From the Web: Is this the year smart businesses tackle the SDGs?

The Sustainable Development Goals read like the best-intentioned New Year’s resolutions: End poverty; promote peace and justice; cooperate and partner with others for the greater good; and so on. Makes you wonder if the resolutions will stick.

Yet corporations that have begun to pursue the SDGs see business advantages unfolding that will reap benefits in 2017 and beyond. They are expanding markets, attracting talent and eliminating some risk from operations.

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Microsoft, Google, Unilever, Tata, Siemens and others are seeing expanded markets, new recruits and risk reduction. Learn more >>

From the Web: Patagonia Challenges Businesses to Support Regenerative Agriculture

US outdoor clothing giant Patagonia is calling for business leaders to back regenerative organic agriculture, claiming that certain textile standards are “not going far enough.”


Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario blogs about regenerative agriculture:

A growing number of corporations, researchers, journalists and practitioners have also started using the term “regenerative”—as well as “restorative,” “sustainable,” “ethical,” and others—almost interchangeably, without any clear sense of what we’re talking about. Even worse, we’re increasingly seeing “sustainable” claims combined with conventional (non-organic) farming, which defeats the purpose entirely. How can you rebuild soil ecosystems while simultaneously pumping the soil with pesticides and herbicides?

We shouldn’t tolerate the watering down of agricultural practices that hold potential for enormous benefit to our suffering planet. The risks are simply too great. Meaningless terms with little or no concrete definition inundate consumers at every turn (even the label “organic” can be slippery), causing confusion at best. And some existing standards don’t go far enough. For example, many companies have signed onto the Better Cotton Initiative—a program that includes some important environmental and social provisions but ultimately still perpetuates some harmful conventional practices, including use of synthetic pesticides and GMO seeds.

Learn more >>

From the Web: Circular Economy Framework Could Give India a Competitive Advantage

A new report  by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the United Nations Conference for Trade Development (UNCTAD) has found that adopting circular economic principles would put India on a path to positive regenerative and value-creating development with annual benefits of US $624 billion in 2050 compared with the current development — equivalent to 30% of India’s current GDP.

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“Traditionally, the Indian economy has been one where reusing, re-purposing and recycling has been second nature. In a world that is increasingly running out of natural resources, this thinking is an asset that must be leveraged by businesses, policymakers and citizens in an organized manner and expanded to include other elements to make the economy truly circular,” says Shankar Venkateswaran, chief of Tata Sustainability Group.

As a result of unprecedented economic dynamism and a rapidly expanding population, India — which is slated to become the fourth-largest economy in the world if current economic growth trends continue — faces significant questions about urbanization, resource scarcity and high levels of poverty, and will be required to make profound choices regarding the path to future development.

The emerging powerhouse market could embark upon an industrialization path comparable to that of mature markets — albeit faster — complete with all of the associated negative externalities it entails. But this scenario is not inevitable. With its young population and emerging manufacturing sector, the country is well positioned to make systematic choices that would put it on a trajectory towards positive, regenerative and value-creating development.

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From the Web: Revising the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI)

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is the apparel, footwear and home textile industry’s foremost alliance for sustainable production. Its main focus is on building the Higg Index, a standardized supply chain measurement tool for all industry participants to understand the environmental and social and labor impacts of making and selling their products and services.

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Now, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has launched a new version of its Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI), a cradle-to-gate scoring tool that measures and communicates the environmental performance of thousands of materials used in creating apparel, footwear and home textile products.

The original version of the Higg MSI was developed by Nike and later adopted by the SAC in 2012 and incorporated into the SAC’s Higg Index.

Learn more >>

Burlington, Vermont: Sustainable by Design

Burlington, Vermont — home to the University of Vermont and our beloved Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA (SEMBA) — recently earned the distinction of being the first city in America to draw 100 percent of its power from renewable sources.

And it wasn’t an accident.

A recent Politico Magazine article profiles how we got therepolitico, through decades of deliberate effort and planning by people who understood — and continue to understand — that sustainability is not a fad, but an important ethic in building livable communities.

It is the same ethic that drives SEMBA to educate and launch the next generation of leaders who will leverage business to solve the world’s most pressing economic, environmental, and social challenges.

It’s another reason to come learn and live with SEMBA, in a place where sustainability is a way of life, and not a marketing slogan.

From the Web: What Tesla’s new Gigafactory means for electric vehicles

Tesla‘s new Gigafactory opened at the end of July in Nevada, with much excitement from both the media and the general public. Only 14 percent of the massive structure has been built, with the rest of the $5 billion project to be concluded by 2020.

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According to Tesla, battery cell production will start in 2017; by 2018, the Gigafactory should be cranking out cars to the tune of 500,000 Model 3s per year. A big part of Tesla’s need to build the Gigafactory lies in the reduced expenses for lithium-ion battery production it provides.

READ the full story >>

From the Web: Renewable Energy Can Improve Lives Of Agri-Food Chain Poor

A new study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) describes the role renewable energy can have in elevating the livelihoods of the millions of rural poor, specifically in terms of the impact it can have on the billions of people employed in the agri-food chain.  In the study, the agency uses data from the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), a SEMBA Advisory Board member.

SELF has pioneered the use of solar power for a wide range of applications including household lighting, water pumping, school electrification, drip irrigation and wireless Internet access.

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Off-grid renewables can support productive activity at all stages of the agri-food chain, from irrigation to support food production, through post-harvest processes, including agro-processing and food preservation for storage and transport. Modern renewable technologies also allow sustainable food preparation and cooking.