Sustainable Business

Sustainable Business

Tanya Khotin provides insight into the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through better land-use practices.  

Land use activity contributes approximately 24% of all global greenhouse emissions or more than 10 Gigaton. New ground-breaking research by the @Inevitable Policy Response (IPR) shows that not only will we reduce these emissions without much sacrifice, but we will reverse the damage by allowing forests and nature to return to what they do best — sequester emissions, aid biodiversity, and protect our air, water, and soil.  Land use will go from being a net emitter to a net carbon sink. This is a revolutionary concept that opens a lot of opportunities for investors. 

Land-use or rather land-abuse can be traced to mainly three things – beef production, industrial agriculture, and, of course, how we manage our forests and other natural areas. Let’s quickly discuss these, starting with beef, whose production to satisfy the expensive tastes of initially the Developed and now the Developing world has directly caused deadly deforestation and biodiversity loss (not to mention premature mortality, and not only of the cows).

One very NOT fun fact: we are providing housing, food, and medical care for 1bn cows (and 60 + billion chickens, pigs, etc.) while many of our planet’s 8 billion people are malnourished, homeless, and lack healthcare. And we know where the beef is. Three of the top exporters of beef –Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay — have more cows than people. *

Globally, beef is a whopper – 14% of total global emissions – roughly equal to global transportation emissions. And it’s the worst kind of emissions – methane – which has over 80x the warming power of CO2 over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere. And even though beef is less than 20% of our diets, its supply chain is 80% of the greenhouse emissions in the food sector.

 

Key points include:

  • Three mutually reinforcing mechanisms
  • Energy for industry and heavy transportation sectors
  • Ag tech and sustainable ag

 

Read the full article, Land-use: a secret weapon in the war against climate change, on LinkedIn.

Dean Lindo shares a blog post from his company website that provides insight into the doability of sustainable operations in business.

“Retailers remain under ever-growing pressure from a younger, more socially conscious, and more vocal consumer and employee base to embed values deep into business strategy. A National Retail Federation survey in early 2020 found that consumers prioritize buying from brands that are sustainable and transparent. And despite the many imminent anxieties of COVID-19 in the year since, consumers have continued to be concerned about the environment and sustainability. In fact, the pandemic may have made consumers even more aware of the links between their health and the health of the planet, especially as the rise of online shopping landed the problem of excess packaging quite literally at their doorsteps.

Almost 80% of global consumers we surveyed in January to better understand their priorities and behaviors going forward indicated that the pandemic had caused them to become more concerned about the environment. In all, 38% said this had impacted their buying decisions, although there were some country differences, as detailed here.

The momentum around sustainability has been building, prompting many retailers to vocally set environmental and social responsibility goals. However, actions and results remain messy—both due to a lack of industry-wide benchmarks and deep-seated harmful practices within the industry that demand deliberate undoing. According to a Business of Fashion report, actions continue to lag public commitments even for the biggest names in the industry. For the majority of the industry, it’s now table stakes to make public pledges about sustainability goals, but there is still little to no pragmatic action on making lasting changes that do not compromise profits or quality.”

Read the full post, More Than Words: Authentic Sustainable Operations Are Not An Impossible Ask, on AlixPartners.com.

In this article, Supriya Prakash Sen draws our attention to the ever-growing problem of mass consumerism and how dematerialization could help. 

This theme of today’s blog post is in the backdrop of a stunning rise in e-commerce globally – from books to electronics to food to fashion. Sounds great for consumers as well as for Mr. Bezos? Well, maybe- but this dramatic increase in shopping online will only lead to more plastic packaging, more electricity for warehouses, more fuel for delivery vehicles, and more computation energy for search, recommendation, and transaction processing. This is evolving into a crisis impacting every possible facet of modern life, from planet-scale (carbon dioxide emissions) to hyperlocal (tailpipe emissions at street level) – from this perspective, more e-commerce means more of everything bad.

On the one hand, the world needs growth; there is continuing burgeoning population with unmet needs; and a curb on consumption by fiat would not be possible, nor will it get political support. But could we perhaps evolve towards capitalism that is relies more on dematerialized (virtual) consumption, without either trashing the environment or putting screeching brakes on global growth? Looking at the stock market’s valuation of some of the world’s top brands- (see the below graphic from visualcapitalist.com) it appears clear that already, there is a distinct valuation difference between those brands that are promoting dematerialized products and services vis a vis those with physical products.

 

Key points include:

  • Responsible packaging and waste generation
  • Funding and market support
  • The digital business ecosystem

 

Read the full post, Dematerialized Consumerism, on LinkedIn.

Ushma Pandya explains why building design should consider low waste goals at the earliest stages of design. 

Buildings are designed for comfort, productivity, entertaining and living. Buildings have historically not been designed to support low waste goals. However, that is changing as architects and developers have come to realize the importance of design in supporting low waste goals. A few years ago, the Zero Waste Design guidelines were developed and have been a catalyst for thinking about design and waste.

A simple example of the importance of design is the problem of collecting recyclable and organic materials (aka compost) in older office buildings. The pantries can be small and may not have a sink. There is no way to rinse recyclables and no room to put in a third bin for composting. If companies can solve the question of where to collect organic materials in their office space, the problem of where to store the compost bin in the loading dock area arises. If organic materials are not collected every day (and it may not be feasible economically), then a cold storage room is usually required to manage odors.

Without effective storage, tenants and property managers may be reluctant to embark on a composting program. The same issues arise in residential buildings where the refuse room is generally small and often does not have any room for compost bins, let alone recycle bins or any other specialty recycle bins.

One of the issues with designing for waste is that there are many competing priorities for space, and waste does not always have a strong advocate at the table — typically, no one is advocating for waste at the design table, but that is beginning to change. Secondly, the volume of waste and the variety of materials that are tossed have increased over the past few decades, necessitating more space for waste storage and for sorting.

 

Key points include:

  • Identifying the low waste goals
  • Key initiatives and design implications
  • Space requirements

 

Read the full article, Low Waste Goals Need to Be Designed into Buildings from the Beginning, on LinkedIn.

From his podcast, Powering Prosperity, Indranil Ghosh is interviewed by Julianne Sloane, co-founder of Nossa Data. He shares his background and what led him to write his book.  

In this week’s newsletter, I share some of my ideas on how to achieve sustainable economic development via an interview with Julianne Sloane, co-Founder of Nossa Data—the company which helps organisations reduce the time it takes to carry out ESG reporting. In the interview we discuss how governments can be a catalyst of new industries and job creation, the link between inequality and climate change, progress towards greater diversity in business, and how we all have a portfolio of roles which we can leverage to help drive sustainable change.  

  Interview with Nossa Data 

Can you give an introduction to your background?

“I started off with a passion for technology, a passion for science. My graduate and undergraduate work was in chemical engineering and I did a PhD at MIT looking at polymers and how to control their properties in industrial situations. I’ve always been very interested in applied technology.”

“What I realized is that no matter how great a technology is, it doesn’t get very far if it’s not commercialized. I got interested in the commercialization of technology and business and economics in general in graduate school. After graduate school I joined McKinsey, working there for seven years and becoming an associate principal in their New York office.”

“The next step in my career was to join Bridgewater as a client advisor and strategist. My role was to raise capital for them. As one of the largest institutional investors in the world, I began to understand how global macroeconomics really works in markets. My interest was really in Private Equity, in investing in companies that could do something transformative.”

Read the full interview or listen to the podcast, How to empower economic development, on LinkedIn.

 

With global demand for food reaching peak levels, and climate change and diminishing farmland impacting food production, Kaihan Krippendorff’s article on the future of agriculture addresses both the issues and possible solutions. 

Earlier this year, I met up with a friend for lunch at a restaurant out on the water. As I twirled fettuccine noodles and chunks of New England lobster around my fork, I couldn’t help but appreciate the connections that I’ve been able to form over shared meals.

Food is an integral part of my life—a means to explore new cities, a tool to bond with friends and family members, and a method to connect to the medley of cultures that make up my ancestry. As much as I try not to, it can be too easy to take these meals for granted, forgetting that 9% of the world, over 690 million people, do not have secure access to food and frequently go to bed hungry.

The friend I shared lunch with is an analyst who invests in small public corporations. He was particularly excited to tell me about one company, Raven Industries, that is taking on national and global challenges in food production, population growth, and agricultural sustainability with a mission to improve our world.

GLOBAL CHALLENGES IN FOOD PRODUCTION 

The global demand for food is reaching peak levels. The world’s population is growing; it is predicted to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. At the same time, available farmland is diminishing. Our farmers are pressed to feed the world with fewer and fewer resources. According to Forbes, farms around the world will need to increase global food production by 70% in the next 40 years to keep pace with population growth. To meet the demands for global food supply, farmers and companies in the agriculture sector are turning to technology-driven solutions.

 

Key points include:

  • Global challenges in food production
  • Shifting consumer food preferences
  • How companies are preparing for future challenges

 

Read the full article, The Future of Agriculture: Smart and Sustainable Food Solutions, on Kaihan.net. 

 

 

Supriya Prakash Sen shares an article that encourages practical, and wholly necessary, steps towards repairing our ecosystems.

This young orphaned monkey looking out at us from the ravaged wasteland behind him is symbolic of the shambles we find ourselves in.

However, many complain that there is still no consensus on what the Green New Deal should comprise of for the planet as a whole, or what should be the biggest investment priorities for fixing this rapidly worsening situation. Also, that terms like “green growth”​ and “ESG”​ and “sustainable finance”​ are all the rage, yet the difference between various terms is confusing at best.

To such commentators, I like to point out a simple framework put forth by Oxford Professor Kate Raworth in what she calls “Doughnut Economics”​.

See the inner ring of the Doughnut? This is the #socialfoundation – below which lies shortfalls in human well-being, massive deprivation as we see in so much of the world today.

And beyond the outer ring of the Doughnut- the Earth’s #ecologicalceiling- lies an overshoot of pressure on our planet’s life-giving systems, through climate change, land conversion, etc.

Thus this is the pressing task facing humanity today- i.e to bring all of humanity into that safe and just space, that sweet spot, between the two rings of the doughnut.

However, incrementalism is not going to cut it.

The argument of the #GreenGrowth advocates is that when GDP grows faster than resource use (through water and energy efficiency measures etc), we can achieve relative decoupling of GDP from ecological impacts. But unfortunately, considering the deepening crisis we are in, it would not be enough to get us all into the ring. So, absolute decoupling will be necessary. Mainly, by:

 

Key points include:

  • Shifting energy supply
  • Circular economy
  • Dematerialized consumption

 

Read the full article, A Simple Framework for Ecosystem Restoration – why we should care and how we should deal, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Kaihan Krippendorff addresses corporate responsibility and climate change and why the energy industry is adding environmental practices to business growth strategies.

Our planet is facing an uncertain future. The impact of climate change has reached a point of crisis, and it is up to the organizations of today, and to all of us, to take action.

This week our guest on the Outthinkers podcast, Michael Raynor, author of The Strategy Paradox and co-author of The Innovator’s Solution, emphasized the immediate need for companies to incorporate the climate crisis into their strategy. Also this week, our network of chief strategy officers, leaders from $1B+ companies all over the country, was joined by Chris Marquis, Professor in Sustainable Global Enterprise at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and author of Better Business: How the B Corp Movement is Remaking Capitalism. Chris’ work focuses on how organizations are turning ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) practices into a powerful differentiator and competitive advantage.

Today, we’ll focus on the E of ESG — the environment — and how three trends in the energy industry are leading the way toward a more hopeful future.

THE URGENCY OF THE CLIMATE CRISIS 

In this week’s podcast episode, among his reflections on strategy, Michael shared that the climate emergency is the only thing that matters.

“It’s not something to incorporate into what we do. It’s something to constrain and override pretty much everything we do,” he said.

Michael is a managing director with Deloitte LLP, where he is part of the team working on developing and implementing Deloitte’s two-track response to the global climate crisis. The first track focuses on reducing and eventually eliminating the firm’s carbon emissions, while the second track comprises a portfolio of efforts designed to mobilize larger ecosystems of organizations — commercial enterprises, NGOs, governments, etc. — to generate an impact on the scale of the problem.

 

Key points include:

  • Heightened focus on renewable energy sources
  • Green regulation and incentivization
  • Decline in production and use of fossil fuels

 

Read the full article, How ESG Practices are Updating the Energy Industry, on Kaihan.net. 

 

 

Indranil Ghosh takes the pulse of the future and delivers it through the podcast Powering Prosperity Weekly. This week, he interviews Louis Ferro, vertical farming entrepreneur, on vertical farming and the inevitable transformation of agriculture. 

You know by now that I’m passionate about companies that are addressing the planet’s major issues, including the climate crisis, population growth and food and water scarcity.

My book, Powering Prosperity (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Powering-Prosperity-Citizens-Shaping-Century/dp/1642933082), outlines my thoughts on these matters – as do my vlog and newsletter (https://www.tigerhillcapital.com/powering-prosperity#thinking2). 

One company I feature in my book is called Empire State Greenhouses, a semi-rural vertical farm in the Catskills in New York. It’s the largest completely closed-loop vertical farm system I’ve seen and, based on my experience in sustainable infrastructure investing, I believe it’s a model that could transform agriculture.

One company I feature in my book is called Empire State Greenhouses, a semi-rural vertical farm in the Catskills in New York. It’s the largest completely closed-loop vertical farm system I’ve seen and, based on my experience in sustainable infrastructure investing, I believe it’s a model that could transform agriculture. National Geographic estimates that the global population will pass 10bn by 2050, which current agricultural systems could not feed. Vertical farms are yet to solve this issue, but with ESG, we think we have a key solution:

 

Key points include:

  • Water use
  • Carbon emissions
  • Volume of produce

 

Access the podcast and read the full article, Large Scale Vertical Farming comes of Age, on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

As the year  2021 begins, the conversation on climate action and business escalates. One solution that is being explored in more depth is the circular economy. In this article, Ushma Pandya provides concrete suggestions that can help your company take part in the circular economy. 

The circular economy is a trending topic these days and it refers to the idea of keeping materials in use instead of disposing them, generally by landfill/incineration. In the media, we find many examples of how consumers can participate in the circular economy. But it is also possible for companies to participate in the circular economy via their purchasing habits and internal processes. 

Here are some ways that we work with clients on incorporating circularity into their office life. Currently, many people are not in the office but we know that businesses are slowing asking their employees to come back. While the office has low occupancy it is a good time to plan for and implement some of the below.

Ensure Good Recycling

At a minimum, make sure that the organization is recycling correctly (i.e. no contamination such as liquids or paper towels in the recycle) and that all recyclables are put in the right bin. In addition, make sure to separate out specialty recycle material such as electronics, batteries, k-cups, etc. And finally implement composting (more on that below).

Just a quick note that PPE is contaminating the recycling streams currently so it is important to train employees as they come back to the office.

 

Key points covered include:

  • Establishing Reusable Systems
  • Establishing Circular Systems
  • Creating swap spots

 

Read the full article, Circularity and Businesses: What can businesses do to foster the Circular Economy?, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Indranil Ghosh provides part one of a two-part series on efficacy and impact of ESG investing. This article pertains to the effects of the coronavirus on ESG investing.

Five years ago, many people dismissed environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing as a fad because it put purpose alongside profit. But today, ESG investing seems to have become mainstream as global flows into sustainable investing are worth upwards of $4 trillion annually. Furthermore, as the Covid-19 crisis mounted in Q1 2020, investors poured $45.6 billion into ESG funds while $384.7 billion flowed out of the overall fund universe.

According to the UN, the funding gap to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is at least $2.5-3 trillion annually in developing countries alone. We think it’s more like $5 trillion globally. Plugging this gap from the public purse would require a 20% increase in the global tax base, which stands at about $25 trillion today. Clearly, this is not feasible. However, steering a small portion of global private wealth, which stands at $200 trillion globally, into sustainable investments could address the world’s development challenges.

 

Key points in this article include:

  • The problems with ESG investing
  • The additive impact of ESG investing
  • ESG and systems change

 

Read the full article, Does Covid-19 Mark the End of ESG Investing, or A New Beginning?, on LinkedIn.

 

 

In this article, Supriya Prakash Sen identifies the priorities that can help put our world back together post COVID-19 and ensure we continue to survive the impending effects of climate change.

Solving the Covid-19 crisis should not come at the expense of the Climate. This is a post about why we should solve for the impending Climate Emergency in designing our new world post-pandemic – and the actions that we need to take before it is too late.

Many of the finest economic and regulatory minds are now collectively debating as to how to produce or build ‘more’ of everything (from masks to medicines to consumer and capital goods and services) in order to make sure we can go back as a society to “business as usual”, or the times of pre-Covid.

Risk perception is seen to be at an all time high- with income inequality, nationalism, politicization and financialization all adding to the unholy mix. Faced with prospects of subdued demand, supply chain disruption, credit defaults and unprecedented unemployment, the biggest fear is of ‘de-growth’.

 

Key points include:

  • Reconstructing the economic model with cognizance of the Climate Emergency
  • Green economic stimulus framework
  • 5 immediate and major business, economic, societal shifts

 

Read the full article, Priorities for Putting back putting back together our world post-Covid19, on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

On his weekly podcast, Powering Prosperity Weekly, Indranil Ghosh explores how we can build a more sustainable world through business. In issue 17, he interviews Christian van Maaren, Founder of Excess Materials Exchange, on how the idea of a Circular Economy was born, the benefits, and what is holding back the adoption of this concept. 

Over the next few issues, I will be diving into the world of the Circular Economy. But first, let’s take a moment to define what this term means, and why people get so excited by the opportunity:

The main idea of the Circular Economy is to maintain the value of products and materials for as long as possible. Waste and resource use are minimized, and when a product reaches the end of its life, it is used again to create further value. Circular economy principles can bring major financial benefits to companies and reduce the environmental impact of industry.

Renewable energy can address the 55% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) produced by energy systems*, energy for transportation, and energy for buildings. But it cannot address 45% of emissions attributed to the production of materials, products, food, and the management of land.

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, applying circular economy strategies in just five key areas—cement, aluminium, steel, plastics, and food—would address half of these remaining emissions.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • The cost of recycling
  • Health and safety issues
  • Profitability

 

Read the article or access the link to the full interview, How an Antarctic Expedition Gave Birth to A Circular Economy Pioneer, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Jason George uses the evolution of the aviation industry as a means to explore the cost of risk aversion and how it can stymie growth.

Building in every possible contingency as part of a strategy can end up producing something so encrusted with extraneous elements that agility is compromised. Alternatively, it may hew so closely to known and safe paths that it ends up losing the novelty that would make it compelling. If you can’t cut yourself loose from a certain strategy or mental model, your degrees of freedom become limited. In the process new paths are closed off, even though they might unlock a different way of operating. Sometimes caution is a crutch whose real costs are not adequately calculated. A better path might involve getting rid of the safety net.

When faced with ambiguity too often we choose the guaranteed loss, which might be greater than the as-yet unknown costs of taking the riskier path. The safe route may be comfortable, but it is costly.

 

Points explored include:

  • Contingency as part of a strategy
  • Product cannibalization
  • The cost of the safe route

 

Read the full article, Calculated Risks and the Costly Status Quo, on Jason’s website.

 

There are four good reasons for holding on to a cash-based economy. Tobias Baer reveals the hidden economic benefits and explains why cash is still king.

Do we still need cash? More and more stores are going cashless. A whole country—Sweden—is intent on becoming the world’s first cashless nation in 2023. The attraction is the savings from avoiding the substantial handling costs of cash. In many places, increasing numbers of consumers have stopped carrying wallets because their phones have become viable substitutes. And government agencies fighting tax evasion love the trail electronic payments leave.

 

Four reasons to keep cash explored are:

-Operational risk

-Privacy

-Hidden economic benefit

-Financial exclusion

 

Read the full article, Why We Need Cashon LinkedIn.