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Purposely Profitable

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Embedding Sustainability into the DNA of Food Processing and other Businesses.

Competing and winning in today’s competitive marketplace requires a strategy that includes sustainability. Business leaders who embrace it and convey a strong sense of purpose behind their strategy are propelling their organizations into revenue-increasing, cost-reducing outcomes.

Now available on Amazon

Sustainable Business

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Based on the fundamental concept of continuously improving and balancing social, environmental and economic performance across the value chain, Sustainability is simply, a better way to make a bigger profit.

While organizations have attended to Social, Environmental and Economic performance for decades, it is traditionally economic performance that receives attention.  Sustainability is a revolutionary business model in that it elevates social and environmental performance to the same level of economic performance, unlocking a vault of hidden opportunities.

In other words, instead of simply focusing on a single bottom line of economic performance, with token social and environmental initiatives, the sustainable business model focuses on the triple bottom line to enhance overall performance.

 

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Arguably the greatest movement in the history of human-kind, Sustainability incorporates traditional tools, techniques, thinking and strategies with new and innovative ones such as biomimicry, cradle-to-cradle, value based Philanthropy and more to develop innovative solutions for today’s business challenges.

The result is reduced costs, increased revenue, talent retention, increased shareholder value and enhanced risk mitigation. GEM is here to assist and accelerate your organization on the journey towards becoming an increasingly sustainability organization. Have a look around our site and feel free to contact us to learn more.

Green Business Headlines

GreenBiz

Sustainable business news, insights, and events.

The Path to Sustainable Forestry

Date/Time: June 3, 2021 (1-2PM ET / 10-11AM PT)

The forest industry is embracing more sustainable practices that protect people, biodiversity and our climate – and many companies have set goals to source from more sustainable forests. The challenge? Only 10% of the world’s forests are currently certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC). This webcast will cover the importance of sustainable forestry and how companies across the pulp and lumber industries are using their influence to increase the demand and supply of FSC®-certified forest products.

Among the topics:

  • How to achieve sustainability goals when issues of supply are outside of your direct control
  • Best practices for communicating the importance of certification schemes to suppliers
  • Tips for educating and inspiring consumers to choose responsibly sourced items
  • How to meaningfully contribute to NGO partnerships and collaborations that can drive continued progress

Moderator:

  • Heather Clancy, Senior Vice President & Editorial Director, GreenBiz Group

Speakers:

  • Ron Jarvis, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Home Depot
  • Chris McLaren, Chief Marketing & Market Development Officer, Forest Stewardship Council US

If you can't tune in live, please register and we will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast.

taylor flores Wed, 05/05/2021 - 13:23

Ron Jarvis

Chief Sustainability Officer
The Home Depot
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Author: taylor flores
Posted: May 5, 2021, 8:23 pm
What does digital art have to do with sustainability? Ben Soltoff Wed, 05/05/2021 - 01:30

Minutes before midnight March 22, two art collectors got into a heated bidding war at a charity auction for a climate organization. The auction was happening online, but it was eliciting the same staggering dollar amounts and tense drama of an in-person auction house.

The item in contention was a single picture of a futuristic scene. The bidding had already exceeded $5 million, but Justin Sun, a 30-year-old tech entrepreneur, kept getting outbid by just $50. Ultimately, Sun offered an even $6 million and the auction was over. Sold, to the cryptocurrency millionaire.

His prize was a digital drawing by the artist beeple, who just a couple weeks earlier had sold a series of pieces for $69 million, the highest price paid for digital art. The auction was benefitting digital advocacy organization Open Earth Foundation, which ended up raising a total of $6.6 million. Beyond raising funds, the foundation aimed to raise awareness about the potential for digital technologies to address climate change, as well as their potential negative impact.

“Obviously, we landed at the right place at the right time,” said Martin Wainstein, executive director of Open Earth Foundation.

Blockchain-based non-fungible tokens (NFTs) recently have made a big splash in the art world and beyond. Fundamentally, they allow for the unique differentiation and ownership of digital goods. In addition to generating both headlines and confusion, NFTs have drawn attention to the high carbon footprint of certain blockchain applications. Cryptocurrency and digital art are riding high on the tech hype cycle right now, but the current conversation around NFTs raises a critical question for anyone seeking to use blockchains as a sustainability tool: Are blockchains bad for the planet? As with any tech tool, the short answer is that it depends.

Moving away from proof of work

Much of the perceived negative impact of blockchains comes from just two of them, Bitcoin and Etherium. These platforms are home to the most widely used forms of cryptocurrency, which makes them the most widely used blockchains in the world.

"We now have a misconception that blockchains are equal to energy and climate impact. That misconception comes from the fact that the two most important blockchains do [have high impact]," Wainstein said.

Blockchains are, by nature, decentralized data records. They include information distributed across a wide network of servers. In order to maintain trust in the veracity of the data, the network needs some way to validate new information. Because every server in the network needs to accept that the new information is authentic, this feature is called a consensus mechanism. Bitcoin and Etherium both use a consensus mechanism called proof of work, in which computers solve a bunch of complex math problems, and the first one to reach a correct answer adds the next piece of information to the chain. Solving the math problems comes down to processing power, so it uses a whopping amount of electricity.

We now have a misconception that blockchains are equal to energy and climate impact. That misconception comes from the fact that the 2 most important blockchains do [have high impact].

"Bitcoin has a huge and unsustainable energy-consuming pattern. It’s a monster, and we’ve got to stop it," Wainstein said.

There are two ways to lessen the impact of blockchains that use a proof of work consensus mechanism. The first is not to use them at all. Many blockchains use alternatives that are far less energy-intensive. For example, a proof of stake mechanism requires some sort of collateral to be put up (or staked) in order for a member of the network to add new information. Etherium is already in the process of switching to a proof of stake model.

Many sustainability applications that rely on blockchain technology are already avoiding proof-of-work-based blockchains in favor of more planet-friendly alternatives.

"In most cases, those blockchains are using other kinds of consensus mechanisms where the energy consumption is just not a big deal," Jesse Morris, chief commercial officer of Energy Web, an organization that helps companies manage electricity with digital technologies.

Regen Network, a market for landowners to sell ecosystem services, is based on the public Cosmos platform, which uses proof of stake. IBM’s supply chain tracking efforts are based on a private blockchain called Hyperledger, which uses a mechanism called Byzantine Fault Tolerance.

"First focus on what it is you need to solve, then find the right blockchain for meeting that need," Wainstein advised.

A Paris Agreement for blockchain

The other way to lessen the impact of blockchains is to ensure that the energy used is completely renewable. On April 7, a coalition led by Energy Web announced the Crypto Climate Accord, modeled loosely on the Paris Agreement. The top-level goal of the accord is for all of the world’s blockchains to be powered by 100 percent renewables by 2025. Like the Paris Agreement, this broad pact is pathway-agnostic. It pushes parties to sign onto ambitious goals and then meet those goals in whatever way makes the most sense for them.

"What we’re trying to do here is not about a single company, we want the whole industry to go green as early as 2025," Morris said.

To make blockchains greener, the coalition plans to encourage the same strategies that have enabled tech giants such as Google and Microsoft to make commitments of 100 percent renewable energy for their data centers, such as power matching and smart load management.

"What the tech companies are doing is exactly what crypto can do," Morris said.

Where do NFTs fit in?

NFTs may seem tangential to blockchain’s sustainability applications, because they’re mostly being used for art sales right now. However, just like blockchain overall, the potential uses extend far beyond the initial starting point.

“Art is the first mainstream adoption of it, but there have been many, many instances of people building NFTS for all sorts of different applications,” said Joshua Bijiak, chief technology officer of Creol, a startup that offers blockchain-based carbon credits.

An NFT attests digitally to the unique properties of a given asset, and art is far from the only asset with unique properties. It might eventually be possible to generate an NFT associated with a specific good that indicates the precise energy mix being used at the time it was produced, distinguishing it from a similar good produced just a few hours later.

As with many blockchain solutions, there still needs to be some process to enter physical products into a digital system, but many sustainability assets already are traded entirely in online marketplace. For instance, carbon offsets. An NFT could be used to record the unique attributes of a carbon offset project, helping to address issues of double counting.

For the recent climate NFT auction, the organizers generated unique offsets from the Verra registry that were themselves NFTs. That’s why the team at Open Earth Foundation was enthusiastic about the auction, even before its $6.6-million windfall. It highlighted the promise of using blockchain, not just the peril.

"It’s empowering things that we couldn’t do before in all sectors: currency, art, carbon, the planet; and we’ll continue seeing that, there’s no doubt about it," Wainstein said.

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We now have a misconception that blockchains are equal to energy and climate impact. That misconception comes from the fact that the 2 most important blockchains do [have high impact].
Art is the first mainstream adoption of it, but there have been many, many instances of people building NFTS for all sorts of different applications.
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Beeple collage

The artist beeple, aka Mike Winkelman, in early 2021 sold a series of digital pieces for $69 million, the highest price ever paid for digital art.

Beeple
Author: Ben Soltoff
Posted: May 5, 2021, 8:30 am
Inside Salesforce’s bold play for supply-chain leadership Joel Makower Mon, 05/03/2021 - 02:11

Last week, the cloud-based software company Salesforce notified its thousands of suppliers that it will include language in all future procurement contracts requiring them, among other things, to set science-based targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

And it set financial penalties for those that don’t.

It was an unprecedented and bold move that, if emulated by others and aggressively enforced, could transform companies and markets far faster than any regulation ever could.

Welcome to the growing world of trickle-down sustainability.

Salesforce’s four-page Sustainability Exhibit, as the company called it, asks suppliers to commit to a science-based target aligned with the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement; to develop and implement a plan to reduce “the carbon footprint and the environmental impact” of any products or services provided to Salesforce; and to publicly disclose their Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

The provisions of the legal document won’t necessarily take effect immediately, though they are now part of “all standard purchasing contracts,” the company said, implemented whenever a supplier renews or when Salesforce makes purchases beyond an existing agreement.

Using procurement as an opportunity, if not a cudgel, to push more companies to take more ambitious sustainability actions has long been a strategy leadership companies use to drive change beyond their four walls.

In a letter to suppliers, Craig Cuffie, the company’s chief procurement officer, and Patrick Flynn, who heads sustainability, wrote, “We want to collaborate more deeply with you on climate action,” and asked them “to join us on this journey … by committing to the principles laid out in our Sustainability Exhibit in our next agreement.”

Using procurement as an opportunity, if not a cudgel, to push more companies to take more ambitious sustainability actions has long been a strategy leadership companies use to drive change beyond their four walls. Walmart’s Project Gigaton, for example, aims to cut 1 billion tons of greenhouse gases from its global value chain by the end of this decade. More than 2,000 Walmart suppliers, more than two-thirds of its total, are engaged, according to the retailer. Other companies have created similar, if less ambitious, supply-chain initiatives.

All are designed to send market signals from large companies in the hope that change will trickle down to suppliers both large and small.

But Salesforce’s may be the only one with teeth.

According to the Sustainability Exhibit, a supplier that isn’t in compliance with its terms — a “Climate Breach” — will face a “Climate Remediation Fee” equal to “the cost of carbon credits that must be purchased to offset each metric ton” of carbon emissions, or one-half of 1 percent of the aggregate amount paid by Salesforce to the supplier over the previous 12 months.

‘A little more deliberate’

The Sustainability Exhibit “was born out of a few particular contract negotiations last year, where we were motivated to try to get those suppliers accelerated on their climate action journey,” Flynn told me. Before launching it last week, Salesforce field-tested the agreement with a few key suppliers.

One of those was Herman Miller, the office furniture company, which has been working on its own supply-chain sustainability issues since about 2013, according to Gabe Wing, the company’s director of sustainability. He welcomed the nudge from Salesforce. “It's personally exciting to see our customers get a little bit more deliberate about encouraging their suppliers to make improvements,” he told me.

For Salesforce, the document was the next logical step in prodding suppliers to help the company achieve its sustainability goals, Salesforce’s Cuffie explained.

“With some of our bigger suppliers, we’ve been on a journey for years and have established programs together. Smaller companies that don’t have the resources to build up a robust sustainability program can still take action. It’s vital that we bring all suppliers along for the journey, as every company has a role to play.” 

Another supplier, Marriott International, the hotel giant, didn’t get an advance look at the new requirements but had been reporting sustainability data to Salesforce for years. “We're in each other's supply chain — Salesforce is not only a major customer of ours but also a major supplier of ours,” Denise Naguib, its vice president for sustainability and supplier diversity, told me. “We think it is a really valuable exercise for all of us to work together as opposed to battling each other. Because ultimately, we win when we all do better.”

That seems to capture the spirit of the Sustainability Exchange, as Flynn described it to me.

“Climate leadership today asks to recognize one's full value-chain impacts,” he said. “And whenever we're talking about Scope 3 reporting, we're talking a lot about the customer relationship — either downstream emissions, where you're trying to understand and change the climate impacts of the customer use of your products and services, or upstream, where you are the customer. Every supplier relationship is a customer relationship in reverse.”

Salesforce, he said, “is poised to help show just how important the customer relationship is to the next wave of climate leadership. And one of the best ways to start is to model that behavior.”

Tomorrow's customer, today

It’s not coincidental that Salesforce recently unveiled a new Scope 3 component to its Sustainability Cloud product, which helps customers track carbon footprint data. The product was originally created to enable the company to better track its own impacts. “We consider ourselves customer zero of Sustainability Cloud,” Flynn said. Its latest initiative stands to increase demand for the product.

It remains to be seen how much all this actually prods Salesforce suppliers to move further and faster than they might otherwise have done. It certainly feels like a potential game-changer. And, based on my very small sampling of Salesforce suppliers, they may be willing conscripts.

“If you start to think about us having access to more information, better information, and in looking at where the hotspots are, I think there's some benefits” to the Sustainability Exhibit, Herman Miller’s Gabe Wing said. “It hasn't been a stick that they've chosen to beat up their suppliers with. They've signaled where they're going and why they're going in that direction. And they've been proactively looking for ways to bring us along.”

For Marriott, it sends a signal to its hotel properties that may be more effective than one coming from Marriott’s own C-suite, Denise Naguib explained. “It's not just corporate telling them, ‘You must,’ but their customers saying, ‘We want,’ which I think is a really valuable piece.”

Patrick Flynn, for his part, believes that Salesforce represents an early look at what supply-chain companies increasingly will be encountering from customers. “The question all businesses should be asking themselves is, ‘Who is your most climate-engaged customer today?’ because before long, all of your customers are going to look a lot like today's most engaged climate customer.”

I asked Flynn, who wants to see the Sustainability Exhibit replicated by others, how he would view success. He had a ready answer — what he called his “pop the cork” moment: When a Salesforce customer makes the terms of the document a requirement for Salesforce itself, “not realizing that it came from us in the first place.”

I invite you to follow me on Twitter, subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz, and listen to GreenBiz 350, my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy.

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Using procurement as an opportunity, if not a cudgel, to push more companies to take more ambitious sustainability actions has long been a strategy leadership companies use to drive change beyond their four walls.
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Author: Joel Makower
Posted: May 3, 2021, 9:11 am
Leading in a fundamentally changing world Lise Kingo Mon, 05/03/2021 - 02:00

What is responsible leadership?

That’s the big question that takes center stage at the recent annual conference hosted by Imperial College Business School. It is the first time I have spoken in my capacity as chair of the advisory board of Imperial’s new Leonardo Centre, a research facility for sustainable business, which will formally launch in June. With this cross-disciplinary, multi-faculty and stakeholder-oriented center of excellence, the Leonardo Centre is setting out to explore what defines the new logic of business enterprise and the new type of responsible business leadership the world needs in this Decade of Action.

I am stepping into this role in the hope that we can close the gap between rhetoric and action and promote a radical rethink of the role of board directors and C-suite leaders as drivers for sustainable change.

New challenges, new skills

No MBA degree or leadership toolbox alone can equip today’s leaders for the complex and interconnected changes we are facing. Five-year strategy cycles and annual business planning processes are no guarantee for staying relevant and future-fit in a fundamentally changing world. Responsible leadership is a dynamic and continuous exercise of seeing, understanding and addressing your organization’s role in society and in the market, tackling three mutually reinforcing sets of emergencies and their impact on stakeholders: The climate emergency, the biodiversity emergency and the growing socioeconomic divide.

How can we transform our business model to become net-zero, regenerative, fair and equitable?

Not from a perspective of "How can we do less harm?" but from the perspective of "How can we transform our business model to become net-zero, regenerative, fair and equitable?"

The new logic of enterprise is one that defies and rewrites the playbooks for modern capitalism. Economic growth can be generated without the irreparable erosion of planetary systems, and competitiveness can be achieved while also guaranteeing living wages and decent working conditions for all workers in the value chain. It’s about moving from a zero-sum logic to a net-positive logic, creating a circular economy.

Disruption paves the way

We have seen it before. Major disruptions such as the COVID-19 crisis generate upheaval and social pain, but they also can be a catalyst for change that, Phoenix-like, paves the way for new thinking and approaches to rise from the ashes. Leadership is about admitting where we went wrong in the past and learning from these mistakes as we move forward. The hard truth is that our failure to create a more socially just world before COVID-19 has significantly worsened the current crisis and will hamper our ability to recover faster.

An unprecedented 255 million jobs were lost during the pandemic, wiping out two decades of progress in eliminating extreme poverty. The worst-affected people are those working in the informal economy, many of them women. As we recover from the crisis, we also need to come to terms with the fact that many businesses that flourished during the pandemic did so on the precarity of their workers: low-income people who delivered our food and other goods when the world was in lockdown, loosely attached to the workforce in the so-called gig-economy, without social protection or rights.

A new social contract

As we come together to rebuild our economies from the ashes of COVID-19, we have a unique opportunity to create a more resilient, sustainable and fair world. And it will happen with a fundamentally changed understanding of leadership accountability and fiduciary duty.

We are already seeing signals of this. Financial flows are changing, with public and private funding gravitating towards net-zero, sustainable investments. Add to that the rise of shareholder activism large institutional investors, who are ready to punish companies that fail to deliver concrete proof of how they proactively manage their risks and opportunities in delivering on the Paris Climate Agreement, or that fail to set ESG targets as part of executive pay schemes.

While this agenda to a large degree has been shaped by environmental concerns, the COVID-19 crisis has created a new awareness of companies’ social accountability. Take Deliveroo, the Amazon-backed app-delivery service, which failed with its planned IPO when multiple fund managers decided not to back the business due to concerns over workers’ rights. Or the previous CEO of Rio Tinto who, despite strong business performance, had to step down after failing to take into account the rights of aboriginal peoples in Australia to protect their cultural heritage from the mining company’s activities.

Business accountability for human rights, including environmental and social justice beyond what is legally required, is the next chapter in the responsible leadership book.

A new type of humanism 

Back to the Leonardo Centre and the legendary polymath and renaissance man for which it is named, Leonardo da Vinci. His credo was: "To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else."

My hope for the coming years is that we will see a renaissance for a new type of humanism that puts compassion for people and all things living at the heart of responsible leadership. And that understands that the health of people, nature and planet connects with everything else.

I look forward to exploring this new leadership ethos and logic of enterprise together with the Leonardo Centre’s comprehensive network of academic scholars and business leaders.

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How can we transform our business model to become net-zero, regenerative, fair and equitable?
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Author: Lise Kingo
Posted: May 3, 2021, 9:00 am
Collaborating with the ocean is essential to addressing climate change and environmental justice

"The potential for the “blue economy” — one that combines more thoughtful stewardship of the ocean’s resources and economic opportunity with a more pragmatic, respectful approach to protecting coastal ecosystems — is vast. But with more than $1.5 trillion in annual economic value linked to ocean-based activities, the time is right to place the world’s seas at the center of a climate-centric post-pandemic recovery. This discussion will center on the role ocean solutions can play in addressing both climate change and systemic environmental justice issues.

This session was held at GreenBiz Group’s VERGE 20, October 26-30, 2020. Learn more about the event here: https://events.greenbiz.com/events/ve...

 

Watch our other must-see talks here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwW3...

 

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