Sustainable Innovation


Take good care

 

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2016 has brought us many positive turns. Perhaps we start to understand how to keep this world a great place to live in? The Global Climate Agreements following COP21 in Paris were rectified. Renewable energy is taking over fossil fuels as the cost price decreases. The UN Sustainable Development Goals offer a shared framework for public and private sector to mitigate societal issues. Unfortunately we are still witnessing devastating wars,  severe inequality, and malnutrition issues .. we are not there yet.

My wish for 2017: Keep up the good work and take good care:

  • Take good care of the planet. Let’s keep the world the beautiful place and home as we know it. Use less stuff, use it longer, recycle and use renewables.
  • Take good care of the people. Pay respect and be gentle. Close to home and as far as you can reach. We are in this game together. Be kind.
  • Take good care of yourself.  Be the best version of yourself. Work hard and play hard. Make choices. Enjoy. Relax. Be inspired. Cycle. Paint. Play the piano ; ).

 Have a great 2017!

 

 

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‘Solar cells that degrade like tree leaves’
November 1, 2016, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Directions for Sustainable Innovation, Sustainability News

Olga Malinkiewicz aims to develop solar cells ‘that can degrade like leaves on a tree’. She invented a procedure to print  ‘Perovskite crystels’ on foils that can heat up our houses. ‘This new technology might change the whole energy sector’. See the movie about Olgas scientific and entrepreneurial journey:

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Are you also working on a renewable energy solution, solar or energy stockage, ready to scale up and interested in 500+ hours of technical & commercial coaching: Join the #BrightMindsChallenge

 



Before the flood

To document the devastating effects of climate change, Leonardo DiCaprio travelled around the world and spoke to scientists, governmental and industry leaders.

DiCaprio & team analysed the melted ice layers on Groenland, witnessed burning forests in Indonesia and inspected the white-washed ocean coral riffs out of a submarine. The science is clear. The future unfortunately isn’t.

We need the world to urgently switch to renewable energy, energy efficient buildings, sustainable cities, clean transport, less waste, act upon the Sustainable Development Goals.

A sign of the times – 2016: More information: https://www.beforetheflood.com.

You can watch the documentairy on You Tube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=90CkXVF-Q8M

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Social impacts of products

Underpinning company mission

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An important reason to start measuring social impact is to underpin a company mission. More and more companies define company aspirations in terms of social impact. Take for instance Danone, that has a dual mission of business success and social impact. Philips aims to improve the lives of 3 billion people. And L’Oréal strives with its ‘Sharing Beaty for All’ program for all its products to have a social or environmental beneift. It is  important to substantiate these goals with tangible examples and report on progress based on solid metrics. How to do so?

Learning from NGOs and philantropy

Social progress is the ‘raison d’etre’ for Non-Gouvernemental Organisations (NGOs) and philantropic organisationsFor NGOs it would be unthinkable not to track the number of people lifted out of poverty, the income generated for small holder farmers or the number of girls educated. A number of tools and guidelines have become available to forecast and track progress , for instance those ‘Global Impact Investing Network’. The reporting guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative provide inspiration as well for companies that wish to steer on social impact. However, these type of guidances do not always provide the level of granularity needed to steer the social impact of products.

Social impact through products

Companies can create the largest positive impact with their products and services. Through products companies have the ability to create the most significant impact in society: billions of end-users are reached, manufacturing processes can be changed in own organisation and supplier organisations. The choices companies make for their products have a direct effect on the impacts the products have on the planet and people. These impacts are created in all stages of the product life cycle from extraction of raw materials – all the way to the producten, use phase and the end of life of a product.

Life cycle approach

The impacts created by products can be related to all stages of the product life cycle, .’Life Cycle Analyses’ have become a common methodology to assess the environmental impact of a product. Take for instance the standard defined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) for life cycle assessments in the chemical sector. It is also possible to assess the social impacts along the life cycle. If you wish to integrate ‘people perspectives’ a good source is the Handbook for Product Social Impact Assessments developed by a group of industry peers.

Better for people and planet

DSM strives for products and innovations to be measurably better for the planet (Eco+) and people (People+)  based on a life cycle approach. By 2020 65% of DSMs products should be ‘Brighter Living Solutions’, measurably better for planet or people. Some examples:

  1. Alpaflor® Edelweiss is a personal care ingredient. It contributes to better skin health and comfort, and is sourced in a very socially sustainable way, contributing to good working circumstances and prosperity of farmers in the Swiss Valais region.
  2. Synthetic chains made of Dyneema® used for marine structure mooring are 8 times lighter and 70 times less noisy than steel chains. Users experience a safer and more comfortable use, shipping companies report improved operational efficiency.
  3. Medical gowns reinforced with breathable Arnitel VT® contribute to the protection of surgeons against virus and bacteria in high risk hospital environments, and allow surgeons to work in a comfortable way.
  4. Decovery® is a plant based and waterborne paint ingrediënt for paints. It is a solvent free and low odor product, and reduces health risks of the people involved in production and the users of the product.

Benefits of social impact measuring

Social impact measuring is useful to underpin company missions. Life cycle assessments can be instrumental to spot new innovation opportunities and business differentiators. They also help to train product developers and sourcing managers to choose the most sustainable alternatives, and marketeers to communicate the differentiators in a balanced way. More about business benefits here.

– based on the earlier published article by Karen Maas (Academic Director Impact Center Erasmus) and Jacobine Das Gupta (DSM Corporate Sustainability) in Dutch for NRC Live Impact Day

 



5 reasons to start measuring social impact

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Companies taking the lead 

In January politicians, leaders of multinationals, entrepreneurs and scientists gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos to discuss today’s societal challenges. It is encouraging to see that the private sector is taking a leading role in defining plans to mitigate climate change, ensure health and safety and move towards a circular economy. Companies employ the most employees in the world and have the largest investment and innovation capabilities. Nowhere else such significant impacts on society can be made as by companies if they run their business in a responsible way. Think about sustainable sourcing policies, careful choice of materials, eco-design, production methods, creation of jobs and good working conditions.

Why should you start measuring social impact?

All impacts organisations have on society can be summarized as ‘social impact’. These can be from economic, environmental and social perspectives. How to measure this impact? How to identify the best opportunities for a maximum positive social impact? Where do companies create most impact? How to shift to new more sustainable consumption patterns? How to define priorities, and how to track progress?  Measuring impact has surfaced in recent years as a new important perspective in doing business. There are five reasons why:

(1) Underpinning company mission: An increasing number of companies have defined company aspirations and targets that explicitly refer to the social impact they aim to achieve. Philips aims to improve the lives of 3 billion people with health care solutions. DSM wants 65% of its products to have a measurably better environmental or social impact (Eco+ or People+). Underpinning these missions are  essential to monitor and manage performance.

(2) Requests for transparency: External stakeholders set higher expectations on transparency than before. Reporting financial and non-financial results are becoming common practise. Companies are not only asked to be transparent about their profits and revenues, but also to inform the general public about the status of ‘externalities’ such as the safety, health and employee engagement of their staff as well as the green house gas emissions of their sites.

(3) Consumer expectations: A large majority of consumers expects that companies take responsibility for healthy, safe and decent working conditions under which products are being produced. Two thirds of all consumers sense responsibility to purchase products that support environmental or societal goals (Globescan). Half of all consumers state they are even prepared to pay more for products that have a clear environmental or social benefit (Nielsen). Producers of goods or services that want to tap into this pull will need to come up with evidence that shows the positive impact on society is not biased, but real.

(4) Changing investor preferences: The investor community increasingly steers on the social impacts of investments. Before, most investors applied an exclusion policy, avoiding certain sectors. Nowadays investors increasingly steer their portfolio based on performance on several Environmental Social and Governance factors (ESG). For companies this is a reason more to track and manage these factors more closely.

(5) Employee engagement: Last but not least, the ‘sense of purpose’ of a company has become the most important reason for Millenials to work for that company (Deloitte). And this not only accounts for the Generation Y. Many people like to work for a company that has a social mission in its headlines. It inspires people to get up in the morning.

Impact measurement important for companies to flourish

Measurement of social impact is still in its early stages. There are ongoing discussions how to do this, and how to monetise externalities. Integration of impact measurement results in business cases is expected, and even on company balance sheets in the future. There is much to be explored, and much to gain. The progress in the coming decade will be instrumental to have better insights in the real social impact of companies, and be able to steer, for a healthy planet, a prosperous society and companies that flourish.

– by Karen Maas (Academic Director Impact Center Erasmus) and Jacobine Das Gupta (DSM Corporate Sustainability) published previously in Dutch: NRC Live Impact Day



Some thoughts for 2016

It has been a crazy and tough, yet wonderful year, 2015. The world is changing at a high pace. Everybody is doing his or her utmost best to make the most out of it. The Netherlands experience a high influx of newcomers that arrive full of hope and motivation to build a new life, whereas we still are working hard on building these new mixed communities. The attacks in Paris, the city so close to my heart, make people realize that respect and empathy are the fundamental values that we should not stop advocating. In the city of light, end of the year, leaders of all nations concluded on an agreement to fight climate change, moving from fossil to a bio-based economy.

The plans are drafted for 2016 and beyond. Our success and future prosperity is depending on our perseverance to follow up. This counts for all of us: business and public leaders, entrepreneurs, managers, designers and consumers. Let’s stay sharp, be agile and make it work.

Some thoughts for 2016:

  • More important than speed, it’s the direction we are heading for.
  • More than kickstarters, we also need people that can be engines for change.
  • More than transparency, it’s about impact.
  • More than feeling pity, it’s about empathy.
  • More than admiring individual heroes, it’s about fostering collective pride.
  • More than pitching ideas, it’s about sharing and implementing.
  • More than avoiding harm, it’s about creating sustainable systems in which people can flourish, now and in the future.

Have a great 2016. Play. Learn. Enjoy. Be kind.

Happy 2016ing



Dutch state ordered to step up actions against climate change
June 28, 2015, 3:56 pm
Filed under: Sustainability News

Dutch Climate Case

This week, the court in The Hague has ordered the Dutch state to take further action to stop climate change. 900 citizens, organised by the environmental group Urgenda, had accused the Dutch government of negligence for “knowingly contributing” to a breach of the 2C maximum target for global warming.

Current plans to cut emissions by just 14-17% compared to 1990 levels by 2020 are told to be unlawful, given the scale of the threat posed by climate change.

The Netherlands should step up its actions to stop climate change and protect its citizens. It should follow EU’s ‘precautionary principle’ which prohibits actions that carry unknown but potentially severe risks. The as being ‘too small’ to make a difference” did not stand as a counterargument. “Any reduction of emissions contributes to the prevention of dangerous climate change and as a developed country the Netherlands should take the lead in this’, according to the judge.

A climate case like this has no precedent in The Netherlands. The country has a history of negotation, debate and ‘consensus. The discussion on climate change had not been extended to court, so far.

Herewith the video summarizing the lawsuit ith English subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQfa-htZVC0&t=30&app=desktop