Sustainability

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Closing the Trade Finance Sustainability Gap

Environmental sustainability has moved into the limelight when it comes to supply chains. Companies look closely at how their goods are produced and sourced. But a gap exists when it comes to the finance and insurance industries. ECOFACT’s Olivier Jaeggi and Gina Santos take a closer look at how the enablers of global trade — the banks and insurers who finance it — are starting to become accountable for their part in sustainable economic growth.

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Integrated Reporting: Corporate Disclosure for China’s “New Normal”

The “new attitude” in China toward sustainable economic growth depends upon thoughtful management of six types of capital: natural resources, human resources, financial capital, manufacturing infrastructure, intellectual capital, and social relationships. Integrated reporting looks at the performance of all six types of capital and how the performance of each element is related to one another. The challenge for China: developing partnerships with business to make it work.

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MasterCard Pins Down the Cash Economy

When impoverished families in developing nations receive government subsidies in cash, the system is an easy target for abuse, fraud, and theft — and some of the world’s most vulnerable people suffer from economic insecurity as a result. MasterCard seeks to change that by helping governments move to a non-cash system. A 2012 initiative launched in South Africa highlights both short- and long-term benefits of the approach for the company, the government, and some of South Africa’s poorest citizens.

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How Collaboration Advances Your Sustainability Efforts

In a webinar recorded in January 2015, the speakers present findings from the recent global study they co-authored, "Joining Forces: Collaboration and Leadership for Sustainability." The study, by MIT Sloan Management Review, The Boston Consulting Group and the United Nations Global Compact, shows that a growing number of companies are turning to collaborations — with suppliers, NGOs, industry alliances, governments and even competitors — to become more sustainable. The research found that companies are realizing that they can’t make the necessary impact acting alone.

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Sustaining Sustainability

Steve Zaffron, CEO of the Vanto Group, has worked with diverse organizations — from rocket-scientist NASA to labor-intensive mining — to achieve a culture where sustainability focus runs deep. His experience shows that leaps in human performance come less from tangible investments in automation, equipment or compensation schemes, and more through intangible transformations in the way people in organizations see themselves and others. “It’s not an easy thing to change the way in which people see the world and themselves,” says Zaffron “It takes time to develop.”

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Joining Forces: Collaboration and Leadership for Sustainability

In the 2014 Sustainability Report, new research by MIT Sloan Management Review, The Boston Consulting Group and the UN Global Compact, shows that a growing number of companies are turning to collaborations — with suppliers, NGOs, industry alliances, governments, even competitors — to become more sustainable. Our research found that as sustainability issues become increasingly complex, global in nature and pivotal to success, companies are realizing that they can’t make the necessary impact acting alone.

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To Conserve Water for Agriculture, a Solution from the Desert

Both economic and climate change have brought increasing concerns about agriculture — particularly with respect to water. Farmers worldwide are beginning to explore ways to stretch what may become an increasingly limited resource. In a Q&A, Netafim’s chief sustainability officer Naty Barak explains how his company’s origins in arid-zone agriculture became a springboard to a wider market for agricultural producers to maximize water efficiency, and how the company’s partnerships with NGOs brings the technology to small farmers in the developing world.

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The Sustainability Insurgency: Missives from the Front Lines, Part 2

In part two of two, Gregory Unruh talks to Emma Stewart, Autodesk’s head of sustainability, about how social intelligence helps CSR advocates in the company to win colleagues’ buy-in. The use of such intelligence supports CSR managers’ ability to create a sustainability business case.

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The Crucial — and Underappreciated — Role of HR in Sustainability

Recent research by the Center for Effective Organizations shows that most companies aren’t relying on HR departments as part of their sustainability focus — yet most think there’s an opportunity for HR to play a major role in the structuring of a company’s sustainability processes, practices and strategies.

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For BASF, Sustainability Is a Catalyst

Risk mitigation drove chemical giant BASF to adopt a sustainability focus, initiating a chain reaction that transformed not only the company’s product lines, but its corporate culture. The company’s vice president of sustainability strategy, Dirk Voeste, explains the step-by-step process that BASF undertook to produce a company-wide shift in this massive organization’s mindset.

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The Sustainability Insurgency: Missives from the Front Lines, Part 1

Emma Stewart, Autodesk’s head of sustainability, says that social intelligence helps CSR advocates in the company win colleagues’ buy-in. “In order to be a legitimized contributor to the business, you have to be as smart or smarter about your customers or other stakeholders as other business units,” Stewart says. The use of social intelligence, such as systematically calling on leading customers and “market-shapers” such as regulators, supports CSR managers’ ability to create a sustainability business case.

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Are Firms and Managers At Risk When Contributing to Climate Change?

At what point do corporate executives become personally liable for their companies’ failure to take action on climate change? This question is moving into focus as more company executives are being held accountable for business practices and decisions that harm the public. Climate activists look at precedents in the tobacco industry and asbestos manufacturing as the potential basis of legal action against the fossil fuel industry’s leadership.

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Working Toward Totally Transparent Yogurt

Wood Turner has been working in sustainability for 20 years. In 2006 he left his work at a sustainability and brand strategy firm in Seattle to lead Climate Counts, a nonprofit incubated within Stonyfield which scores and ranks large companies on their efforts to address climate change. Now VP of sustainability innovation at Stonyfield, Turner continues his work on bringing climate-conscious practices into the core of business operations. In an interview, Turner describes the collaborative processes that make this strategy work.

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Asia Pulp & Paper and Greenpeace: Building New Directions, Together

When two organizations are on opposite ends of the spectrum with regard to sustainability issues, it may seem like there’s no hope of ever reaching agreement. Such was the case when Greenpeace and Asia Pulp sat down to negotiate a truce after Greenpeace’s hard-hitting campaign to change Asia Pulp’s forestry practices, which Greenpeace saw as destroying endangered rainforest habitat. But as Asia Pulp’s Aida Greenbury explains, it’s possible even for two polar opposites to find areas of common ground and work together for sustainable business practices.

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How Sprint Negotiates Sustainability

As the head of corporate social responsibility at Sprint, Amy Hargroves has challenged the telecommunications company to “walk the talk” on sustainability, with significant success. But it hasn’t come easy by any means. In her interview with MIT SMR, Hargroves describes how she has partnered with Sprint’s legal and government affairs team to turn principles into practice.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Wilber Baan.
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The Risks and Responsibilities of Tech Innovation

The introduction of Google’s breakthrough wearable computer, Google Glass, creates numerous possibilities for risky behavior on the part of Glass users. Should companies on the cutting be held responsible for their customers’ poor judgment in using new tech? There are legal and social precedents that say they should, but business and corporate responsibility expert Christine Bader suggests ways companies can combat this problem.

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Sustainability Dialects

All functional areas have their own “language” to express the concepts most important to their roles in a company. In the fourth installment of his series on the Sustainability Insurgency, Gregory Unruh explains how CSR officers can introduce sustainability as part of the conversation in different functions.

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No Free Market for Energy

The idea that energy is a “free-market good” is a myth that needs to be abandoned. Subsidies for energy exist for good reason. The authors argue that in order to wean ourselves off hydrocarbon dependence, U.S. and global policies that subsidize oil and gas production at higher rates than renewable energy production need to be changed to reduce the bias in favor of hydrocarbons.

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Mobilizing the Insurgency

The sustainability director’s goal? Empower allies inside of companies to link social intelligence with their job responsibilities and the company’s overall sustainability strategy. In the third installment of the series on corporate social responsibility insurgencies, Gregory Unruh examines how managers offer leadership in establishing and nurturing sustainability projects — and culture — in their companies.

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