Guest Post: A New Era of Collaboration and Innovation for GRI

SOURCE: 3BL Media, LLC

DESCRIPTION:

GRI this month welcomes a new Chief Executive, Michael Meehan

GRI’s announcement states:

Mr. Meehan’s appointment comes at a crucial juncture for GRI and for sustainability disclosures. In an evolving sustainability reporting landscape, Mr. Meehan will lead GRI in working with new methodologies such as those on natural capital and around integrated reporting, and will drive GRI’s collaboration with global reporting frameworks. He will guide the organization in achieving its mission of making sustainability reporting standard practice worldwide, and promoting the role of sustainability disclosures in addressing global sustainability challenges.
 
Sounds like Michael is going to have a lot on his plate. And certainly, he has a strong legacy left by Ernst Ligteringen who has done a sterling job leading GRI in the face of many challenges over the past 12 years. After chatting with Michael, I am left with optimism that he will know how to embrace the value that GRI has created while skillfully navigating new themes in the zeitgeist of sustainable development and the needs of sustainability disclosure. It’s a complex map, and the sort of practical entrepreneurial spirit, driven by clarity of vision and collaborative orientation that Michael Meehan brings, seems to be the right mix. I wish MM warm congratulations on his appointment and good luck as he takes up residence in GRI’s Amsterdam hub. 
 
As Michael takes up his role, I am sure the word strategy will feature quite a lot in the first few weeks and months. I am sure that everyone will be wanting to know what his priorities are, goals, targets, new ways of doing things, more of this, less of that, new broom and all that. I expect there will be quite a few who have some advice and recommendations, seeing a new chief as a new opportunity to get some things straight and promote an agenda. Allen White was top-speed off the mark in an open letter to MM published in the Guardian (I always wondered about the point of open letters…seems a bit oxymoronish to me) in which he lays down his priorities for the new boss. I expect there will be plenty more open, closed and ajar letters that attempt to influence the new boy on the block as he scans the landscape. However, for me, what’s more important than giving Michael Meehan my views about where he should lead GRI, is getting to understand who he is. I am interested in knowing more about what’s important to Michael and what motivates him, because that will influence what he does at GRI. (Anyone who doesn’t like ice cream, for example, would be a complete non-starter, as far as I am concerned. Happily, this is not the case with Michael Meehan).
 
 
Elaine Cohen is the founding partner of Beyond Business Ltd (www.b-yond.biz/en), a social and environmental business consulting firm, specialising in CSR strategy and roadmap developent, implementation of CSR processes, reporting and assurance. We work globally with large corporate clients, SME’s and non profits, offering a full range of CSR and sustainability expertise. Post originally appeared on the CSR Reporting Blog. Distributed with permission of the author. 
 

Tweet me: A New Era of Collaboration and Innovation for #GRI http://3bl.me/qkmrhs. New post from @elainecohen. #CSR

KEYWORDS: Media & Communications, Business & Trade, CEO, collaboration, GRI, Innovation, Michael Meehan, Reporting Framework, reporting quality, sustainability, sustainability reporting, Sustainable Business, sustainable development

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Fair Trade Brings Big Sales and a Clear Conscience

SOURCE: Fair Trade USA

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Brooklyn Roasting Co. has a booming business based on helping people thousands of miles away.

Ninety percent of the coffee the New York-based company sells is Fair Trade — certified as produced by people who are treated and paid well.

Being socially responsible pays off for Brooklyn Roasting, which sells to restaurants, food stores and the public through its website. Sales of its Fair Trade coffee, which comes from Mexico, Peru, Indonesia and Ethiopia, have soared from $900,000 in 2011 to $4.4 million last year. They are expected to reach $6 million in 2014.

“In a thoughtful urban center like New York City, I think it’s a smart business decision to be the company known for responsible coffee sourcing,” co-owner Jim Munson says.

Demand for Fair Trade products is rising as people become more aware of how their food and other products are made. That makes the Fair Trade market a growing opportunity for small business owners. While companies sell Fair Trade food, clothing and bedding products because they believe in being socially responsible, the goods can also be part of a marketing strategy, says Russell Winer, a marketing professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Sixty percent of shoppers are willing to pay the higher prices that Fair Trade items tend to have, according to a 2013 study he co-wrote.

This is how it works. Goods — coffee is the best known, but there’s also chocolate, sugar, coconut, cotton, tea, flowers, nuts, fruits and vegetables — are certified as Fair Trade by a handful of organizations around the world. They pledge to visit farms and production areas to inspect working and living conditions.

In return for the certification, product manufacturers pay a premium. For coffee, it’s 20 cents a pound; for chocolate, $200 per metric ton. This cost is usually passed on to shoppers, who can tell products are certified by labels on packages.

 

Finish reading full artile from AP here: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fair-trade-brings-big-sales-and-clear-conscience

Tweet me: How #FairTrade drives sales and impact. Doing good is just good business. Via @AP: http://bit.ly/1qbgBMl

KEYWORDS: Business & Trade, Environment and Climate Change, fair trade, Brooklyn Roasting Company, PACT, Fair Trade USA, Whole Foods Market, farmers, Coffee, chocolate, tea, Sugar, flowers, produce, impact, ethical products, certification

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Sustainability: Cows, Sage Grouses, and Grasslands

SOURCE: EarthSayers.tv

DESCRIPTION:

Two disconnected events yesterday and today were linked in my mind to the large, open spaces of the West and the challenges we face in striving for a sustainable future.  The first was spotting this marquee yesterday with “The Sustainability Secret” catching my eye.  The cowspiracy took longer to process.

Cowspiracy is a new environmental documentary (trailer here) with the emphasis on the industry with the link to a sustainability secret being secondary as suggested in the title. After reading about the intrepid filmmaker “uncovering the most destructive industry facing the planet today, and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it” I don’t think the film reflects a whole systems approach to problem solving, but I won’t say much more until I have a chance to see it.  And there was that nasty situation in 1998 summed up in this story headline as “Oprah Winfrey vs. The Beef People.”  Will maintain an open mind.

What came along today in my inbox was a New York Times documentary on the Sage Grouse and Wind Turbines.  These two events together got me thinking of several sustainability champions that address climate change from the perspective of grasslands, carbon, cows and (what wasn’t mentioned much) climate change:

In this videoGrasslands, Carbon, and Climate Change, Jeff Goebel talks about the importance of restoring grasslands to pull carbon out of the atmosphere, doing so rather quickly, and the relationship of grassland restoration to climate change. His interview relates to cows and places like Wyoming where sage grouse live.  Jeff has been influenced by the work of Allan Savory who isPresident and Co-founder of the Savory Institute in Boulder, Colorado and is featured here in this video interview, How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change.

“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it’s happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes — and his work so far shows — that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

As an urbanite I feel more comfortable learning about the economic and social aspects of sustainability especially when it comes to understanding the conversations and recommendations of experts. Yet my roots are firmly planted in the farmlands of Ireland and Canada, my family having been dairy farmers so I’ve been interviewing farmers and experts like Jeff Goebel and Allan Savory then adding them to the EarthSayers.tv in special collections addressing biodiversity and climate change.  I hope this post proves useful to understanding what may well be a sustainability secret, one I would argue of many.

 

Tweet me: Connecting cows, sage grouses, grasslands to climate change and sustainability. http://bit.ly/dotconnection

KEYWORDS: Environment and Climate Change, Energy, Sage Grouse, Wildlife, Cowspiracy Film, Allan Savory, Jeff Goebel, earthsayers.tv, Holistic Management

  

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24 Years Later, Americans with Disabilities Act a Landmark Success, but Work Still Remains

SOURCE: AT&T

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July 26thwill mark the 24th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, the ADA is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation that recognized and sought to reverse the discrimination that persons with disabilities face in the areas of employment, transportation, public services and access to information. The law also paved the way for future disability rights gains nationally and internationally, including the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) of 2010. The CVAA was a critical step toward ensuring that persons with disabilities have access to online information. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was also based in large part on the ADA to help promote the civil rights of persons with disabilities around the world. The US can be proud of its leadership role on disability issues. AT&T hopes to see the Senate ratify the CRPD soon.

Technology has the potential to greatly improve life for persons with disabilities by promoting full inclusion and economic independence. Persons with and without disabilities can use their computers to seek and obtain employment, and use their smart phones to access household appliances and security systems. With today’s technology a voice can be heard whether you can speak or not. To ensure additional progress, technology companies must continue to address the ability of persons with disabilities to harness technology that is both innovative and inclusive.

In particular, helping to ensure persons with disabilities have opportunities to work is critical. According to the Department of Labor, persons with disabilities face a high unemployment rate (12.9% for persons with disabilities versus 6.1% for persons without disabilities) and a very low labor force participation rate (19.3% versus 69.3%). Today’s technology can help with these numbers by creating employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. We will continue to work with organizations like the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) to provide internship and career growth opportunities to persons with disabilities.  

At AT&T, we fully support the principles of inclusion and accessibility embodied by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the related legislation it has inspired. For us, accessibility is not only the right thing for consumers but also for our business. Offering accessible products and services—and providing accessible customer service—has enabled us to access the large and growing market that Americans with disabilities comprise. Our strength in recruiting, retaining and promoting employees with disabilities strengthens and diversifies our workforce and provides us with a competitive advantage in producing cutting-edge accessible products.

This year, we at AT&T are honored to be recognized for our efforts by AAPD, with its Justice for All Corporate Leadership Award. On the 24th anniversary of the passage of the ADA, we celebrate how far we have come and remind ourselves of the work left to be done. Along with my colleagues at AT&T, I look forward to continuing our work with the disability community to make a fully accessible society a reality. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_uBURkT5Kw

Tweet me: .@ATT “24 Years Later, Americans with Disabilities Act a Landmark Success, but Work Still Remains” http://soc.att.com/1jXDMMg #ATTImpact

KEYWORDS: Diversity and Human Resources, att, Americans with Disabilities Act

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Stop Wasting, Start Saving: Adopt Stop/Start Technology

SOURCE: General Motors

DESCRIPTION:

This summer, Chevrolet will unveil the 2015 Impala, which, like the Chevrolet Malibu, will feature a base engine with standard stop/start technology – a combatant of fuel and money wasting.

Nobody likes the fact that vehicles consume fuel when they are stopped at a red light or sit in traffic.  Stop/start systems address this problem by automatically turning off the engine during these routine stops.

Although the improved fuel economy is an obvious benefit, the total amount of time, fuel and money wasted because of idling may not be as well known.

Did you know? – According to Sustainable America, the average American driver spends 16 minutes each day idling in their vehicles. That equates to four entire days per year idling at a standstill.

AND - According to a study by The Hinkle Charitable Foundation, Americans spend 3.8 million gallons of fuel each day when idling in their vehicles.

SO - By not idling, consumers reduce fuel consumption and waste, and also save real money. To calculate how much you can save over the course of a year by not idling your vehicle, visit www.ITurnitoff.com.

THE GOOD NEWS IS – Chevrolet’s stop/start technology has the ability to address some of the consequences of vehicle idling.

Ninety-seven percent of new Malibu owners have opted for cars equipped with stop/start technology, totaling about 83,000 vehicles, the most aggressive rollout of the technology in the U.S. by an American automaker.

This trend is in line with a recent report from Navigant Research, which predicted worldwide sales of vehicles with stop/start technology to grow from 8.8 million in 2013 to 55.4 million in 2022.

 

Tweet me: .@GM FastLane – Stop Wasting, Start Saving: Adopt Stop/Start Technology http://bit.ly/1rFuib0

KEYWORDS: Environment and Climate Change, Chevrolet, Impala, fuel savings, Carbon Emissions, Global Warming, climate change, Fuel Efficiency, sustainability

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Conflict Minerals: What the SEC Filings Show

SOURCE: Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG)

DESCRIPTION:

Unless you are one of the few readers of this blog who are blissfully unaware of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) conflict minerals rule, you probably also know that the first-year filing deadline was June 2. The rule, which requires SEC-filing companies that manufacture or contract to manufacture products to investigate whether those products contain tin, tungsten, tantalum, or gold and, if so, to submit a special form to the SEC, has been the subject of numerous articles and analyses, not to mention lawsuits and high drama. Now that close to 1,300 forms have been filed and made available on the SEC’s EDGAR website, it is a good time to take a look at what the filings reveal and what lessons can be learned from this first phase of conflict minerals compliance. Read more

Tweet me: #ConflictMinerals: What the SEC Filings Show: http://bit.ly/1o0k2Th

KEYWORDS: Business & Trade, Dodd-Frank Act, Conflict Minerals, Democratic Republic of Congo

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SustainabilityHQ.com Weekly Highlights July 22, 2014

SustainabilityHQ.com Weekly Highlights July 22, 2014

SOURCE: Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc.

DESCRIPTION:

Top Story of the Week
Companies Don’t Care Anymore That You Don’t Care Anymore About This Sustainability Thing
(Tuesday – July 15, 2014)
Source: Bloomberg – It kind of doesn’t matter to serious companies that some people still dismiss corporate sustainability as empty green PR. “It kind of doesn’t matter,” Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said in an interview last month. “We do it because it’s…

Sustainability in Focus

Why sustainability requires leadership training
(Friday – July 18, 2014)
Source: GreenBiz – Sustainability is now firmly on the radar screen of business. Along with their ongoing focus on economic issues, two-thirds of executives and managers now consider social and environmental issues as significant or very…

Harness these forces to transform your sustainability practices
(Thursday – July 17, 2014)
Source: GreenBiz – Sustainability is no ordinary change-management challenge. An entire economic system is in transition. That’s why forces beyond the ordinary are so badly needed. Over the past two years, while doing research for my new book…

Private equity has room for growth on sustainability
(Thursday – July 17, 2014)
Source: GreenBiz – A few weeks ago, I moderated a panel on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) integration in private equity at the Responsible Investor Europe Conference in London. This panel, and other discussions, highlighted the lack…

Beyond Green Teams: Raising the bar on corporate sustainability
(Wednesday – July 16, 2014)
Source: BizJournal – In recent months we’ve seen an uptick in businesses owning up to what their sustainability initiatives really mean for their customers, and the answer is resounding: Nothing tangible. Says the customer: Where’s the value for me?

Building toward sustainable, resilient cities in 2050
(Wednesday – July 16, 2014) Associated Profiles : World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
Source: Green Biz – That is the simple but powerful Vision 2050 that the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, or WBCSD, has for the future of humanity. There is no doubt that sustainable cities…

This is just a sample of some of the articles from this weeks SustainabilityHQ Highlights.  You can view the full Highlights by using the following links. Sustainability | ESG, Highlights for the Week of July 22, 2014

Tweet me: SustainabilityHQ.com Weekly Highlights July 22, 2014 http://3bl.me/k5q43w

KEYWORDS: Media & Communications, Business & Trade | G&A INSTITUTE | GRI | GOVERNANCE & ACCOUNTABILITY INSTITUTE | SWF | SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUNDS | SUSTAINABILITYHQ | ENVIRONMENTAL | ESG | GOVERNANCE | SOCIAL | SUSTAINABILITY

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Changing Women's Lives through Fistula Repair Surgery

SOURCE: Baxter International Inc.

DESCRIPTION:

In developing areas of the world with little access to healthcare, complications during childbirth can have lasting effects. For many women, obstructed or prolonged labor can lead not only to the tragic loss of a child, but also to health complications such as obstetric fistula.

Those living with fistula—a hole in the birth canal that causes constant leaking of urine and/or feces—often encounter severe stigma and isolation. Although the condition is largely treatable, women in some locations lack access to healthcare services and corrective surgery.

Direct Relief, one of Baxter’s humanitarian aid partners, has been a leader in addressing this issue. The organization has extensively mapped the level of fistula care services available to women in Africa and Asia, and helps women suffering from fistula not only improve their health, but also integrate back into society. Baxter pre-positions products each year for critical medical needs and disaster relief efforts through Direct Relief and other partners such as AmeriCares. Through product donations from companies such as Baxter, Direct Relief makes it possible for fistula care facilities throughout Africa and Asia to perform life-changing procedures.

- See more at: http://www.sustainability.baxter.com/resources/case-studies/2013-report/…

In developing areas of the world with little access to healthcare, complications during childbirth can have lasting effects. For many women, obstructed or prolonged labor can lead not only to the tragic loss of a child, but also to health complications such as obstetric fistula.

Those living with fistula—a hole in the birth canal that causes constant leaking of urine and/or feces—often encounter severe stigma and isolation. Although the condition is largely treatable, women in some locations lack access to healthcare services and corrective surgery.

Direct Relief, one of Baxter’s humanitarian aid partners, has been a leader in addressing this issue. The organization has extensively mapped the level of fistula care services available to women in Africa and Asia, and helps women suffering from fistula not only improve their health, but also integrate back into society. Baxter pre-positions products each year for critical medical needs and disaster relief efforts through Direct Relief and other partners such as AmeriCares. Through product donations from companies such as Baxter, Direct Relief makes it possible for fistula care facilities throughout Africa and Asia to perform life-changing procedures.

- See more at: http://www.sustainability.baxter.com/resources/case-studies/2013-report/…

In developing areas of the world with little access to healthcare, complications during childbirth can have lasting effects. For many women, obstructed or prolonged labor can lead not only to the tragic loss of a child, but also to health complications such as obstetric fistula.

Those living with fistula—a hole in the birth canal that causes constant leaking of urine and/or feces—often encounter severe stigma and isolation. Although the condition is largely treatable, women in some locations lack access to healthcare services and corrective surgery.

Direct Relief, one of Baxter’s humanitarian aid partners, has been a leader in addressing this issue. The organization has extensively mapped the level of fistula care services available to women in Africa and Asia, and helps women suffering from fistula not only improve their health, but also integrate back into society. Baxter pre-positions products each year for critical medical needs and disaster relief efforts through Direct Relief and other partners such as AmeriCares. Through product donations from companies such as Baxter, Direct Relief makes it possible for fistula care facilities throughout Africa and Asia to perform life-changing procedures.

- See more at: http://www.sustainability.baxter.com/resources/case-studies/2013-report/…

Baxter Sustainability Report case study

In developing areas of the world with little access to healthcare, complications during childbirth can have lasting effects. For many women, obstructed or prolonged labor can lead not only to the tragic loss of a child, but also to health complications such as obstetric fistula.

Those living with fistula—a hole in the birth canal that causes constant leaking of urine and/or feces—often encounter severe stigma and isolation. Although the condition is largely treatable, women in some locations lack access to healthcare services and corrective surgery.

Direct Relief, one of Baxter’s humanitarian aid partners, has been a leader in addressing this issue. The organization has extensively mapped the level of fistula care services available to women in Africa and Asia, and helps women suffering from fistula not only improve their health, but also integrate back into society. Baxter pre-positions products each year for critical medical needs and disaster relief efforts through Direct Relief and other partners such as AmeriCares. Through product donations from companies such as Baxter, Direct Relief makes it possible for fistula care facilities throughout Africa and Asia to perform life-changing procedures.

At Bwaila Fistula Care Center in Lilongwe, Malawi, Dr. Jeff Wilkinson performs fistula repair surgery for four to seven women a day, two to three days a week for part of the year. He also works on maternal health projects in the area with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. With the support of financial assistance from the Freedom from Fistula Foundation and product donations through Direct Relief, the Bwaila Fistula Care Center was able to see 275 fistula patients and perform 220 surgeries last year.

“There are very few options for care in the central region of Malawi, as only a handful of clinicians can do fistula surgery at a basic level,” says Dr. Wilkinson. “The surgery is transformational. The women go from ashamed, isolated, constantly wet and malodorous to resuming a normal life.”

Such was the case for one 28-year-old woman, Sarah*, who had surgery at Bwaila Fistula Care Center to repair a fistula she suffered from for ten years after losing her child during obstructed labor.

“I heard about the fistula center from a neighbor who had been a patient there,” she shared with the help of a translator. “I can now return home without fear of being wet all the time. I can go to church, and go back to the market to sell vegetables from my garden.”

In addition to the health benefits gained from the fistula repair procedure, women at the center also receive resources to help them transition back to life in their communities.

“We have social reintegration, financial literacy and other education programs for the patients to help them re-engage,” says Dr. Wilkinson.

The programs have helped Sarah readjust back to life in her community while working toward building a bright future for herself.

“They taught me about how to manage money and how to speak a little English. I’m hoping to come back and learn some more at the center and also one day maybe to go back to school,” she says.

For more information about Direct Relief’s efforts in fighting fistula, visit http://www.directrelief.org/focus/maternal-and-child-health/obstetric-fistula/.

Tweet me: With @baxter_intl product donations, @DirectRelief is changing women’s lives through #fistula repair surgery. http://3bl.me/skyteh

KEYWORDS: Philanthropy, Corporate Social Responsibility, Baxter Healthcare, Baxter International, Bwaila Fistula Care Center, Direct Relief, Dr. Jeff Wilkinson, fistula repair surgery, fistula care Malawi, Baxter product donations, women’s health

 

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