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Is Your Organisation Fulfilling Its Duty of Care?

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 4:37pm

The International SOS Foundation announces its Global Duty of Care Summit, taking place in Chicago on 17 May 2018.  Speakers will include security, healthcare and compliance leaders from American Airlines, Chubb, Everbridge, GoDaddy, Harris Corporation, Hostage US, Johnson & Johnson, Walgreen Company, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, The World Bank Group, KPMG and the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE).

Now in its second year, this one-day business conference is tailored specifically for stakeholders involved in mitigating health and travel security risks of a mobile workforce.  The 2018 agenda, based around the theme of Empowering Sustainability and Resilience, will address key issues in managing global mobility programmes.  This includes issues such as the gig economy, data privacy, geopolitical influences and wellbeing.

Laurent Fourier, Director of the International SOS Foundation, comments, 'The participation of industry leaders from around the globe at the Summit will provide access to a wealth of expertise and insight. Our focus is sharply on today’s key issues in Duty of Care, in order to keep the workforce safe and protect business continuity and sustainability.  The collaborative environment will provide the opportunity for a high level of engagement between all speakers and delegates.  With the benefit of the best practice insight and practical advice at the Summit, we strive to enable organisations worldwide to be empowered to improve their own processes and programmes for sustainability and resilience.'

Chubb, the world’s largest publicly traded property & casualty insurance company, is the Gold sponsor of the Duty of Care Summit & Awards. James Walloga, Executive Vice President of the Accident & Health North America Division at Chubb, says, 'We recognise the principles underlying Duty of Care are rapidly becoming top of mind for senior executives and risk managers.  Now, more than ever, it is important for organisations to take a proactive approach toward implementing best practices to deliver on their Duty of Care obligations.  It is not only a matter of compliance, but a critical component of successful business performance.  We are excited to help drive this agenda forward.'

The Summit will be followed by the 2018 Duty of Care Awards ceremony, recognising organisations and individuals who drive excellence in the mitigation of travel, health and security risk and contribute to effectively protecting workers overseas.    

For more information on the 2018 Duty of Care Summit and speaker profiles, click here.

To secure tickets for this exclusive Summit at the special Early Bird price of $589, or $749 for a Summit and Gala Awards Dinner ticket, go  to 

About International SOS Foundation

Established in 2011, the International SOS Foundation ― Ambassadors for Duty of Care www.internationalsosfoundation.org  – has the goal of improving the safety, security, health and welfare of people working abroad or on remote assignments through the study, understanding and mitigation of potential risks. The escalation of globalisation has enabled more individuals to work across borders and in unfamiliar environments; exposure to risks which can impact personal health, security and safety increases along with travel.

The Foundation is a registered charity and was started with a grant from International SOS. It is a fully independent, non-profit organisation. For more information on Duty of Care and the International SOS Foundation, please visit http://www.internationalsosfoundation.org/

Notes to Editors

1To learn more about the 2018 Duty of Care Awards, click here.

For further information, contact: Suzanne Withers, Head of Group PR, International SOS, T: 0208 762 8494, E: suzanne.withers@internationalsos.com

Walmart Announces 20 MMT of Supplier Emission Reductions through Project Gigaton; Unveils Plans for Expanding Electric Vehicle Charging Stations and Doubling U.S. Wind and Solar Energy Use

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 1:37pm

Today, Walmart announced that suppliers have reported reducing more than 20 million metric tons (MMT) of greenhouse gas emissions in the global value chain, as part of the company’s Project Gigaton initiative. Walmart launched Project Gigaton last April, seeking to work with suppliers to reduce emissions from the company’s value chain by a gigaton, or one billion metric tons, by 2030. The emissions reduction progress was shared at Walmart’s annual Sustainability Milestone Summit, where expanded commitments on solar and wind power, as well as electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, were also discussed.

“In its first year, Project Gigaton has helped to inspire action that has led to the avoidance of millions of metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and has expanded into an international campaign that includes the participation of several hundred suppliers,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer for Walmart. “The early success of Project Gigaton parallels ongoing progress in our operational efforts that seek to double our U.S. renewable energy use and expand our customer electric vehicle charging hubs to retail outlets across more than 30 states.”

With the recent expansion of Project Gigaton in China and the U.K., more than 400 suppliers with operations in more than 30 countries have joined the program. Suppliers can commit to reductions in any of six pillars that include energy, agriculture, waste, packaging, deforestation and product use. Approximately 85 percent of the Project Gigaton emissions reductions reported by suppliers have focused their efforts on the energy and product use pillars, with projects devoted to areas such as renewable energy investments and the development of more efficient products.

“This annual milestone marks a pivot point for Walmart and 400 of its suppliers to share solutions and lessons learned. The next step is to deepen commitments that unlock the potential of this platform,” said Carter Roberts, president and CEO, World Wildlife Fund (WWF). “We need collaborative initiatives like Project Gigaton and We Are Still In. With sufficient goals and results they can help define our country’s ability to build a sustainable future. And they also shape the world’s understanding of our commitment to solving climate change.”

“With Project Gigaton, Walmart is raising the bar for innovation and collaboration across its supply chain,” said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund. “In Project Gigaton’s second year, we hope to see even more Walmart suppliers setting targets based in science, ensuring that business, people and nature thrive.”

A highlight from the summit was a commitment made by Project Gigaton participant, Procter & Gamble (P&G), to cut 50 MMT of emissions from its operations and value chain by 2030. P&G will achieve this through inviting customers to join the Tide #QuickColdPledge, switching to quick and cold laundry cycles to use less water, 80 percent less energy and create 40 percent fewer emissions in every load, as well as committing to source 100 percent renewable electricity in its North American operations by 2020.

“Walmart’s Gigaton goal is ambitious and demonstrates the impact we can have when we collaborate on a common goal,” said Carolyn Tastad, Group President of North America, P&G. “At P&G, we share Walmart’s commitment to making measurable progress and a positive impact across our brands, supply chain, society and our employees.”

Another key announcement made at the summit is that Walmart plans to more than double its EV charging station sites with the addition of several hundred charging stalls across its operations in 34 states. This expansion will bring Walmart’s total number of charging units to well over 1,000 when complete, making Walmart one of the nation’s leading EV charging station hosts and creating a national grid of electric vehicle charging availability at hundreds of Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations.

Walmart’s EV charging station expansion will provide customers with added convenience as several of the new units will feature super-fast chargers that can charge a car in between 10 to 30 minutes. This initiative is part of Walmart’s continuing evolution to help busy families and create a more resourceful and enjoyable one stop retail experience that allows customers to charge their vehicles as they shop.

Expanding Renewable Energy Use

Walmart also discussed recent progress in renewable energy that will move it closer toward its 2025 goal of being supplied globally with 50 percent renewable energy.

As a result of several new solar and wind projects, Walmart plans to more than double the amount of renewable energy it uses in the U.S. and increase the percentage of global electricity needs supplied by renewable sources above the current 28 percent.

The new initiatives include expansion of on-site solar energy installments. Walmart, already the leading company in the U.S. for number of locations utilizing on-site solar energy, plans to add an additional 130 sites which will bring its total to approximately 500 locations across 22 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, surpassing its 2014 goal to double its onsite solar use by 2020.

Walmart recently reached an agreement to acquire renewable energy that will enable the building of two new large-scale wind farms developed by Geronimo Energy and Engie. The 1.26 billion kWh produced annually from this arrangement will be equivalent to the majority of the electricity needed to power Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers across seven Midwestern states.

These new wind energy deals come only weeks after the retailer announced that most of the renewable energy certificates (RECs) generated from a new solar farm in Alabama will supply 150 million kWh each year to the retailer, covering 40 percent of the company’s electricity needs in the Alabama Power service area.

Additionally, earlier this month Walmart announced that it had successfully collaborated with Google and Georgia Power on an initiative that will result in the retailer obtaining 182 million kWh of additional renewable energy annually. Once the new Georgia Power arrangement is operational, approximately 34 percent of Walmart’s power demand for its retail locations served by Georgia Power will come from the renewable sources in the program.

Cumulatively, these new solar and wind projects will provide over 1.6 billion kWh of renewable energy annually to Walmart, equivalent to the average annual electricity use of over 139,000 homes and thus doubling Walmart’s renewable energy use in the U.S. and moving it closer towards its 2025 goal of being supplied with 50 percent renewable energy.

To view the Sustainability Milestone Summit replay, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2Fba190_JQ

To receive more information on Project Gigaton and Walmart’s sustainability efforts, please visit: https://www.walmartsustainabilityhub.com/


Walmart Media Relations 1-800-331-0085


About Walmart

Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) helps people around the world save money and live better - anytime and anywhere - in retail stores, online, and through their mobile devices. Each week, nearly 270 million customers and members visit our more than 11,700 stores under 65 banners in 28 countries and eCommerce websites. With fiscal year 2018 revenue of $500.3 billion, Walmart employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmart.

International Paper Launches ‘Box out Hunger’ Initiative

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 10:36am

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, International Paper is announcing a new initiative as part of its commitment to address critical community needs where its employees live and work. In a 30 day period, 227 International Paper employees from 26 sites volunteered 495 hours by sorting, packing and distributing food for people in need by working with Feeding America’s extensive network of food banks, along with other local food banks.

‘Box out Hunger’ focuses on alleviating hunger by mobilizing the company’s people, products and resources. Through these local efforts, International Paper employees are addressing food insecurity in their own backyards and making a difference. In the United States alone, more than 41 million Americans—including 13 million children—go hungry each day. Research shows that hunger has serious consequences for children, including lower test scores, weaker attendance rates, and higher risk of hospitalization and chronic diseases. 

As part of the ‘Box out Hunger’ initiative, International Paper designed custom disaster relief boxes for Feeding America’s network of food banks to pre-stage in several communities to be prepared for the aftermath of a disaster. International Paper will also donate $1 million to Feeding America over two years. This commitment builds upon International Paper’s long standing support of Feeding America. In 2017 alone, International Paper donated 180,000 boxes and $250,000 to aid Feeding America in its disaster response efforts following several hurricanes in the southeastern United States, an earthquake in Mexico, and the ongoing California fire and mudslide crisis.

 “At International Paper, our global citizenship strategy aligns with our vision to be among the most successful, sustainable and responsible companies in the world. If our communities don’t flourish and thrive, our company cannot be successful,” said Tom Cleves, International Paper vice president of global citizenship. “Teaming up with Feeding America allows us to make an even greater impact in our commitment to be a force for good by helping to reduce food insecurity.”

“When disaster strikes, Feeding America member food banks are on the ground ready to provide food and emergency supplies to help people recover in the aftermath,” said Andy Wilson, Feeding America chief development officer. “We applaud International Paper’s efforts and are grateful for the opportunity to work with them. International Paper’s support will help us extend critical aid where it’s needed most.”

International Paper’s global philanthropic efforts primarily focus on four signature causes:  Education; Hunger; Health & Wellness, and Disaster Relief. To learn more about International Paper and its global citizenship efforts, please visit www.internationalpaper.com.

About International Paper
International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a leading global producer of renewable fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper products with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, Europe, North Africa, India and Russia. We produce corrugated packaging products that protect and promote goods, and enable world-wide commerce; pulp for diapers, tissue and other personal hygiene products that promote health and wellness and papers that facilitate education and communication. We are headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., and employ approximately 52,000 colleagues located in more than 24 countries. Net sales for 2017 were $22 billion. For more information about International Paper, our products and global citizenship efforts, please visit internationalpaper.com.

About Feeding America
Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the Unites States. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, we provide meals to more than 46 million people each year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Major, Complex Onsite Solar Portfolio Now Operational in Washington, DC

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 10:36am

Sol Systems joined Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to celebrate the completion of a 11.8 MW solar system for Washington D.C.’s Department of General Services (DC DGS).

“Last year I signed a Mayor’s Order to maintain the District’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accords,” said Mayor Bowser, speaking at the ribbon cutting event. “This project is an example of how we can continue to reach those goals.”

The portfolio of onsite solar projects is now in operation across 40 properties and includes schools, hospitals, and the Police Training Academy, making it one of the largest and most complex onsite municipal solar projects currently operating in the country. Sol Systems oversaw the PPA negotiation and structuring, as well as all project logistics, schedules and contractors.

The timing of the ribbon cutting, which took place at HD Woodson High School – one of the largest solar systems in the District – was particularly momentous as Sol Systems also reached a new milestone of delivering over 700 MW since inception this week.

“We want to be a beacon for the future,” said Yuri Horwitz, Chief Executive Office of Sol Systems, who spoke at the event. “This school is a wonderful example of that future.”

Despite the scale and complexity of these projects, all 35 were successfully designed, engineered, and generating electricity for the city in approximately 18 months. DGS estimates the projects created 140 temporary jobs during construction and design, as well as a projected five permanent jobs for ongoing operation and maintenance.

Over the 20-year term of the power purchase agreement, D.C. taxpayers are expected to save $25 million in reduced electricity costs. The projects are expected to generate 13,800 MWh of electricity per year, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to over 10 million pounds of coal burned.

“We know that solar is good for the environment, it’s good for business, it’s good for the economy,” said Bowser as she stood front of the school’s newly built carport solar array. “It’s good for the future of our city.”

Check out our case study on the portfolio, which includes all the crunchy details, from DOE’s Better Buildings website.



Sol Systems, a national solar finance and development firm, delivers sophisticated, customized services for institutional, corporate, and municipal customers. Sol is employee-owned, and has been profitable since inception in 2008. Sol is backed by Sempra Energy, a $25+ billion energy company.

Over the last eight years, Sol Systems has delivered 700 MW of solar projects for Fortune 100 companies, municipalities, universities, churches, and small businesses. Sol now manages over $650 million in solar energy assets for utilities, banks, and Fortune 500 companies.

Inc. 5000 recognized Sol Systems in its annual list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies for four consecutive years. For more information, please visit www.solsystems.com.

Performance & Sustainability Win in Goodyear Tires Made With U.S. Soy

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 10:36am

In this new video fleet leaders and individual drivers can see a new award-winning choice for tires that deliver both performance and sustainability. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s cooperation with the United Soybean Board (USB) yielded a first for the tire industry. Following extensive experiments, lab testing, road testing and more, Goodyear has introduced soy-based technology in its Assurance WeatherReady™ tires, a broad line tire that covers 77 percent of cars, SUVs, crossovers, pickups and minivans. 

Goodyear joined USB at the Transportation Energy Partners Energy Independence Summit in Washington, D.C. to share the good news with Department of Energy Clean Cities coalitions from across the nation. Goodyear Chief Engineer, Polymer Science and Technology Robert A. Woloszynek also announced the company will expand its line of tires containing soy with the addition of Eagle® Enforcer All Weather™ for police vehicles that count on high-performance traction and handling.

“Innovation and agriculture grew together through the United Soybean Board’s work with Goodyear,” said United Soybean Board Chairman Lewis Bainbridge, a South Dakota soybean grower.  “Now major fleets, police departments and the general public can benefit from enhanced tire performance as well as the environmental value of this technology.”

Goodyear discovered that soybean oil could improve tire flexibility at low temperatures, helping the rubber to remain pliable in cold weather and enhancing traction in rain and snow simultaneously. Additionally, Goodyear discovered that soybean oil mixes more easily with rubber compounds and reduces energy consumption, which improves tire manufacturing efficiency.

“In a typical tire, the amount of petroleum oil is around 8 percent. In the Assurance Weather Ready, we were able to replace about 60 percent of that oil with soybean oil, which included 100 percent of the oil in the tread compound,” said Goodyear Chief Engineer, Polymer Science and Technology Robert A. Woloszynek.

Wins ‘Environmental Achievement of the Year’ Award
The breakthrough with soybean oil as a replacement for petroleum oil resulted in Goodyear receiving the prestigious Tire Technology International Award for Innovation and Excellence in the category of 'Environmental Achievement of the Year' on 2018 Tire Technology Expo on February 22 in Hannover, Germany.

“Our work with the United Soybean Board presented a unique challenge and opportunity for our material scientists and tire engineers to employ soybean oil in the development of superior performing tires,” said Chris Helsel, Goodyear's chief technology officer. 'It is exciting to see that work payoff with commercially successful products, and an honor to be recognized by the industry for the environmental achievement.”

“Goodyear's innovative industrialization of soybean oil technology proves that research and development in sustainable materials can benefit not only the environment, but also tire performance. I believe that this type of 'win-win' innovation will increasingly become the norm, rather than the exception, in the tire industry of the future,' said Graham Heeps, editor, Tire Technology International and chairman of the judging panel.

The Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence were chosen from nominations received from the readers of Tire Technology International (published by UKi Media & Events, of the U.K.), and with the input of the magazine's editorial team. Winners are selected by an independent panel of international tire industry experts.

Go to www.soybiobased.org for up-to-date lists of Goodyear tires that contain soybean oil

U.S. soybean farmers have invested millions of dollars to research, test, and promote biobased products. Much of this work was done through the United Soybean Board (USB), which is composed of 73 U.S. soybean farmers appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to invest soybean checkoff funds.

Charities@Work Announces Speakers for Employee Engagement Summit

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 10:36am

Charities@Work today announced speakers for the 2018 Summit on Employee Engagement. In its 17th year, this year’s Summit will be held on June 27-28, 2018 at PwC and NYU School of Law in New York City. This peer-to-peer event brings together corporate social responsibility (CSR) leaders from across the country to share the latest advances on employee engagement, workplace giving, and corporate citizenship to drive greater social impact.

This year, the two-day Summit offers a new preconference event:

  • June 27: This exclusive pre-conference learning workshop is designed for new and emerging CSR professionals to network, asks questions, and gain insights to quickly take their careers to the next level. Limited to 30 participants; held at PwC.

  • June 28: The Summit includes interactive and practical discussions on topics such as Innovative Approaches to Aligning Employee Engagement and Corporate Purpose, Improving Employee Engagement Impact through Partnerships, Engaging Harder to Reach Employees through Skills-Based Volunteering, and more. More than 100 CSR professionals are expected. Held at Vanderbilt Hall, NYU School of Law.

Speakers include:

  • Tim McClimon, Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at American Express, and President of American Express Foundation

  • Tiffany Calderon, Senior Manager, Best Buy Community Relations

  • Michael Carren, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, The Guardian Life Insurance Company

  • Michael Bzdak, Global Director of Employee Engagement and Global Community Impact, Johnson & Johnson

  • Matthew Nelson, CVP Corporate Responsibility, New York Life Insurance Company

  • Heather Loftkin Wright, Director, Responsible Business, PwC

  • Peter Dudley, author, Corporate Social Responsibility Executive, most recently with Wells Fargo

  • And more

Register before May 14 for the early bird rate and save $100: http://charitiesatwork.org/3BLregister

Charities@Work is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors. Thank you to Pre-Conference Sponsor PwC; Summit Networking Event Sponsor Wells Fargo; Gold Sponsors Best Buy, New York Life Insurance Company, and The Guardian Life Insurance Company; Silver Sponsors American Express and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and Bronze Sponsors 3BL, Aetna, Group Sales, Inc., and Realized Worth.  

ABOUT Charities@Work

Charities@Work bridges the corporate and nonprofit sectors to achieve greater social impact. Charities@Work is an alliance of four nonprofit organizations – America’s Charities, Community Health Charities, EarthShare and Global Impact – that collectively represent more than 3,000 of the leading health, environmental, international development, and community nonprofits making a difference in the U.S. and around the world today. These four nonprofits exist to facilitate interaction and partnerships between charities, companies, and their employees for meaningful outcomes and impact for all.

Big Problems Big Ideas Winner Announced

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 4:30pm

Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica at Brownsville Early College High School, Brownsville Independent School District has been named the winner of the Big Problems Big Ideas Challenge sponsored by the Taylor Wilson Thompson Family Foundation.

The Challenge, the signature program of the Foundation, is focused on providing middle school and high school students from across the nation an opportunity to identify, analyze, and propose solutions to some of the more perplexing problems facing them as young people. Competing schools were selected based on their history of providing leadership training for students and their dedication to academic excellence.

Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, Brownsville Early College High School, identified Hispanic student mental health and the educational implications of their Big Problem in their research paper, “Mental Health: The Need for Educating Hispanic Communities About How Mental Health Can Affect Young People and Their Educational Experience.” 

Student mental health is of significant concern among educators in K-12 schools across the country. It has been called a silent epidemic affecting one in five students. Teachers, principals, and other school personnel acknowledge there are many students in their schools who evidence excessive fear, anxiety, depression, and anger. At its worst, this mental health epidemic manifests itself with deep psychosis, rage, and suicide; at best suffering students are detached, uninterested and miss the educational opportunities being offered.

With counseling ratios approaching 450 students to every one counselor, schools lack the resources and personnel to support students who may be in need of mental health support.  As pointed out by Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, underserved communities suffer the most. This is true especially in communities where mental illness carries unwarranted stigmas, and the community is unaware of the many solutions to aid those suffering. 

In analyzing the problem, Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica examined the literature surrounding adolescent mental health, the many possible solutions offered by educators, mental health authorities and federal agencies to gain current thought on both the likely origins and solutions. They also examined their own student body’s perception of the problem and asked them for answers. Together with current literature and student ideas, they put together a well-designed template and a possible solution that might well apply to other schools. 

Some of the possible activities identified by the students included:

  1. The use of Artificial Intelligence and technological applications that generate personalized mental health assessments to discuss with a therapist. These applications can alert teachers and parents when a student’s mood changes.

  2. Graphically tracking students’ mood and behavior over time and work with school personnel in sharing changes they see in student behavior.

  3. Educating students and parents through seminars offered at school and throughout the community about mental health awareness and strategies for addressing student health concerns.

  4. Providing specialized services to teachers, administrators and students within the school setting that will help identify risk factors and warning signs of mental health challenges common to adolescents.

  5. Providing ongoing training for all school personnel, including ancillary and school employees.

  6. Maintaining a healthy school and social environment that supports students who might be suffering from mental illness or may feel alone and not supported.

  7. Instituting school-wide and community-wide campaigns that assist in the understanding and acceptance of adolescent mental illness.

  8. Increase the number of mental health professionals in school and train teachers and counselors how to assess, identify and assist with students who may be having mental health challenges.

  9. Centralize school efforts designed to assist students who are having problems to coordinate the school's mental health assistance efforts better.

  10. Create different platforms that will assist students that includes coordination of resources throughout the entire community.

Students involved in the program indicated they are advocates for the services and supports that are necessary for students to stay in school and to achieve academic success. Ilse Mascarro, a senior student commented “This award is an amazing honor as well as proof that our efforts are not made in vain. Through this award I am able to securely say that our voices are not going unheard. As a predominately Hispanic population in times of struggle we feel like we are one step closer to making an impact towards a happier and healthier community. Big Problems Big Ideas allowed us to put down in words our ideas and comments to make our community an healthier and safer one. Big Problems Big Ideas has allowed us to give our community the light it deserves.” 

Alejandra Sujo, Yaneli Gallegos and Jaqueline Quintanilla,  members of the Big Problems Big Ideas  Challenge team commented on how much the Challenge had changed their thinking about student mental health and encouraged them to spread information on mental health awareness  to their community. They also  believe applying the learnings from their experiences, and the knowledge of other students’ concerns, along with the expertise of teachers and mental health professionals will be the catalyst for resolving their big problem. 

Shirley Munoz, sponsor for the Challenge team, said “I see great potential in my students. I know they think outside the box. I know they want good things for others. I know they are intelligent enough to see a need in our country and form an educated opinion and even a solution. All they need is a platform to voice their opinion and demonstrate their concerns through a positive outlet. Big Problem Big Ideas was that platform. I am so proud of them for working together endless days and long evenings to research and devise a much needed solution for our nation at this time.”

Taylor Thompson, the founder of the Foundation and developer of the Challenge was extremely pleased with the effort of the group and the spirit of collaborative learning they displayed in developing their Big Idea to solve the Big Problem. “Giving young people voice to share their creative thoughts through analytical, problem solving activities is critical to building an informed and productive citizenry. The students of Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica at Brownsville Early College High School are emblematic of the promise of young leadership and evidence of what can happen when students are given a chance to be heard. The Foundation is indebted to Aimee Garza-Limon, the principal, Shirley Munoz, Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica sponsor for supporting the students and standing with them through this Big Problems Big Ideas Challenge.”

The Chicago-based Taylor Wilson Thompson Family Foundation aims to help develop the next wave of leaders who are ready and willing to change the world in a positive way.  The Foundation and its founder have sponsored leadership activities that have impacted nearly 1500 young people around the country to date. Thompson is also the author of Leadership: It’s Child’s Play. Ten Steps to Children’s Leadership Development. 

Sustainable Emulsifier Blog Proves Popular

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 4:30pm

Launched at the end of 2017, Emulsifiers for Good (EFG) is a new blog whose stated aim is to “inspire and share knowledge and ideas for how sustainably sourced and produced emulsifiers can help solve some of the world’s challenges.” And that seems to be a message that resonates with food manufacturers and ingredient suppliers alike.

Initiated and funded by the Danish-based inventor of the modern commercial emulsifier, Palsgaard A/S, the industry-level blog brings expert knowledge, know-how and ideas to help realize the full potential of sustainably sourced and produced emulsifiers. 

No-promotion zone

The blog doesn’t allow product or company promotion – an approach that is directly in line with its initiator’s status as a foundation-owned enterprise with a long history of social responsibility. Instead, it is an open, online, non-promotional forum, providing a platform for experts within the global food and non-food industry to share perspectives and discoveries around emulsifiers.

Claus Hviid Christensen, CEO of Palsgaard’s innovation center Nexus A/S, and the first Editor of Emulsifiers for Good, explains why there’s a need for the blog – and draws a direct line from sustainable ingredients to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

“We believe that emulsifiers used in food and non-food products should, as much as possible, be sustainably and safely sourced, produced and consumed. Specifically, we’ve launched Emulsifiers for Good to help lead, motivate and support the food industry and the wider community in working jointly toward the UN’s SDGs. So the emphasis is on making a difference in the world, and in keeping with this, we’ll be keeping the blog as brand-neutral as possible – and advertisement-free, of course.”

Early success

With just a few months of existence under its belt, Emulsifiers for Good is already finding favour among its targeted readers. And that doesn’t come as a surprise for Claus Hviid Christensen.

“Sustainable, plant-based emulsifiers are getting a lot of attention these days. In fact, there’s an understanding emerging in the food industry that sustainably sourced and produced emulsifiers are going to be one of our greatest tools for ensuring there’s enough, good-quality food supply in the face of climate change, population growth, and increasing affluence. Although emulsifiers contribute to a very small part of the ingredients list, they play a huge role in ensuring product quality and shelf life. And that directly supports a number of SDGs.”

Long history

Few companies know more about emulsifiers than Palsgaard. Since 1917, when founder Einar Viggo Schou invented the modern food emulsifier, the company has created hundreds of different specialized emulsifiers and perfected their use in many applications. With over 100 years in the business, Palsgaard has the benefit of a broad overview of emulsifier types and applications. The company is now partnering with the United Nations and Deloittes in a pilot program aimed at accelerating global business alignment with the SDGs.

For now, the blog is focused on emulsifiers as food ingredients. But in a wider application perspective, emulsifiers are now enabling the production of more sustainable plastic packaging, for example, as they can replace petrochemical additives while adding efficient anti-static and anti-fogging effects

Claus Hviid Christensen encourages his food industry colleagues to contribute to the new blog, too: “The potential of emulsifier technology to do good things for the world is far from fully realized by everyone in the food industry and in the wider community. We’re looking forward to working with the industry to communicate more strongly about this topic and support further innovation in the field”.

For questions to the press release, please contact

Claus Hviid Christensen
CEO, Nexus A/S and Editor Emulsifiers for Good
+45 7682 7637

Under Pressure From First Nations, Chevron Faces Major Test in Canada As Critical Court Hearing Over $12b Ecuador Pollution Judgment Gets Underway

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:25am

Chevron faces of wave of cascading pressures in Canada – including new evidence of a multi-billion dollar tax avoidance scheme – as a critical court hearing gets underway that could determine whether the oil giant is finally forced to comply with a $12 billion environmental judgment owed to Indigenous peoples and farmer communities in Ecuador’s Amazon. 

The two-day hearing before the Ontario Court of Appeal, which kicks off this morning in Toronto, will determine whether the assets of Chevron’s wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary – called Chevron Canada -- can be used to pay the Ecuador pollution judgment. Chevron reaps billions of dollars annually in profits from its Canadian subsidiary, but claims that the same subsidiary should be shielded from any of Chevron’s liabilities to the Ecuadorians.

(See this short memo on the Canadian court action and a longer briefing memo. See this press release on the arrival of Ecuadorian Indigenous leaders in Canada. )

“What principle of justice is advanced that allows Chevron parent’s shareholders to collect at least US $25 billion in dividends and yet excludes the enforcement of a judgment against Chevron Canada, 100 percent owned by Chevron parent?” said the legal brief of the Ecuadorians, signed by Alan Lenczner, considered one of Canada’s top litigators. Lenczner (see here for background) will be arguing the matter for the Ecuadorians along with Peter Grant, a noted aboriginal rights lawyer from Vancouver.

Chevron has vowed never to pay the Ecuador judgment and promised to fight the case “until hell freezes over”.  A company official also threatened the Ecuadorian indigenous groups with “a lifetime of litigation” if they persisted in pursuing their claims, which were originally filed in 1993 in U.S. courts before being shifted to Ecuador at the oil major’s request. Chevron has collected more than US $25 billion in dividends from its Canadian subsidiary since the enforcement action was filed in Canada in 2012, according to Lenczner. 

In the meantime, in the Amazon rainforest, the Ecuadorians continue to suffer from a well-documented wave of cancers and other public health problems due to Chevron’s dumping of an estimated 16 billion gallons of toxic waste water onto indigenous ancestral lands when it operated in the country under the Texaco brand from 1964 to 1992. (See this summary of the overwhelming evidence against Chevron that led to the pollution judgment.) The company also abandoned roughly 1,000 unlined toxic waste pits that continue to contaminate soils and groundwater on ancestral lands.

“This is a critical showdown between a corporate powerhouse oil company that wants to evade a major environmental liability and Indigenous peoples who have won the right to compensation to clean up their ancestral lands in the Amazon,” said Phil Fontaine, the former Canadian National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), who will be attending the hearing along with a delegation of Ecuadorian leaders from the Amazon Defense Coalition of Ecuador (FDA), the non-profit entity that along with 47 named plaintiffs brought the lawsuit and is leading the enforcement effort.

Facing a $12 billion damages award to Amazon communities in age of shrinking profits and structural change in the oil industry is only one of Chevron’s growing problems in Canada.  Other Chevron challenges include: 

**The Ecuadorians have won three straight unanimous appellate court decisions in Canada, despite the fact Chevron has hired at least 60 law firms and used an estimated 2,000 legal personnel in what is widely considered the most expensive corporate legal defense in history. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favor of the Indigenous peoples in a unanimous 2015 decision.

**In a move that raises potential corruption issues, Chevron has been using Chevron Canada to funnel billions of dollars in annual payments to the governments of Nigeria and Indonesia. The payments – disclosed weeks ago under a recently passed Canadian transparency law – have raised a host of concerns among a anti-corruption authorities in the United States and Australia. They also undermine Chevron’s main argument in the appeal that Chevron Canada only does business in Canada.

**On the tax front, it turns out Chevron pays almost no taxes in Canada despite reaping almost $5 billion in profits per year from its Canadian subsidiary while trying to stiff the Ecuadorians out of their environmental judgment, said Rex Weyler, a co-founder of Greenpeace who denounced the company for having committed “ecological crimes” in Ecuador after touring the area of Chevron’s operations last year. Chevron recently was fined $1 billion in Australia for paying no tax despite makings billions in profits from its operations in the country. (See here for background.) 

**Chevron is also under increasing pressure from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and environmental groups to lift a sweeping confidentiality order that it has imposed on the court docket in the Ecuador pollution case. Among other problems, the Chevron order prevents scrutiny of the sworn testimony of a Chevron Canada corporate official about the large payments from the subsidiary to foreign governments. “Lifting this confidentiality order could potentially blow the lid off of Chevron’s attempt to hide its efforts to evade taxes in Canada and avoid the scrutiny of anti-corruption authorities in the United States,” said Weyler. (Here is the CBC article about unsealing the documents.) 

**Chevron also faces increasing opposition from Canada’s AFN and several prominent environmental groups in the United States and Canada led by Oakland-based Amazon Watch. Current AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde yesterday tweeted his support for the Ecuadorian Indigenous peoples and plans to talk about Chevron’s pollution judgment today in New York at the United Nations Permanent Forum On Indigenous Issues. Bellegarde also wrote a letter to Canada’s Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, urging consideration of new legislation providing for more “expeditious” enforcement of foreign judgments in Canada. 

**Chevron is also under increasing pressure from some of its own institutional shareholders over its failure to settle the case. Two such shareholders – Zevin Asset Management and Newground Social Investment – are pressing resolutions at the company’s annual meeting in May calling out company management for its “material mishandling” of the Ecuador litigation. Last year, the same resolutions received roughly 40% support from all Chevron shareholders, an almost unheard-of level of backing for a resolution actively opposed by company management. 

**In the United States, Chevron’s “racketeering” judgment has almost completely collapsed with the revelation that the company paid at least $2 million to its star witness, Alberto Guerra, who later admitted lying in court. (See this detailed summary of Chevron’s fraud in the U.S. court case and this account of a criminal referral letter of Chevron to the U.S. Department of Justice over the illegal witness payments.) One Chevron lawyer, Larry Lowenstein, came under harsh criticism recently from the Ecuadorians for trying to mislead Canadian judges about Chevron’s fraud in Ecuador and the United States. 

No fewer than 21 separate appellate judges in Ecuador and Canada have either rejected or ignored the findings of a sole U.S. trial judge who ruled in Chevron’s favor in the racketeering case. “If Chevron is forced to present the same corrupt evidence it presented in U.S. courts before a neutral judge in Canada, there is little doubt the company’s false narrative of ‘racketeering’ will blow up in its face,” said Anton Tabuns, a Canadian lawyer who represents the FDA. “That’s why Chevron is fighting desperately to dismiss the enforcement action on technical grounds. If it is forced to trial in Canada, there is little doubt Chevron will settle this case.” 

Attending the court hearing in Ontario will be several Ecuadorian Indigenous and community leaders, including Jamie Vargas, the President of Ecuador’s national indigenous federation (CONAIE); Rafael Pandam, an Achuar who is the President of the Indigenous Amazonia Parliament of Ecuador, which has 325 parliamentarians; Janeth Cuji, a longtime woman’s leader and a Kichwa; Hugo Camacho, a community leader and FDA activist from the town of Pimampiro; and Domingo Peas, a historic leader of Ecuador’s Amazon indigenous federation, which includes 11 nationalities.

In its motion to lift the confidentiality order, the CBC argued that documents in the enforcement action containing “confidential information” were sealed by Chevron in two orders without any notice to the media as required by law and that the orders have prevented public access to the entirety of the evidence. “There is not evidence that any of the proceedings, documents, evidence, or information covered by the sealing orders are in fact confidential,” said the motion, which is to be decided after a hearing on June 20.

Research Reveals How Bark Types Affect Wood Decomposition

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:25am

A new study from researchers at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB) could help improve predictions of climate change by revealing the hidden role of bark in wood decomposition. For the first time, the scientists linked bark characteristics such as thickness, pH and density – which in life help protect the plant – to "afterlife effects" which help determine how rapidly woody plants decompose. According to the study’s authors, understanding how these effects vary between different plant species could provide a way for researchers to account for variations in plant decomposition rates. This could help scientists model processes in which decomposition plays a major role, such as climate change and nutrient cycling. 

According to the lead author, Gbadamassi G.O. Dossa of ICRAF and KIB, the results of the study established the importance of bark traits in determining variations in wood decomposition. “Incorporating these effects should improve our understanding of carbon and nutrient cycles,” he noted.

Woody debris (WD) is a critical but often overlooked component of forest ecosystems. WD represents a globally significant carbon stock, and its decomposition returns nutrients to the soil while providing some form of habitat to microbes, plants and animals. Models of climate change and nutrient cycles therefore depend on an understanding of the drivers of WD decomposition. Scientists have long known that different woody plant species decompose in different ways and at different rates, and that this is at least partially due to the role of the bark in decomposition. However, because previous studies have often failed to distinguish between bark and wood, scientists have been unable to determine how bark traits such as thickness, structure and chemical content affect WD decomposition.

In the recent research, published online in the Journal of Ecology, scientists tackled this issue by looking at the role played by different bark traits in the decomposition of 15 woody plant species. The study, entitled, “The cover uncovered: bark control over wood decomposition”, describes how interspecific variations in bark affect decomposition of the wood inside it. The scientists found that: (i) bark effects on WD decomposition are species- and wood size-specific; (ii) bark enhances the decomposition of coarser WD, but slows twig decomposition in some species, and (iii) in the early stages of wood decomposition, bark prevents certain animals from accelerating decomposition.

Future research could extend this analysis to other plant species, giving scientists a clearer understanding of how plants break down and release carbon and nutrients back into the ecosystem.

Publication Details

Dossa GGO, Schaefer D, Zhang J-L, Tao J-P, Cao K-F, Corlett RT, Cunningham AB, Xu J-C, Cornelissen JHC, Harrison RD. 2018.  The cover uncovered: bark control over wood decomposition, Journal of Ecology



Gbadamassi G.O. Dossa (lead author)

Email: dossa@mail.kib.ac.cn

Phone: +86 15974955240

The World Agroforestry Centre

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) – www.worldagroforestry.org is a centre of scientific excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Leveraging the world’s largest repository of agroforestry science and information, we develop knowledge practices, from farmers’ fields to the global sphere, to ensure food security and environmental sustainability.

Kunming Institute of Botany

The Kunming Institue of Botany (KIB) –  http://english.kib.cas.cn/ is a leading research institute which is affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and dedicated to research in the fields of Botany and Phytochemistry. KIB is committed to exploring the world of plants, to generating knowledge about them and to developing sustainable ways to use plant resources.

Consumers Energy Foundation Announces $500,000 in Grants for Kitchen Incubator, School of the Arts in Jackson

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:25am

The Consumers Energy Foundation today announced $500,000 for two major projects near its downtown headquarters, supporting an incubator for chefs to grow their businesses and the relocation and expansion of the Jackson School of the Arts.

“Consumers Energy is doubling down on our commitment to our hometown, and we are excited to support these two efforts that will create opportunities in downtown Jackson,” said Patti Poppe, Consumers Energy’s president and chief executive officer. Poppe announced the grants at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Luncheon.

“We started more than 130 years ago in Jackson. We are working to create economic and cultural opportunities for all residents in our community, including a vibrant downtown that's an attractive place to live, work and innovate,” Poppe said.

The Consumers Energy Foundation is providing $300,000 for the Marketplace Food Festival Kitchen, a city-led effort in the former Vermeulen’s Furniture building on Cortland Street to develop space for chefs to hone their skills and develop their businesses as part of the overall $1.3 million project. Work is expected to start in July and be complete by December.

“We’re truly excited to have the Consumers Energy Foundation contributing to make this project a reality for downtown,” said Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies. “Their commitment means we can better foster a culture of entrepreneurship, grow and scale new businesses, and have an incubation hub that can serve as a model for the rest of the state.”

The Jackson School of the Arts is receiving $200,000 to support its relocation to the historic Masonic Temple building on Cortland Street where it will create a center for the arts and offer programs in the visual and performing arts. The new downtown destination will also include an exhibit gallery and retail space. The organization's enrollment has grown 2,000 percent in the last decade, creating the need to expand. Its mission to make the arts accessible to all regardless of income remains the same.  

“This generous grant is an investment in our community and in the thousands of people we are already serving with enriching arts education programs. It also gives our robust organization room to grow,” said Kim Curtis, Jackson School of the Arts executive director. “A vibrant arts center in our downtown will have immense social, cultural and economic benefits and will impact generations to come.”

Consumers Energy is committed to the success of its hometown in several ways. The energy provider:

  • Was a founding member of the Jackson Anchor Initiative, a collaboration among several businesses to promote Jackson.
  • Renovated the former Woolworth Building into its Innovation Center two years ago.
  • Recently announced the new Jackson Smart Energy District, which will promote the next generation of energy technology in the downtown area. The company will be issuing a request for proposals nationally for third parties to develop new technologies in the district.
  • Helped Jackson earn honors for being the second-most energy efficient small city in the nation last year, with an eye on being No. 1.

“We want to do our part to help Jackson and the entire state of Michigan to thrive and provide opportunities for the current and the next generation of residents,” Poppe said. “We look forward to continuing to power up ideas that make our community an even better place to live.”

Consumers Energy, its foundation, employees and retirees last year contributed over $17 million to Michigan nonprofits. The Consumers Energy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Consumers Energy, providing funds for education, community, civic and cultural development, social services, the environment, and emerging issues.

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

Media Contacts

Brian Wheeler, 517-788-2394

Katie Carey, 517-788-2395

For more information about Consumers Energy, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com.

Check Out Consumers Energy on Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ConsumersEnergyMichigan/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/consumersenergy

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/consumersenergy

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/consumersenergy/

Listen Learn Care Foundation Hosts Women’s Symposium in South Florida

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:25am

The newly named Listen Learn Care Foundation, formerly known as the Office Depot Foundation, is hosting its fourth annual Women’s Symposium in a new venue and with a new theme: “All In: Life Leadership Lessons for the Queen Bee.” The two-day event will take place May 3-4, 2018 at Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek and feature 12 dynamic speakers, including Listen Learn Care Foundation President Mary Wong, who will speak from the heart in sharing her own “life and leadership lessons.”

All of the speakers, who range from technology experts to marketers to business strategists, will offer personal and professional insights and expertise to help attendees build and strengthen their own “hives.” Like past years, the Symposium is expected to bring together upwards of 300 women.LaJoie The environment is specifically designed to promote engagement, networking, learning, collaboration, and personal transformation.

“The Women’s Symposium is a unique opportunity for both personal and professional growth,” said Mary Wong. “We encourage women at any stage of their career and life path to attend. From the young woman just starting off, to the veteran career professional with decades of experience, to the entrepreneur looking for a change, to the woman like myself forced to face new challenges and continue to fly.” 

Speakers scheduled to appear at the 2018 Women’s Symposium include:

Wendi Blum – International Speaker & Published Author
Alexa Carlin – Women Empower Expo
Anthony Francis – Improv U
Felecia Hatcher – Code Fever and Black Tech Week
Stacey Hylen – Business Growth Strategist and Coach
Lisa LaJoie – Tapping Into It
Jess Ostroff – Don’t Panic Management
Karen Pfeffer – Fire Power Seminars
Connie Phelan – Fire Power Seminars
Mina Shah – Speaker, Strategic Consultant and Founder of the Mina Meetings
Kate Volman – Marketing Strategist
Mary Wong – President, Listen Learn Care Foundation

“From the first year we hosted the Women’s Symposium, we’ve always created an innovative and unique event that promotes creativity, interaction, rejuvenation and most importantly inspiration,” added Mary Wong. “This year will be extra special because I will personally be using the Symposium to nurture my own growth and will be leaning on my fellow attendees extra hard. I can’t wait to be with my hive!” 

Tickets are on sale now. Registration costs $249 per person. This includes breakfast, lunch and breaks on both Thursday May 3 and Friday May 4, as well as a networking reception on May 3, 2018. To register for the Listen Learn Care Foundation’s Women’s Symposium, please visit: https://listenlearncare.org/womensymposium/

Sponsors include Comcast, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, Arthur J. Gallagher and Co, Q-Q Research, CSRwire, Surplus Giant, Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, Anne Zuckerman Law, JKG Group, Fusionary Formulas, Contemporary Living, Maria Lopez, Luly B, and Andy Parry. Sponsorship opportunities available at https://listenlearncare.org/womensymposium-sponsorships/

History of the Honeybee: According to researchers, honeybees are able to fly despite their body size because they have a rapid wing beat. In contrast to the fruit fly that has one eightieth the body size and flaps its wings 200 times each second, the much larger honeybee flaps its wings 230 times every second. The bees make up for the extra work by stretching out their wing stroke amplitude; in other words, they work like racing cars!

About the Listen Learn Care Foundation
The Foundation is an independent foundation − tax exempt under IRC Sec. 501(c)(3). In keeping with its mission, Listen Learn Care®, the Foundation supports a variety of programs that give children tools to succeed in school and in life; build the capacity of nonprofit organizations through collaboration and innovation; help women succeed in business; and help communities prepare for disasters, as well as recover and rebuild afterwards.  For more information, visit www.listenlearncare.org.

Media Contact:
Melissa Perlman
BlueIvy Communications

We’ll Change the Planet - Training 100,000 Sustainability Professionals and Entrepreneurs!

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 4:24pm

When anthropologist Margaret Meade talked about changing the world, global population was less than 3.7 billion.  Now, the population stands at 7.6 billion and growing!  As Earth Day approaches, how small of a group do we need to promote sustainability?  Or how big? 

The Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) wants to change the world.  We’re taking on a piece of this “small group of thoughtful, committed citizens” with an initiative to reach 100,000 of them by 2020! 

CSE has created the Sustainability Academy, an innovative online platform for organizations to maximize their Social Impact!  The goal is to teach the language of sustainability, promote its common goals and explain its unifying principles, across disciplines and international boundaries.  With the academy, companies can educate their staff, suppliers and other stakeholders in the field of Sustainability. 

“Education is key to individual, corporate and global prosperity,” says Nikos Avlonas, president and founder of CSE, best-selling author and sustainability pioneer.  He defines prosperity to include financial, social and governance (ESG) concerns and the triple bottom line – people, planet, profit. 

Beyond the lofty aspirations of Earth Day, corporations face the international objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), EU directives on sustainability, mandates from ASEAN on sustainable energy, and a global fixation on limiting carbon emissions.  Through education, organizations learn tools such as SROI (social return on investment) to help understand and calculate their Social Impact. 

For start-ups, world-changing opportunities are even greater.  The academy platform helps organizations support Social Entrepreneurship and young entrepreneurs who want to start careers and enterprises already focused on sustainability.  Established corporations or new, building a common understanding, knowing key definitions, where to turn for advance guidance, how to report ones successes – these all add to financial performance

We at CSE are dreamers – Earth Day for us encompasses the globe and all its inhabitants.  We are practical dreamers with results.  Based in part on his work with the Sustainability Academy, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the largest community foundation in US and globally, honored Avlonas as 2018 Practitioner of the Year for Corporate Responsibility, together with Google, Inc., winner of the corporate award.

Earth Day is about more than the ground we stand on – it’s about the people who eat its food, drink its water and care for each other.  Innovative platforms such as the Sustainability Academy help us all become committed citizens who can change the world!  

For more information on how you can promote the initiative or join in the effort, contact sustainability@cse-net.org.

Solidia Technologies Low-carbon Cement and Concrete Tech Qualifies Under BP’s New Advancing Low Carbon Accreditation Programme

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 4:24pm

 Solidia Technologies®, a cement and concrete technology, has been included in the first cohort of BP’s accreditation programme, Advancing Low Carbon (ALC), which was announced today. Solidia’s unique technology allows for a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the production of cement. Coupled with the capture of an additional 240 kg of CO2 during the CO2-curing process, Solidia’s systems can reduce the carbon footprint of cement and concrete by up to 70%.

“We’re thrilled that Solidia has received such a recognition for our cement and concrete, especially from a company like BP, whose BP Ventures business has been so crucial to our development,” said Solidia’s President and CEO Tom Schuler. “The ALC programme sets a high standard for BP and its partners, and today for building materials. Together, cement and concrete comprise one of the few global markets large enough to make a meaningful impact on CO2. We are so grateful that BP and BP Ventures finds value in our mission.”

Each ton of cement produces ~1 ton of CO2, making cement production the second largest industrial CO2 polluter, representing 5-7% of the world’s total CO2 emissions. If the global cement and concrete industry adopted Solidia’s technology, it would significantly reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. 

“I am delighted to see Solidia Technologies recognized in the first year of BP’s new Advancing Low Carbon programme. Companies like Solidia are a great demonstration of the lower carbon actions we want this programme to encourage across BP and BP’s partners,” said Vice President, BP Ventures, David Gilmour.

BP has introduced a new group-wide accreditation programme, Advancing Low Carbon (ALC), designed to encourage every part of BP to pursue lower carbon opportunities and to encourage customers and others outside BP to make lower carbon choices. The programme highlights activities that demonstrate and deliver better carbon outcomes. Qualifying activities range from emissions reductions in BP’s operations to carbon neutral products, from investments in low carbon technologies to BP’s renewables businesses. ALC activities are undertaken through BP’s own businesses as well as in partnership with others. Each activity included in the programme is evaluated, and subjected to independent assurance against defined criteria. The programme has been launched with an initial 33 accredited activities. More details on the Advancing Low Carbon programme and the individual accredited activities can be seen at www.bp.com/advancinglowcarbon

Easy to adopt anywhere in the world, Solidia’s systems produce sustainable Solidia Cement™ and cure concrete with CO2 instead of water, while utilizing manufacturers’ existing infrastructure, raw materials, formulations, production methods and specifications. Stronger, more durable and higher performing than traditional concrete, Solidia Concrete™ products cost less to produce, reduce water and energy use, and cure in less than 24 hours. 

# # # 

About Solidia Technologies® 
Solidia Technologies® is a cement and concrete technology company that makes it easy and profitable to use CO2 to create superior and sustainable building materials. Based in Piscataway, N.J. (USA), Solidia’s investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Bright Capital, BASF, BP, LafargeHolcim, Total Energy Ventures, Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) Climate Investments, Air Liquide, Bill Joy and other private investors. Honors include: 2017 ERA Grand Challenge (formerly CCEMC) Second Round Finalist; 2016 Sustainia 100; 2015 NJBiz Business of the Year; 2014 Global Cleantech 100; 2013 R&D Top 100; 2014 Best Place to Work in NJ; 2014 CCEMC Grand Challenge First Round finalist; 2013 Katerva Award finalist; and MIT’s Climate CoLab shortlist. Follow Solidia Technologies at www.solidiatech.com and on LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter: @SolidiaCO2.

Ecuador Indigenous Leaders In Canada for Critical Court Hearing Against Chevron Over $12b Pollution Judgment

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 4:09pm

Indigenous peoples and rainforest villagers from the Amazon Defense Coalition of Ecuador (FDA), the grass roots coalition trying to recover a historic $12 billion environmental judgment against Chevron, are scheduled to arrive in Toronto this weekend with the support of the Canadian Assembly of First Nations (AFN) for a four-day tour that will include a critical court hearing in Ontario that could re-shape indigenous rights and corporate law throughout the world. 

The hearing, which will take place April 17-18 before a three-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal, will determine whether Chevron can immunize itself from paying the Ecuador judgment by placing its assets in a wholly-owned subsidiary. Several Ecuadorian leaders from the FDA and AFN leaders, including National Chief Perry Bellegarde and former National Chief Phil Fontaine, are expected to attend the hearing.

Led by National Chief Perry Bellegarde, the AFN also passed a resolution by unanimous consent in support of the campaign by the Ecuadorians to enforce their judgment against Chevron’s assets in Canada, which are estimated to be worth at least $15 billion. The resolution called on Canada to consider legislation making it more “expeditious” for Indigenous peoples from other countries to enforce their judgments in Canada given that Chevron has succeeded in delaying resolution of the enforcement action for five years and the larger case for over two decades.

The AFN support for the case followed a high-profile tour of the affected area of Ecuador last September by former National Chief Phil Fontaine and Grand Chief Ed John, both of whom harshly criticized Chevron for failing to clean up billions of gallons of toxic waste it dumped onto ancestral lands and waterways. (See CBC article on trip and press release.) The Amazon area of Ecuador is home to 11 Indigenous groups – the most impacted by oil pollution being the Cofan, Secyoa, Siona, and Huaorani – and dozens of farmer communities.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Bellegarde stated: “The AFN fully supports Indigenous peoples in all regions. We stand with our brothers and sisters in Ecuador in this lengthy legal battle against Chevron in support of their quest for justice and restitution for the severe environmental damage in their territories. This legal battle has now moved to the Canadian courts. It is critically important that Canada’s courts look at this enforcement action, brought by our relations in the Amazon, in the framework of Indigenous rights and Indigenous legal traditions and that it be resolved so that justice can be achieved.” 

The issue in the Chevron matter before the Canadian court has a huge impact on First Nations and on the rights of all Indigenous persons worldwide, said Bellegarde. Chevron has argued that assets held by its wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary, Chevron Canada, should be off-limits to collection on the judgment even though Chevron reaps billions of dollars annually in profits from the subsidiary’s operations. If Chevron’s legal argument holds, it will be virtually impossible for First Nations and all human rights victims to collect on court judgments from private corporations once the corporations place their assets in a wholly-owned subsidiary. For more background on the Canadian enforcement action against Chevron, see this short memo for the media and this more detailed briefing memo.

Rafael Pandam, the President of Ecuador’s Amazonian Parliament who is a member of the FDA delegation, said, “The Indigenous nationalities and farmer communities of Ecuador are grateful to the Assembly of First Nations and all of our supporters in Canada for their support. Our issues with Chevron really impact the rights for all of the world’s 400 million Indigenous peoples. Like all polluters, Chevron must pay court judgments and should not be allowed to run from the law with convoluted technical arguments that undermine fundamental justice after more than two decades of litigation.” 

“We are coming to Canada to demand the courts of that country put an end to Chevron’s forum shopping and technical games designed to deprive our people of compensation for the destruction of their lands, waterways, and livelihoods,” said Carmen Cartuche, the President of the FDA, the organization founded in 1994 that represents the interests of the 30,000 peoples in the affected area in the legal case. “We won the trial based on overwhelming evidence. It is time for Chevron to pay up so we can clean up our ancestral lands and deal with the worsening health issues afflicting our communities.”

After an eight-year trial that produced 105 technical evidentiary reports, an Ecuador court in 2011 found that Chevron deliberately discharged billions of gallons of benzene-laced formation waters into the waterways that crisscross ancestral lands. (Here is a summary of the evidence.) The dumping decimated traditional lifestyles and caused an outbreak of cancer and other health problems that have either killed of afflicted thousands of people, according to independent health studies and other evidence presented to the court. 

The Ecuador trial court judgment was affirmed unanimously in 2013 by Ecuador’s Supreme Court. (That decision is here.) Chevron had insisted the trial on the environmental claims take place in Ecuador and had accepted jurisdiction there after filing 14 sworn affidavits in U.S. courts praising Ecuador’s court system. The case originally was filed in U.S. courts in 1993.

As the evidence against it mounted in the Ecuador trial, Chevron sold off its assets in the country and vowed to never pay the judgment. It also made its infamous “lifetime of litigation” threat and began retaliatory attacks against community leaders and their lawyers in courts around the world. The company has used at least 60 law firms and 2,000 lawyers on the case and recently was caught paying a witness $2 million to testify falsely about the case in U.S. federal court, leading to a criminal referral letter to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Ecuadorians came to Canada to enforce the judgment in 2012 given that Chevron has substantial assets in the country and the Canadian court system has a reputation for fairness. Chevron immediately hired four large Canadian law firms and again has been trying to tie up the case in procedural knots, said Patricio Salazar, the lead lawyer for the Ecuadorians. Nevertheless, the Ecuadorians have won three straight unanimous appellate decisions against in Canada, including one from Canada’s Supreme Court on a critical jurisdictional issue.

Members of the FDA delegation will be holding a press event on Monday in downtown Toronto at 11 a.m.  The court hearing will take place at 10 a.m. on April 17 and April 18 at the Ontario Court of Appeal at 130 Queen Street West.

For background on the Canadian lawyers for the FDA who are enforcing the Ecuador judgment in Ontario, see this profile of commercial litigator Alan Lenzcner and this profile of indigenous rights lawyer Peter Grant.

The Future of Sustainability Reporting: Trends to Watch

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 1:09pm

The Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York (CBSACNY) is an alumni organization seeking to strengthen alumni networks, support services, professional development, and education opportunities.  The Sustainable Business Committee produces events related to green businesses, the environment, sustainability, and pioneering new industry.  Visit CBSACNY online at http://www.cbsacny.org.

  • Hear from expert panelists with diverse experience in CSR and Sustainability Reporting.

  • Understand key factors and motivations that guide a company’s reporting strategy.

  • Learn about different reporting methods, frameworks, and standards.

  • Explore trends in CSR and Sustainability Reporting in the US and around the world.

  • Get answers to your questions - unique opportunity for open audience Q & A.

As companies strive to protect their reputational assets and earn trust from stakeholders, sustainability reporting and disclosure are no longer reserved solely for “green” or mission-oriented companies. Demand for transparency and disclosure is increasing, and sustainability reporting is becoming mainstream. However, how reporting is done may vary depending on the target audience and purpose of those disclosures. Dominant frameworks such as GRI and SASB, and emerging methods such as Reporting 3.0, Trucost, and <IR>, are evolving to play different parts and complement each other. Our expert panel will discuss best practices employed by companies, and how such practices create value for shareholders and stakeholders. While sustainability reporting remains largely voluntary, our panel will explore legal trends and any potential movement to integrate sustainability and financial disclosures, from a US and global perspective.

Register and learn more: http://www.cbsacny.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1088046

For more information, please contact:
Leila Goldmark, LGoldmark10@gsb.columbia.edu (re event details)
CBSACNY, contactus@cbsacny.org (re event registration and ticketing issues)

3rd ESG Investing & Green Finance Berlin Forum 2018

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 10:09am

We would like to raise awareness on our next 3rd ESG Responsible Investments & Green Finance Forum in Berlin, on 26.9.2018. The Forum is a unique communication, knowledge and networking platform, connecting asset managers, funds, asset owners, banks, insurance, corporates, startups, associations, institutions, always in cooperation with our partners Investment Bank Berlin (IBB) and Forum for Responsible Investments (FNG).

In the previous years, among speakers were seniors from top global brands (Thomson Reuters, S&P Dow Jones, European Investment Bank, MSCI, Deutsche Börse, Triodos Bank, Quadia Investments, Wermuth Asset Management, AON, Danone, CDP, FNG, IBB etc.) and top media partners (Thomson Reuters, Handelsblatt, Business Wire etc.). We have already booked our first speakers, our standard corporate and institutional cooperation partners (FNG, IBB), corporate and media partners.  

In terms of agenda format, the event consists of 2-3 panels (strategic/institutions panel, investors panel, corporations panel) with an impulse speech before each panel and 1-2 keynote speeches. 

Speakers and attendants come from a mix of senior managers from financial, banking, AM, AO, Investment Industry, Insurance, corporations, associations, startups etc. 

We are in the process of composing the panels and selecting the speakers. We believe that your company could add value with an impulse speech or as panelist.

Save the date and express your interest to be a forum speaker or panel speaker in time to enjoy all sponsorship and partnership benefits. 

For more information regarding sponsor packages please open the attached early bird sponsors deck and visit the forum’s dedicated website to learn more about the agenda, speakers, partners and also about our past forums in 2017 and 2016 (http://sustainabilityforum.de/).

Global Sustain Group (www.globalsustain.org), is an international Sustainability Management & ESG/SRI Responsible Investments Advisory Firm with 12+ years expertise and international track record in the field of ESG / SRI Investments, with companies in London, Berlin, Athens, office in Brussels, Affiliate in NY, Nicosia  (PRI Signatory Member, GRI Data Partner) conducting also ESG / SRI relevant market studies such as the one recently released New ESG/SRI Investments Market Report & Benchmark Analysis on "ESG Investing. From Niche to Mainstream", a teaser of which you can find attached.

Achieving Certification as Largest B Corp™ in the World and Unveiling New Name: Danone North America Celebrates First Anniversary with Two Major Milestones

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 7:09am

Building on Danone’s long-term commitment to balancing financial success with social and environmental responsibility, its U.S. subsidiary, formerly known as DanoneWave, commemorates its first anniversary by announcing the achievement of becoming the largest Certified B Corporation® in the world — two years ahead of its declared target — and changing its name to Danone North America.

Two milestones to mark 1st anniversary: new name, new mark of trust
As the maker of beloved food and beverage brands including Dannon®, Danimals®, Silk®, So Delicious®, Horizon Organic®, Vega® and Wallaby®, among others, Danone North America is a top 15 food and beverage company and top organic food manufacturer in the U.S., as well as a leader in plant-based and organic food and beverages. It was formed one year ago as DanoneWave, when the Danone U.S. dairy and WhiteWave businesses were combined, to create the largest Public Benefit Corporation in the world, following Danone’s acquisition of WhiteWave Foods. Incorporating as a Public Benefit Corporation legally committed the new subsidiary to balance shareholders’ financial interests with social and environmental considerations.
The company’s new name – Danone North America – represents an intention to continue its purpose journey with a single identity that’s easily recognizable to the many people who enjoy the beloved brands Danone North America makes.
Becoming a Certified B Corporation takes the company’s commitment one step further. B Corp™ Certification is for businesses what Organic is to food products: a promise that a company is doing business in a way that meets rigorous standards of verified performance, transparency and accountability and is Certified by B Lab®, a third-party non-profit.
We are incredibly proud to officially join the B Corp movement today as Danone North America. Our new name better positions us as part of Danone, a forward-looking and unified global food and beverage company that demonstrates business success can be synonymous with building a healthier world through food,” said Mariano Lozano, CEO, Danone North America. “This designation demonstrates to employees, consumers, partners, retailers, society and governments that we are committed to continuous improvement as we work to bring the company’s One Planet. One Health vision to life through our business and brands. We couldn’t have achieved this milestone with such speed and efficiency without the passion, dedication and tireless work of our more than 150 employees who helped in the certification process, along with the incredible support of our partners.

A new milestone in Danone’s global B Corp journey
Today’s announcement also supports Danone’s long-time dual project of balancing economic success and social progress, which the company’s then CEO, Antoine Riboud, first articulated publicly in 1972.

Today, with the addition of not only Danone North America in the U.S. but also Danone Canada, 8 Danone subsidiaries in total have been Certified so far in Argentina, France, Indonesia, Spain and the United Kingdom, including the leading U.S. organic baby food brand Happy Family.

Danone aims to be the first multinational food company to obtain a global B Corp Certification and has partnered with B Lab since 2015 to help define a B Corp model suitable for publicly traded global companies.

People rightly expect large organizations like Danone to use their scale for positive impact while demanding transparency, authenticity and action. It’s time to make sustainable business the only way of doing business,” said Emmanuel Faber, Danone Chairman and CEO. “I’m incredibly honored by our teams in North America, whose ability to achieve B Corp Certification in just one year is not only commendable, but will also help serve as a model of what’s possible to other Danone subsidiaries and other large companies. Representing around twenty percent of our global business, Danone North America’s B Corp Certification is an important milestone in our global company’s broader B Corp journey and a fundamental step towards realizing our Danone, One Planet. One Health vision.”

A rigorous B Corp Certification process reflective of core commitments

To obtain the B Corp Certification, companies must complete a B Impact Assessment and earn an audited minimum score of 80 out of 200 possible points and recertify—with the aim to continuously improve—every two years. Danone North America achieved a score of 85.
In addition to becoming a Certified B Corporation, Danone North America continues to make progress towards its purpose of nourishing people, communities and the world. This includes fighting climate change, driving more sustainable ingredient sourcing, advancing packaging recyclability, reducing waste, conserving water, fighting hunger, supporting local communities and ensuring animal welfare.

"A successful B Corp movement needs an inclusive community of companies of all sizes: from Fortune 500 companies to small sole proprietors. Today’s announcement shows how even complex multinational corporations can commit to balancing meaningful change with shareholder expectations. We could not be more excited that Danone North America undertook the significant effort to become the largest Certified B Corporation to date, and we are confident that this news will inspire other companies of similar or larger size and scope to join the movement,” said Bart Houlahan, co-founder of B Lab.

B Corp Certification is more than a logo, it connotes a core set of beliefs, vision and promise to redefine success in business,” said Lozano. “Our B Day is an exciting moment as we join a community of 2,400 Certified B Corporations from more than 60 countries across 150 industries. Together, we will be a force for good and serve as a model of shared and durable prosperity.”

For more information about Danone North America, please visit www.danonenorthamerica.com.

For more information about B Corp, please visit www.bcorporation.net

To see the B Corp profile for Danone North America, please visit 

About Danone North America

Danone North America is a Certified B Corporation business unit of Danone and operates in the U.S. from headquarter offices in White Plains, NY and Broomfield, CO.  Danone North America was formed as a Public Benefit Corporation in 2017 to nourish people, communities and the world through its diverse portfolio of healthful dairy- and plant-based products, coffee creamers and beverages. Its portfolio of brands includes: Activia®, DanActive®, Danimals®, Dannon®, Danonino®, Danone®, Earthbound Farm®, Horizon Organic® premium dairy products, International Delight®coffee creamers and iced coffee, Light & Fit®, Oikos® Greek yogurt, Silk®plant-based foods and beverages, So Delicious® Dairy Free, Vega® and Wallaby® Organic. The mission of the Company is to bring health through food to as many people as possible. For more information, please visit DanoneNorthAmerica.com.

About B Lab

B Lab is a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good. Its vision is that one day all companies will compete to be best for the world and that society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity. B Lab drives this systemic change by: (1) building a global community of Certified B Corporations; (2) promoting Mission Alignment using innovative corporate structures like the benefit corporation to align the interests of business with those of society; (3) helping tens of thousands of businesses, investors and institutions Measure What Matters, by using the B Impact Assessment and B Analytics to manage their impact — and the impact of the businesses with which they work — with as much rigor as their profits; and (4) inspiring millions to join the movement through compelling storytelling.