Warning: Parameter 1 to wp_default_scripts() expected to be a reference, value given in /services3/webpages/k/a/kayakmedia.com/public/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 579

Warning: Parameter 1 to wp_default_styles() expected to be a reference, value given in /services3/webpages/k/a/kayakmedia.com/public/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 579
Welcome to Delicate template
Header
Just another WordPress site
Header

Here’s my feature story from Day 1 of the Sustainable Brands ’14 conference, held June 1-4 in San Diego, CA.

* * *

Getting to Zero: Multiple Sectors Convene Around Deforestation at SB ’14 San Diego

When all the right people work together — from suppliers to brands who use their products to NGOs — and commit to extraordinary goals, transformational change is not only possible, it happens.

That’s what participants saw in action at Monday’s afternoon workshop on progress being made and the work ahead to support the emerging “new norm” of zero deforestation in forestry supply chain standards. Major responsible sourcing commitments in forestry in the past few years are helping protect rainforests, promote safe labor practices, and drive down carbon emissions.

Future 500 CEO Bill Shireman led a conversation with major forestry supplier Asia Paper and Pulp (APP), leading consumer-facing brands, and NGOs. Setting the stage, he said, “We’re seeing the roles that different groups play in the process of transformation—to create tipping points where change becomes transformative.”

Fresh off a 20-hour plane ride, Aida Greenbury, APP’s Managing Director for Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement, shared how her company’s historic 2013 Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) came about after years of activism — transformed into collaboration — with NGO partners The Forest Trust and Greenpeace. Speaking of APP’s commitments, and the contentious path to get there, Greenbury said, “It’s an unfolding story of relationships, customer requests, conversations, friction and all the history behind it.”

Senior brand leaders on the panel included Kevin Petrie from Nestlé North America, Mark Buckley of Staples, and Sarah Severn from Nike. Robin Barr from The Forest Trust, Greenpeace’s Amy Moas, and Chris Elliot from Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) represented the NGO communities.

A key theme was the process of building personal relationships based on trust in the midst of fierce disagreements on business practices, complicated and opaque supply chains, and remote physical locations. Speaking about what makes groundbreaking environmental commitments possible, Robin Barr, director of The Forest Trust said: “Transparency is the best way to build trust. You have to engage in a conversation on transformation.”

Barr discussed the importance of helping suppliers and brands recognize their responsibilities and roles to solve global problems like deforestation: “We’re all responsible because we’re all in the same supply chain.” And on the power of brands to lead change, she said, “Brands have the potential to make a difference. When you ask your suppliers to do something different or meet standards, that means something to them.”

“When one player changes the way they operate, the situation changes,” she saiid.

Shifting to the brand perspective, Kevin Petrie shared how Nestlé’s Creating Shared Value program for water, nutrition and rural development responsibility led to the company’s 2010 announcement that Nestlé products will not be associated with deforestation. And from there, how this led to responsible palm oil sourcing commitments.

A fascinating part of the discussion centered on the complicated issues brands face reestablishing purchasing relationships, once supplier deforestation commitments are in place and shown to be working. Mark Buckley, VP of Environmental Affairs at Staples, shared the challenges of moving away from a supplier relationship and then stepping back into it. Petrie noted that Nestlé will examine buying from APP again once assurance audits are done.

As well as the relationship between suppliers, brands and NGOs, brands are working together on issues where they share common interests, specifically climate policy. Severn spoke about her company’s collaborations with other leading brands as a BICEP founding member, a Climate Declaration signatory, and the We Mean Business coalition.

“It’s not good enough to be silent,” she said. “Our legislators need to know that companies care.”

The roundtable was the first meeting of a new multi-stakeholder initiative led by Future 500 and Sustainable Brands. The group seeks to bring together major brands, suppliers and NGOs to solve problems by redesigning how stakeholders can work together, instead of as combatants, to fully tap the power of supply chains to drive sustainability. Shireman encouraged anyone interested in participating in future conservations like this to contact him.

This conversation continues today at a 2pm breakout session on Avery Dennison’s responsible paper sourcing policy in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance.

Summing up the roundtable, Shireman referred to each responsible sourcing commitment as a domino, or multiplier, for reaching the tipping point of zero deforestation. Greenpeace’s Moas pointed to last December’s unprecedented No Deforestation announcement by Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm trader, and that new palm oil commitments are being announced nearly every month.

While global deforestation is still an ongoing crisis, this conversation showed that progress is happening. “As solutions get developed and prove successful in the marketplace, you can no longer say it’s not possible,” said Barr.

 

Are our Earth’s resource finite, or not?

That’s the crux of the question answered by the Planetary Boundaries work done by the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Their answer is: yes. There are Nine Planetary Boundaries. These limits describe how much we can use, destroy, eat and drink of our planet’s resources until we run the risk of running out. Ruining it for future generations.

This research isn’t comforting to think about. It raises all sort of uncomfortable discussions about fair-shares.

So it’s no wonder that there is a correspondingly robust controversy the role of this science in formulating policy.

Two examples, first one con and then one pro:

Roger Pielkejr, Jr.: “Planetary Boundaries as a Power Grab”

Victor Galaz: “Planetary Boundaries Strawman”

This conversation reminds me of climate change denialism tactics that try to win the argument on semantics over sense.

Since we don’t–and can’t–know for sure that the science is all correct, then we shouldn’t use it to make decisions?

That’s like going after a lion by the tail. Sure, it might look like the easiest place to grab, but you won’t be happy with the results once you’ve got it. Far better to go after the whole lion, if that’s your ultimate game.

“We cannot risk our kids’ futures on the false hope that the vast majority of scientists are wrong.” That’s the sentiment in yesterday’s Climate Declaration announcement.

Besides, what’s the harm if the scientists aren’t entirely right? We’ll have a cleaner, more energy-efficient world?

With the fate of the planet potentially at risk, we can’t waste time on inches and tails. We need to go for the whole lion.

If you want something done right, do it yourself.

That seems to be exactly what 33 leading U.S. companies intend to do about about taking action on Climate Change.

Read the Climate Declaration.

Yesterday, in coordination with Ceres and  its Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) coalition,business leaders from dozens of  profitable, responsible, highly regarded companies issued a call to action.

The Climate Declaration is framed around a single statement of economic opportunity:

“Tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century.”

(and it’s simply the right thing to do.)

Hear that?

The Declaration isn’t about how mitigating climate change impacts will be easy. Or required by federal regulators (although that might be coming later.)
No, because it’s hard. And in that hardness lies opportunity and the potential to make a whole lot of customers happy.
All while ensuring that there will be a planet on which to have happy customers a few generations from now.  That’s where the right thing to do part comes in.)

Here’s IKEA US President Mike Ward on how his company is taking steps to lighten their global footprint. And how there is a right connection between those actions and bottom-line, profit-reaping, employee-growing results:To Fix the Climate, Think Like a Business

According to the Ceres’ announcement, the inaugural signatories “provide approximately 475,000 U.S. jobs and generate a combined annual revenue of approximately $450 billion.”
I signed on yesterday for my small business. I hope millions of others will too.