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.

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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.

Europe must enhance its climate action now

Europe must significantly enhance its climate action, without any delay, to stay on track toward meeting the “20-20-20 goals” mandated by law under the EU Climate and Energy Package of 2008. In 2007 the EU’s leaders committed Europe to transforming itself into a highly energy-efficient, low-carbon economy, setting a series of demanding climate and energy targets to be met by 2020, known as the “20-20-20” targets:  a 20 percent cut in emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020, compared with 1990 levels; a 20 percent increase in the share of renewables in the energy mix; and a 20 percent cut in energy consumption.
Read my full post at Enviance Blog

SAP Details Sustainable Business Strategy

SAP Details Sustainable Business Strategy.

Sustainable Innovation Strategies: the cases of Danone & Interface

 

Earlier Today, I attented the presentation of the book  “Sustainable Innovation Strategies – Exploring the cases of Danone and Interface” by Marc Vilanova, a Lecturer and Researcher at the Institute for Social Innovation at ESADE Business School, that organized the event, and Pax Dettoni, an independent consultant for social and human development projects.

The event was broadcasted live on the Social Innovation Institute website and on Twitter.

Here’s a summary of the key points of this interesting event, supported by some of  the tweets that were shared on the Internet and my personal comments.

  • The introduction speech was delivered by Antonio Fuertes, the Corporate Responsibility & Reputation Director at Gas Natural Fenosa, sponsor of the project and event.  One of the reasons companies like Danone and Interface are successful, he said, is that sustainability and innovation are part of their DNA, that’s been achieved through teamwork, by “touching the heart of their people”, by accepting that sometimes you have  to loose in the short term,  in order to find solutions to complex problems.  

 Antonio Fuertes made also  a very interesting point about innovation: what matters is not “what” to do but “how” to do it.

 

  • Miriam Turner, Innovations Director for InterfaceFLOR EMEA, explained how sustainability is part of the company’s core business, present in any innovation, in order to achieve its “Mission Zero” by 2020. This ambitious plan, in an industry that was among the main negative contributors to the environment few decades ago, is based on product innovation, a culture of “successful failure”, biomimicry, and a strategy of “Open Innovation”. 

 This is particularly remarkable, because if the outcome of innovation is often at the center of companies’ communication efforts & marketing strategy, the process that leads to innovation is usually a company’s best kept secret. By “sharing the innovations so they can reach their potential”, InterfaceFLOR is creating a successful ecosystem based on mutual trust with its partners.

Employees are at the heart of the strategy, as their employer is actively helping the internal entrepreneurs “to get out of the closet” and become Ambassadors, a program that supports the 2020 mission goals.

  • Franck Aimé, VP HR at Danone, shared the success story of a company that is a pioneer in Corporate Social Responsibility since its funder Antoine Riboud said at the beginning of the 1970´s that the responsibility of a company didn’t stop at the gate of the factory. Since then, the #1 world leader in dairy product has developed a 5 pillars strategy to support Health, People – its employees, Local Communities -particularly those who can’t afford the products, Nature & Life – the children.

A project that the company can be particularly proud of is their collaboration with Muhammad Yunus, the “father of microfinance”, in Bangladesh, creating a network of small production units, providing employment to women and ensuring that children can access to dairy products. This project was challenging for the company as it had to think “out of the box” to address challenges such as the size of the factory (typically a Danone factory produces 500 000 tons a day, there it was only 500), the milk (difficulties to get fresh milk) or the distribution model. In any case Franck Aimé insisted that this was not charity and that there was a business goal, even if the profitability was limited.

It’s interesting to note that the current economic downturn has not diminished the sustainability efforts of both companies, as they are convinced that sustainable innovation is an essential part of their business model.

 

  • Marc Vilanova closed the event with the presentation of the key findings of the book, that you’ll be able to access soon in a pdf version on the Institute website. Enjoy!

A successful sustainable innovative strategy requires:

Inspiring leaders that know how to engage employees and senior executive, and develop an organization that is both competitive and sustainable.

Leaders who are non-conformists, such as Ray Anderson, the founder of InterfaceFLor, and who are able to create a sustainable culture within their company, with sustainability being part of the business strategy, not just a nice accessory.

Sustainable products and services, with a long term product strategy.

An “innovative innovation” process.

An organization that allows “successful failures”.

More importantly: a genuine organization. Honesty and Transparency.

 

A sustainable innovation strategy is no longer a “nice to have”, it’s a must have.

Words: why you should use “sustainability” instead of “CSR”

Alberto Andreu, Chief Reputation Officer & Sustainability Manager with Telefonica, a global Telco MNC, expressed his views about the current Sustainability vs CSR debate in an article for VaultCSR. I know that many people believe that arguing over words is unnecessary and a waste of time, which I can agree with to a certain extent. But, still, using the right terminology is important as we are facing a problem of public perception. I believe that most of the CSR/sustainability leaders and practitioners actually share common values and the issue is not really to agree or disagree on values, strategy or practices but to make sure that a larger audience get the right message about the role that businesses play in building a sustainable future, for themselves, their employees and owners, and for society in general.

Even if it’s mainly a problem of perception, I agree with Alberto Andreu the concept of sustainability describes better the strategy of a company, and its initiatives, that support sustainable development (defined as development that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs).

In most companies “CSR initiatives” do include actions that cover the 3 dimensions of sustainable development: economic, environmental and social, but the general public tends to see the third aspect only.

As I said, it’s probably a problem of perception, but for many stakeholders:

Sustainability = future/ CSR = present (or even past) actions.

Sustainability = strategy/ CSR = policy

Sustainability = risk & opportunity management / CSR = compliance

As said in a previous comment, some could argue that sustainability = green but, in my opinion, this perception is less problematic than the other (the one that relates CSR to charity) as companies have demonstrated that there’s a clear business case for sustainability initiatives related to the environment (energy consumption reduction, carbon footprint, water…).

Words matter because they can be an excuse for some companies to do nothing when we all know that they should act now.