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International Tribunal Rules for Chevron in Ecuador Case

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 5:59pm

An international tribunal administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has issued an award in favor of Chevron (NYSE: CVX) and its indirect subsidiary, Texaco Petroleum Company (TexPet), finding that the Republic of Ecuador violated its obligations under international treaties, investment agreements and international law.  The tribunal unanimously held that a $9.5 billion judgment rendered against Chevron in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, in 2011 was procured through fraud, bribery and corruption and was based on claims that had been already settled and released by the Republic of Ecuador years earlier.  The tribunal concluded that the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment “violates international public policy” and “should not be recognised or enforced by the courts of other States.”  As a matter of international law, this award confirms Chevron is not obliged to comply with the Ecuadorian judgment.

The tribunal held that Ecuador breached its obligations under a 1995 settlement agreement releasing TexPet and its affiliates from public environmental claims—the same claims on which the $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment is exclusively based.  The tribunal found “TexPet spent approximately $40 million in environmental remediation and community development under the 1995 Settlement Agreement” carried out by a “well-known engineering firm specializing in environmental remediation” and that Ecuador in 1998 executed a final release agreement “certifying that TexPet had performed all of its obligations under the 1995 Settlement Agreement.”  The tribunal found “no cogent evidence” supporting Ecuador’s claim that TexPet failed to comply with the terms of the remediation plan approved by Ecuador.  To the contrary, the award recites the sworn testimony of Ecuadorian officials that TexPet’s “technical work and environmental work was done well,” while Ecuador’s national oil company “during more than three decades, had done absolutely nothing” to address its own environmental remediation obligations in the area, even though Ecuador and its national oil company received 97.3% of the oil production revenues from the project.  The award further recounts in detail the testimony of numerous former members of the plaintiffs’ environmental team and scientific experts who admitted under oath that they found no evidence to support the plaintiffs’ environmental claims against Chevron and TexPet. 

“An esteemed international tribunal, including an arbitrator appointed by Ecuador, has unanimously confirmed that, following completion of an agreed environmental remediation program, Chevron was released by the Republic of Ecuador from the environmental claims that the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment purports to address,” said R. Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel.  “Following years of litigation, including visits to the former area of operations by the tribunal, the tribunal found that Ecuador violated the final release agreement that had certified the successful completion of TexPet’s remediation.”

The tribunal also reached the same conclusion as U.S. courts regarding the issue of judicial fraud.  “The tribunal found extensive evidence of fraud and corruption by members of the Ecuadorian judiciary acting in collusion with American and Ecuadorian lawyers.  This award is consistent with rulings by courts in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada and Gibraltar confirming that the Ecuadorian judgment is unenforceable in any country that respects the rule of law,” said Pate.  “Indeed, the tribunal explicitly found that it would be contrary to international law for the courts of any other State to recognize or enforce the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment.” 

In more than 500 pages, the tribunal’s award details the evidence of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ legal team’s fraud and corruption in Ecuador, finding the evidence to be “overwhelming.”  The tribunal concluded:  “Short of a signed confession by the miscreants . . . the evidence establishing ‘ghosting’ in this arbitration ‘must be the most thorough documentary, video, and testimonial proof of fraud ever put before an arbitral tribunal.’” 

The tribunal found that Nicolas Zambrano, the Ecuadorian judge purported to have drafted the Lago Agrio judgment, did not in fact draft the judgment but rather, “in return for his promised reward, allowed certain of the Lago Agrio Plaintiffs’ representatives [including attorneys Fajardo and Donziger], corruptly, to ‘ghostwrite’ at least material parts of the Lago Agrio Judgment.”  The tribunal described the conduct as “grossly improper by any moral, professional and legal standards.”  Finding that “judicial bribery must rank as one of the more serious cases of corruption, striking directly at the rule of law, access to justice and public confidence in the legal system; and also, as regards the foreign enforcement of a corrupt judgment, at the law of nations,” the tribunal held Ecuador responsible for denying justice to Chevron. 

The tribunal also found that the plaintiffs’ legal team had inappropriate secret meetings with several judges who presided over the litigation, blackmailed one of the presiding judges, bribed the supposedly independent court-appointed environmental expert Richard Stalin Cabrera, ghostwrote the Cabrera report on which the judgment relies for environmental findings, orchestrated collusive criminal proceedings against TexPet’s lawyers, paid bribes to former judge Alberto Guerra to draft orders for Zambrano, and devised and implemented a “covert” and “nefarious” plan to ghostwrite the judgment which then Judge Zambrano issued under his name in exchange for a promised $500,000 bribe payable from enforcement proceeds.

Comprised of three preeminent international arbitrators, the tribunal issued its award unanimously.  The tribunal’s award aims to “wipe out all the consequences” of Ecuador’s internationally wrongful actions, and it grants Chevron several forms of relief.  The tribunal orders Ecuador to take immediate steps to remedy its internationally wrongful conduct, including rendering the $9.5 billion judgment unenforceable, precluding the Plaintiffs or any interested party from enforcing the judgment, and ensuring that Chevron has no liability or responsibility for the judgment.  It also orders Ecuador to abstain from receiving any proceeds from the fraudulent judgment, and to promptly return any such proceeds that come into its possession.  The award holds Ecuador liable for any cost or damage to Chevron should the judgment ever be enforced anywhere in the world. Finally, the tribunal orders Ecuador to compensate Chevron for any damages arising from the fraudulent Judgment. The tribunal will address the extent of damages for which Ecuador must compensate Chevron in the next and final phase of the arbitration. 

Pate concluded:  “Ecuador’s executive and judicial branch officials are now different from those involved in the events at issue in this award.  Chevron takes no pleasure in any dispute with a sovereign nation.  The company invites the government of Ecuador to repudiate the fraudulent scheme and make constructive efforts to meet its own long unfulfilled environmental obligations.”

Background information

As found by the tribunal, Chevron has never operated or had assets in Ecuador. Texaco Petroleum (TexPet), which became an indirect subsidiary of Chevron following Chevron’s acquisition of Texaco Inc. in 2001, was a minority partner in an oil production consortium in Ecuador along with the state-owned oil company, Petroecuador, from 1964 to 1992.  Petroecuador took over TexPet’s share of the oil operations in 1992.  Pursuant to a 1995 agreement with Ecuador, TexPet agreed to remediate certain environmental impacts in the former concession area while Petroecuador assumed responsibility for performing any remaining environmental cleanup.

To perform the remediation work, TexPet engaged a well-known engineering firm specializing in environmental remediation.  The government of Ecuador oversaw and certified the successful completion of TexPet’s remediation and fully released TexPet from further environmental liability. Petroecuador failed to conduct the cleanup it promised and has continued to operate and expand its oil operations for more than 25 years.

Chevron filed an international arbitration claim against the Republic of Ecuador in 2009 pursuant to the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty seeking to hold Ecuador accountable for breaching the settlement agreement with TexPet and to enforce the releases.  Chevron then amended the claim in 2012 to include the denial of justice that occurred through the Ecuadorian court’s fraud and corruption during litigation and the resulting fraudulent $9.5 billion judgment.  The tribunal, administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, said the Republic of Ecuador violated its international law and treaty obligations by issuing, affirming, and enforcing a fraudulent judgment against Chevron, because the Lago Agrio litigation was marred by fraud, bribery, and coercion perpetrated by the Plaintiffs’ attorneys in collusion with Ecuador’s courts.  The award was issued unanimously by all three members of the tribunal, including Ecuador’s appointed arbitrator.

In 2014, a U.S. federal court found that the Ecuadorian judgment was the product of fraud and racketeering activity, including extortion, money laundering, wire fraud, witness tampering, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations and obstruction of justice. The court also prohibited enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment in the United States. That decision is now final after having been unanimously affirmed by the court of appeal and denied review by the Supreme Court.

Other attempts to enforce the judgment in jurisdictions around the globe have also failed:

  • In January 2017, a Canadian court rejected an attempt to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron’s Canadian subsidiary. An appeals court upheld this decision in May 2018.

  • In November 2017, Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice unanimously rejected an attempt to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment in Brazil. Brazil’s Deputy Prosecutor General stated the judgment was “issued in an irregular manner, especially under deplorable acts of corruption.”

  • In October 2017, a court in Argentina denied recognition of the Ecuadorian judgment.  An appeals court upheld the decision in July 2018.

  • In December 2015, the Supreme Court of Gibraltar issued a judgment against Amazonia Recovery Ltd., a Gibraltar-based company set up by the plaintiffs’ attorneys to receive and distribute funds resulting from the Ecuadorian judgment, awarding Chevron $28 million in damages, and issued a permanent injunction against Amazonia to prevent the company from assisting or supporting the case against Chevron in any way. The court issued a similar ruling in May 2018 against directors of Amazonia, Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia, Ecuadorian attorney Pablo Fajardo, and Servicios Fromboliere for their role in attempting to enforce the ruling, this time awarding $38 million in damages to Chevron.

Chevron Corporation is one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. The company is involved in virtually every facet of the energy industry. Chevron Corporation’s subsidiaries explore for, produce and transport crude oil and natural gas; refine, market and distribute transportation fuels and lubricants; manufacture and sell petrochemical products; generate power and produces geothermal energy; provide energy efficiency solutions; and develop the energy resources of the future, including biofuels. Chevron Corporation is based in San Ramon, California. More information about Chevron is available at www.chevron.com.

Nespresso Revives Zimbabwe’s Coffee Production

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 2:59pm

Nespresso announced today a long-term investment plan to revive Zimbabwe’s coffee industry and stimulate the rural economy.

The company will provide training and technical assistance to 400 smallholder coffee farmers over the next five years, with the goal of increasing the country’s production of quality sustainable coffee.

Zimbabwe’s coffee sector is in danger of disappearing as the result of a sharp decline in production over the past 18 years, following a series of economic shocks affecting many of Zimbabwe’s agricultural industries.

Nespresso expects to buy more than 95% of the high quality coffee production of Zimbabwean smallholders this season. The coffee will be available to global consumers in 2019. Nespresso is already working with farmers for the next harvest, where it expects volumes to increase, marking a potential turning point for Zimbabwe’s coffee producers.

“We are investing in reviving coffee farming in different regions of the world, where adverse conditions have impacted the lives of farmers and their ability to grow and nurture their coffee industries. Zimbabwe has a long history of producing beautiful coffees and we are pleased to be working with farmers through our AAA Sustainable Quality Program to help bring this industry back to life,” says Jean-Marc Duvoisin, CEO of Nespresso.

Together with TechnoServe, an international non-profit organization specializing in business solutions to poverty, Nespresso is training farmers to revive their production through climatesmart, sustainable farming practices.

“We are honoured to partner with Nespresso and the farmers of Zimbabwe to help transform one of the country’s most promising sectors and share more of its incredible coffee with the world,” said TechnoServe President and CEO William Warshauer. “In line with TechnoServe’s market-centered approach to reducing poverty, we know that better coffee will lead to better incomes, better lives, and better futures for the hardworking people of Zimbabwe.”

The revival of the Zimbabwean coffee industry is part of Nespresso’s commitment to investing in coffee communities to create sustainable sources of income, preserve the environment and ensure coffee availability for future generations. Nespresso’s investment in Zimbabwe follows similar efforts the company has made to revive coffee production in South Sudan and in former conflict zones of Colombia.

About the AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program

Nespresso works with farmers through its AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, which aims to create long-term, sustainable quality through direct relationships with farmers. Nespresso currently works with more than 75,000 farmers who benefit from hands-on support from agronomists as they learn how to develop their businesses. Working together, the agronomists and farmers look at the best growing and management practices for their crops, including technical assistance in agricultural practices to ensure quality. Through their participation in the AAA Program, the farmers are able to improve their coffee quality and achieve better productivity and standards in environmental and social welfare.

About Nestlé Nespresso SA

Nestlé Nespresso SA is the pioneer and reference for highest-quality portioned coffee. The company works with more than 75,000 farmers in 12 countries through its AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program to embed sustainability practices on farms and the surrounding landscapes. Launched in 2003 in collaboration with The Rainforest Alliance, the program helps to improve the yield and quality of harvests, ensuring a sustainable supply of high quality coffee and improving livelihoods of farmers and their communities.

Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, Nespresso operates in 76 countries and has 13,500 employees. In 2017, it operated a global retail network of more than 700 boutiques. For more information, visit the Nespresso corporate website: www.nestle-nespresso.com.

Ecuador Indigenous Leaders Criticize Secret Trade Arbitrators For Interference With $12b Chevron Pollution Judgment

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 2:59pm

Indigenous leaders and rainforest communities in Ecuador’s Amazon today criticized a secret panel of three private trade arbitrators for trying to interfere with the enforcement of their $12 billion pollution judgment against Chevron in Canadian courts under the supposed “authority” of the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty.

“This decision by three male arbitrators who claim the right to ‘judge’ Indigenous peoples and impoverished farmers secretly from the comfort of luxurious hotel conference rooms in the United States and Europe is outrageous,” said Carmen Cartuche, an Ecuadorian community leader and the President of organization that brought the lawsuit against Chevron on behalf of 30,000 affected peoples. “Their effort is little more than an attempt by the global corporate establishment to use unfair trade agreements to try to block legitimate social movements that hold serial polluters like Chevron accountable.”

“These arbitrators engaged a wasteful nine-year secret process that can only be described as a miscarriage of justice that is highly disrespectful to the Indigenous peoples of Ecuador and indeed to all victims of corporation pollution,” said Steven Donziger, the longtime lawyer for the affected communities. (See here for Donziger bio.) “The arbitrators personally reaped millions of dollars in fees to produce a largely irrelevant decision that is unenforceable as a matter of law and will be ignored in jurisdictions that are being asked to enforce the judgment against Chevron.”

Chevron filed the trade arbitration action in 2008 against Ecuador’s government as evidence against it mounted in the pollution trial, which culminated in a $9.5 billion judgment against the company after it was found to have dumped billions of gallons of cancer-causing oil waste into the rainforest. Chevron had fought for years to have the trial held in Ecuador and had accepted jurisdiction there. (See this summary of the evidence against Chevron.)

The judgment against Chevron is now worth roughly $12 billion with interest.

After Chevron lost the case after an eight-year trial in its preferred forum of Ecuador, it threatened the Indigenous peoples with a “lifetime of litigation” and vowed never to pay. In 2015, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Ecuadorians could try to enforce their judgment in that country against Chevron assets, estimated to be worth $15 to $25 billion.  Two other appellate courts in Canada also issued decisions in favor of the Ecuadorians.  (See here.)

Chevron in the meantime is the subject of a criminal referral letter to the U.S. Department of Justice for trying to fabricate evidence to block enforcement of the Ecuador judgment. (See here.) The arbitral panel relied largely on the fabricated evidence for its conclusions that is not the subject of the DOJ referral letter, said Cartuche.

The three lawyers who serve as the secret private arbitrators in the Ecuador matter -- Grigera Naon, Vaughn Lowe, and V.V. Veeder – have in the past been harshly criticized by civil society organizations for illegally interfering in the Ecuador trial.  All have refused demands to disclose how much they are charging for their services, but it is estimated to be $20 million each for the long proceeding, said Cartuche.

Grigera Naon, an Argentine who lives in the United States, has been appointed repeatedly to secret investor arbitration panels by the Chevron law firm King & Spalding in cases where the government of Ecuador is a defendant.  Grigera Naon has never ruled in favor of Ecuador, and on two occasions he wrote highly unusual dissenting opinions where Ecuador won to position himself to be appointed by Chevron in the current arbitration, said Donziger.

"An analysis of Grigera's rulings shows he has never ruled against a King & Spalding client, be it Chevron or any other client," said Donziger. "The man simply has no independence and it further underscores the many conflicts of interest with the secret trade court. Grigera Naon and the other arbitrators needs to disclose how much money they made from Chevron from this clearly illegitimate secret court."

Here are full statements from Donziger; Cartuche; and Aaron Page, a U.S. lawyer for the affected Ecuadorian communities who is an authority on international arbitration matters.

Statement from Carmen Cartuche, President of the Amazon Defense Coalition (FDA), the grass roots organization of Indigenous peoples and farmer communities that won the lawsuit against Chevron:

This decision by three male arbitrators who claim they have a right to “judge” Indigenous peoples and impoverished farmers secretly from the comfort of luxurious hotel conference rooms in the United States and Europe is outrageous. Their decision is an attempt by the global corporate establishment to use unfair trade agreements try to block legitimate social movements. Our campaign held an American corporation accountable for its environmental crimes and fraud committed on our ancestral lands. The three arbitrators did not consult with us, ask for testimony, or otherwise respect the basic existence of those harmed by Chevron. This decision is legally irrelevant and will be ignored by the world as the travesty of justice that it is. It will not block our litigation to hold Chevron accountable in Canada so that just compensation can be paid to the thousands of people who have died of cancer or otherwise been harmed by the slow genocide the company is imposing on our country.

Donziger’s full statement is here:

The findings of the private arbitrators who met in secret and did not accept the Ecuadorian Indigenous peoples as a party are deeply flawed and rest almost completely on fraudulent evidence produced by Chevron to hide its massive toxic dumping in Ecuador’s rainforest as found by four layers of courts in that country. Seventeen separate appellate judges in Ecuador, including the country’s entire Constitutional Court, have rejected the factual basis of the arbitral findings. For these reasons and others, the decision is legally irrelevant and unenforceable as a matter of law. The arbitral decision will not stop the Canadian enforcement proceeding against Chevron, which already has been validated by the Canada Supreme Court and will continue to conclusion.

The latest arbitral decision also represents a radical and dangerous new assertion of corporate power over human rights via the increasing use of secret private trade courts that favor corporations over the average citizen. For the first time in history, a private trade panel of arbitrators meeting in secret is trying to nullify a legal decision of a sovereign nation made as a result of a human rights litigation between private parties that has been affirmed as legitimate by multiple courts. This arbitral ultimately will be ignored in Canada and other jurisdictions where the Ecuador judgment is being enforced.

Aaron Page, U.S. legal counsel to the Ecuadorian communities, issued the following statement:

In the recently released arbitral decision, a trio of British and American corporate lawyers and elite academics, repeat players in an Investor-State Dispute System (ISDS) explicitly designed to protect the interests of multinational corporations, purport to overrule lengthy and detailed decisions of Ecuador’s Supreme Court and Constitutional Court on issues of Ecuadorian law. It obediently swallows even Chevron’s most egregious false evidence, such as witness testimony that Chevron admitted to paying millions of dollars for and that the witness was forced to recant on cross-examination. It embraces the most tortured arguments in favor of corporate immunity, while ignoring the humanitarian crisis linked to Chevron’s contamination that has devastated Ecuadorian indigenous and rural peoples for over 50 years.

It is little wonder that ISDS is increasingly despised by people across the globe and is headed for the dustbin of history. The inclusion of ISDS has killed all recent attempts at new trade treaties, and ISDS is effectively dispensed with in the renegotiation of NAFTA. ISDS has proven, time and time again, its utter inability to restrain its rampant pro-corporate bias and tendency to reach far past any jurisdictional bounds to intrude on national sovereignty and attack legitimate social movements that threaten corporate interests. The recent Chevron arbitral decision reveals the system’s excess and arrogance at its rotten core. The affected communities in Ecuador will continue their struggle for justice and will continue to insist that their rights as peoples and as private litigants be respected by the Republic of Ecuador and foreign national courts around the world.

Global Compact Network Canada Recognizing Businesses for SDGs Impact at the 3rd Annual Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Leadership Awards

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 11:56am

The SDG Leadership Awards are Canada’s celebration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and an inspiration for business leadership. The SDG Leadership Awards aim to recognize Canadian organizations who are helping advance the SDGs and calling on other organizations to take their own stand towards empowering the SDGs. This is the third installment of the awards organized by the Global Compact Network Canada, the Canadian division of the UN Global Compact.

“We are honoured to be seen as leaders amongst so many Canadian organizations working towards the Sustainable Development Goals. CAWST’s vision is a world in which people have the opportunity to succeed because their basic water and sanitation needs have been met. This passion and commitment is shared by CAWST’s global network of clients and WET (Water Expertise Training) Centre partners. Success in the water and sanitation sector would not be possible without invaluable partnerships such as these. We look forward to new possibilities for collaboration with others who share this vision.” ~ Shauna Curry, CEO, CAWST

Oui STEM Academy strongly supports the United Nations’ Global Compact Sustainable Development Goals. We are honoured, humbled and excited to accept this award in recognition of our work to promote Quality Education, and Gender Equality among other import SDGs.” ~ Dilesha Stelmach, Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Oui STEM Academy 

The GCNC received over 1000 votes this summer and is excited to announce the winners in three categories.

 Winners for the Small Organizations Category

●      CAWST 

●      Economic Developers Alberta

●      Oui STEM Academy

Winners for the Large Organizations Category

●      Stantec

●      Frontera Energy

●      GM Canada

“We are proud to receive this year Leadership Award and be recognized for our commitment to a sustainable future”, said Doug Yates, Environment and Energy Director, General Motors Canada. “As we strive for zero-waste operations, GM now has 142 global facilities that recycle, reuse or recover all waste from daily operations – that’s more than any other automaker. In Canada, GM is the leader in EV sales with our Chevrolet Volt and Bolt EVs, and we are also committed to carbon reduction as with our proposed St. Catharines cogeneration project which will cut GHGs by more than 77 per cent at our Propulsion Plant.”

Winner of the Partnership Award

●      Frontera Energy

The following companies participated in the SDG Leadership Awards 2018

●      5T Sports

●      Alberta Council for Global Cooperation

●      BASF Canada

●      Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology

●      Economic Developers Alberta

●      Enviro-Stewards

●      Frontera Energy

●      GM Canada

●      Marcatus QED

●      Matrix360

●      Oui STEM Academy

●      Operation Eye Sight

●      Sherritt International

●      Stantec

●      Teck Resources

●      TELUS

●      Vancity

About the SDG Leadership Awards

Each year the SDG Leadership Awards highlight the business case for advancing action on the 17 SDGs, which address the most important environmental, social, and economic challenges of our time. The Awards presented a fantastic opportunity for businesses to showcase their commitment to sustainability and the UN's Agenda 2030. To learn more about the award applications for this year, please click here.

To be notified on next year’s application to the SDG Leadership Award 2019, please join the GCNC e-mailing list or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

About the Global Compact Network Canada

The Global Compact Network Canada (GCNC) is the Canadian Network of the United Nations Global Compact - the world's largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative. The GCNC is spearheading the 10 Principles of the UNGC and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In doing so, it unifies and builds the capacity of the Canadian private sector to embrace sustainable business practices by convening and accelerating opportunities for multi-stakeholder collaboration.

For more information, contact:

Jules Zhao, Program and Marketing Manager, Global Compact Network Canada 647-715-9426 ex 104 | jules@globalcompact.ca www.globalcompact.ca | @globalcompactCA

Toxnot Chosen to be Platform for Creation of ILFI Declare Labels

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 8:55am

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) has selected Toxnot as the software platform for the creation of Declare Labels. Toxnot is a chemical management innovator, enabling users to collect chemical data, compare chemical hazard profiles, optimize substance lists to produce ‘eco’ products and report on metrics. ILFI created Declare, the ingredients label for building products, to promote product transparency in the building industry. Declare Labels are used on building products to inform consumers of the origin of a product, the substances in it, and information about its fate at the end of its useful life. As the program has grown, ILFI sought a more scalable software platform to help manufacturers with their transparency initiatives.

The Declare labeling program, developed by ILFI in 2012, is the fastest growing standard for reporting on product transparency. With Toxnot powering the creation of Declare Labels, manufacturers can now easily upload and manage product data from corporate systems, flag against numerous chemical hazard and restricted lists, use Clean Production Action’s GreenScreen® List Translator™ scores, and preview their Declare Labels prior to submission. James Connelly, VP, Products + Strategic Growth, ILFI remarked “our partnership with Toxnot will allow companies to scale Declare simply and easily across entire product portfolios, soon making transparent disclosure standard practice for all manufacturing companies.”

ILFI staff members and third parties will use Toxnot to review Declare Label submissions with a streamlined web interface, greatly expediting the approval process. Bill Hoffman, Toxnot’s co-founder and CTO, explains, "We're excited to provide a secure and scalable technology platform to power the Declare labeling program. By streamlining the transparency process with software, we're enabling more manufacturers to improve their products. Plus, ILFI members will have access to all the great features of Toxnot to manage and report on complex product and material libraries."

Pete Girard, co-founder of Toxnot, foresees the partnership “accelerating the continued rise of Declare Labels, as manufacturers find the creation process more streamlined. Companies can also add Toxnot’s premium supplier data collection features to make supplier outreach easier for Declare as well as other sustainability initiatives.” Consumers want to know what is in their products; this integration provides manufacturers with a software service to provide chemicals transparency in the building industry.

About Toxnot
ToxnotPBC is a technology company with a mission to improve health and sustainability across the global supply chain by streamlining the chemical transparency process. Toxnot provides an efficient system for manufacturers to gather supply chain data, gain insight into their hazard profiles, report on the results and create safer products. Organizations are able to automate transparency reporting and collect hazard information across their global supply chain, reducing risks. Toxnot scales from small businesses to Fortune 500 enterprises, and is the only free source of searchable GreenScreen® List Translator scores. In 2017, Toxnot won the Environmental Leader Product of the Year Award.

About the International Living Future Institute (ILFI)
The International Living Future Institute is an environmental NGO committed to catalyzing the transformation toward communities that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. ILFI is premised on the belief that providing a compelling vision for the future is a fundamental requirement for reconciling humanity’s relationship with the natural world. ILFI operates the Living Building Challenge, the built environment’s most ambitious performance standard. It is a hub for many other visionary programs that support the transformation toward a living future. Declare is a nutrition label for products. It is also a transparency platform and product database that is changing the materials marketplace. The Declare program meets the product reporting requirements of the Living Building Challenge and other green building certification programs.

Grant Thornton Global CEO Appointed Chair of the Board for IMPACT2030

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 8:55am

IMPACT2030 announced at its global summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York that Peter Bodin, Global CEO of Grant Thornton International, has been appointed Chair of the Board of Directors. Peter Bodin will succeed Grady Lee who, after his three-year term as Chair, will continue on as Vice Chair.

IMPACT2030 is a private sector-led coalition which aims to direct the collective skills, experience and passion of corporate volunteers towards helping the United Nations achieve their Sustainable Development Goals. These Global Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. IMPACT2030 was founded in response to a UN resolution that called upon nations to engage with the private sector through the expansion of corporate volunteering and employee volunteer activities. 

“Peter will be a vital asset to the IMPACT2030 team as we look to increase our engagement with the private sector and elevate the conversation and our purpose to a global level,” says outgoing Chair, Grady Lee. “His global experience, in-depth knowledge of the private sector and passion for driving real organizational change will be invaluable.”

“I’m extremely excited and honored to join IMPACT2030 as Chair of the Board,” says Peter Bodin. “I’ve watched the initiative for some time and I have been impressed with the work that the organisation has done to mobilize and activate employees globally around the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals."

“After spending 30 years in business, I truly believe that the private sector has a unique opportunity and genuine responsibility to help society make these Goals a reality. People are the private sector’s most valuable asset and by focusing them on the Sustainable Development Goals, we can help wider society make true progress towards a better and more sustainable future for all.”

The announcement of Peter Bodin as Chair coincides with IMPACT2030’s 2018 Summit being held at the United Nations headquarters in New York from 5-7 September. With the theme Accelerating Impact, the purpose of this year’s summit is to showcase the potential impact that millions of employee volunteers can have if they channel their skills, experience and commitment to help address poverty, improve opportunity, promote education, fight inequalities and tackle climate change.

The three areas of focus for IMPACT2030 are:

  • ACTIVATE a global movement of employees around the UN’s SDGs, uniting them as agents of change in their communities;

  • COLLABORATE across sectors to identify shared priorities, spark innovation, and scale impact through human capital investments;

  • MEASURE the positive impact of the investment of human capital on communities and how it can be linked to, and improve, collective impact on the UN’s SDGs.

About IMPACT2030
IMPACT2030 is the only private sector, partnership-led initiative focused on leveraging employee volunteer programs to directly and substantially contribute to the achievement of the United Nation’s global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The initiative takes a collective and multi-sector approach to impact the SDGs and leverages economies of scale by encouraging collective and cooperative volunteering efforts of member organizations globally.

Learn more about IMPACT2030 and join the global movement to leverage human capital to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals at www.IMPACT2030.com.

Donziger: Chevron’s SLAPP Attack On Ecuador Judgment A Symbol of New Corporate Harassment Lawsuits

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 2:55pm

On the eve of protest in three cities against SLAPP-style harassment lawsuits, the main target of what has become known as the “Mother of All SLAPP Attacks” discussed the new corporate playbook for using courts to silence advocacy.

Steven Donziger, a Harvard-educated lawyer, organized the team that won a landmark $12 billion environmental judgment against Chevron in Ecuador. After losing the case, Chevron attacked the plaintiffs in Ecuador’s Amazon and their lawyer, Donziger, with a SLAPP lawsuit that might be the most vicious and well-funded corporate retaliation campaign in U.S. history.  (See here for the evidence against Chevron.)

A SLAPP lawsuit is one filed by a corporation or governmental entity to harass, intimidate, and ultimately silence critics rather than for the merits of any underlying claim.  The party that initiates a SLAPP suit almost always has a huge resource advantage compared to the person targeted, which is the case here given that Donziger works out of his Manhattan apartment while Chevron is one of the largest companies in the world. Such lawsuits also violate the Free Speech clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Chevron targeted Donziger with six public relations firms, hundreds of lawyers and investigators, and a U.S. federal judge who allowed the oil giant to present paid-for witness testimony on a civil “racketeering” case that Donziger said “was an attempt to frame me with criminal wrongdoing.” Chevron has spent an estimated $2 billion to pay 60 law firms to attack the Ecuadorians and their lawyers. 

Donziger – called a “hero” of the environmental movement by Greenpeace co-founder Rex Weyler -- speaks below on the eve of international protests against intimidation SLAPP lawsuits staged by the “Protect the Protest” coalition including Greenpeace, RAN, Mother Jones, Wikimedia, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and human rights and environmental organizations. He was interviewed by Karen Hinton, the longtime U.S.-based spokesperson for the Ecuadorian communities and the former press secretary for New York City Major Bill DeBlasio. 

Karen Hinton (KH):  Tell us about Chevron’s SLAPP attacks to undermine the Ecuador judgment. 

Chevron likely has spent more money than any company in history on SLAPP attacks after Indigenous groups and farmer communities won a $12 billion environmental judgment. I played a key role in the effort. We won after almost 20 years of litigation marred by Chevron’s delaying tactics, subterfuge, bad faith, witness bribery and even criminality. Four layers of courts in Ecuador found that Chevron deliberately dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon from 1964 to 1992. It was an act of industrial homicide that created an epidemic of cancer that has killed and continues to kill numerous people, including many children. It also decimated the traditional lifestyles of five Indigenous groups. It’s a humanitarian disaster largely ignored by the world community and even by the government of Ecuador.

KH:  Is the pollution left by Chevron still out there in Ecuador?

The harm is ongoing; people in the affected communities are dying. I see it with my own eyes as I have taken more than 250 trips to the region. The stories are heartbreaking. Recently, the only nurse in the area and a good friend, Rosa Moreno, passed away from cancer after helping to treat and comfort dozens of people in her small community after they contracted cancer. The entire area where Chevron operated is a death zone. It is still poisoned as the company refuses to comply with the court judgment. There is virtually no medical care or diagnostic equipment.

KH: What about the government of Ecuador?  Have they done anything to clean it up?

The government of Ecuador is both a victim of Chevron and a facilitator of its crimes.  Bottom line is the government doesn’t have the resources or the expertise to clean up such a massive environmental problem in one of the world’s most bio-diverse and sensitive ecosystems. And it is Chevron that is the ultimate responsible party given that it was the exclusive operator of the oil concession area where the pollution occurred. Chevron needs to act now, but Ecuador’s government needs to provide emergency relief in conjunction with the international community.

KH: Have Chevron’s SLAPP attacks been effective in terms of the legal proceedings?

They have not come close to stopping the case, which is Chevron’s goal.  We are enforcing the judgment against Chevron’s assets in Canada with a number of important court victories including one in the Canada Supreme Court. But the attacks have severely delayed the process. Thousands of people likely have died because of the delays caused by Chevron. And the civil justice system seems to keep falling into the traps set by Chevron with its endless motions and delaying tactics, rather than moving this to a conclusion.

KH: What is the status of the case in terms of court proceedings?

The Ecuadorian communities are enforcing the judgment in Canada after Chevron threatened them with a “lifetime of litigation” if they persisted.  The courage of these communities is extraordinary. They convinced the Canada Supreme Court to rule unanimously in their favor in a judgment enforcement action after Chevron tried to close the courthouse doors on jurisdictional grounds. This sets the stage for an enforcement trial in Toronto that poses enormous risk to Chevron. We strongly believe the company’s fake "fraud" narrative will fall apart in open court which is why Chevron is trying to so desperately to kill off the case before that trial happens.

KH: You say you were framed by Chevron as part of a SLAPP attack. How?

As the evidence of Chevron’s toxic dumping in Ecuador mounted, and knowing it likely could never win on the merits, the company’s U.S. law firm Gibson Dunn sold management on its “kill step” strategy.  This in part involves creating fraudulent evidence to target opposing counsel, with the hope that just the threat of being attacked will force counsel to quit and the case will disappear. That’s the essence of a SLAPP attack. Well, I didn’t quit so they took it to the next step and actually carried out the fraud against me and my Ecuadorian colleagues, including the lawyer Pablo Fajardo and the Goldman Prize winner Luis Yanza.

KH: Explain details. 

Gibson Dunn has done this in multiple cases. In my situation, they had foreign investigators pay a corrupt Ecuadorian witness $2 million. Lawyers in the U.S. then coached him for 53 days before he walked into court and claimed I approved a bribe of the trial judge. It was a total lie but the federal judge who refused to seat a jury bought it, for reasons having to do with his pro-business perspective and his refusal to consider key evidence. Chevron knew the judge was on its side or it never would have taken the enormous risk of employing this strategy. 

KH: The judge ruled against you, predictably. I was there and saw his open bias against you and your clients.

His conclusions have been contradicted by rulings from 17 different appellate judges in Ecuador who found Chevron’s allegations not only meritless, but preposterous. Nevertheless, as part of its SLAPP strategy, Chevron used the erroneous findings of the U.S. trial judge as a basis to have my law license suspended in New York without a hearing. To avoid a hearing where I could have presented evidence of Chevron’s fraud, they designated me as “an immediate threat to the public order” based on Chevron’s paid-for and false witness testimony. I’m fighting that decision, while I maintain my law license in the District of Columbia.  It does illustrates the frightening power of Chevron to co-opt the bar grievance process, which is run largely by corporate lawyers, and turn it into an arm of the SLAPP litigation strategy.

KH: What other pressure tactics does your team use?

We work closely to educate shareholders about the truth of Chevron’s enormous risk from employing SLAPP which one day could really haunt company officials and their lawyers. We have filed a criminal referral letter about it with the U.S. Department of Justice. The fact we put out information that challenges the official line about the case infuriates company management. Recently, 36 institutional shareholders who own Chevron stock wrote a letter to CEO Michael Wirth urging that he explore a settlement. A shareholder proposal at Chevron’s annual meeting stemming from the Ecuador litigation received an unusually high 39% vote of shareholders.

KH: Chevron has spent huge sums to try to taint your reputation and bankrupt you personally.  Why you in particular? 

Because I have played an instrumental role in designing the strategy and getting the financial resources needed to hold the company accountable. It’s pretty simple – it’s cheaper for Chevron to attack me than to comply with the judgment. Cynical perhaps, but that’s how the game is played by corporations in the context of large liabilities.  The same kind of attacks against lawyers happened in the context of the tobacco litigation. The Chevron law firms are happy to execute the strategy because the fees are enormous. Which is a great irony. American lawyers are getting rich off of Chevron’s SLAPP strategy while the Ecuadorian victims suffer from a humanitarian catastrophe. 

KH: What is Chevron’s goal?

To get the lawyers on our team to give up or to snag my “scalp” by bankrupting me and then use that fact to intimidate other lawyers into not taking these large and complicated environmental cases. Chevron just filed a motion to force me to pay $33 million in company legal fees.

KH:  A coalition of environmental and civil liberties groups has organized a campaign to protest SLAPP lawsuits. Thoughts?

This campaign is an incredibly important development. People need to pay attention and organize to stop these abusive litigation practices.

KH: Have others in the environmental community been targeted?

Several others, like Greenpeace and the human rights lawyer Terry Collingsworth, also have been attacked recently by corporate-funded SLAPP suits that seem to be copycats of the Chevron strategy. Chevron’s law firm Gibson Dunn wrote the playbook for the use of “racketeering” laws intended to target the Mafia to attack human rights advocates.  It’s unethical and has sparked outrage in the legal community in Canada. It’s just unheard of in Canada for a company to sue opposing lawyers during an active litigation. The fact U.S. judges allow these cases to even proceed to step one is outrageous. Part of the purpose of the coalition is to educate the judiciary on how to spot a SLAPP lawsuit which are almost always dressed up with seemingly normal sounding claims like "defamation" or "trespass".

KH:  How are your clients?

Strong, tenacious, committed, but also wrecked physically by the wave of cancers and other health problems.  They have fought heroically for almost 25 years to hold Chevron accountable.  They need clean water, medical care, a restoration of ancestral lands, and a clean-up of 1,000 unlined waste pits that continue to contaminate groundwater, rivers, and streams. Much of the damage is so severe it will never be fully repaired, but much can be done and must be done to save lives and restore the habitat.

KH: Do you think Chevron will continue to stonewall?

The deeper problem is that Chevron and other oil majors likely face more than one trillion dollars in environmental liabilities around the world to Indigenous and other impoverished communities that have never been booked. What was done in Ecuador is not uncommon; look at Peru, Nigeria, and other countries where we see disastrous environmental contamination stemming from similar misconduct from the oil and mining industries. The last thing these industries want is for Indigenous peoples in Ecuador to recover funds such that other groups around the world get inspired.

KH:  How are you personally.

I and my clients and colleagues are getting a lot of support from around the world and we are incredibly thankful for that. But we always need more.  This is not an easy job. Solidarity is important when dealing with SLAPP. It is also important for the victims of this abusive practice to stick together and turn the attention back onto the corporations and legal attack dogs who carry out these strategies. Both corporations and their law firms need to be called out. Public awareness and action is the only way these bullying tactics can be defeated.

Here is a detailed document on Chevron’s SLAPP fraud. Here is a photo essay of some of Chevron’s victims in Ecuador. Here is background on the pattern of fraud used by Chevron’s law firm Gibson Dunn in its SLAPP attacks.

Smithfield Foods Donates $100,000 to the Wilmington Branch of the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 11:55am

The Smithfield Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Smithfield Foods, Inc., is pleased to announce a significant donation to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina to support its Wilmington Branch Location, serving Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, and Pender counties in southeastern North Carolina. The company presented a $100,000 donation while Smithfield employees volunteered, helping to pack meals for those served by the food bank in the Wilmington community.

“Our mission is for no one to go hungry in Central and Eastern North Carolina, and we could not accomplish that goal without support from incredible partners,” said Peter Werbicki, president and chief executive officer for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. “Our partnership with Smithfield at our Wilmington Branch Location will allow our Food Bank to serve the hungry more efficiently and effectively. This is truly an investment in the future of Eastern North Carolina and those experiencing food insecurity throughout the region.”

The Wilmington Branch of the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina distributed more than 9 million pounds of food in 2017 to those facing hunger in their service area, where more than 70,000 people live in food-insecure households. As a leading consumer packaged goods and protein company, Smithfield’s support aligns with the company’s social purpose to improve food security and alleviate hunger across the country.

“At Smithfield, we believe we have a responsibility to help the families in need throughout the communities we call home. We employ more than 10,000 people in the state of North Carolina, many of which are right here in the greater Wilmington area,” said Keira Lombardo, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Smithfield Foods and president of the Smithfield Foundation. “We are proud to partner with the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina to support the great work that its Wilmington Branch is doing to address hunger in the community.”

The event also kicked off Hunger Action Month, a month where people all over America stand together with Feeding America® and the nationwide network of food banks to fight hunger. In addition to this donation, Smithfield Foods is conducting a nationwide employee food drive at their more than 50 facilities and offices to take action on the hunger crisis with local community food banks.

For more information about Smithfield’s charitable efforts, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com/key-outreach-efforts/smithfield-foundation.

About Smithfield Foods

Smithfield Foods is a $15 billion global food company and the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including SmithfieldⓇ, EckrichⓇ, Nathan's FamousⓇ, FarmlandⓇ, ArmourⓇ, Farmer JohnⓇ, KretschmarⓇ, John MorrellⓇ, Cook'sⓇ, GwaltneyⓇ, CarandoⓇ, MargheritaⓇ, Curly'sⓇ, Healthy OnesⓇ, MorlinyⓇ, KrakusⓇ, and BerlinkiⓇ. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com and connect with us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

About the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina

The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina is a nonprofit organization that has provided food for people at risk of hunger in 34 counties in central and eastern North Carolina for more than 35 years. The Food Bank serves a network of more than 800 partner agencies such as soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and programs for children and adults through warehouses in Durham, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, the Sandhills (Southern Pines), and Wilmington. In fiscal year 2017-2018, the Food Bank distributed nearly 70 million pounds of food (over half of which was perishable) and non-food essentials through these agencies. Sadly, hunger remains a serious problem in central and eastern North Carolina. In these counties, more than 600,000 people struggle to access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for an active and healthy life. foodbankcenc.org.

Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship Now Offers Accelerated Certificate Summit

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 8:55am

Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship is pleased to announce that registration is open for the Accelerated Certificate Summit, a flexible hybrid learning experience that offers in-person and online learning to accelerate the process of earning a Certificate in Corporate Citizenship Practice. The curriculum teaches CSR best practices and core skills and gives learners the opportunity to choose elective courses most relevant to their work. The Summit is being offered from January 14 to January 18, 2019 in San Diego, CA. Attendees can come for the whole week, one day, or anything in between.

“With the Summit, we are excited to provide corporate citizenship practitioners with the tools and expert insights they need to lead their programs and companies to success,” said Katherine V. Smith, executive director, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. “The Summit is created to be as flexible as possible, in addition to offering many opportunities for participants to network with colleagues while accelerating the pathway to earning a Certificate in Corporate Citizenship Practice.”


The Accelerated Certificate Summit offers busy corporate citizenship professionals the opportunity to earn a Certificate in Corporate Citizenship Practice in half the time at half the cost, because time away from the office and travel expenses are decreased. The Accelerated Certificate Summit also gathers participants from multiple courses together, offering great networking opportunities.


Courses employ two formats: An accelerated, in-person classroom experience and online coursework that learners can choose to complete before or after the Summit. There is tremendous flexibility built into how learners can take part in the Summit. Participants can register for all five days, only one day, or some portion of the week—and can choose from core courses in strategy, communications, and measurement; elective courses; or some combination of both.


Registration is now open and early adopter registration rates are available. To learn more, visit ccc.bc.edu/ccc/summit. If you have questions about your eligibility to attend the Summit, please contact ccc@bc.edu. To learn more about the Accelerated Certificate Summit, as well as other offerings and events from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, visit ccc.bc.edu.


The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship (BCCCC) is a leader in the field of corporate citizenship helping corporate social responsibility (CSR) professionals know more about how to maximize business and social value; do more, and achieve more through environmental, social, and governance investments. Founded in 1985, the Center draws on a community of corporate professionals, original research, and resources of the Boston College Carroll School of Management. The membership-supported organization engages more than 10,000 individuals annually across its network of more than 470 member companies each year. For more information, visit ccc.bc.edu.


Jessica Shearer

Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Phone: 617.552.4545

Email: ccc@bc.edu

2018 EHS & Sustainability Management Forum

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 5:54pm

NAEM's EHS & Sustainability Management Forum is the largest annual gathering of environment, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability decision-makers. Attend this year’s Forum to find answers to some of your toughest EHS and sustainability challenges and network with the best in the industry. This year’s program will include 5 different tracks, over 25 sessions, and will be led by more than 90 EHS and sustainability leaders. Register today before it sells out!

50+ Business Leaders Linking Reporting & the SDGs

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 2:54pm

When it comes to reporting sustainability performance, companies find it difficult to create a clear and concise report that illustrates their environmental & social impacts.

The 12th Annual Sustainability Reporting & Communications Summit will bring together 250+ leading business executives to discuss and share new ideas on subjects like quantifying and communicating impacts against the SDGs, disclose accurate data to showcase future risks, the impact of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive and TCFD recommendations on the future of reporting.

Get exclusive insight from speakers including:

  • Susan Beverly, Senior Director, Abbott
  • Katie Schmitz Eulitt, Strategic Advisor, SASB
  • Ryan O’Keefe, Director of Communications, Enel
  • Barney Wyld, Corporate Affairs Director, Rolls-Royce
  • Torund Bryhn, Director of Public Affairs, Gassnova
  • Jeff Hogue, Chief Sustainability Officer, C&A
  • France Bourgouin, Head of Global CSR, LEO Pharma
  • Fiona Wild, Vice President, Climate Change and Sustainability, BHP
  • Mike Hall, Director of Communications & Government Relations, EMEA, Ingersoll Rand
  • Frances Way, Chief Strategy Officer, CDP
  • Filippo Bettini, Chief Sustainability & Risk Governance Officer, Pirelli
  • Andrew McConville, Global Head of External Affairs and Communications, Syngenta
  • Jane Wilkinson, Head of Sustainable Finance, Luxembourg Stock Exchange

 Discover the full un-rivalled agenda topics and speaker line up here

Kind regards,


Project Director
Ethical Corporation

t: +44 (0) 20 7375 7188

Whole Kids Foundation® Launches 2018 Growing Healthy Kids Campaign

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 2:54pm

Today, Whole Kids Foundation launched its annual Growing Healthy Kids Campaign to fund K-12-focused programs in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. that are working to create a deeper connection between kids and food. To date, the programs supported by Whole Kids Foundation have served more than 5.7 million children.

This year’s campaign goal is to raise $3 million, allowing the foundation to fund an estimated 620 edible educational gardens, 450 salad bars in schools, and support healthy teacher programs and educational bee programs. Additionally, applications are being accepted now through October 15 for garden and bee hive grants.

Shoppers at any Whole Foods Market and Whole Foods Market 365 can get involved by making donations at store checkouts or online at wholekidsfoundation.org. Because Whole Foods Market covers all of the foundation’s operational costs, 100 percent of every dollar directly supports Whole Kids Foundation programs.

“The programs we fund are doing incredibly important work to help young people learn more about where their food comes from and shape healthy food choices for the rest of their lives,” said Nona Evans, president and executive director of Whole Kids Foundation. “As we kick off this year’s campaign, we are inspired by the fact that data shows this work is positively impacting our children’s health and contributing to their academic success. Studies show that the use of salad bars in schools is the most effective strategy for getting students to eat more produce and new data indicates that children engaged in gardening may generate a lasting habit of eating more fruits and vegetables.”

As part of this year’s Growing Healthy Kids Campaign, several of Whole Foods Market’s suppliers are adding their support to this effort and will contribute more than $1 million. Lead sponsors for the campaign include Annie’s, Tom’s of Maine, Horizon Organic, Spindrift and Rainier Fruit. Core sponsors include Applegate, Organic Valley, Clif Kid, Stonyfield, Back to Nature, Barbara’s Bakery, Earth’s Best, Bearitos, Once Upon a Farm, Sir Kensington’s, Vital Proteins and Plum Organics. One hundred percent of these corporate contributions fuel Whole Kids Foundation’s programmatic work.

Since 2011, the foundation has invested $19,481,787, benefitting 5.7 million students. The organization has awarded funding for 4,826 gardens, 5,430 school salad bars and 240 educational bee programs. Additionally, it has reached 15,392 teachers and school food service workers through its healthy staff programs.

Grant Application Window Now Open

From September 1 through October 15, 2018, Whole Kids Foundation is accepting applications for its Garden Grant Program, created in partnership with FoodCorps, and the Bee Grant Program, created in partnership with The Bee Cause Project. The foundation accepts applications for its Salad Bar Grant Program, created in partnership with Salad Bars to Schools, year-round at wholekidsfoundation.org.

About Whole Kids Foundation®

Whole Kids Foundation, a Whole Foods Market foundation, is based in Austin, Texas, and operates as an independent, nonprofit organization. By empowering schools and inspiring families, the Foundation aims to help children reach optimal health through the strength of a healthy body fueled by nutritious food.  For more information on the Foundation’s programs, including school gardens, salad bars and nutrition education for teachers, visit wholekidsfoundation.org

Avery Dennison Continues to Pioneer Change by Launching Recycled PET Liners in Europe

Mon, 09/03/2018 - 2:52pm

Jasper Zonnenberg, global director films, explains that the new rPET liner uses carefully selected post-consumer waste (PCW) and will be introduced in October 2018 across a number of self-adhesive constructions:

“Avery Dennison has established eight ambitious sustainability goals that we are committed to achieving by 2025. As part of these goals we are focused on reducing waste, not only throughout our operations, but also through the whole value chain. We are determined to pioneer change across the industry. With a continued innovation focus on solutions that are responsibly sourced, use reduced amounts of material and are more easily recyclable we are pleased to be able to introduce a rPET liner to our portfolio - a liner that is not only easier to recycle, but itself is made of recycled materials.”

“As availability of suitable rPET is currently limited we will initially have a limited supply of our rPET liner - however we will soon be able to scale up production significantly and we aim to have rPET as an option across all of our filmic and paper constructions.”

Zonnenberg added that ...

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Wells Fargo Commits $5 Million to Establish GRID Alternatives’ Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund

Mon, 09/03/2018 - 11:52am

Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) announced today a philanthropic commitment of $5 million over three years to support solar projects in tribal communities across the U.S.

The donation to nonprofit GRID Alternatives, a national leader in making solar technology and training accessible to underserved communities, supports the founding of GRID’s new Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund. The fund is an extension of GRID’s National Tribal Program and aims to catalyze the growth of solar energy and expand solar job opportunities on tribal lands.

“Our strong relationships in Indian Country and with our Native American customers are a point of great pride at our company,” said Mary Wenzel, head of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at Wells Fargo. “We are pleased to have such an effective working relationship with GRID Alternatives and to provide the seed funding for its Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund. We sincerely believe that providing no-cost solar and job-training opportunities in tribal communities will address critical needs and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Support for the Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund is a significant component of Wells Fargo’s $50 million philanthropic commitment to help address the unique economic, social, and environmental needs of American Indian/Alaska Native communities that was announced last year. Wells Fargo has been a major supporter of GRID’s state- and national-level programming since 2012.

GRID Alternatives’ national Tribal Program has worked since 2010 to help tribes achieve their renewable energy goals with solar, while training tribal members to enter the solar workforce. GRID has installed nearly 3 MW of solar capacity in partnership with more than 40 tribes to date. The new fund will expand GRID’s work and provide much-needed capital to support the development of new projects around the U.S.

Wells Fargo is a leader in renewable energy development. In 2017, projects owned wholly or in part by Wells Fargo generated 7.9 percent of all renewable energy produced in the U.S.

“Many tribes are looking to renewable energy to address both environmental and economic challenges in their communities,” said Adam Bad Wound, Vice President of Development for GRID Alternatives. “Access to funding is often the biggest barrier to achieving their goals, and we’re excited to be able to partner with even more tribes to move their solar PV projects forward.”

The Spokane Tribe in Wellpinit, Washington, will be the first to benefit from the Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund, with a grant that will unlock third-party investment capital and $1 million in matching funds from the Department of Energy for a 637 kilowatt solar project. When complete, the project will provide clean power and reduced energy bills for 14 tribal buildings, including elder housing, community facilities and tribal administrative offices.

“After a near disaster during the 2016 Cayuse Mountain Fire, the Tribe now places a premium on energy self-sufficiency,” said Tim Horan, Executive Director of the Spokane Indian Housing Authority. “We expect solar to play a big role in helping us achieve this, and the grant from the Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund was the last piece of the puzzle to make our first big project happen. We’re grateful to Wells Fargo and GRID Alternatives.”

The Spokane project, dubbed “Children of the Sun Solar Initiative” will be installed by GRID’s tribal team, which has already installed solar on five homes on the reservation. It is expected to break ground this fall, and will include hands-on solar training for tribal members and students.

Other projects slated for funding in 2018 will be announced in the coming weeks. An open application process for 2019–20 will launch early next year. For more information, visit www.tribalsolar.org.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.9 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investment and mortgage products, as well as consumer and commercial finance through more than 8,300 locations, 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 38 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 265,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. In 2017, Wells Fargo donated $286.5 million to 14,500 nonprofits and Wells Fargo team members volunteered a record 2 million hours. Wells Fargo’s corporate social responsibility efforts are focused on three strategic priorities: diversity and social inclusion, economic empowerment, and environmental sustainability. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.

About GRID Alternatives

GRID Alternatives is a national leader in making clean, affordable solar power and solar jobs accessible to low-income communities and communities of color. Using a unique, people-first model, GRID develops and implements solar projects that serve qualifying households and affordable housing providers, while providing hands-on job training. GRID has installed solar for more than 10,600 families to-date and helped households and housing providers save $323 million in lifetime electricity costs, while training over 37,000 people. GRID Alternatives has nine regional offices and affiliates serving California, Colorado, the mid-Atlantic region, and Tribal communities nationwide, and serves communities in Nicaragua, Nepal and Mexico. For more information, visit www.gridalternatives.org.

Subaru Offers Americans Tips on How to Keep National Parks Clean Leading Into Labor Day Weekend

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 2:42pm

Last year, more than 330 million people visited the national parks and with Labor Day weekend around the corner, parks across the country are likely to see a surge of visitor traffic. While everyone is encouraged to visit a national park in their area, with more visitors comes more waste that the National Park Service (NPS) must manage. Each year, NPS manages nearly 100 million pounds of visitor waste nationally, much of which is brought in from outside the parks.

Subaru of America, Inc. and National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) conducted research that included everything from analytics to dumpster-diving and found plastic waste, such as water bottles, plastic bags, non-recyclable or compostable food packaging, and paper hot cups, are among the main drivers of waste sent to landfills and a big concern in the national parks.

While visitor waste is a major issue in the parks, Americans can make a difference to help keep parks beautiful during this holiday weekend by following these simple tips:

Opt for Online

  • While paper maps can be a parks staple, there are smartphone apps that provide the same information and more. Even without cell service, some national park apps will give helpful information about where you can spot wildlife or catch a beautiful sunset. Find and download these national park apps before you head out to the park to make sure you are ready to go when you arrive.

Take Along That Favorite Mug

  • Bring a reusable coffee mug from home or buy one from the souvenir shop to help reduce the 58 billion paper cups are sent to America’s landfills every year.

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle)

  • Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. Keep a refillable water bottle on hand or buy one at gift shop and take advantage of convenient refilling stations around the park.

Ditch the Plastic Bag

  • Help reduce waste by not taking a plastic bag for your souvenirs or groceries that you bring into the parks. Instead, bring your own reusable bag or tote for your items to help eliminate plastic bag waste.

Take Out What You Bring In

  • Think about what you bring in. Check to see if it can be recycled or composted in the park you are visiting. If it cannot, try to take it home. It is often far easier to recycle near your home than in rural park areas. 

Subaru Zero Landfill Initiative

Subaru, experts in zero-landfill sustainability, has committed to sharing its knowledge of zero-landfill practices by working with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), National Park Foundation (NPF) and National Park Service (NPS), toward a goal of significantly reducing waste going into landfills. Subaru, alongside these partners, conducted a waste characterization study of three iconic pilot parks – DenaliGrand Teton and Yosemite – to identify top drivers of waste. Together, they have helped create and implement various initiatives at the three pilot parks to help address the visitor waste challenge including installation of additional recycling and trash containers in high-traffic visitor locations, adopting standardized recycling labels from Recycle Across America to help reduce confusion and increase proper recycling, as well as the creation of youth ambassador, employee and visitor education programs.

Along with promoting the many programs already in place to educate visitors about ways they can decrease waste in parks, the initiative continues to explore new ways both Subaru and park visitors can help reduce waste and keep these parks beautiful for future generations.

Zero Landfill Initiative Pilot Park Update

Since the initiative began in 2015, the pilot parks – Denali, Grand Teton and Yosemite – have shown remarkable progress. The amount of waste generated per visitor continues to decrease and recycling rates in all three parks has increased. By visitors using reusable drinking bottles and coffee mugs, as well as bringing their own reusable bag, the amount of waste that needs to be handled is lessening. Through the hard work done by all parties to help increase the amount of recycling containers in the parks and introducing standardized labels, visitors can be more successful in their recycling efforts. By continuing to work together, park and concessionaire employees, the gateway communities and most importantly, park visitors, will help to make this program successful.    

Subaru and the National Parks

For more than five years, the Subaru Share the Love event has provided more than $8 million in funding for critical programs and projects in more than 100 national parks and helped increase public awareness and engagement across our National Park System.

For more information on the Subaru zero-landfill initiative and the automaker’s longstanding support of the National Parks Service, visit www.Subaru.com/Environment.

About Subaru of America, Inc.
Subaru of America, Inc. (SOA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Subaru Corporation of Japan. Headquartered at a zero-landfill office in Camden, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of more than 630 retailers across the United States. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. SOA is guided by the Subaru Love Promise, which is the company’s vision to show love and respect to everyone, and to support its communities and customers nationwide. Over the past 20 years, SOA has donated more than $120 million to causes the Subaru family cares about, and its employees have logged more than 40,000 volunteer hours. As a company, Subaru believes it is important to do its part in making a positive impact in the world because it is the right thing to do.

For additional information visit media.subaru.com. Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


In SLAPP Attack, Chevron Trying to Intimidate Citizens Who Challenged Company Over Massive Pollution In Amazon

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 11:41am

Unable to extinguish a $12b liability won by Ecuadorian rainforest communities, Chevron and its law firm Gibson Dunn have issued a new subpoena in the U.S. that seeks emails from 57 supporters of the Ecuadorians in what lawyers call Big Oil’s “latest and most desperate” SLAPP-style attack on citizens who challenge corporate power.

Chevron issued the subpoena as part of its campaign to evade paying the judgment to Ecuadorian Indigenous peoples and farmer communities after the company was found by courts to have deliberately dumped 16 billon gallons of cancer-causing oil waste into rainforest waterways and abandoned 1,000 toxic waste pits. The trial court imposed a $19 billion liability, which was later reduced to $9.5 billion ($12b with interest) by Ecuador’s highest court.

Chevron had insisted the trial take place in Ecuador and had accepted jurisdiction there.  The amount of the judgment is a fraction of the $50 billion in compensation and fines BP has paid for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, even though that spill was far more limited in scope than Chevron’s Ecuador disaster.

“Chevron for decades has been killing off indigenous groups and farmer communities in the Amazon by failing to clean up its pollution, and now it issues subpoenas in the U.S. to try to harass those trying to hold it accountable,” said Patricio Salazar, an Ecuadorian lawyer who represents the rainforest communities.  (Here is a summary of the evidence against Chevron.)

Among those Chevron has targeted with the subpoena are Katie Sullivan, who provides administrative support to high-wealth families in Boston and who has played a critical role in helping the Ecuadorians finance their litigation expenses; Rex Weyler, the legendary co-founder of Greenpeace who criticized Chevron for committing “ecological crimes” in Ecuador after visiting the affected region; Karen Hinton, the longtime U.S. spokesperson for the affected communities; and even members of the family of Steven Donziger, the U.S.-based lawyer for the Ecuadorians and the primary target of a Chevron demonization campaign.

The purpose of the Chevron subpoena is to harass supporters of the Ecuadorians so they back off from helping the victims of the company's toxic dumping, said Donziger.

“Chevron’s strategy is designed to suppress Free Speech and to neutralize a valid legal judgment that only Chevron contests,” he said. “Judges need to educate themselves about this phenomenon. Chevron and its U.S. law firm Gibson Dunn are taking the national lead on writing a playbook for the delivery of litigation harassment to citizens who challenge corporate misconduct.”

Chevron’s subpoena comes as a newly formed coalition of 20 prominent civil liberties and environmental groups – including Greenpeace, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Human Rights Watch – have called for rallies in three cities on Sept. 5 to protect the right to protest and to call out corporate SLAPP attacks on human rights defenders like Donziger and others who prosecuted the case in Ecuador. (See here for website.) Greenpeace was targeted recently in the U.S. under federal racketeering laws by a Canadian logging company. That lawsuit, filed by Donald Trump’s former law firm Kasowitz Benson, largely copied a Chevron civil “racketeering” suit against Donziger and his Ecuadorian clients that used paid-for witness testimony and fraudulent evidence. (See here.)

SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suits are brought by corporations or governments to intimidate critics rather than for meritorious reasons, according to several academics. SLAPP lawsuits are usually dressed up as “racketeering” or “defamation” claims as a way to harm the reputations of critics while forcing them to expend enormous resources in their personal defense, said Donziger. He added Chevron’s goal with SLAPP is to force lawyers to give up so as to leave the company’s victims in Ecuador defenseless.

The Chevron strategy has not worked given that the Ecuadorians are represented by some of the top litigators in Canada as they attempt to seize company assets. The legal team there includes commercial litigator Alan Lenczner and Indigenous rights specialist Peter Grant. That said, Donziger acknowledged the constant Chevron attacks have taken a “personal toll” on himself and his family.

Salazar, who calls the cancer deaths in Chevron’s operational area of Ecuador a “slow genocide”, said the company has a long history of using abusive litigation tactics to harass the lawyers who sued it. Chevron has spent an estimated $2 billion on 60 law firms and 2,000 lawyers to grind down Donziger and his clients, who have persisted with the case for two decades and who recently won several legal battles in Canada despite having a fraction of the resources of the oil major.

In 2011, in what is widely regarded as the Mother of All SLAPP Suits, Chevron sued Donziger – a sole practitioner based in New York -- for $60 billion, at the time thought to be the largest potential personal liability in U.S. history. The company also sued 47 impoverished Ecuadorian villagers who signed the environmental lawsuit on behalf of tens of thousands of affected people in Ecuador. All are seeking a clean-up of what is widely regarded as the world’s worst oil-related catastrophe.

“Chevron is getting desperate as the company’s environmental crimes and fraudulent cover-up, including witness bribery and falsification of evidence, fail to stop the Ecuadorian communities,” said Donziger, who cited Chevron’s law firm Gibson Dunn for fabricating evidence on behalf of not only Chevron but other scandal-plagued corporate clients.

Chevron has ample reason to be concerned about the Ecuador judgment.

The liability is now being enforced against Chevron’s assets in Canada with a unanimous Supreme Court victory and two other appellate court victories in favor of the affected communities. Chevron has threatened the rainforest groups with a “lifetime of litigation” if they persist, a fact that has not sat well with Canadian judges. Company shareholders also have put management under enormous pressure, with 36 institutional investors insisting CEO Michael Wirth try to settle the case.

Chevron, which has a history of using the Gibson Dunn firm to engage in unethical tactics, is also the subject of a criminal referral letter (see here for summary) to the U.S. Department of Justice based on witness bribery in the case it launched against Donziger. The referral letter outlines how the company used fraudulent evidence to obtain a non-monetary civil judgment from a pro-business U.S. federal judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, who held undisclosed  investments in Chevron while he presided over the trial. Kaplan refused to hear any evidence of Chevron’s environmental contamination or fraud in Ecuador.  (For background on Kaplan’s ethical lapses, see this article by Weyler of Greenpeace.) 

In 2013, after Chevron lost an appeal of the environmental judgment to Ecuador’s highest court, the company used Gibson Dunn to try to obtain all email traffic from more than 100 activists, bloggers, and journalists who either supported the Ecuadorians or had inquired about their lawsuit. A federal judge in California blocked much of the effort on Constitutional grounds, saying it violated Free Speech rights of the advocacy groups.

Kaplan is now being used by Chevron to authorize the issuance of the subpoena seeking documents from the 57 supporters, said Salazar.

“Both Chevron and Judge Kaplan should know this latest maneuver to try to rescue a U.S. oil polluter from a foreign liability won’t work,” said Salazar. “The support the Ecuadorian communities are receiving is overwhelming. We are again exploring opportunities in other jurisdictions to force Chevron to comply with the law.”

The Chevron subpoena targets the email server of Sullivan’s financial business and seeks all of her communications with the 57 individuals. It is unclear whether the company that owns the server will comply with the subpoena or fight it in court. 

As Chevron’s attacks in the U.S. have intensified, Donziger has received wide support. Those backing him include musician and Pink Floyd original Roger Waters; Producer and Director Trudie Styler; Actor Alec Baldwin; and prominent lawyers such as Rick Friedman (best-selling author and former President of the Inner Circle of Advocates), First Amendment specialist Marty Garbus, and Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law. Also supporting Donziger are former National Chief of Canada Phil Fontaine, Rafael Pandam (President of the Amazon Indigenous Parliament), human rights Professor Kathleen Mahoney, Weyler, Simon Taylor (the co-founder of Global Witness), and Paul Paz, a top-level campaigner with Amazon Watch. (Here are testimonials for Donziger.)

Honor Great CSR Work – Nominations for #Citizens2017 Close June 23!

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 11:41am

The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation is accepting nominations until June 23 for its annual Corporate Citizenship Awards. With support from media partner USA TODAY Network, this program will honor the business community’s most innovative and impactful corporate citizenship initiatives.

Awards will be given in eight categories including community improvement, health and wellness, disaster response, economic empowerment, education, and environmental stewardship. There are also two awards honoring overall excellence in corporate citizenship. Nominations are due June 23. There is no fee to nominate, and no limit for the number of nominations. Businesses of all sizes and chambers of commerce are eligible.

Follow this link to start a nomination today: https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/citizens-awards-1

AEP Releases ESG/Sustainability Report as Part of Industry Initiative

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 5:38pm

American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) has released its 2018 Edison Electric Institute (EEI) Environmental, Social, Governance and Sustainability (ESG/Sustainability) Report, as part of an industry effort to provide investors with more uniform and consistent sustainability data and information.  

 “As the demand for ESG disclosure continues to grow among investors, so does the need to provide accurate and consistent data that is relevant for AEP and our industry,” said Brian X. Tierney, AEP executive vice president and chief financial officer. “AEP has led our industry in sustainability reporting, and we recently released our 12th annual Corporate Accountability Report, as well as new sustainability goals. EEI’s initiative to develop both a quantitative and qualitative report provides a mechanism for us to share and evaluate our sustainability efforts and supports our commitment to being transparent and inclusive.”  

AEP’s 2018 EEI ESG/Sustainability Report highlights the company’s emission reductions and clean energy strategy which is focused on modernizing the power grid, expanding renewable energy resources and delivering cost-effective, reliable energy to its customers.

AEP already has cut its CO2 emissions by more than 57 percent from 2000 emission levels, and the company has established a clean energy strategy with a goal to achieve an 80 percent reduction in carbon dioxide levels from its fleet of power plants by 2050. AEP expects to achieve future carbon dioxide emission reductions through a variety of actions including investments in renewable generation and advanced technologies; investment in transmission and distribution systems to enhance efficiency; increased use of natural gas generation; and expanded demand response and energy efficiency programs.

Over the past two years, AEP participated in an EEI-led stakeholder working group comprised of electric companies and financial industry specialists in asset management, ESG/sustainability, investment banking, and buy-side and sell-side analysts to develop industry-focused and investor-driven ESG/sustainability reporting practices. The effort was intended to encourage voluntary reporting of ESG/sustainability information in both quantitative and qualitative formats and is the first and only industry-focused and investor-driven ESG reporting framework.

The EEI ESG/Sustainability Report template provides information in a measurable and consistent format for investors and customers to accurately assess long-term ESG/sustainability progress. Within the quantitative section, companies report sector-specific information, including data on a company’s portfolio, emissions, capital expenditures and resources. The use of these universal metrics provides comparable data. The qualitative section provides an opportunity for companies to share additional information about their ESG/sustainability governance and strategy.

AEP’s 2018 EEI ESG/Sustainability Report is available at http://aep.com/investors/docs/AEP2018EEIESG-SustainabilityReport.pdf.  

More information on EEI’s ESG/Sustainability reporting initiative is available at http://www.eei.org/issuesandpolicy/finance/Pages/ESG-Sustainability.aspx.

American Electric Power, based in Columbus, Ohio, is focused on building a smarter energy infrastructure and delivering new technologies and custom energy solutions to our customers. AEP’s more than 17,000 employees operate and maintain the nation’s largest electricity transmission system and more than 219,000 miles of distribution lines to efficiently deliver safe, reliable power to nearly 5.4 million regulated customers in 11 states. AEP also is one of the nation’s largest electricity producers with approximately 32,000 megawatts of diverse generating capacity, including 4,300 megawatts of renewable energy. AEP’s family of companies includes utilities AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas). AEP also owns AEP Energy, AEP Energy Partners, AEP OnSite Partners and AEP Renewables, which provide innovative competitive energy solutions nationwide.

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Reef and Urban Surf 4 Kids Unite to Capture the Power of the Beach With New Docu-short “First Beach”

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 2:32pm

To ring in National Beach Day, REEF, the industry leader in beach footwear and apparel, announced the premiere of “First Beach,” a new docu-short featuring non-profit organization Urban Surf 4 Kids. The film takes viewers behind-the-scenes and features the raw emotions of ten children living within the foster care system as they experience the beach for the first time. 

On July 26, REEF and Urban Surf 4 Kids – a unique grassroots organization that provides mentoring and water therapy activities to children who are at-risk or within group homes – hosted ten foster youth from Arizona with a beach day and surfing lesson at La Jolla Shores in San Diego. In their first-ever ocean visit, the kids spent all weekend experiencing the various beaches of sunny San Diego and meeting and surfing with REEF ambassadors, including surfer Mike Lay. 

This is the third year REEF has partnered with Urban Surf 4 Kids and the first year the two partners joined forces to facilitate a “First Beach” trip. REEF’s brand purpose –to unite the world around the fun, freedom and spirit of the beach– was a natural fit for Urban Surf 4 Kids’ mission of using the ocean and water sports as a catalyst to empower young people.

“We are honored to partner with a unique organization like Urban Surf 4 Kids to bring the incomparable spirit and restorative quality of the beach to young people, who otherwise wouldn’t have this experience,” said Mike Matey, REEF VP of Marketing. “The beach is so ingrained in our culture here at REEF and we are thrilled we were able to seed that love and passion to this inspiring group of young people.” 

Foster youth are wards of the state and because of this status, youth in group homes are legally unable to enter the ocean and to enjoy the beach freely. With the support of REEF and other sponsors, Urban Surf 4 Kids can assume the liability and cover the special insurance that provides the opportunity for disadvantaged youth to experience the joy and freedom of the beach.

“The love grown and sustained in this therapeutic home of ours – the ocean – grew into our passion and mission to search for others in need of a place to call home,” said Craig Jenkins, Urban Surf 4 Kids San Diego Chapter President. “This project has allowed youth who have never even seen the beach before to experience it to its fullest. Worlds were expanded just a little wider, past dreams became a reality, and new ones were born.” 

How To Help: The team at Urban Surf 4 Kids hopes to continue to expand its reach and grow its impact on even more foster youth.  In order to continue their mission, they are looking to align with corporate sponsors who share the same passion for the ocean and at-risk and foster youth.  They also encourage individuals who want to play a vital role in the Urban Surf 4 Kids Ohana, to check out their brand new recurring giving campaign called “The Tribe”.  Please check out their website for events and volunteer opportunities: www.urbansurf4kids.org 

Additionally, REEF announces its third collection of the REEF Experience Tees– available for purchase now on Reef.com. These tees feature photography from surf ambassador Mike Lay, REEF has donated $1 for each t-shirt made through Summer 2018 to Urban Surf 4 Kids 


REEF is the global footwear and apparel brand that encourages people everywhere to Beach Freely. United by the spirit of the beach since 1984, REEF designs innovative and comfort-driven products to celebrate the freedom and fun of the beach lifestyle. 

REEF® and Reef Beach Freely™ are trademarks of South Cone, Inc.


Urban Surf 4 Kids (US4K) is a unique outreach organization that works to empower foster and at-risk youth through surf therapy and community service based mentoring programs. Using water sports as a catalyst, US4K teaches kids how to first have fun, and then give back to their communities and neighborhoods through local service projects.


For REEF, please contact:

Natania Reed, natania@praytellstrategy.com

Jenna Dower, Jenna_Dower@vfc.com

For Urban Surf 4 Kids, please contact:

Saya Nodera, Saya@us4k.org


NHBSR 2018 Sustainability Slam