News Archive 2010
December 2010 - End of Year Message
Just what do terms like biodiversity, the Ecological Footprint and ecosystem services actually mean, and what do they have to do with our daily lives? "Not Just Another Nature Film", produced by WWF for the launch of the 2010 Living Planet Report and narrated by British and actor and comic Stephen Merchant, takes a lighthearted look at a serious problem and reminds us why we need to play nice. Great 5m video
Nov 2010 - Soul searching a changing world...
There is a lot of soul searching going on … so writes the long time head of the WBCSD, Bjorn Stigson:
After my recent visits to Australia, Turkey, Japan and Korea and my discussions with international business leaders, I am struck by how many countries (and companies) are searching for their role in a changing global landscape. Governments are looking for politically acceptable solutions. “Green Growth” has become a mantra for many who point to its potential to create economic growth and new green jobs. However, I struggle with this claim. It will take time to build competencies for investments on a bigger scale for green solutions, and green jobs will probably replace “old” jobs rather than simply adding additional employment, at least in the short to medium term.
Major green investments will also be made by the leading emerging economies that are already strong competitors in the Green Race. Trade surplus countries, like China and Korea, are doing well in the Green Race as are Germany and Japan. However, as we have shown in Vision 2050, the transformations to a future sustainable world will require massive innovations and transformations and will create new business opportunities. But, the majority of these will probably not have major impacts until beyond 2020. “The Turbulent Teens”, as the Vision 2050 termed the period 2010-2020, looks increasingly likely to be confusing, yet critical and will determine the success or failure of reaching the vision.
More at: http://president.wbcsd.org/2010/10/there-is-a-lot-of-soul-searching-going-on.html
Oct 2010 - EcoSTEPS Presents Master Class on Sustainability
EcoSTEPS Director, Carole Young, was recently commissioned by conference specialists Informa to prepare and deliver a 'masterclass' at their "Sustainability in the Key Professions: Accountancy" conference held in Sydney on 1 October.
Implementing Sustainable Solutions Across an Organisation
One of the biggest obstacles faced by organisations embarking upon environmentally sustainable business practices is ensuring that strategies are embraced and efficiently implemented company-wide. The interactive workshop explored a simple methodology for organisations to develop and implement a sustainability strategy across an entire organisation. It covered:
• ‘Strategy into Action’: Implementing a more holistic approach and commitment to sustainable business
• Assessing and achieving delivery of the strategic, practical and cultural dimensions of sustainability
• Practices and approaches to managing the day-to-day aspects of sustainability strategy implementation.
For more details contact Carole Young
Sept 2010 - 'Here on Earth: An Argument for Hope' Tim Flannery
"One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on the land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise." Aldo Leopold, "A Sand County Almanac"
No foot has trod on a heavenly body since 1971, and there is no plan to return to the moon for at least a decade. This is perhaps appropriate. During this critical period in the evolution of the human superorganism all focus needs to be on Earth. But if we ever enter that long period of stability that beckons from the far side of the crisis, we will perhaps once again focus our energies on unlocking the mysteries of the universe.
Foremost among these mysteries is the question of whether or not there are other Gaias out there. The Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, in pondering the question, left us a paradox. It involves the simple question of why, despite the antiquity of the heavens and the vast number of stars and planets we know exist, have we not yet detected intelligent life? There are 250 billion stars in the Milky Way alone, so surely some should have spawned Earth-like planets, and some of those should have developed life.
But there is another possibility. Perhaps Fermi's paradox tells us that we really are alone in the universe, simply because we are the first global superorganism ever to exist. After all, it's taken all of time - from the Big Bang to the present - to make the stardust that forms all life, and to forge that stardust, through evolution by natural selection, into us and our living planet. If we really are the first intelligent superorganism, then perhaps we are destined to populate all of existence, and in so doing to fulfil Alfred Russel Wallace's vision of perfecting the human spirit in the vastness of the universe. From our present vantage point we cannot know such things.
But I am certain of one thing - if we do not strive to love one another, and to love our planet as much as we love ourselves, then no further human progress is possible here on Earth.
From: "Here on Earth: An Argument for Hope" (Text Publishing) by Tim Flannery
Sept 2010 - National Professional Development Initiative for Sustainability Educators
EcoSTEPS is pleased to announce that has been successful in a national selection process seeking the 'best of the best' training programs to introduce sustainability to organisations. The program draws on EcoSTEPS wealth of experience with a diverse range of clients at the forefront of sustainability thinking and action over the past decade. Visit this page for program details.
August 2010 - Millennium Project - State of the Future Report 2010
"Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, should read this incredible document, period!" Technological Forecasting & Social Change
"The State of the Future Report has inspired and continues to instigate our foundation’s work on the interdependent paths of global development and future progress. It is one of the rare examples of integrated thinking on global challenges that needs to be addressed if we are to enhance the quality of life for present and for future generations." Liz Mohn, Vice-Chair of the Executive Board, Bertelsmann Stiftung, Germany
EcoSTEPS Director contributed an overview article on the state of sustainability in Australia. Read it now.
21 August 2010 - Earth Overshoot Day
August 21st marks an unfortunate milestone: the day in which we exhaust our ecological budget for the year. Once we pass this day, humanity will have demanded all the ecological services – from filtering CO2 to producing the raw materials for food – that nature can provide this year. From that point until the end of the year, we meet our ecological demand by liquidating resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Every year, Global Footprint Network calculates nature's supply in the form of biocapacity, the amount of resources the planet generates, and compares that to human demand: the amount it takes to produce all the living resources we consume and absorb our carbon dioxide emissions.
Scroll down to the entry from September 2009 and see that the comparable day was 25 September. We are overshooting at accelerating speed unfortunately...
Aug 2010 - We’re hot as hell and we’re not going to take it any more
by Bill McKibben
I wrote the first book for a general audience on global warming back in 1989, and I’ve spent the subsequent 21 years working on the issue. I’m a mild-mannered guy, a Methodist Sunday School teacher. Not quick to anger. So what I want to say is: this is fucked up. The time has come to get mad, and then to get busy.
For many years, the lobbying fight for climate legislation on Capitol Hill has been led by a collection of the most corporate and moderate environmental groups, outfits like the Environmental Defense Fund. We owe them a great debt, and not just for their hard work. We owe them a debt because they did everything the way you’re supposed to: they wore nice clothes, lobbied tirelessly, and compromised at every turn.
By the time they were done, they had a bill that only capped carbon emissions from electric utilities (not factories or cars) and was so laden with gifts for industry that if you listened closely you could actually hear the oinking. They bent over backwards like Soviet gymnasts. Senator John Kerry, the legislator they worked most closely with, issued this rallying cry as the final negotiations began: "We believe we have compromised significantly, and we're prepared to compromise further.” And even that was not enough. They were left out to dry by everyone -- not just Reid, not just the Republicans. Even President Obama wouldn’t lend a hand, investing not a penny of his political capital in the fight.
The result: total defeat, no moral victories. Now What? So now we know what we didn’t before: making nice doesn’t work. It was worth a try, and I’m completely serious when I say I’m grateful they made the effort, but it didn’t even come close to working. So we better try something else.
Step one involves actually talking about global warming. For years now, the accepted wisdom in the best green circles was: talk about anything else -- energy independence, oil security, beating the Chinese to renewable technology. I was at a session convened by the White House early in the Obama administration where some polling guru solemnly explained that “green jobs” polled better than “cutting carbon.” No, really? In the end, though, all these focus-group favorites are secondary. The task at hand is keeping the planet from melting. We need everyone -- beginning with the president -- to start explaining that basic fact at every turn. Read more
July 2010 - Bringing the Major Sustainability Frameworks and Indicators Together (TBL, ESG, TNS, GRI etc)
There are a number of sustainability frameworks in popular use today that provide structure for a sustainability eﬀort and sustainability reports. The problem is choosing the one that works best for your organisation and situation. There are enough similarities among them that you can see the overlap, but there are enough diﬀerences to create confusion. If you pick one, you lose some of the benefits of the others. You can try to adapt one or more to your needs, but you then run the risk of overlooking some important aspect or principle of sustainability. This excellent article from ISSP attempts to integrate them all...
June 2010 - EcoSTEPS in Samoa
Article in the Angle by Rich Bowden
Paul Bateson, of the Blue Mountains-based sustainability consultants EcoSTEPS, recently took time out from a tourism-focused sustainability meeting in Samoa to present the country’s prime minister with a Socceroos shirt.
One of Australia’s most ardent football supporters, Paul (also known as Pablo) presented the shirt, signed by leading Socceroo and Everton midfielder Tim Cahill, to Prime Minister, the Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, in his office in Apia on May 28. According to Pablo the shirt was presented to the prime minister “…on behalf of Tim Cahill and all fans of the Socceroos.” Read more...
May 2010 - Cities of the Future
In a context of a growing and ageing population and increasing pressures from climate change in Australia, we face the challenge of planning our ‘Cities of the Future’.
EcoSTEPS recently facilitated a major workshop at the Australian Water Association’s
National Conference in Brisbane on behalf of WSAA and the IWA (International Water Association).
Julian Crawford and Howard Nielson led the two-day workshop process with over 150 invited water sector and non-water sector participants that developed a vision and outlined the principles and challenges in planning for ‘Cities of the Future’. This work will feed into a ‘Cities of the Future’ Position Paper to be presented to the IWA World Water Congress in Montreal in September 2010. See also full report.
AWAWSAAArticle (PDF, 609KB)
April 2010 - The Responsibility Revolution
Jeffrey Hollender (co-founder of Seventh Generation) and Bill Breen (founding editor of Fast Company) have just published a short book - The Responsibility Revolution. They argue that in a new world of global transparency and consumer skepticism, companies must move beyond simple profit-maximization combined with occasional “corporate social responsibility” initiatives, towards more fully embracing a social mission, transparency, community engagement, and innovation to advance a deeper purpose.
As they assert: “To confront the economy’s and society’s daunting challenges, companies must do more than monitor factories, donate to charities, and trumpet efforts to be a little less bad. The responsibility revolution is about reimaging companies from within: innovating new ways of working; instilling a new logic of competing; redefining the very purpose and possibility of business.”
They suggest a set of six principles that successful “purpose-driven” companies follow:-
1. Have a central, strong mission
2. Be transparent (and even open about your problems)
3. Structure your company like a community
4. Bring consumers inside
5. Focus on being authentic, rather than on marketing
6. Build a corporate consciousness
March 2010 - EcoSTEPS goes South Pacific...
Paul Bateson, Associate and Senior Consultant at EcoSTEPS, spoke over coffee this week to theangle.org’s Rich Bowden about the recent Tourism Investment for the Development of Enterprise and Sustainability (TIDES) conference in Apia, Samoa.
Listen to the interview: http://theangle.org/2010/03/14/focus-on-sustainability-for-pacific-islands-tourism/
This builds on the work done over the past two years for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Fiji.
March 2010 - ISSP Sustainability Professional Competencies
In response to a growing need to move the world towards sustainable development and sustainable practices within government and industry, a whole new profession is emerging. A new research study conducted by ISSP brings clarity, cohesion and credibility to this new area. The report summarizes the competencies identiﬁed as being most critical to the successful performance of professionals working in the ﬁeld of sustainability.
ISSPSustainabilityProfessionalCompetencyReport3.10 (PDF, 660KB)
February 2010 - Comparing carbon policies made easy
Major debate now envelops Federal Parliament on climate change and how Australia will respond to the threat. This is a complex debate with numerous implications for the Australian environment, businesses and individuals. It could also be the ‘trigger’ for new federal elections in 2010.
A Charles Sturt University (CSU) expert on climate change policy, Professor Kevin Parton, has developed a simple comparison between the two policies, both of which aim to reduce greenhouse gases by encouraging new non-polluting technology or sequestrating, or ‘storing’, carbon dioxide.
January 2010 - 18th Int Input-Output Conference Sydney, 20-25 June 2010
EcoSTEPS has a close relationship with the Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA) Research Group at the University of Sydney and is pleased to be assisting with the above conference.The goal of the conference is to promote and stimulate the worldwide exchange of ideas among economists between them and government officials, policy makers, engineers, national accountants and managers with interests in input-output analysis and related methods.
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