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CEOs and Consumers Disconnected on Sustainable Products and Services, Says Accenture, Havas Media report

July 16, 2014 Comments off

CEOs and Consumers Disconnected on Sustainable Products and Services, Says Accenture, Havas Media report
Source: Accenture

Only a third of consumers regularly consider sustainability in their purchasing decisions, according to a global study by Accenture (ACN: NYSE) and Havas Media RE:PURPOSE, which reveals the reasons for the disconnect between business and consumer expectations of sustainable products and services.

The report, “From Marketing to Mattering”, is based on a survey of 30,000 consumers in 20 countries. The study was commissioned in response and as a companion to the UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability, published in 2013, in which two thirds of CEOs admitted that business is not doing enough to address sustainability challenges, similar to the 73 percent of consumers in the latest research that say businesses are failing to take care of the planet and society.

The two studies reveal that, although CEOs see engagement with consumers as the most important single factor motivating them to accelerate progress on sustainability, they are often out of step with what motivates consumers to buy sustainable products and services. 81 percent of CEOs believe that their company’s reputation for sustainability is important to consumers, but the new research shows that less than one-quarter (23 percent) of consumers report that they regularly seek information on the sustainability performance of the brands whose products they purchase.

As result of the disconnect on the importance of a company’s sustainable reputation, only 32 percent of consumers say they ‘often’ or ‘always’ consider sustainability in their purchasing decisions.

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Sustainability goes mainstream: Insights into investor views

July 4, 2014 Comments off

Sustainability goes mainstream: Insights into investor views
Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers

What do investors think about sustainability issues? Do these issues factor into investment strategies and practices? Will they in the future?

Four in five investors responding to our survey said they considered these concepts in one or more investment contexts in the past year. And about 85% expect to consider them three years from now. But investors are not happy with corporate reporting about sustainability—they’re still not getting the information they’re looking for. Investors want to be a part of the sustainability dialogue. And they want direct engagement with the companies in which they invest.

The Impact of Corporate Sustainability on Organizational Processes and Performance

May 7, 2014 Comments off

The Impact of Corporate Sustainability on Organizational Processes and Performance
Source: Social Science Research Network

We investigate the effect of a corporate culture of sustainability on multiple facets of corporate behavior and performance outcomes. Using a matched sample of 180 companies, we find that corporations that voluntarily adopted environmental and social policies many years ago – termed as High Sustainability companies – exhibit fundamentally different characteristics from a matched sample of firms that adopted almost none of these policies – termed as Low Sustainability companies. In particular, we find that the boards of directors of these companies are more likely to be responsible for sustainability and top executive incentives are more likely to be a function of sustainability metrics. Moreover, they are more likely to have organized procedures for stakeholder engagement, to be more long-term oriented, and to exhibit more measurement and disclosure of nonfinancial information. Finally, we provide evidence that High Sustainability companies significantly outperform their counterparts over the long-term, both in terms of stock market and accounting performance. The outperformance is stronger in sectors where the customers are individual consumers instead of companies, companies compete on the basis of brands and reputations, and products significantly depend upon extracting large amounts of natural resources.

NOAA — Annual Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries

May 2, 2014 Comments off

Annual Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries
Source: NOAA

The 2013 Annual Report on the Status of U.S. Fisheries highlights the continued progress that collectively, NOAA Fisheries, the regional fishery management councils, and our stakeholders have made to end overfishing and rebuild stocks. Released in conjunction with Fisheries Economics of the U.S. 2012, Status of U.S. Fisheries 2013 documents additional progress towards long-term economic sustainability of our nation’s fish stocks. This progress demonstrates the strength of the U.S. science-based management model under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and management Act (MSA) and the importance of ending overfishing as the key to addressing past overfishing problems.

Corporate and Integrated Reporting: A Functional Perspective

April 25, 2014 Comments off

Corporate and Integrated Reporting: A Functional Perspective
Source: Social Science Research Network

In this paper, we present the two primary functions of corporate reporting (information and transformation) and why currently isolated financial and sustainability reporting are not likely to perform effectively those functions. We describe the concept of integrated reporting and why integrated reporting could be a superior mechanism to perform these functions. Moreover, we discuss, through a series of case studies, what constitutes an effective integrated report (Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company) and the role of regulation in integrated reporting (Anglo-American).

Critical Issues in Aviation and the Environment 2014

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Critical Issues in Aviation and the Environment 2014
Source: Transportation Research Board

Critical Issues in Aviation and the Environment 2014 explores issues that address the major environmental components affected by aviation activities, sustainable solutions that have evolved and continue to be developed to minimize aviation’s environmental impacts, and key processes that link aviation and the environment. The focus of the e-circular is on the state of science and on identification of priority research with potential to yield benefits during the next several years to several decades.

Are you ready for the resource revolution?

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Are you ready for the resource revolution?
Source: McKinsey & Company

Meeting increasing global demand requires dramatically improving resource productivity. Yet technological advances mean companies have an extraordinary opportunity not only to meet that challenge but to spark the next industrial revolution as well.

Innovative Mobility Carsharing Outlook: Carsharing Market Overview, Analysis, and Trends

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Innovative Mobility Carsharing Outlook: Carsharing Market Overview, Analysis, and Trends
Source: University of California-Berkeley (Transportation Sustainability Research Center)

North American Carsharing:
· As of January 1, 2013, there were 46 active programs in North America with 1,033,564 members sharing 15,603 vehicles.
· As of January 1,2013, 20 Canadian operators claimed 141,351 members and shared 3,432 vehicles. In the United States, 891,953 members shared 12,131 vehicles among 25 operators. In Mexico, 620 members shared 40 vehicles among one operator.
· Between January 2012 and January 2013, carsharing membership grew 24.1% in the United States and 53.4% in Canada. Between January 2012 and January 2013, carsharing fleets grew 23.6% in the United States and 35.9% in Canada.
· As of January 1, 2013, U.S. member-vehicle ratios were 73:1, representing a 0.4% increase between January 2012 and January 2013. In Canada, the ratio was 41:1, representing a 12.9% increase over the same period.

Worldwide Carsharing:
· As of October 2012, carsharing was operating in 27 countries and 5 continents, accounting for an estimated 1,788,000 members sharing over 43,550 vehicles.
· North America remains the largest carsharing region, with Europe and North America accounting for 38.7% and 50.8% of worldwide carsharing membership, respectively.
· Europe accounts for the majority of fleets deployed in 2012: 47.0% in contrast to 36.2% in North America.
· As of October 2012, one-way carsharing was operating in seven countries worldwide including (Austria, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States).

Personal Vehicle Sharing
· As of October 2012, there were 33 personal vehicle sharing operators worldwide, with 10 active or in pilot phase, three planned, and four defunct in North America.

Increasing homogeneity in global food supplies and the implications for food security

April 1, 2014 Comments off

Increasing homogeneity in global food supplies and the implications for food security
SOurce: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The narrowing of diversity in crop species contributing to the world’s food supplies has been considered a potential threat to food security. However, changes in this diversity have not been quantified globally. We assess trends over the past 50 y in the richness, abundance, and composition of crop species in national food supplies worldwide. Over this period, national per capita food supplies expanded in total quantities of food calories, protein, fat, and weight, with increased proportions of those quantities sourcing from energy-dense foods. At the same time the number of measured crop commodities contributing to national food supplies increased, the relative contribution of these commodities within these supplies became more even, and the dominance of the most significant commodities decreased. As a consequence, national food supplies worldwide became more similar in composition, correlated particularly with an increased supply of a number of globally important cereal and oil crops, and a decline of other cereal, oil, and starchy root species. The increase in homogeneity worldwide portends the establishment of a global standard food supply, which is relatively species-rich in regard to measured crops at the national level, but species-poor globally. These changes in food supplies heighten interdependence among countries in regard to availability and access to these food sources and the genetic resources supporting their production, and give further urgency to nutrition development priorities aimed at bolstering food security.

Reforms in Land Use and Local Finances Will Help Make China’s Urbanization More Efficient

March 27, 2014 Comments off

Reforms in Land Use and Local Finances Will Help Make China’s Urbanization More Efficient
Source: World Bank

  • In the last 30 years, urbanization helped lift half a billion people in China out of poverty
  • Urban strains caused by inefficient urban sprawl are showing
  • New report lays out comprehensive reform agenda toward efficient, inclusive and sustainable urbanization

Speaking of Corporate Social Responsibility

March 24, 2014 Comments off

Speaking of Corporate Social Responsibility
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

We argue that the language spoken by corporate decision makers influences their firms’ social responsibility and sustainability practices. Linguists suggest that obligatory future-time-reference (FTR) in a language reduces the psychological importance of the future. Prior research has shown that speakers of strong FTR languages (such as English, French, and Spanish) exhibit less future-oriented behavior (Chen, 2013). Yet, research has not established how this mechanism may affect the future-oriented activities of corporations. We theorize that companies with strong-FTR languages as their official/working language would have less of a future orientation and so perform worse in future-oriented activities such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) compared to those in weak-FTR language environments. Examining thousands of global companies across 59 countries from 1999 to 2011, we find support for our theory and further that the negative association between FTR and CSR performance is weaker for firms that have greater exposure to diverse global languages as a result of (a) being headquartered in countries with a higher degree of globalization, (b) having a higher degree of internationalization, and (c) having a CEO with more international experience. Our results suggest that language use by corporations is a key cultural variable that is a strong predictor of CSR and sustainability.

Asia — Energizing Green Cities: Solutions to Meet Demand and Spark Economic Growth

March 21, 2014 Comments off

Energizing Green Cities: Solutions to Meet Demand and Spark Economic Growth
Source: World Bank

Cities in Southeast Asia (SEA) are growing twice as fast as the rest of the world and by 2030, it is expected that 70 percent of SEA population will live in cities. Worldwide, cities account for around two-thirds of global energy demand and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While cities have always been the engines of economic growth, now they also hold the key to a sustainable development in SEA. Given their size and dynamic growth, SEA cities today have a unique opportunity to also become global engines of green growth by choosing energy-efficient solutions for their infrastructure needs.

Improving energy efficiency isn’t just good for the environment; it’s good for economic growth, says a World Bank report, “Energizing Green Cities in Southeast Asia – Applying Sustainable Urban Energy and Emissions Planning.” According to the report, there is a clear correlation between investments in energy efficient solutions in infrastructure and economic growth, based on a study of three cities – Da Nang in Vietnam, Surabaya in Indonesia and Cebu City in the Philippines. By improving energy efficiency and reducing GHG emissions, cities not only help the global environment, but they also support local economic development through productivity gains, reduced pollution, and more efficient use of resources.

Sustainable Energy and Transportation Strategies, Research, and Data

March 8, 2014 Comments off

Sustainable Energy and Transportation Strategies, Research, and Data
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Conference Proceedings on the Web 14: Sustainable Energy and Transportation Strategies, Research, and Data includes summaries of plenary session presentations that were made during a November 2012 conference in Washington, D.C. The conference explored potential research needed to further advance the development of alternatives to petroleum-based transportation and to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Assessing global land use: balancing consumption with sustainable supply

March 7, 2014 Comments off

Assessing global land use: balancing consumption with sustainable supply (PDF)
Source: United Nations Environment Programme

This report explores how the management of land-based biomass production and consumption can be developed towards a higher degree of sustainability across different scales: from the sustainable management of soils on the field to the sustainable management of global land use as a whole.

CRS — Energy-Water Nexus: The Water Sector’s Energy Use

February 11, 2014 Comments off

Energy-Water Nexus: The Water Sector’s Energy Use (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Water and energy are resources that are reciprocally and mutually linked, because meeting energy needs requires water, often in large quantities, for mining, fuel production, hydropower, and power plant cooling, and energy is needed for pumping, treatment, and distribution of water and for collection, treatment, and discharge of wastewater. This interrelationship is often referred to as the energy-water nexus, or the water-energy nexus. There is growing recognition that “saving water saves energy.” Energy efficiency initiatives offer opportunities for delivering significant water savings, and likewise, water efficiency initiatives offer opportunities for delivering significant energy savings. In addition, saving water also reduces carbon emissions by saving energy otherwise generated to move and treat water.

This report provides background on energy for facilities that treat and deliver water to end users and also dispose of and discharge wastewater. Energy use for water is a function of many variables, including water source (surface water pumping typically requires less energy than groundwater pumping), treatment (high ambient quality raw water requires less treatment than brackish or seawater), intended end-use, distri bution (water pumped long distances requires more energy), amount of water loss in the system through leakage and evaporation, and level of wastewater treatment (stringency of water quality regulations to meet discharge standards). Likewise, the intensity of energy use of water, which is the relative amount of energy needed for a task such as pumping water, varies depending on characteristics such as topography (affecting groundwater recharge), climate, seasonal temperature, and rainfall. Most of the energy used for water-related purposes is in the form of electricity. Estimates of water-related energy use range from 4% to perhaps 13% of the nation’s electricity generation, but regional differences can be significant. In California, for example, as much as 19% of the state’s electricity consumption is for pumping, treating, collecting and discharging water and wastewater.

Integrating vegetation and green infrastructure into sustainable transportation planning

January 30, 2014 Comments off

Integrating vegetation and green infrastructure into sustainable transportation planning (PDF)
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Although development patterns that limit urban sprawl and vehicle miles traveled can have a major impact on reducing GHG emissions, these plans, as well as similar proposals in other localities, concen- trate development along major trans it corridors. The result is to increase the local population’s exposure to emissions generated from the high-volume freeways.

Transit-oriented development and similar policies increase the population’s access to services and transportation options and lead to regional reduc- tions in vehicle miles traveled and air pollution. Nonetheless, these practices often bring people closer to the sources of air pollutant emissions, such as traffic activity. As a result, ways to reduce the exposure of people residing and working near high-volume roadways are needed.

A workshop in Sacramento, California, on June 5–6, 2012, gathered a multidisciplinary group of researchers and policy makers to discuss roadside vegetation as an option for mitigating the health impacts of air quality near roads. The following is a summary of the workshop discussions, including an overview of the role that roadside vegetation may play in reducing population exposures to air pollutants emitted by traffic. Roadside vegetation also is examined as a sustainable mitigation option in the context of other potential benefits and disbenefits.

Recycling Best Practices—A Guidebook for Advancing Recycling from Aircraft Cabins

January 15, 2014 Comments off

Recycling Best Practices—A Guidebook for Advancing Recycling from Aircraft Cabins
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Report 100: Recycling Best Practices—A Guidebook for Advancing Recycling from Aircraft Cabins describes procedures for recycling airport, airline, and flight kitchen waste and includes action plans designed to improve recycling and reduce waste disposal costs for airports of varying sizes and characteristics.

Multimodel assessment of water scarcity under climate change

December 18, 2013 Comments off

Multimodel assessment of water scarcity under climate change
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Water scarcity severely impairs food security and economic prosperity in many countries today. Expected future population changes will, in many countries as well as globally, increase the pressure on available water resources. On the supply side, renewable water resources will be affected by projected changes in precipitation patterns, temperature, and other climate variables. Here we use a large ensemble of global hydrological models (GHMs) forced by five global climate models and the latest greenhouse-gas concentration scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways) to synthesize the current knowledge about climate change impacts on water resources. We show that climate change is likely to exacerbate regional and global water scarcity considerably. In particular, the ensemble average projects that a global warming of 2 °C above present (approximately 2.7 °C above preindustrial) will confront an additional approximate 15% of the global population with a severe decrease in water resources and will increase the number of people living under absolute water scarcity (<500 m3 per capita per year) by another 40% (according to some models, more than 100%) compared with the effect of population growth alone. For some indicators of moderate impacts, the steepest increase is seen between the present day and 2 °C, whereas indicators of very severe impacts increase unabated beyond 2 °C. At the same time, the study highlights large uncertainties associated with these estimates, with both global climate models and GHMs contributing to the spread. GHM uncertainty is particularly dominant in many regions affected by declining water resources, suggesting a high potential for improved water resource projections through hydrological model development.

CRS — U.S.-Mexico Water Sharing: Background and Recent Developments

November 26, 2013 Comments off

U.S.-Mexico Water Sharing: Background and Recent Developments (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The United States and Mexico share the Colorado River and Rio Grande pursuant to binational agreements. Compliance with these agreements becomes more complicated and controversial as water demands near or exceed available supplies and when drought and high heat further reduce availability and increase demand.

Benefits and Costs of Energy Standard Adoption in New Commercial Buildings: State-by-State Summaries

November 12, 2013 Comments off

Benefits and Costs of Energy Standard Adoption in New Commercial Buildings: State-by-State Summaries
Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Energy efficiency requirements in current commercial building energy codes vary across states. Energy standards that are currently adopted by states range from ASHRAE 90.1 1999 to ASHRAE 90.1 2007. Some states do not have a code requirement for energy efficiency, leaving it up to the locality or jurisdiction to set their own requirements. The six National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publications (1147, 1148-1, 1148-2, 1148-3, and 1148-4) use the Building Industry Reporting and Design for Sustainability (BIRDS) database to analyze the impacts that the adoption of newer, more efficient commercial building energy codes would have on building energy use, operational energy costs, building life-cycle costs, and energy related carbon emissions for each state by Census Region. This study summarizes the results from the series of documents for each of the 50 states into a two-page section.

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