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A Truer Measure of Economic Well-Being? Replacing GDP with GPI, Part One

NEW METRICS - The chorus decrying the shortcomings of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of economic well-being has been rising, crescendoing recently with the release of the report by Nobel Laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen commissioned by then French President Nicholas Sarkozy. Here in the US, states such as Maryland and Vermont are beginning to adopt an alternative to GDP: the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI).

New Report Highlights Seven Headlines of Latest Behaviour Change Research

BEHAVIOR CHANGE - New research released last week explores the latest views of leaders in the study of encouraging more conscious and responsible behaviour. The Motivating Millions research, conducted by UK behaviour change consultancy Corporate Culture, was carried out online between March and May of this year. A quick distillation of the research reveals seven themes:

Apathetic Consumer Discovers 'Hidden Consequences' of Irresponsible Products in Rainforest Alliance's Latest Video

MARKETING AND COMMS - As the Rainforest Alliance’s third annual Follow the Frog Week comes to a close, we take a look at this year’s campaign video, "Hidden Consequences."

McDonald’s Agrees to Phase Out Polystyrene Cups

CHEMISTRY, MATERIALS & PACKAGING - McDonald’s Corp. has confirmed that it will replace all polystyrene beverage cups with paper cups at its 14,000 U.S. outlets, according to As You Sow (AYS), a nonprofit organization that promotes corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy. The move comes in response to a shareholder proposal filed by AYS in 2011, asking the fast-food giant to stop using foam. After agreeing to a test replacement of its foam cups with a double-walled paper hot cup at approximately 2,000 restaurants, primarily on the West Coast, in 2012, McDonald’s deemed the pilots successful and the paper cup will now become the standard hot beverage cup at all U.S. outlets.

Jones Lang LaSalle Illustrates Commitment to Responsible Business in Latest Sustainability Report

MARKETING AND COMMS - Jones Lang LaSalle last week released its 2012 Sustainability Report, “Moving toward a more sustainable enterprise,” which details the company’s services, operations and client-focused strategies to achieve long-term sustainable solutions across five sustainability categories: energy and resources; client service excellence; green buildings; community and supply chain; and workplace, well-being and diversity.

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Solazyme and Unilever Sign Supply Agreement for Tailored Algal Oil

COLLABORATION - Solazyme, maker of algae-based oils and bioproducts, today announced a commercial supply agreement with Unilever for the first partnered Solazyme Tailored™ Algal Oil, a culmination of five years of collaboration between the companies. The agreement covers the first of Solazyme and Unilever's jointly developed tailored oils with an initial supply of at least 10,000 metric tons (MT), which Unilever says it will use in its Dove and Brylcreem brand personal care products, according to the New York Times.

SNAP Answers: How Can Protecting Nature Help Ensure Food, Energy, Water Security for Nine Billion People?

COLLABORATION - The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) today announced the launch of SNAP (Science for Nature and People), a collaboration aimed at solving the world’s most pressing conservation and human development challenges. The announcement was made at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.SNAP is designed to find practical, knowledge-based ways in which the conservation of nature can help provide food, water, energy and security to Earth's fast-growing population. SNAP will tackle high-profile problems where the solution has a clear pathway to implementation.

Microsoft, Diageo Among Latest Companies Urging Policymakers to Address Climate Change

COLLABORATION - Business calls for strong climate change action are getting louder. A half-dozen more leading global companies including Microsoft, Owens Corning, Diageo, Thornton Tomasetti, and Acer America Corporation last week joined hundreds of other U.S. businesses in signing the Climate Declaration, which calls on federal policymakers to seize the economic opportunity of addressing climate change, according to CERES.

Rubies in the Rubble: Fighting a Culture of Waste One Chutney at a Time

WASTE NOT - In 2010, Jenny Dawson was a couple of years out of university working at a hedge fund company in London. One day, she found herself at a wholesale market where she saw pallets of edible fruit and vegetables going to the waste bin. The food had been grown in neighboring countries in Europe and as far away as Kenya.To Dawson it was sheer madness and an environmental and social travesty that so much good food requiring great resources to grow and transport to London would ultimately end up in the garbage. “Seeing pallets of perfectly good fruit coming in from Kenya destined for the garbage evoked a reaction in me. There must be something we could do. We can’t be this wasteful,” says Dawson.

Putting Sustainability Data into Context

NEW METRICS - Many companies have been publicly reporting on sustainability metrics for more than 20 years, and others are just getting started. As the practice is maturing and becoming more commonplace, stakeholders are beginning to ask, “Are these metrics really measuring sustainability?”For example, most companies do report on their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water use, but what they’re not doing is putting these metrics in context. In other words, does a company’s goals and performance meet the need to decrease emissions by 80–100% by 2050* in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change? And how does its water use measure up to availability in water-scarce, water-stressed and water-sufficient areas?

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Inspiring the Supply Chain: Sprint's New Supplier Booklet

NEW METRICS - As the sustainability world places increased focus on supply chain issues, there’s no doubt that any corporation on an authentic CSR journey needs to carefully examine the impacts of its entire supply chain. In fact, according to the United Nations Global Compact’s recently published Global Corporate Sustainability Report, supply chain management is the single greatest barrier to large companies advancing to the next level of sustainability performance.

E&S Topics Comprised 40% of Shareholder Proposals Filed in 2013

MARKETING AND COMMS - Nearly 40 percent of all shareholder proposals filed in 2013 came from the environmental and social (E&S) category, representing the largest category overall, according to a recent report by Ernst & Young.Taking flight: Environmental sustainability proposals gain more attention identifies the specific requests investors are making in environmental sustainability proposals, company practices referenced by shareholder proponents in their supporting statements and examples of company actions that have led to withdrawals.The top five E&S proposal topic areas were:

Lack of Reliable Metrics Impeding Sustainable Business Growth, Study Says

NEW METRICS - Less than a third (32 percent) of CEOs believe the global economy is on track to meet the demands of a growing population, while two-thirds (67 percent) report that the private sector is not making sufficient efforts to address global sustainability challenges, according to a recent survey by the United Nations Global Compact (GC) and Accenture. Still only 38 percent say they currently are able to quantify the business value of sustainability.

Investors Ask General Mills to Step Up Packaging Responsibility

WASTE NOT - This week, investors are asking General Mills to take responsibility for recycling its post-consumer packaging waste.

Reality Check: Climate Counts Launches World's First Science-Based Carbon Rating

NEW METRICS - On Tuesday at the New Metrics of Sustainable Business Conference, Climate Counts will present initial findings of the first-ever science-based rating of corporate carbon emissions. The study, conducted by Center for Sustainable Organizations (CSO) Executive Director Mark McElroy and Bill Baue, applies CSO's Context-Based Carbon Metric, which compares company carbon emissions to science-based targets.

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Starbucks Jumps on the Sustainably Sourced Wagon with New Origins Campaign

MARKETING AND COMMS - Continuing a positive trend of transparency in the food industry, Starbucks' latest campaign focuses on the quality and sourcing of its coffee beans, as sustainability and health concerns continue to motivate consumers to ask, "Where does this come from?"Launched on Sunday during the Emmys, the new documentary-inspired TV ad shows the heritage of the cafe chain's Arabica coffee beans. "The bean matters, because you cannot roast in quality, you cannot roast in complexity," the voiceover says as black-and-white footage of coffee plantations and the roasting process runs.

Developing a Purposeful Brand: A Practitioner’s Toolbox, Part Two

MARKETING AND COMMS - In this series, Christophe Fauconnier & Benoit Beaufils, respectively CEO & founding partner of brand consultancy Innate Motion, present the tools that the company uses to develop purposeful, mission-driven brands with their clients. Benoit & Christophe view their tools as a free “thoughtware” suite, and propose that readers borrow and reapply. Read part one in the toolbox: people immersions.

Redefining Value: The New Metrics of Sustainable Business - The SB Community Weighs In, Part Three

NEW METRICS - We believe that nothing can drive faster organizational response to a changing business environment – or facilitate realignment between corporate functions or within value networks — than a shift in the metrics used to track success.

Report: Greater Corporate Sustainability Reporting Needed in Africa

MARKETING AND COMMS - Corporate reporting on sustainability issues in Africa remains patchy and should be expanded in scope, according to the Africa Sustainability Barometer, which gauges the state of corporate sustainability reporting (CSR) on the continent.A new joint initiative of the United Nations Global Compact (GC) and the Financial Times, the barometer covers more than 1,000 international companies with operations in the region, as well as local and regional companies.

New Animated Video Asks: 'How Much Is (Your Mother) Earth Worth?'

NEW METRICS - Joss Tantram, partner at UK sustainability strategy firm Terrafiniti, LLP, has conceived and written a short animation on the challenges of pricing nature — comparing it to getting a good price for selling your mother. “How Much is Your Mother Earth Worth?” takes a fresh look at one of the most complex issues of our time.“The idea of pricing the value we get from ecosystems, literally pricing the Earth, has been with us for a couple of decades,” said Tantram.

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