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Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Businesses ‘profit from investing in nature’

Posted Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Businesses can and should take a key role in stemming biodiversity loss around the world, a report concludes.

BBC.co.uk, 13th July 2010

The latest report from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb) project argues that many sectors have a stake in protecting nature.

A survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) finds that in some nations, more than half of CEOs see nature loss as a challenge to business growth.

The UN-backed Teeb project presents its latest results in London on Tuesday.

The first Global Business of Biodiversity symposium, held at the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands, will hear that about half of European and US consumers say they would stop buying products from companies that disregard biodiversity concerns.

“Better accounting of business impacts on biodiversity, both positive and negative, is essential to spur change in business investment and operations,” said Joshua Bishop, chief economist of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and co-ordinator of the Teeb for Business report.

“Smart business leaders realise that integrating biodiversity and ecosystem services in their value chains can generate substantial cost savings and new revenues, as well as improved business reputation and license to operate.”

Mining for positives
 
Among the “smart companies” to be discussed at the symposium is Rio Tinto, a mining conglomerate whose reputation (like others in the field) has been criticised on environmental and human rights grounds.

In 2004, the company adopted a “Net Positive Impact” (NPI) commitment on biodiversity.

This sees it working with environment organisations to protect important areas from direct mining impacts and putting funds into conservation to “offset” damage caused.

Another is the agribusiness giant Syngenta, which recently launched Operation Pollinator, a scheme to restore important bee habitat.

The scheme is seen as a potential contribution to curbing the ongoing bee decline in Europe and North America.

One recent study put the global value of insect pollinators at $189bn per year – a classical example of the kind of “ecosystem service” that nature provides for free, and that humans would have to pay to replace if the natural system broke down.

Items in the credit column including protection from storms, habitat for young fish, and carbon storage.

Teeb has calculated the annual value of forest loss around the world at $2-5 trillion.

Plants and machinery
 
Teeb, and the UN Environment Programme to which it is affiliated, argue that this kind of analysis makes nature protection a good investment for businesses.

Consumer opinion could be another factor.

A recent Ipsos survey found that in countries possessing high levels of biodiversity, awareness of biodiversity decline was correspondingly high, rising to 90% in Brazil.

Among business leaders, the PwC survey found that more than half of CEOs in Latin America see declines in biodiversity as a challenge to growth.

But the figure drops to 20% in Western Europe, and just 15% in the UK.

And only two of the world’s largest 100 companies see biodiversity and ecosystem loss as a strategic issue.

“Businesses need to start thinking about ecosystems as an extension of their asset base, part of their plant and machinery, and appreciating the value they deliver,” said Jon Williams, PwC‘s partner for sustainability and climate change.

Teeb’s leader, Deutsche Bank economist Pavan Sukhdev, believes companies will find it easier to invest in biodiversity protection once a mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (Redd) becomes established through the UN climate convention.

Many countries favour a variant called Redd-Plus where issues such as biodiversity and forest peoples’ rights would be protected.

“We can move to a stage where big companies and countries are able to say ‘we’re meeting 20% of our emissions targets’ or whatever it might be through investing in green carbon,” he told BBC News.

“Then we can look at other issues, such as the forest’s water storage function for local people, for example.

“So it won’t be a market in the classical sense but it will be a mechanism, and companies investing would be able to see whether their investments bring about things such as an improvement in water availability or an increase in the tiger population or whatever it might be.”

Teeb will produce its final report for October’s meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Japan, which will see governments examining the reasons why they have failed to live up to their 2002 pledge to curb nature loss by 2010.


Creating Eco-Friendly Operations

Posted Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Entrepreneurs are turning their companies green, using a range of approaches from investing in alternative energy to banning plastic forks in the pantry

Businessweek, August 7th 2009

Entrepreneurs, already at the forefront of the environmental revolution with the products they sell, also are proving to be leaders of a less visible but equally powerful trend: the transformation of their companies into lean, green operations. Some say concern for the environment is their inspiration to go green; others are looking to cut costs or trim waste. Regardless of motivation, there are “countless thousands of small businesses out there greening,” says Byron Kennard, founder and executive director of the Washington (D.C.)-based nonprofit Center for Small Business & the Environment. “It’s a technological and cultural revolution.” According to an April survey by the National Small Business Assn., 38% of small companies surveyed have invested in energy efficiency programs in the past 18 months. Some 13% had invested in alternative energy sources, 6% had purchased or leased hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles in the past 18 months, and 18% had given employees incentives to cut back on driving.

Together, these changes have the potential to make a sizable impact. Small companies account for half the country’s industrial and commercial energy use, according to Energy & Security Group, a consulting firm based in Reston, Va. Because energy-efficient improvements typically reduce consumption by 30%, entrepreneurs have the potential to reduce their collective CO2 emissions by 182.2 million tons annually—the equivalent of 36 coal-fired power plants—and to lop $30 billion off the nation’s energy bill.

Such gains don’t come easily. It takes a lot of work—and sometimes outside consultants—to figure out how best to reduce the environmental impact of a business. And while some green initiatives save money, tight credit markets can make it difficult to finance green investments. Some 52% of companies surveyed by the NSBA cited weak cash flow as the main obstacle to making improvements in energy efficiency.


How Running an Eco-friendly Business can Help You Reap Eco-nomic Rewards

Posted Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

American Express.com, July 15th 2009

The phrase going green continues to battle the stigma that being eco-friendly equates to costly tactics and extreme overhauls. There’s no doubt that some ‘green‘ endeavors can be costly, but there are just as many ways to embrace an environmentally sustainable outlook that put the ‘eco’ in ‘economic’ and are as easy on the bottom line as they are on the earth. Going green in the business realm is actually a good eco-nomic strategy.  Here are some tips for greening your business that can save you some green:

Send your employees home… to work.

Arguably the number one tactic in making your business green is to send your employees home to work. Telecommuting will save everyone gas money and will help lessen air pollution. It will also save a bundle in the day to day overhead expenses of running an office. A big bonus is that you may hire people from all over the world and expand the horizons of your business from your laptop. But, if an office setting is a must for your line of work, read on…

Run a tight ship at the office.

Extend the life of office supplies. Printer cartridges can be refilled and reused for a lesser cost than buying new ones, printers may be set to print double-sided. Dont print unnecessary materials, instead, implement electronic filing systems so you may eliminate the need for paper trails. Turn off the lights and all electronics every night, and use power saving settings wherever possible. Instead of equipping every individual with a slew of personal office supplies, designate an area where all supplies are available to everyone.

Buy secondhand furniture and refurbished office equipment.

Cruise sites such as Craigslist to decorate your office and outfit your workspace with the essentials. A general rule of thumb is to spend less on tables and desks, while opting for high-quality chairs. You can find refurbished Macs online as well.

Don’t be so PC.

Bid adieu to IT support and invest in the Mac mini. They’re energy efficient, and recyclable, which is good for the planet, and they aren’t peppered with technical issues like PC’s, so you won’t need to hire or pay for IT support for you and your team.

Just say no to takeout, and yes to potlucks.

One day a week, encourage employees to bring in one dish for everyone to share and have lunch potluck style. This will eliminate Styrofoam and plastic waste, encourage bonding among staff, and will save everyone some cash. On the topic of food, offer reusable mugs next to the coffee maker as opposed to pricey, disposable cups.  These five tips will get you off to a great, green start at the office. As you start living the eco-lifestyle, more inspiration will surely strike and you’ll continue to save money.


 
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