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.

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From the Web: Ikea’s $1 Billion Sustainable Supply Chain Investment

Furniture giant Ikea says it will invest €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in forestry and companies developing recycling technologies, renewable energy and biomaterials as part of the retail giant’s plan to secure a long-term supply of sustainable materials for its products.

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Part of Ikea’s billion-euro investment will focus on sustainable forestry. One of the ways Ikea and other companies do this is by investing in forests. This allows the companies to ensure the forests are managed responsibly, while also ensuring a reliable source of wood for products and packaging materials.

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From the Web: Can the New World Order Be Saved?

And the world tips slowly towards SEMBA…

The Only Way Forward, from the Foreign Policy Thinkers Blog:

“The rise of human agency also comes from the creation of
new professions. Social entrepreneurship and social-impact investing open wide, new vistas for individuals committed to solving global problems. As Roger Martin and Sally Osberg argue in their book, Getting Beyond Better, social entrepreneurs are distinct from direct social-service providers and social advocates. They “seek to shift a stable but suboptimal equilibrium in a way that is neither entirely mandated nor entirely market-driven. They create new approaches to old and pernicious problems. And they work directly to tip society to a new and better state.”

And…

“Social-impact investing has exploded from a few pioneers into a diverse ecosystem of boutique funds, philanthropic organizations, family offices, and large commercial banks. In Capital and the Common Good, author Georgia Levenson Keohane notes that nearly every mainstream financial institution, from Barclays to Bain Capital, now has a social or sustainable finance unit. The landscape is highly specialized by geography and issue area, ranging from small-business development to environmental and economic sustainability.”

 

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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Unilever Acquires Seventh Generation: What This Means For Sustainable Business

Written by Jason Wiff, SEMBA ’17, and previously posted on Impakter.com

In 2000, Unilever widened its umbrella of novelty brands and purchased the widely-popular, Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. With much domestic speculation over multi-national changes in business practices, Ben & Jerry’s remained untouched and continued business as usual. Just weeks ago Unilever announced that it was purchasing another sustainable, Vermont-based company, Seventh Generation.

When Unilever originally purchased Ben & Jerry’s it was noted that some of the ice cream companies’ controversial business practices could be in jeopardy, but the opposite seemed to be the outcome. Many conservational, societal and political impacts that were at the core of Ben & Jerry’s business model have not only thrived under Unilever, but have become a core part of Unilever itself.

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PHOTO: CSR OUTLINE, SEVENTH GENERATION PHOTO CREDIT: SEVENTHGENERATION.COM

 

A purchase price has not been released, but sources say Unilever purchased Seventh Generation for a price somewhere between $600-$700 million. Since 2011 Seventh Generation has been lead by CEO, John Replogle, a former Unilever executive and past CEO of Burt’s Bees. During this time, Seventh Generation has seen extreme growth with a revenue over $200 million in 2015.

Continue reading “Unilever Acquires Seventh Generation: What This Means For Sustainable Business”

Entrepreneur in Residence: Kate Williams

This story was written by Ted Carrick, SEMBA ’17. 

In the most recent installment of SEMBA’s Executive in Residence speaker series, the CEO of 1% for the Planet, Kate Williams, detailed how she has turned a passion for the outdoors and leadership into a successful career in the non-profit sector. I, too, share a love of the natural environment; it was the driving force for me in seeking out SEMBA.  In doing so I aspired to gain the skills necessary to use business to benefit the environment.

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Continue reading “Entrepreneur in Residence: Kate Williams”

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.

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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: Synthetic Process Converts CO2 Faster than Nature

Scientists have managed to make a synthetic process that converts CO2 into organic compounds faster than plants.

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In a study published in Science, the researchers detail how they managed to make a synthetic pathway that converts CO2 into organic compounds faster than plants. In order to find an enzyme to improve CO2 fixation, the researchers carefully selected 17 enzymatic compounds from nine organisms. These were engineered together using stepwise optimization to form a synthetic pathway that converts CO2 into organic molecules.

The technology is still under development, but holds great promise for carbon fixation.

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