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Entries in environment (3)

Friday
Jun032016

Measuring economic, social and environmental impact 

The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global organization consisting of members that support small and growing businesses (SGB) in emerging economies.

A central element of ANDE's work involves promoting the measurement of the impact that these businesses have across multiple dimensions -- economic, social and environmental -- and it has developed it's own core set of metrics to track the development of the SGB sector. ANDE also recommends that its members adopt IRIS, a catalog of social, environmental, and financial performance metrics for impact investors from the Global Impact Investing Network.

We are interested in ANDE's efforts to foster common, transparent measurement definitions, and share its belief that these can improve not just credibility but overall business performance as well. For a closer look at how ANDE and its partners are using metrics to support value creation, I encourage you to read this SSIR article that postulates:

"For metrics and evaluations to create value for us, individually and collectively, we must do two things:

  1. Integrate impact metrics with financial and operational ones. Integrated metrics can help organizations develop better products and services, improve resource allocation, and build more efficient and impactful businesses.
  2. Implement targeted, actionable evaluations that are useful to multiple stakeholders and fit with collective learning agendas. Such evaluations will build on existing knowledge; break down big questions into manageable, answerable pieces; and put the answers back together to inform strategic decision-making for enterprises and the sector at large."

Image source: ANDE

-- Clara Shen

Tuesday
Nov242015

Sustainability and poverty alleviation: focus on market-based solutions

I enjoyed a collection of recent articles in the New York Times focusing on the role of the private sector in sustainability and market based solutions to poverty, and recommend them to those interested in the topic. (Click on the headlines for the full articles).

Saving the World, Startup Style

The author notes that over the past 10 years, there has been a "quiet revolution" in the way many scholars and advocates think about aid. The revolutionary shift is the central philosophy that rich countries shouldn’t see themselves as responsible for coming up with theories about how poor countries can become richer. Rather, he says, "the rich countries allow the poor ones to determine what they think needs to happen — more girls in school, more vaccination, better access to global markets for farmers — and then pay money to whoever comes up with an actual solution. Governments, nonprofits and private-sector companies can compete on who can do this best."

Buffett's Grandson Seeks Own Investment Route: Social Change

Howard Warren Buffett, the grandson of the Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren E. Buffett has co-founded an operating company with big ambitions — essentially mimicking the structure of Berkshire Hathaway, but with a major difference in strategy. The plan is for the new company, called i(x) Investments, to invest in early-stage and undervalued companies that are working on issues such as clean energy, sustainable agriculture and water scarcity. “We’re looking at the long-term horizon and investments that are doing more than avoiding bad, but are actually trying to improve the world,” Mr. Buffett said. “It’s about taking the potential for capitalism to the next level.”

Unilver Finds that Shrinking Its Footprint Is A Giant Task

Unilever CEO Paul Polman has made sustainable production — of Hellmann’s, Lipton tea, Dove soap, Axe body spray and all the other products Unilever makes — the company’s top priority. Detergents are being reformulated, packaging is being reduced, and the company is taking steps to find more more eco-friendly food ingredients. But the transformation is not a simple one, and the article notes that before Unilever can "transform the world," it must focus on changes within the company.

Image source: New York Times

-- Clara Shen

Thursday
Jun182015

Holism, a new economic approach to address world issues

Image Source: Huffington PostA recent article in The Guardian explores a new report released by U.S. think tank Capital Institute, which we find to be very interesting. The report suggests that a holistic approach to the economy is vital in order to avoid social, environmental and economic collapse. The institute argues that the world needs to look beyond the standard views of capitalism or socialism, and explore the "hard science of holism" in order to debunk outdated views held by both the left and the right.

Holism, a term coined by author Jan Smuts in his 1926 book, Holism and Evolution, is defined as the tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of parts. Under this theory, focusing too closely on the individual parts of an organism could get in the way of understanding the organism as a whole.

Capital Institute founder, former JP Morgan managing director John Fullerton, says:

Society's economic worldview has relied on breaking complex systems down into simpler parts in order to understand and manage them.

For example, a traditional economic view generally views automobile manufacturing separately from the mineral mining, petroleum production and workers on which it relies, relates The Guardian. This runs the risk of overlooking the impact that automobile manufacturing has on the environment, politics and economics in a region. Taking a holistic view, on the other hand, takes into account the entire chain of cause and effect leading both toward and away from automobile manufacturing.

The report warns that the consequences of the current economic worldview are boundless, creating a multitude of challenges ranging from climate change to political instability. The institute argues that what the world needs now is a new systems-based mindset built around the notion of a regenerative economy, focusing on the whole, not the parts.

According to The Guardian, this type of mindset could lead to close analysis of supply chains, investigations of the effects of water use, circular economy initiatives, community economic development work or a host of other sustainability efforts. It also turns long-held beliefs on their head. Rather than approaching global economics from a capitalism-or-socialism perspective, it would approach global economics from a capitalism-and-socialism perspective.

What are your thoughts on the current way of viewing economic systems, and this new notion of taking a holistic approach to the economy?

-- Bruno Roche