work in the marketing department and Scrum methodology was initially conceived for the IT departments, Mister Spex decided to apply it to the whole company. This method allows projects coming from management to be carried out in a transversal way, communication is 100% open, and, consequently, motivating your peers, feeling integrated in the group, and identifying mistakes becomes much easier. To some extent, this reflects that, indeed, innovating in Germany is much easier than in Spain.
I would also like to highlight that e-commerce, an incredibly attractive field for all countries due to its low investment costs and high profitability, was solidly established in Germany quite some time ago and is now working at full speed. Te constant news informing about the German’s urgent need for technicians and computer engineers are the best indication of this fact. Focusing earlier on this sector has allowed Germany to remain one of most powerful and solid economies, since they have managed to diversify their economy.
Last, I would like to highlight that in Germany it is the companies who assume the biggest risk. In order to have a hired person with a net monthly wage of 1.000 Euro, companies must provide private insurance, pay higher taxes, and provide social benefits, among other things. This does not only allow workers (who, in turn, pay 40% of their salary in taxes) to be aware of the social network supporting them and preventing them from being socially excluded if they become unemployed, but is also a useful tool for the German economy to maneuver because the government always has available funds. In my opinion, the German’s financial system is the key to them being, by large, the strongest country in Europe despite the high immigration rate and tremendous social costs, which would be inconceivable for other countries. I can’t think of a better place to be in Berlin right now!

Aequology: Thanks Alex!

Index of Inactivity measuring SAP’s #Sustainability Leadership of UNGC (via Jayaribcm’s Blog)

A very thourough analysis of SAP 2010 sustainability report, based on the company’s self-declaration report according to the United Nations Global Compact 10 principles, by Jayaraman Rajah Iyer

Index of Inactivity measuring SAP's #Sustainability Leadership of UNGC SAP's 2010 Sustainability Report – UN Global Compact – The 10 Principles – Ranking by IBCM In the context of SAP's 2010 Sustainability Report, IBCM has analyzed their report in particular, UN Global Compact – Principle 1 ~ 10 Each Principle has several issue areas under different notations such as HR, LA, EC, EN etc. and each one of the issue areas are covered totaling 68. Inactivity Based Cost Management [IBCM] has ranked each Issue area by its … Read More

via Jayaribcm's Blog