Our prior blog took us on a tour of innovations in sustainable food and farming in the U.S. Here the foodies’ tour continues with what’s new in these regards in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.
In June, we were off to Bilbao, Spain to meet with colleagues and companies that comprise the Global Network on Corporate Citizenship. There we discussed the growing numbers of social innovations in business and increased corporate partnering with other businesses and NGOs. We also visited Mondragon, the fabled €15 billion confederation of worker cooperatives in the Basque region that weathered the global recession through aggressive exporting, overseas expansion, and shared sacrifices among member companies.
In preparation for the meeting, we perused Unilever’s newly issued 2012 Sustainable Living Plan Progress Report where it announced that some 36% of its raw materials were “sustainably sourced.” So why is this a big deal?
Chief Procurement Officer Marc Engel explains: “Climate change, water scarcity, unsustainable farming practices, and rising populations all threaten agricultural supplies and food security. Half of the raw materials Unilever buys are from the farming and forestry industries, so ensuring a secure supply of these materials is a major business issue. However, sustainable sourcing is not only about managing business risks, it also presents an opportunity for growth...
U.S. Mart, a retailer based in Venice, Florida, celebrated Labor Day by supporting U.S. veterans and manufacturers. The company, which only sells American-made products, donated 20% of that day’s profits to the local American Legion.
Over that same holiday weekend, retailers, including Best Buy, Kiehl’s, Omaha Steaks, Walmart, Ball and Buck, All American Clothing, and OTTE, recognized the American worker by offering special deals on American-made products.
Through Walmart’s involvement, this marketing campaign became linked to a two-day summit in Orlando, which focused on the “Made in America” concept. Here, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, eight governors, officials from three dozen states, and 500 businesses discussed how the United States could grow its manufacturing base to create American jobs.
Like any campaign, “Made in America” will take time to reach its goal. But in the interim, organizations supporting American-made or locally grown products have the opportunity to gain public goodwill.
For companies supporting this cause, a strategic internal communication campaign can educate employees on the important role they play in America’s economy, help instill pride in workplace performance, encourage associates to support U.S. commerce by purchasing...
The one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy is coming up next week, on October 29. On that day, you will be hearing many stories about the “Superstorm,” ranging from heartfelt stories of perseverance to tragic stories of loss to criticisms of a slower than expected recovery.
Watch Our Business Reponse to Hurricane Sandy Playlists
Features 11 Companies Dedicated to the Long-Term Recovery of Communities Impacted by Hurricane Sandy
I have been working at BCLC for six years, and disasters have been a part (sometimes much more than a part) of my work for all of that time. One thing that I have learned is that they call them disasters for a reason. There has never been a perfect relief or recovery, and as long as humans are running things, there never will be. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do better. A few years ago, I wrote a whitepaper on what a successful disaster recovery looks like and I think that many of those same lessons still apply today.
One thing has changed a lot in the six years I have been at BCLC – businesses today are more...
“Sustainability is not a stinking green movement!” Retired Marine Colonel Mark “Puck” Mykleby kicked off his panel session at last week’s GreenBiz VERGE conference at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.
At the core of his passion for sustainability is the idea that for the United States to remain secure and to prosper in the 21st century, we must move beyond the status quo and adopt a new strategy, with sustainability at its core.
Mykleby works as a Senior Fellow with the New America Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank and public policy institute headquartered in Washington, D.C. The New America Foundation asserts business as usual is no longer an option, that the current system is unsustainable. Three billion people are expected to enter the middle class in the next 20 years, resulting in a 300% increase in resource consumption. This will put unprecedented strains on our natural resources, including energy, water, food, and strategic minerals. In addition, high commodity prices, lack of resilient infrastructures, critical systems, and supply chains all pose significant challenges around the world.
Sounds pretty depressing right? The good news is the...
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set in 2000 by 189 United Nations members, were aimed at significantly improving social and economic conditions in the world's poor countries by 2015. As this deadline approaches, some controversy has arisen over the progress made over the MDG’s thirteen years and counting.
Most experts agree that the proportion of people living in poverty (defined as earning $1.25 per day) has been cut-in-half since 2000 (thanks mostly to jobs created in India, Bangladesh, and China). World hunger has also declined (1-in-8 suffers from under-nutrition today versus over twenty percent two decades ago). But when it comes to MDGs of universal primary education, gender equality, maternal health, sanitation, and such, progress ranges from mixed to middling to dismal.
How dismal? One new study by a Howard Friedman of the U.N. Population Fund (which was disavowed by the UN and published independently) reports: “The general result was that there was no trend in statistically significant accelerations in the MDG indicators after 2000.” A closer looks at the data, however, shows that some poor countries have made substantial progress in many areas, but that others have not moved the needle at all.
Ok, what has this got to do with business?
The UN Global Compact and the MDGs
In 2000, businesses throughout the world were invited to join the...
In the more than 20 years I have spent working in the international development sector, I have seen corporate giving transform from simple philanthropy to companies seeking to become a true partner in addressing global challenges alongside NGOs. As corporations become more global, so does their giving; businesses are targeting their corporate social responsibility efforts in communities abroad in which they operate, have a customer base or just see a need. This is happening at a very opportune time.
As U.S. public funding for global development declines, there is a strong need for increased private and corporate participation in development programs worldwide. Given these circumstances, Global Impact decided to take a deeper look at what drives U.S. corporations to give money and invest in development programs outside the U.S.
Today, we are releasing the results of our research study, “Giving Beyond Borders: A Study of Global Giving by U.S. Corporations.” The study, performed by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, explores the scope and depth of international giving by U.S. corporations and examines what makes corporate-nonprofit partnerships successful.
The study identified two major determining factors that propel U.S. corporations to give to a program or charity in a foreign host country:
Many businesses that rely on skilled workers report difficulty finding qualified individuals to fill open jobs. In fact, skilled trades have been the hardest segment of the workforce for employers to staff for the last three years, according to ManpowerGroup.
Partnerships that help align the skill needs of businesses with the training offered by community colleges are a solution to build a stronger workforce, but many don’t know where to start.
October is “Skilled Trades Awareness Month,” a time when Grainger, the leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products serving businesses and institutions, invites the nation to honor, celebrate and raise the visibility of the skilled trades. To kick off the month, Grainger has launched an interactive skilled trades playbook called “Dynamic Partnerships for a New Economy” that connects businesses and community colleges in an effort to boost local workforce development.
A Playbook for Partnership
The Playbook, developed in partnership with...
As a chef and former restaurant owner, I like you all, know that human capital is often the most expensive investment a business makes. Training, mentoring and developing staff can have a big price tag, especially on a small business. Yet our nation’s human capital is threatened by one very common problem – childhood hunger.
In our nation today, one out of five children struggles with hunger. Making sure these kids get the food they need every day isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing.
In the short term, when kids don’t get enough of the healthy food they need, they feel the instant effects. They’re tired and sluggish. They can’t concentrate in class. They have behavioral problems. They don’t feel well and suffer from headaches and stomach aches. Thiscan have serious, long-term effects on their future success, as childhood hunger negatively affects health, academic achievement and future economic prosperity. We can’t have a strong America with weak kids.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending childhood hunger by connecting kids to effective nutrition programs, like school breakfast, and educating low-income families to stretch their food...
The world market relies heavily on male-owned businesses. WEConnect International, a corporate-led non-profit that certifies women-owned businesses around the world, estimates that on average less than 1% of global corporate or government spend is on women-owned businesses in any country.
This staggering gap between male and female businesses reminds us that women’s economic energy is still an enormous untapped resource for global growth. This gap is partially due to persistent challenges including discriminatory regulation, less access to education, and societal norms.
In fact, women’s difficulty in achieving economic success is a big reason why women make up 70% of the global poor. They have the highest rates of unemployment and underemployment, less access to credit, and are often not equally represented in public education and training programs. In addition, women are often underrepresented in stakeholder discussions and the political arena.
Last month in New York, I attended the CEO Water Mandate conference on corporate water stewardship, which was part of the UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit that brought together leaders from business, government, nonprofit organizations, and other stakeholders. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how to harness the power of the private sector to advance solutions to address global priorities such as water, jobs, education, food, and women’s empowerment on a massive scale.
Water is used to make all products on Earth, so all businesses rely on water in some way to produce the goods we depend on, such as food, beverages, electronics, clothing, and medicine, to name a few. Water is also used to provide essential services, such as electricity, waste disposal, and more. Water is becoming increasingly stressed due to rapid population growth, urbanization, changes in climate, pollution, and increasing demand such as for agriculture production. As a result, the spotlight is more and more focused on business, one of the world’s most significant users of water, to help solve water challenges. The good news is a growing number of businesses are making the link between water security and their long-term viability and profitability, and are stepping up to be a part of the solution.
At the event I listened in on engaging conversations where several leading companies –...