Friday, October 28, 2011

Get with the Program Already

Corporate leaders should quit hedging if they don’t want to miss out on a prime opportunity to seize a competitive advantage now! 
By James Lyon

With BEX Asia 2011 recently over, it leaves much to ponder. And yes, while some headway seemed to have been made, unlike their Western counterparts, Asian companies have quite a bit of catching up to do when it comes to incorporating ‘green’ practices in their business model. “It may sound like a cliché but my advice to companies out there is to just do it’! Don’t fret about doing big things, just as long as you do something!” says Mr Jim McCallum, Senior Vice President of InterfaceFLOR Asia Pacific.

Recently a keynote speaker at the CSR Global Summit in Cebu, Philippines, McCallum spoke about how a brand could boost its credibility by leveraging on sound ‘green’ practices without the conventional dependency on huge advertising budgets. He also shared how progressive corporations like Interface Inc. are using sustainability as a key competitive driver.

“You could say our commitment to ‘Green’ is what makes us stand apart from our competitors. This is especially evident with our Mission Zero initiative, a sustainability strategy which aims to turn InterfaceFLOR into a zero-impact organization by 2020. Fundamentally, we strongly believe in what we’re doing and the fact that we’ve accrued massive savings in the process motivates us further to be good corporate citizens” says McCallum.

Incidentally, InterfaceFLOR, the modular flooring division of Interface Inc., a listed company, recently bagged the prestigious BusinessGreen Leaders Award 2011, Company of the Year. The UK award recognizes the trailblazing sustainability efforts of conventionally listed companies and their credible green business practices that make them beacons of green innovation and commercial success. Additionally, the globe scan survey on Sustainable Leadership 2011, listed InterfaceFLOR as number two on their sustainability index.  InterfaceFLOR was also an exhibitor at the recent BEX Asia 2011.

Drawing away from the bigger picture, InterfaceFLOR is also taking simple steps to make big differences, McCallum explains, such as establishing manufacturing facilities close to their key markets. This resonates well with one of their sustainability markers which is to minimise carbon footprint by exploring ways in which they can transport their carpet tiles more efficiently to reduce waste and emission. It is a sustainable decision that makes good business sense as this leads to a reduction in transportation costs as well.

Still, one can’t help but ask ‘Can InterfaceFLOR really justify a sustainability index rating with mounting fears of an impending recession where customers are trying to make every dollar count? And can the company keep prices low but still sell sustainable products?

McCallumn explains “The index is meant to drive innovation throughout our supply chain and allow our customers to evaluate products on something beyond just price.” Since the inception of its sustainability efforts, InterfaceFLOR has successfully chalked up waste saving efficiencies in excess of 430 million dollars.

He added “Businesses exist to make money, but more than ever, corporate leaders are starting to discover there is a way to make money, be profitable and do the right thing. And when one company sets the pace, others will want to follow. It’s corporate peer pressure 101. No company wants to be the one that got left behind!”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Co-Management in the coastal Village of Au Tho B, Vietnam

Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, SocTrang, Vietnam

Co-Management in the coastal Village of Au Tho B, Vietnam

Bianca Schlegel

Au Tho B village is located at the coast of Soc Trang Province in the Mekong Delta. The mainly poor people from ethnic minorities rely on the collection of natural resources from the mangrove forests for their livelihood, such as goby fry, clams, fish, crabs and snails as well as wood from the forest. For the poorest parts of the population, aquatic resources from the mangroves are the main source of income. With the implementation of the co-management former open access resources are now sustainably used. Resource users and local authorities negotiated together how to manage the mangrove forest and its associated aquatic food resources in such a way that the coastal protection function of the mangroves can be maintained and enhanced and at the same time local livelihoods can be improved.

Biodiversity Impact

Describe how your solution creates sustainable fisheries and promotes ecosystem health.
"Thanks to co-management I have to go less far to collect my resources.” This statement of a woman in Au Tho B clearly shows the effects of protection of the mangroves and the sustainable use of the aquatic resources – increase in species abundance and sustainable use of fisheries resources. This is a clear indicator for recovery of the forest and its resources after overutilization during open access. Co-management involves large areas which can be divided into zones in which different management regimes are applied. Rules for the zones were developed jointly by the local people and local authorities and regulate who can enter the zones and what resources can be collected, when, how (e.g. net size) and how much. This increases the effectiveness of management and protection. The zonation concept includes a protection zone, set up for the protection of aquatic species, providing them with undisturbed habitats for breeding and thus increasing the biodiversity of the mangroves. It also includes a rehabilitation and a sustainable use zone. For example: In the past newly planted or naturally regenerated mangroves in front of the established forest were often destroyed by people collecting aquatic resources during high tide, particularly when erecting fixed long nets or using scoop nets. During the negotiations for the rules of the rehabilitation zone the resource users agreed that collection of aquatic resources in this zone can only be done when the mud is visible, i.e. at low tide when the small trees can be seen. Rules for the use of certain fishing tools were also set up.
Describe how your solution protects biodiversity against local threats.
The key threats are the unsustainable use of resources from the mangrove forests and the conversion of mangrove forests into shrimp ponds. A solution to these threats is the move from overuse through open access to ownership and sustainable use as part of co-management. Although the process of co-management has only started about 2 years ago, first experiences already show that co-management is an effective way of maintaining and enhancing the protection function of the mangrove forest belt and at the same time providing livelihood for local communities. Through co-management local people became managers of the forest. Through the jointly agreed regulations the resource users are given clear and secure user rights to sustainably use resources (also rules for a zone set aside for strict protection) and the responsibility to manage the resources sustainably and protect the mangrove forests. This increases the sense of ownership by the resource users and results in improved and more effective protection of the resources. The local people spend a lot of time in the forest, and because they have developed ownership for the entire forest, will report illegal activities to the authorities without the need for forest rangers to patrol the area.They also will educate violators about the rules and why it is so important to protect the mangroves. This is supported by information dissemination about the co-management rules to local people in the neighbourhood and by general environmental awareness raising activities.
How large is the surface area where your solution is being applied?
Co-management is implemented in Au Tho B village in Vinh Hai Commune, Vinh Chau District at the coast of Soc Trang Province in the Mekong Delta. The total village area is 439.28 ha. Au Tho B has a coastline of 2.76 km and 165ha of mangrove forest with varying width. Au Tho B village has a population of 3,638 (1.2% Vietnamese, 41% ethnic Chinese and 57.8% Khmer) comprising 727 households and is the biggest village in VInh Hai Commune. 290 households out of the 727 are using and being dependent on resources in the mangrove forests as well as the adjoining mudflats and sandbanks. An overview provide the following videos:

Human Wellbeing and Livelihoods Impact

How does your solution improve human wellbeing or improve livelihoods and how many people are being impacted by your solution?
"Since we started co-management we are very happy, because our daily income has increased and we can benefit now from about 50-60.000 VND per day." This statement of a member of the co-management group clearly shows that the livelihood of the local people has improved because of co-management. Not only do they have more income due to an increase in availability of aquatic resources, they also have more time to carry out activities other than resource collection because they have to go less far for that. The latter mainly applies to women who collect fire wood for cooking. Efficient wood burning stoves were introduced which led to a reduction in fire wood need and in cooking time by 30-50%. To use less dry wood means also less damage to the forest. In addition a clam co-operative has been established following the co-management principles. The sustainable utilisation of clams on the sandbanks in front of the mangrove forests will contribute to the income of the local people and will benefit from well-managed forests. A proposal for an environmental sanitation activity in Au Tho B village focussing on rubbish collection, clean water and hygienic latrines is currently being developed to further improve the livelihoods and well-being of the community. The poor ethnic Khmer population benefits from legal and secure access to natural resources, which ensures sustainable use of the resources and effective protection of the mangrove forests. The latter is extremely important for the coastal zone of Soc Trang Province because of the negative impacts of climate change.


How many years has your solution been applied?
2 years
Have others reproduced your solution elsewhere?

Sustainability & Resilience

How do you manage your solution?
For co-management to operate effectively, active participation is required from all stakeholders. A prerequisite for this is the empowerment of local communities in order for their voices to be heard at the negotiation table. The co-management group and the local authorities have negotiated an agreement which is now being implemented under the governance of a pluralistic co-management board with representatives from the co-management group, Au Tho B village, the Commune People’s Committee, the forest protection sub-department, the women’s and farmer’s unions. Monitoring is an important tool for the board to steer the overall management. Therefore, a participatory resource monitoring system is being carried out by the resource users themselves. The monitoring programme uses two indices to monitor compliance with the co-management agreement and sustainability of the resource harvest. Indices can be used in comparisons for monitoring without the need for expensive baseline data. The resource user complete datasheets which record the amount harvested and the effort used for the harvest after each trip. For a long-term financial sustainability a payment for ecosystem services was established with the clam cooperative. Those who utilise the sandbanks commercially for clam farming benefit from a well-managed forest and the ecosystem services it provides. In exchange, financial benefits must flow from the commercial farming of clams to those who manage the mangroves. The clam cooperative will therefore pay the operational costs of the mangrove co-management group.


Describe the management and governance aspects of your solution as they relate to your local community.
During a meeting earlier this year one member of the co-management group in Au Tho B said in front of the Director of the Forest Protection Sub-department: "Before we were afraid of the forest rangers, now we work together with them." This indicates the change in people's perception. Co-management involves participation of all stakeholders. It is based on contracts made with groups of people rather than individual households, as it has been the case in Vietnam so far. Now the people organised themselves voluntarily as a strong voice working together to protect their valuable resources by following theagreed rules for each zone. In a participatory process the management area was identified, the resource users were identified and organisedin 6 sub-groups (290 households are too many for a single group which meets regularly) and group leaders and sub-leaders were elected who were accepted by all group members and who met certain criteria such as trustworthy, good morals, understanding of fisheries and forestry, knows how to read and write and interested in the environment. In addition, a pluralistic co-management board was established. All stakeholders, the community as well as the authorities, benefit from the effective protection of mangrove forests, livelihood improvement through secure sustainable resource use, involvement of resource users in resource management decision-making and reduced workload for authorities. The co-management concept for the coastal zone of Soc Trang Province is currently being expanded to two more districts in Soc Trang Province and Bac Lieu.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wake up from the fossil dream


This is the motto for Durban: leave it in the ground.
It's high time to start waking up from the fossil dream!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cooking with California Food in K-12 Schools

The Center for Ecoliteracy, in partnership with TomKat Charitable Trust, presents Cooking with California Food in K–12 Schools, an inspiring cookbook and guide to menu planning co-written by award-winning cookbook authors Georgeanne Brennan and Ann M. Evans.
Cooking with CA Food in K-12 Schools cover

Cooking with California Food introduces the concept of the dynamic 6-5-4 School Lunch Matrix, based on six dishes students know and love, five ethnic flavor profiles, and four seasons. It offers ideas for adding more fresh, local, healthy foods to school lunches; helps meal services devise an appealing variety of menus around dishes that children already prefer; honors California’s rich history and cultural heritage; and describes a tested plan for effective professional development for food services staff.
Download the complete cookbook  12mb

Increasing the amount of fresh, locally sourced fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other nutritious foods in school lunches is a goal of many school districts and of the United States Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program. The nearly 900 million meals served annually in California schools today present 900 million opportunities to create positive systemic change. After all, what better way is there to build healthy lifelong eating habits, support student well-being, and promote our economy and environment than by offering delicious, appealing meals that celebrate our agricultural abundance and rich cultures?
Healthy students learn better and achieve more. Changing how we grow, process, and prepare food impacts issues from health care costs to climate change, energy and resource conservation, and community vitality. The billions of dollars devoted to providing healthier school meals will boost California agriculture, invigorate local economies, and promote equity.

More Cooking with CA Food Tools and Resources

Training Cards in English Nutrition Education Cards and Hospitality Training for School Nutrition Services Staff
This kit contains 20 color cards of fruits and vegetables, with nutritional and agricultural facts to help food services staff educate students about healthy choices. It also contains resources for staff professional development.
Download complete kit in English 3.5mb

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ecocity - 15 conditions for sustainable development

1. ACCESS BY PROXIMITY: The city provides the majority of its residents with walkable access from housing to basic urban services. It also provides walking and transit access to close-by employment options.


2. CLEAN AIR: The city maintains a level of air quality that is conducive to good health within buildings, the city’s air shed, and the atmosphere.
3. HEALTHY SOIL: Soils within the city and soils associated with the city’s economy, function and operations meet their ranges of healthy ecosystem functions as appropriate to their types and environments; fertility is maintained or improved.

4. CLEAN AND SAFE WATER: All residents are ensured access to clean, safe, affordable water; the city’s water sources, waterways and water bodies are healthy and function without negative impact to ecosystems. Water consumed is primarily sourced from within the bioregion.

5. RESPONSIBLE RESOURCES/MATERIALS: The city’s non-food and non-energy renewable and non-renewable resources are sourced, allocated, managed and recycled responsibly and equitably, and without adversely affecting human health or the resilience of ecosystems. Resources/Materials are primarily sourced from within the bioregion.
6. CLEAN AND RENEWABLE ENERGY: The city’s energy needs are provided for, and extracted, generated and consumed, without significant negative impact to ecosystems or to short- or long-term human health and do not exacerbate climate change. Energy consumed is primarily generated within the local bioregion.
7: HEALTHY AND ACCESSIBLE FOOD: Nutritious food is accessible and affordable to all residents and is grown, manufactured and distributed by processes which maintain the healthy function of ecosystems and do not exacerbate climate change. Food consumed is primarily grown within the local bioregion.


8. HEALTHY BIODIVERSITY: The city sustains the biodiversity of local, bioregional and global ecosystems including species diversity, ecosystem diversity and genetic diversity; it restores natural habitat and biodiversity by its policy and physical actions.
9. EARTH’S CARRYING CAPACITY: The city keeps its demand on ecosystems within the limits of the Earth’s bio-capacity, converting resources restoratively and supporting regional ecological integrity.
10. ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY: The city maintains essential linkages within and between ecosystems and provides contiguous habitat areas and ecological corridors throughout the city.


11. HEALTHY CULTURE: The city facilitates cultural activities that strengthen eco-literacy, patterns of human knowledge and creative expression, and develop symbolic thought and social learning.

12. COMMUNITY CAPACITY BUILDING: The city supports full and equitable community participation in decision making processes and provides the legal, physical and organizational support for neighborhoods, community organizations, institutions and agencies to enhance their capacities.
13. HEALTHY AND EQUITABLE ECONOMY: The city’s economy consistently favors economic activities that reduce harm and positively benefit the environment and human health and support a high level of local and equitable employment options that are integrated into the ecocity’s proximity based layout and policy framework – the foundation for “green jobs” and “ecological development.”
14. LIFELONG EDUCATION: All residents have access to lifelong education including access to information about the city’s history of place, culture, ecology, and tradition provided through formal and informal education, vocational training and other social institutions.
15. WELL BEING – QUALITY OF LIFE: Citizens report strong satisfaction with quality of life indicators including employment; the built, natural and landscaped environment; physical and mental health; education; safety; recreation and leisure time; and social belonging.

The International Ecocity Framework and Standards Initiative is a project of Ecocity Builders and the International Ecocity Advisory Committee — link to  INTERNATIONAL ECOCITY FRAMEWORK AND STANDARDS.PDF