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  • andrea 10:34 am on February 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: business, carbon, , , , politics, ,   

    Age of the Corporate Climate Activist 

    It’s not often you hear a giant in sustainability issue a call to arms. But at a recent Global Compact event on his first visit to Australia that’s exactly what Bob Massie did.

    The fight in question? Equipping ourselves with the right frameworks, mindsets and leadership skills to deal with the climate challenge.

    In the face of trials like global warming our institutions are failing us. On some fronts—like rooftop solar—we’re doing pretty well but not on the scale or timeframe we need. Urgency is missing. We’re simply not moving fast enough and our political institutions are paralysed by vested interests.

    Recalling the milestone 1970s book Future Shock by Alvin Toffler, Bob underscored how the speed of change today far outstrips the ability of human institutions to adapt and respond. The result is that on virtually every front we need to rethink how we do things—from energy generation and creation of economic value to democracy itself.

    The amazing Bob Massie. It's time for us all to be climate superheroes.

    The amazing Bob Massie. It’s time for us all to be climate superheroes.

    Bob Massie is a seasoned veteran in corporate responsibility. He was president of Ceres—the largest coalition of investors and environmental groups in the United States—co-founder and chair of the Global Reporting Initiative, and the brains behind the Investor Network on Climate Risk, which counts over 100 members with combined assets of over $10 trillion. He’s been in the game a long time and can see that the window of opportunity to be proactive on climate is closing fast.

    “I’ve been in this 25 years. Back then it was ‘there are going to be long-term extreme events.’ Now we’re experiencing them. Suddenly we’re facing real costs. We have to rethink, plan for the massive structural changes needed to deal with the climate challenge.”

    He’s in good company. Last year’s Risky Business report from US establishment behemoths Michael R. Bloomberg, Henry Paulson and Tom Steyer catalogued the significant economic risks of a carbon bubble and staying on the current emissions path. As well as action at local and corporate level, governments need to set consistent policy and regulatory frameworks to shift the global economy away from carbon-intensive industries and investments.

    “The global future of coal is grim,” Massie insisted. “Look at China, look at India—they’re unlikely to be long-term markets for coal. Even Goldman Sachs is saying ‘treat it like someone who’s reached their 65th birthday—tell it to go off and have a quiet retirement.’ But we have to ask how do we manage that shift?”

    Government’s job is to plan ahead: if jobs in threatened industries go, what are we going to do? What’s the plan? We can’t avoid change—and neglecting these issues is only going to make them worse. We have to ask ourselves if our system of government is really up to the task.”

    The biggest barrier, in Bob’s view, is mental—a failure of imagination—because the potential economic opportunities around climate change boggle the mind. You only have to look at distributed energy to see that we can apply our incredible reserves of human energy and ingenuity to rethink the world, rethink the basic structures of the past 50-100 years.

    So how do we engage that mindshift and galvanise the necessary political will? For Bob Massie it’s a numbers game. “If you want politicians to lead you have to form a parade and they will find their way to the front. We have to form parades. The future of climate change is in our hands. We live in the most important piece of human history ever. What we’re able to do will determine what our planet becomes. We have to act now to make sure those outcomes are good.”

    Time for business to bring out the banners and hit the streets.

    • africa Zanella 9:38 pm on February 21, 2015 Permalink

      This man is a titan of strength and moral values .I had the pleasure of listening to him speak at the GRI Amsterdam conference VIP dinner .after many speeches, some wine and the customary hard work , i was “zonning out ” or going into meditative state as I like to do to rest the mind when I heard his voice singing a gospel song …..wow ! that was the beginning of his speech and story as to why he cofounded GRI and he held me in alert and hanging to each of his words . One bright idea after another and a mix of emotion and rationality that you could not help to admire .He crosses over from imagination to implementation like nooone i have ever seen ..adding inspiration and leadership to its mix …Business and government are all part of the society so I believe that this broader focus rather than the monolithic separation of roles is required for the climate change issues to be worked out .Sorry I missed his visit to Australia

  • andrea 3:42 am on October 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: broadband, business, , , ,   

    Business and the SDGs 

    What is the business role in the post-2015 agenda? There’s been much discussion about what will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015. Now, a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) looks set to continue the good work.

    One of the main outcomes of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) was a 30-member Open Working Group (OWG) charged with developing a new set of SDGs in time for the 69th United Nations General Assembly. The result, unveiled in July 2014, was a proposal for 17 SDGs, including 169 targets. http://bit.ly/1nSTpqm

    As with the MDGs, the role of business in making these new goals a reality  is critical. Multistakeholder partnerships, innovation and investment are key. But what does this mean for different industry sectors – and what opportunities do the SDGs present for creating shared value?

    One industry leading the charge in answering this is the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector. Under the leadership of the Broadband Commission Task Force on Sustainable Development, a suite of reports One Stone has been closely involved with examines the transformative role  broadband can play in the shift to sustainable development, for example through e-health, m-banking, smarter energy management and environmental monitoring.

    The latest report, Means of Transformation: harnessing broadband for the post-2015 development agenda, makes the case for policymakers to treat ICT as a core means of implementation for the SDGs – in other words, an indispensable tool for delivering better social and environmental global outcomes. The report offers useful tips to governments on how to make this happen.

    What do the SDGs mean for your industry? Taking the lead on defining your role in the post-2015 agenda is a sustainability leadership opportunity not to be missed.


    Image credit: http://bit.ly/1nSTpqm

  • andrea 4:45 am on August 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , business, , SBA, stakeholder dialogue, , sustainable growth, WBCSD   

    Open for SUSTAINABLE business 

    Business, government, NGOs and investors. All agreeing sustainability is fundamental to future economic growth. Too good to be true? Well, no – this was the core take-away from Sustainable Business Australia (SBA)’s Smart Business in Action #SBIA2014 forum in Sydney.

    Recently, political dialogue on sustainable business in Australia has been at best muted, at worst totally lacking. So it was an immense breath of fresh air to hear NSW Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Assistant Minister for Planning, the Hon. Rob Stokes MP, outline his vision for sustainable growth. It is a thoughtful vision – an informed vision – and like many in the room, I was genuinely inspired to see the coming together of sustainability competence and leadership.

    Sustainability, according to Stokes, is fundamentally an ethical concern about how we relate to each other and how we view and use resources. Patterns of growth that compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs are unfair and unjust: we have to live within the planet’s boundaries. “It’s a false choice to pit the environment against the economy,” he stated. “Conservation is wise use of resources.”

    Stokes sees the environment as “foundational” to the economy, likening the interrelationship to a Russian doll where the economy sits within society, within the wider environment. It should also be a foundational understanding for government ministries, rather than a separate function: “My grand plan is to do myself out of a job,” he declared. How refreshing.

    He wants government to “be a friend” to sustainable business and “send a clear message” to irresponsible operators. Dialogue is key to moving forward: right now “we’ve lost the capacity to have a reasoned debate.” Restoring the middle ground means replacing soundbite polemics with respectful and rational dialogue that helps us move forward on sustainability challenges.

    It must have been music to the ears of companies in the room – among them Brickworks, David Jones, Kimberly-Clark, LJ Hooker, NAB, Object Consulting, and Sungevity, all of which are making major strides to integrate sustainability into their core business. And with SBA, the voice of progressive business, taking on the mantle of Australian Global Network at WBCSD, constructive dialogue on sustainability looks set for a boost in Australia. Given the federal ‘policy pause’ on sustainable economic development, that’s very welcome indeed.

  • Fran 3:06 pm on June 3, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: business, , ,   

    It’s the materiality, stupid 

    The GRI launched the G4 reporting guidelines in style in Amsterdam in May. One Stone was there, and we can confirm that the keyword over the three day conference was ‘materiality’.


    Shorter and smarter
    Addressing the need for shorter, more relevant reports, the G4 Guidelines put materiality at the heart of disclosure. The G4 requires a robust materiality process to identify the Aspects (new GRI speak for ‘issues’) material to the company and its stakeholders. Those that are most material must be reported on. But crucially and radically, those Aspects deemed less material do not require disclosure under G4.

    Be honest: how did you do it?
    The quid pro quo for waving goodbye to huge reports is that all companies must be much more transparent about their materiality decision making process. In a major change since G3, any organisation wishing to report ‘in accordance’ with G4 must disclose the way they identify, validate and prioritise their material Aspects.

    What are Aspects?
    GRI provides a list of Aspects (issues) in established categories (Economic, Environmental and so on). There are 47 Aspects in total and many are familiar, but some, for instance those to do with suppliers, now pop up under several categories.

    Core v Comprehensive
    Having identified their material Aspects, organisations can be ‘in accordance’ with G4 by choosing either Core or Comprehensive reporting. Core reporting is a great entry point for SMEs, allowing them to report on only one indicator per material Aspect identified, whereas Comprehensive reporters must disclose information relevant to all the indicators relating to each of their material Aspects. Thankfully, the old A-C system that encouraged organisations to report rafts of superfluous data has gone.

    Boundaries and the value chain
    Recognising that an organisation’s biggest impacts are often in the value chain, they are required to identify where impacts occur for each material Aspect by describing whether their significance is internal to the organisational boundary or external (eg suppliers or other stakeholders), or both.

    Where’s the hitch?
    Clearly the quality of the report hinges on the robustness of the materiality process, and since this is primitive in many organisations, major questions remain about whether reports will really represent the organisation’s impacts and its sustainability context. It will be up to the organisations themselves, assurance providers and other stakeholders to scrutinise, critique and improve the materiality process. Fertile territory for rating agencies perhaps?

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