Page 1

01892 882 207 or visit i-to-i.com Since 1994, i to i Volunteering has been bringing together travellers from all over the world with projects that respond to local communities in need. With over 100 projects in 20 countries, do something extraordinary whether you teach English to underprivileged children or help to conserve endangered species.

Work with children Conservation work Care for wildlife Build for communities

greenfutures No.87 January 2013

Lighter lives The dawn of the new nomads

Why asking the crowd is the answer for business Variety is the spice of the world’s healthiest diet Profiled: Philip Malmberg, CEO of Ecover and Method


About Us

greenfutures

Green Futures is the leading international magazine on environmental solutions and sustainable futures. It was founded by Jonathon Porritt in 1996 to showcase examples of practical and desirable change, and is published by Forum for the Future. Our readership includes key decision-makers and opinion-formers in business, government, education and non-profit organisations. We work with a select group of partners who demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainable development. In return for a contribution towards the cost of producing Green Futures, we offer our partners the

opportunity to place themselves at the heart of the debate. They enjoy privileged access to the expertise of the Green Futures team and Forum for the Future as a whole, as well as targeted free subscriptions and advertising opportunities. If you’d like to join us as a partner, please contact Katie Shaw: 020 7324 3660; katie@greenfutures.org.uk Read Green Futures online: www.greenfutures.org.uk

Published by By printing this publication on Cocoon Silk 100% recycled paper rather than a non-recycled paper, the environmental impact was reduced by: 1,348 kg of landfill, 146 kg CO2 and greenhouse gases, 35,186 litres of water, 3,313 kWh of electricity and 2,190 kg of wood.

Editor in Chief MARTIN WRIGHT Managing Editor ANNA SIMPSON

Source: Carbon footprint data evaluated by FactorX in accordance with the Bilan Carbone methodology. Calculations are based on a comparison between the recycled paper used versus a virgin fibre paper according to the latest European BREF data (virgin fibre paper) available. Results are obtained according to technical information and subject to modification.

Production and Development KATIE SHAW Production Support ULRIKE STEIN

On or about December 2012, human character changed – to misquote Virginia Woolf. But if Woolf was talking about the impact of new technologies (such as the rotary press) and new professions (such as advertising) on how we expressed ourselves a century ago, then it’s worth taking a moment to consider the difference current trends in ICT are making to human character today. Instant access to conversation platforms, encyclopaedias, news, maps and media – wherever we happen to be – is revolutionising the way we relate to one another. First of all, there’s the sharing trend. Everything’s open-source, peer-to-peer: what’s yours is mine, even down to what you know. I expect you to lay your history and provenance bare – whether you’re a public service, a fashion label or a dining room table [see ‘Object lessons’, p30]. This ‘common’ knowledge represents a great resource. No wonder business leaders and entrepreneurs are looking further afield for ways to keep ahead of the game, a trend Tess Riley explores in ‘Crowdsource your future’ [see p18]. It’s against this lively backdrop that Sally Uren urges brands to rethink when to compete and when to collaborate [see p37]. How we talk to each other is changing too. Rich exchanges, and even profitable ones, go on between people who’ve never met, and perhaps never will. Shared interests define more communities now than shared location. Perhaps it’s time old soap operas like ‘Neighbours’ were reborn as ‘Networks’… Access to communities and information at any time and from anywhere is giving rise to new ‘roaming’ lifestyles, changing the way in which we relate to location altogether [see ‘The new nomads’, p16]. And so, as fixed abodes and offices begin to seem passé, adaptability climbs the ladder of key survival skills. The more we move, the more rapidly we’ll need to pick up on different cultural expectations, says Philip Malmberg, who is leading the merger of Ecover and Method, and the international expansion of both brands [see p28]. Even the locations we think we know will be transformed from one day to the next, as water levels rise and fall, and land planners would do well to prepare for this, warns Peter Madden [see p4]. So how will all of this affect our ability to live and prosper within the world’s limits? Personally, I hope it will prompt greater awareness of how much we depend on each other and on the resources we share. After all, says Jonathon Porritt [p48], one thing we will always own is our responsibility towards each other and the systems of which we are part.

@GreenFutures

Our Partners AMEC Francesco Corsi, +44 (0)191 272 6128 www.amec.com/ukenvironment

Delhaize Group Megan Hellstedt, mhellstedt@delhaizegroup.com www.delhaizegroup.com

Kingfisher Becky Coffin, becky.coffin@kingfisher.com www.kingfisher.com

Arjowiggins Graphic Shannan Hodgson, shannan.hodgson@arjowiggins.com www.recycled-papers.co.uk

Ecover Philip Malmberg, +32 3 309 2500 www.ecover.com

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) James Simpson, +44 (0)20 7811 3315 www.msc.org

Ashden Jane Howarth, +44 (0)20 7410 7023 www.ashdenawards.org

Energy Saving Trust +44 (0)20 7227 0398 www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

Marks and Spencer plc Rowland Hill, PlanA@marksandspencer.com

Food and Drink Federation Nicki Hunt, +44 (0)20 7420 7132 www.fdf.org.uk

Pureprint Group Richard Owers, +44 (0)1825 768811 www.pureprint.com

Hewlett-Packard Nancy Keith Kelly, www.hp.com

Skanska Jennifer Clark, +44 (0)1923 776666 www.skanska.com

Bupa Andrew Smith, +44 (0)20 7656 2343 www.bupa.com ClimateCare +44 (0)1865 591000 business@climatecare.org www.climatecare.org

Ingersoll Rand www.ingersollrand.com

Target www.target.com

Telefónica UK Simon Davis, simon.davis@O2.com Triodos Bank William Ferguson, +44 (0)117 980 9770 www.triodos.co.uk TUI Travel plc Jane Ashton, +44 (0)1293 645911 www.tuitravel.com sustainabledevelopment Unilever plc Karen Hamilton, Karen.Hamilton@unilever.com +44 (0)20 7822 5917 www.unilever.com WWF-UK Dax Lovegrove, +44 (0)1483 412395 www.wwf.org.uk

Subscribe to Green Futures

Editorial Assistant DAVID HEWITT Design THE URBAN ANT LTD Founder JONATHON PORRITT Green Futures would like to thank: Jenny Hammond and Polly Wheldon Kyla Mandel and Isabel Sloman (interns) Helius (proofreading), Shelley Hannan (web) Editorial Overseas House,19-23 Ironmonger Row, London, EC1V 3QN, UK Tel: +44 (0)20 7324 3660 Email: post@greenfutures.org.uk Subscriptions AASM, Unit 8 Earlstrees Court, Earlstrees Road, Corby, NN17 4AX, UK Tel: +44 (0)1536 273 543 Email: greenfutures@aasm.co.uk Green Futures is published by Forum for the Future Registered Charity Number: 1040519 ISSN No: 1366-4417 The opinions expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of Forum for the Future, nor any of its associates. © Forum for the Future 2013. Our environmental impact At Green Futures, we strive to produce a gorgeous, glossy magazine whilst maintaining the highest environmental standards. We are printed by Pureprint, using their environmental print technology and vegetable based inks, developed back in 1990. Since then, Pureprint has gone on to win numerous awards for their environmental achievements, including the 2010 Environmental Printer of the Year award. We print Green Futures on 100% recycled and FSC® certified Cocoon Silk paper, supplied by Arjowiggins Graphic.

Subscribe now, and we’ll deliver the quarterly magazine and all Special Editions to an address of your choice. You can also buy a subscription as a gift for a friend. Prices start at £15 for a personal subscription. Call:

+44 (0)1536 273543

Email: greenfutures@aasm.co.uk www.greenfutures.org.uk/subscribe

Photos: Erik xxxxx Photos: Isakson/Corbis

Visit:

Write to: AASM, Unit 8 Earlstrees Court, Earlstrees Road, Corby, NN17 4AX, UK Subscribe to the future you want to live in.

IV

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Anna Simpson Managing Editor anna@greenfutures.org.uk @_annasimpson With this issue, subscribers receive the free Special Edition: ‘Futuristas: Why women are crucial to change’.

www.greenfutures.org.uk

To make sure that the magazine reaches you in pristine condition, we mail it to you in SUPERECO bags, made of a biodegradable biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) film which is recyclable, and non-toxic in landfill. Forum for the Future is certified to the ISO 14001 standard.

Green Futures January 2013

1


Contents

Number 87, January 2013

12 7 00 8

32

24

37

20

11 17

Features 16 T  he new nomads With on-the-go access to almost everything, a generation of consumers is cultivating a new relationship to the material world, says Anna Simpson.

26 Cargo cuts If money makes the world go round, it also sends a lot of stuff around the world. Michael Ashcroft looks for a low-carbon route through the clutter.

18 C  rowdsource your future Interaction is ever more important to business development. But whom should you call on, and how? Tess Riley asks the audience.

30 Object lessons What makes for really good design? Should aesthetics come first, or application? John Eischeid scans the stories behind success.

20 D  elicious abundance Feeding the world on a sustainable diet means our dishes will look quite different in years to come. But variety’s still the spice, says Katherine Rowland.

34 Smart Manchester A new Low Carbon Hub aims to make Manchester the most attractive place for low carbon lives and innovation. Emilie Beauchamp reports.

2

Green Futures January 2013

Briefings

Regulars

Partner viewpoints

The latest in green innovation, including:

4 The future in context Peter Madden issues a flood warning

39 Youth on board A fresh challenge for business Kingfisher

43 Healthy planet, healthy people Why ‘green’ is good for our health Ecover

40 Good trips How voluntourism can meet needs TUI Travel

44 Fish source Getting closer to the catch Marine Stewardship Council

41 Watery world One drop at a time won’t cut it AMEC

45 Propping up oil Can the UK afford its fuel subsidies? Triodos Bank

5 Aquaponic promise Food security for Pacific island 7 Supergrid breakthrough Efficiency win for long-distance power 8 A great save A stadium for Brazil’s low-carbon goals

24 A thousand words Communities embrace water in India 28 T  he Green Futures interview Philip Malmberg, CEO of Ecover

11 A  ll in a spin Pedal-powered laundry saves water

35 Forum update Home energy use; the colour of tea in 2030; and Sally Uren asks when to collaborate and when to compete

13 C  rack cure Concrete finds healing power in bacteria

47 Feedback Readers respond online and in print

14 A  case of taste Food packaging that’s good to eat

48 Jonathon Porritt Are consumers placing unrealistic expectations on leading brands?

www.greenfutures.org.uk

www.greenfutures.org.uk

42 Why food needs science Andrew Kuyk makes the case Food and Drink Federation

Green Futures January 2013

3


Peter Madden

Briefings

The future in context

Aquaponic promise Closed-loop farming trialled in Rarotonga Aquaponics could hold the answer to food supply for islands in the Pacific. Many lack suitable soil for growing crops, have limited freshwater, and struggle to import fresh produce because of rising fuel costs. Moreover, a recent study by the marine conservation and advocacy group Oceana named the Cook Islands the country most at risk of food insecurity through ocean acidification, which threatens its fish stocks. Now, Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands, is trialling a new aquaponic farm which combines aquaculture (raising fish in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants without soil) in symbiosis. In this carbonneutral ‘closed-loop’ system, nitrate-rich water from the fish tanks irrigate vegetables in nearby beds. The fish waste nourishes the plants; they in turn filter and oxygenate the water before it returns to the tanks. No

Flood warning We’ll do well to adapt

4

Green Futures January 2013

laws and building regulations, across the world, will increasingly require such design changes. This will mean that, as well as cultivating their land for crops, farmers will be encouraged – or paid – to plant trees and dig ponds that slow down, store and soak up water. Natural defences, such as salt marshes, will provide wildlife havens as well as acting as giant sponges. And in cities, new parks and playing fields will provide civic amenity for most of the year – and a harmless place for water during floods. All this will mean finding money to pay for improved protection and resilience. There may be some low-hanging fruit (the odd tweak to design specs when swapping-out existing infrastructure), and there’ll also be win-wins with ecosystem enhancement. Some defence costs will be paid for by concerned individuals and localities. Ultimately, though, the big schemes will require investment from public authorities. Given the value of urban land and the costs of economic disruption and human misery, it will be money well spent, and the sooner the better. In coming years, we can look forward to a host of smart flood protection technologies and solutions. Among them, the cleverest will be the systemic ones: those that, rather than trying to hold back the rising tides, reassess our relationship to water in the first place.

Peter Madden is Chief Executive, Forum for the Future.

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Helen Ellis of NZAid expressed her confidence that this model has successful applications within “the home, the community and the commercial sectors”. If success can be demonstrated, NZAid plans to sponsor further aquaponic farms in the northern Cook Islands. According to Professor Tim Benton, UK Champion for Global Food Security, “Solutions such as this definitely have a future in resource-stretched situations. Such systems, if properly managed, can produce very high yields relative to conventional farming – especially precious when land is limited. They must have a role in local production within cities, for example.” Berlin is one city taking the plunge: Efficient City Farming is currently building a 1,000sqm aquaponic farm on the roof of a disused factory. – Christina Madden

Coastal converts Algae and seawater could be a recipe for sustainable biofuels

Photos: iStockphoto/thinkstock; NASA Ames Research Center

In the last couple of years, communities across the world have experienced devastating floods. As the threat of flooding becomes even more severe in future decades, how will we re-engineer our towns and cities to be resilient? We will see huge steel gates that automatically rise up from the earth to block floodwaters. River-mouth barrages, many kilometres long, will hold back storm surges, while giant self-inflating bags, that mould themselves to contours, will seal off tunnels and underground railways from encroaching water. Many people will live in houses that, quite literally, float up as the water rises, trailing flexible cables and pipes. These will keep the occupants and their possessions dry, and then return to their original position as floodwaters subside. Recent floods – from Ohio to Venice, Argentina and the Philippines – have brought enormous financial costs and human misery. According to the Environment Agency, floods are now the number one natural hazard facing the UK. And the risks will get worse, both here and overseas. Throughout human history, we have built our major settlements on low-lying land near rivers and harbours. Climate change is already bringing sea level rises, and more severe weather events, threatening these settlements. Population growth and continuing urbanisation will increase the number of people at risk from flooding; while deforestation, intensive farming and concreting over ever-more land mean there’s less natural drainage for heavy rain and bursting rivers. The world is going to have to adapt. Important infrastructure will have to be placed more intelligently in flood risk areas. Computer servers, switching-gear and back-up generators can no longer live in basements. Electricity substations and water treatment plants will have to be lifted out of danger zones. Utilities will begin to invest in micro-grids, limiting electricity outages, water contamination or broadband disruption to smaller areas. Planning

herbicides, pesticides or hormones are used, and the system uses just 10% of the water required by traditional agriculture. The pilot project, Te Raurau o te Kaingavai (or ‘Green Living Waters Garden’), has received a NZ$250,000 grant from the New Zealand Aid [NZAid] Programme. Analysis by the University of Auckland predicts a payback period of just 2.3 years. The Cook Islands’ Agriculture Minister Kiriau Turepu says: “Aquaculture is the way forward for us. Commercially, we can use this system to offset our import substitutions.” Wilson Lennard of Aquaponic Solutions in Australia spent three months establishing the pilot, which is housed in a 200 square metre shed, with three systems of different size. The largest has a 50sqm growing area, which Lennard says can produce the harvest equivalent of 250sqm of soil.

NASA has developed a unique coastal floating system to produce biomass suitable for biofuels, fertiliser and animal feed, without competing with agriculture for water or land. Its Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae [OMEGA] project converts wastewater and carbon dioxide into oxygen and biomass, through the cultivation of freshwater algae. The rapid-growing algae feed off wastewater and draw on energy from the sun in large floating tubes of plastic, called ‘photobioreactors’, which are moored off the coastline. The algae remove pollutants from the wastewater, while the sea itself provides natural cooling, to prevent the organic system from overheating. The photobioreactors also offer new habitats for marine life. A 450-gallon prototype has been trialled at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant, following small-scale tests of the principle in seawater tanks at the California Fish and Game laboratory in Santa Cruz. The team is now exploring the

www.greenfutures.org.uk

feasibility of large-scale applications. “We’ve addressed some of the more daunting technological problems for implementing OMEGA,” says Jonathan Trent, the NASA bioengineer leading the OMEGA project. One of the main challenges was removing the oxygen, a by-product, from the system and introducing more carbon dioxide, to prevent the algae from becoming starved. The tubular solution introduces CO2 with wastewater at the bottom of the containers, and allows O2 to escape through the walls

of the photobioreactors. Trent says that the OMEGA system can also be connected with renewable energy infrastructure, such as wind or wave, to improve its financial viability. Earlier this year, NASA invited members of the biofuel industry to develop the OMEGA concept. “Now the hope is that other organizations and industries will realise the potential of the OMEGA technology for wastewater treatment and ultimately to produce sustainable biofuels.” NASA originally launched the OMEGA project to investigate its potential to produce fuel for aviation. “The development of sustainable biofuels is crucial for the world, where we are almost entirely dependent on fossil fuel for transportation”, says Martin Tangney, the Director of the Biofuel Research Centre at the Edinburgh Napier University. “This NASA initiative has tremendous potential, but the key will be maintaining an environmental balance with financial viability, as ultimately all biofuel must compete on the open fuel market.” – Ian Randall

Green Futures January 2013

5


First solar state

The big cell

Remote island draws 100% of its energy from the sun

Abundant materials make solar power even more sustainable?

Tokelau, an island nation in the Pacific, is the world’s first territory to become wholly solar powered, thus future-proofing its energy needs. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN’s Convention on Climate Change, has praised the “climate leadership” of Tokelau – a Pacific microstate of just 1,500 inhabitants, and only three cars. Former ulu (leader) Foua Toloa pledged to make the shift from fossil fuel dependency at the last UN climate conference, announcing that Tokelau would send “a message to the world”. Rising just two metres above sea level, Tokelau is extremely vulnerable to rising oceans and other effects of global warming. As Toloa says: “We will be among the first to go under water. Already, we are suffering extreme weather, storm surges, droughts, coral-bleaching, inundation of land, and groundwater salinisation.” Sound economics, as well as environmental concerns, inspired the switch. Tokelau’s generators previously burned 200

litres of diesel a day, at an annual cost of more than £500,000. With no airport, barrels were transported thousands of kilometres by boat in relatively small amounts, and steep, ongoing price rises were anticipated. Anne Wheldon, Knowledge and Research Manager at Ashden, says: “This is a significant achievement and Tokelau should be congratulated. Small island states around the world are in grave threat from climate change, aside from being extremely vulnerable to oil price shocks. Reducing dependence on importing fossil fuels will generate employment and free financial resources to invest in initiatives to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.” A soft loan of NZ$7 million from the New Zealand Aid Programme paid for the erection of the largest off-grid solar power project in the world, with an array of 4,032 PV modules, 392 inverters and 1,344 batteries. Designed by specialists PowerSmart, the initial hope was that 93% of Tokelau’s energy needs would be met.

Now, it appears that the system will supply 150%. The total capacity of the network is more than 1,400MWh, with a reduction of more than 950 tonnes a year in carbon dioxide emissions. Crucial to the project’s success was the involvement of local people, who were employed to build the system and trained to maintain it. The array will pay for itself within seven years, and the money saved will be diverted to healthcare and education. “Photovoltaics are a mature, reliable off-the-shelf technology that has been proven for years”, asserts Joseph Mayhew, Development Manager for energy at the New Zealand Aid Programme. “Renewable energy should not be seen as an ‘alternative’ source of energy, but rather an essential key to unlocking the Pacific’s potential.” Jonathan Kings, administrator of Tokelau, agreed that “this example should be replicated across the Pacific islands”. The UN Development Programme reports that the islands are among the world’s most petroleum-dependent territories; in many cases, the cost of importing fuel is many times higher than all export earnings. The region now seems ready for an energy revolution: a 1MW PV plant is under construction on Tonga, while Samoa, Tuvalu and the Cook Islands all plan to shift exclusively to solar power by 2020. – Christina Madden

The energy that comes out of solar panels is renewable, but what about the panels themselves? Not so much. Today’s leading solar panels owe their high sunlight-toelectricity conversion rates to the use of rare elements, such as indium, gallium and selenium.But if current production trends continue unchecked, supplies of indium in particular will be depleted in less than a

A new design for reliable long-distance power transmission

6

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Photos: iStockphoto / thinkstock; Hemera / thinkstock

putting the price of a 16kWh unit at nearly £5,000. That, with the control systems needed, is a pretty big addition to a solar PV installation, which typically comes in at under £10,000. However, analysts at McKinsey forecast that lithium ion costs will drop by more than half within a decade, so the sums may soon be more clearly in favour of home storage. – Jon Turney

Photos: PowerSmart; iStockphoto / thinkstock

A solar storage system for domestic use storage. It can store 9.6kWh with a lead-gel battery, and nearly 16kWh with a costlier lithium-ion battery. The company reckons this will allow an average home user to take the share of their electricity coming from a solar installation up to 75%. Will this encourage more people to take the plunge and put panels up on the roof? The upfront costs may still be a problem, for now. This kind of storage can only even out daily, not seasonal, fluctuations in solar input; users will still be drawing on the grid more heavily in the winter, thus limiting their savings over the year. The higher capacity of the lithium-ion batteries give them the edge. Similar batteries for use in cars currently cost £300 per kWh,

This alternative design requires half the heat needed to build today’s solar panels, while the materials require less cutting, thereby reducing levels of waste. The design has an efficiency of 11.1%, which is shy of the nearly 15% that conventionally manufactured cells offer. However, the new type of cell might still represent an attractive alternative, not least as it is less expensive to produce, requiring less energy and fewer steps to make. “It would be nice if the efficiency could be 15%”, says Dunbar Birnie III, a professor at Rutgers University in the US who focuses on renewable energy. But ‘competitive’ has to do with cost, and not just efficiency, he points out. According to Tang, the efficiency rates need to hit 12–14% in order for the savings to make the cells an economically attractive alternative. But it’s a goal within striking distance, he says. – John Eischeid

Supergrid breakthrough

Sunshine for rainy days Solar PV systems can make electricity on your roof, but not necessarily when you want it. The mismatch can be fixed by selling any surplus via the grid, and taking power back when you need it. This isn’t great for homeowners weighing up an investment in solar panels. Feed-in tariffs can change, and future energy bills are hard to estimate. One answer is to store electricity on site, an option that has been open to German enthusiasts for domestic PV for a while. Now it is coming to market in the UK, with the first system tailored to the single phase electricity supply used in this country. SunBat, on offer from SolarENLES Ltd, monitors power production and use, and diverts excess solar electricity to battery

decade. The pressure is on, therefore, to find a way of making solar power even more sustainable. Researchers are exploring other options, and IBM Research believes it may have found an answer. Alongside its partners, Solar Frontier, Tokyo Ohka Kogyo and DelSolar, the company has announced that it has achieved a 10% increase in efficiency, thanks to an alternative design using copper, zinc, tin and sulphur [CZTS], all of which are significantly more abundant and more affordable than current solar staples. This revamped design still relies on selenium, which is rare, but the ultimate goal is to phase that out and use sulphur instead. “Copper, zinc, tin and sulphur are so abundant that terawatt-scale CZTS production is easily achievable”, says Jiang Tang, a researcher who worked on the project but has since left IBM and is now at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in central China.

Supergrids connecting electricity networks and renewable energy resources on a global scale will be more efficient and reliable, thanks to a new circuit breaker design for high-voltage direct current [HVDC] power lines, recently unveiled by the Swiss technology corporation ABB. The breaker means power flow equivalent to the electrical output of a large power station can be interrupted in just five milliseconds – 30 times faster than the blink of an eye – protecting against overloads which cause damage and cuts. “A circuit breaker is the key to building HVDC networks, as they need an elegant mechanism to force the current to zero”, says Kang Li, a professor at Queen’s University Belfast’s School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “Reliability is the big issue, and ABB’s HVDC breaker represents a big step forward.” Joe Hogan, CEO of ABB, explains that DC grids will be able to interconnect countries and continents, balancing loads and reinforcing the existing alternating current [AC] transmission networks. “This breakthrough will make it possible to build the grid of the future”, he adds. While high voltage technology has been around for

www.greenfutures.org.uk

almost 60 years, HVDC lines have been notorious for turning local power disruptions into widespread outages. The absence of an effective circuitbreaker has limited current high voltage transmission mostly to point-to-point power lines, with AC grids used for longer hauls. However, with this safety feature in place, DC’s greater efficiency – up to 50% over long distances – could make transmission between countries and across continents more economic. The potential to run DC cables both underground and underwater means existing AC grids can be linked both to each other and to far-flung renewable energy sources, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, and boosting prospects for global trade in electricity from renewable sources. The HVDC transmission lines will help to connect renewable energy generated in many different locations, says Claes Rytoft, Head of Technology at ABB’s Power Systems Division: “Take Europe, for example. We have hydro in Scandinavia and the Alps, we have wind in the North Sea, and we have sun in the south. If you really want to optimise the use of these energy sources you need a very strong transmission backbone, and there we believe DC is the right choice.”

Kang Li is enthusiastic about the potential for wind energy: “The European Wind Energy Association estimates that 120GW of offshore wind power will be installed in the next two decades,” he says. “The integration of offshore wind farms into the existing electrical grid has brought several technical challenges, renewing interest in HVDC networks which draw little capacitive current compared with the high voltage AC solution.” – Ian Randall A welcome interruption for HVDC

Green Futures January 2013

7


Emerging funds

Crystal clear

Oil-rich Russian state eyes up clean tech

A new building encourages Londoners to rethink green design

A new fund could help one oil-rich, emerging economy take its first steps towards a sustainable future. The EuropeTatarstan Clean Tech Fund [ETCF], launched by Tatarstan, a Republic of the Russian Federation, and Wermuth Asset Management [WAM], has completed its first investment stage, with more than €100 million to put into clean technology developed in Europe. The launch, witnessed in a show of German–Russian cooperation by Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, could help to modernise Russia’s economy over the next decade. The fund will focus investment on companies offering technology of relevance to the region, including lithium-ion battery production for electric cars, and the growing and refining of biofuels. Projects will typically be in the €5–€25 million range, with a six year investment period and a four year wind-down period. Targeted returns are 35% per annum.

well placed to serve as a springboard for Richard Youngman, Managing Director companies looking to reach the rest of the Europe & Asia, Cleantech Group, said “One Russian market. of the clear trends of today has been the Michel Henriks, Senior Fund Partner at rise of funds from oil-rich, resource-rich, WAM, anticipates a paradigm shift to clean or reserve-rich countries looking to invest energy in the coming decade. “With less in foreign clean technology companies. vested interest in old energy technologies, Foreign companies are struggling to find a region like Tatarstan is ideal for the capital and market traction in their home development of clean tech companies”, bases, and yet some of the more acute he says. – Ben Alcraft environmental needs are in countries where capital is not so constrained as it is in the West.” Tatarstan, Tatarstan: importing bright ideas 500 miles east of Moscow, has already been named the best business climate in Russia by both Forbes and Ernst & Young. The region, which provides tax breaks to investors in the Alabuga Special Economic Zone, is

A new building in east London’s Royal Victoria Docks aims to change public perceptions of green architecture – while trialling some new sustainable technologies and approaches at scale. There’s not a green roof or thick insulated wall in sight. In fact, the structure, which is called the Crystal, is everything we’ve come to believe a sustainable building shouldn’t be: lightweight, angular, glazed from top to bottom and with a roof made out of steel. “Contrary to popular belief, glass is one of the most flexible materials you can get”, explains Sebastien Ricard, a director at London-based Wilkinson Eyre Architects, the practice commissioned by electronics giant Siemens to design the £30 million building. Its exterior is made up of two interconnecting crystalline forms, covered in six different types of double-glazed units. These range from transparent and translucent to opaque and insulated, and are angled to let maximum light in where it’s needed, and keep the sun out where it’s not. Part office space, part interactive exhibition about the future of cities, the building is intended as a living experiment in sustainability that business leaders, politicians and the general public alike can learn from. “The building is a great demonstration of the ‘art of the possible’”, says Martin Hunt, Head of Networks and Partnerships at Forum for the Future. “It’s refreshing to see an interactive exhibition

A great save? Stadium design to help Brazil meet its World Cup sustainability goals

8

Green Futures January 2013

Six other World Cup stadiums will also harness the power of the sun. But while the Maracaná stadium in Rio had hoped to push its solar generation up to 3.3MW with a similar ring of panels, it has now scaled down this part of the design. Other notable features in the Brasilia venue include an innovative roof that looks like a stretched canvas but incorporates a photocatalytic membrane which breaks down nitrogen oxides, helping to combat pollution from vehicle exhaust. The special roof, which has a retractable centre, is semi-transparent, allowing natural light to filter through and so reduce lighting costs inside. The stadium will also harvest rainwater and use low-flow plumbing fixtures to minimise water use. Fans will also be encouraged to travel to the match as sustainably as possible through the provision of 3,500 bike parking places. The collection of features in Brasilia is expected to earn the stadium a top rating from the US-based Green Building Council through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] system. – Jon Turney

www.greenfutures.org.uk

that visualises what our cities could be like – based on high quality research and thoughtful benchmarking. It brings the big issues of urban living – such as water and energy consumption, public health and safety – to life in a way that engages people and inspires them.” The Crystal uses both solar power and ground source heat pumps to generate its own energy, drawing no power from fossil fuels. Two-thirds of the roof is covered in photovoltaic panels (providing 17.5% of its energy), with excess electrical energy stored in a giant battery for a cloudy day. A 17km network of geothermal pipes has been fitted underground for heating and cooling, as has intelligent lighting and controlled ventilation systems. Rainwater harvesting and on-site blackwater and greywater treatment and

recycling plants will supply 90% of its water needs. Hattie Hartman, Sustainability Editor at The Architects’ Journal, believes the Crystal addresses a wide range of sustainable design issues in an exemplary way, from operational carbon emissions to water recycling and community gardening. “Of particular note is Siemens’ commitment to transparency, reporting energy and water use through public displays in the exhibition hall”, she says. But the one glaring omission at the Crystal is a failure to measure the whole life carbon in the building’s extensive high-tech kit. “Without looking at both operational and embodied carbon, it is impossible to assess the building’s overall sustainability credentials.” – Giovanna Dunmall

$25 billion The anticipated rise in India’s spend on green IT and sustainability, from $45 billion in 2012 to $70 billion by 2015, according to research company Gartner – thanks to growing interest from businesses and investors and a raft of new government policies.

Photo: Edmund Sumner

demolition to create a 70,000 capacity arena. Created by a Brazilian–German team, the design includes a strip of solar panels encircling the roof that will generate 2.5MW of power, saving £2.4 million a year when the building is open, and paying for itself in a little over a decade. On match days, the solar rig will contribute at least half the stadium’s energy needs, with surplus power to be sold into the grid.

Photos: Francesco Bencivenga / shutterstock; Castro Mello Arquitetos

The competitive spirit of international sport extends to venues these days. Following the massive sustainability effort for London 2012, Brazil aims to make its Estádio Nacional the world’s first net zero-energy stadium. The £250 million showpiece, financed by the local government, is built on the site of the 1970s Mané Garrincha stadium, and reuses much of the material from the

Showing the sharp side of sustainability

“To wonder is to leave aside our assumptions, peel away our biases, and contemplate the world beyond our judgments and desires.” Michael Wesch, a cultural anthropologist exploring the effects of new media on society

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Green Futures January 2013

9


Coconut cleanser

All in a spin

Biofilter uses dust to clean dirty water

Pedal-powered washing machines offer time and energy savings developing a cost-effective wastewater filtration system to tackle the problem of poor sanitation across the developing world. The new technology’s magic ingredient is cocopeat – the dust that remains after the husks are removed from coconuts, which can be used to separate and purify organic material in the water. Wastewater is passed through a biofilter, made of cocopeat, which traps suspended solids. The organic matter is then consumed by microbes living in the dust. The process removes 90% of solids and pathogens found in domestic wastewater. The final product is an effluent safe enough to be used for crop irrigation or simply discharged back into the environment. Cocopeat’s durability is a plus: it only needs replacing after six months of use and costs less than two US cents per day to filter enough water for one person. What’s more, the used cocopeat can be

composted with tank sludge, creating a soil additive with nutrients which boost its water retention – a bonus for water conservation efforts. It is also compact, making it ideal for heavily populated urban areas. The biggest obstacle to the implementation of this technology, however, is the willingness of poor communities to pay for it, explains David Robbins, water and sanitation specialist at RTI. “Incomes are very low, and there are a lot of competing needs for things like food, shelter, water”, he says. “Convincing people to pay for wastewater treatment is always a challenge.” However, Robbins thinks there’s a case for investment. The cocopeat biofilter is about 30% cheaper than other water-purifying methods such as constructed wetlands technology, he argues. It is due for commercialisation in 2013. – Maina Waruru and Kyla Mandel

Flush finish Automated toilet design aims to improve urban sanitation

10

Green Futures January 2013

or daily – according to the amount of ‘user traffic’ in the area. The toilet is connected to local power and water facilities, but is designed to close automatically if resources are too low. Solar panels can be fitted to reduce its draw on local 230V AC power. Ria John of Eram Scientific hopes that “a well-connected network of intelligent toilets will bring a paradigm shift in public sanitation”. The ‘Delight’ toilet also comes with a business plan – based on a combination of customer fees and external advertising space – with an anticipated return on investment of three to five years. There are wider economic benefits, too. Every $1 spent on improved sanitation delivers a $9 return through increased productivity and reduced spend on healthcare, according to the UNDP. “If we apply creative thinking to everyday challenges, such as dealing with human waste, we can fix some of the world’s toughest problems,” says Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates. “[This is an] interesting and innovative idea, especially the use of advertising for an extra revenue stream”, says Kumi Abeysuriya, a sanitation expert from the

Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney. However, Abeysuriya is critical of the design’s dependence on existing water supply and sewerage systems. Where these are not already in place, further solutions would be needed to manage sludge and provide clean water for hand washing, which is absolutely crucial for health protection, she says. – Ian Randall

risk of back pain, while the self-contained system means it is less likely users will suffer from skin disease and infection, provoked by long periods of contact with water. Currently, one unit retails at $40. While this may be a significant outlay for families earning less than $4 a day, it offers substantial long-term economic benefits – not least by freeing up several hours a week, which can be used working or studying. A number of prototypes have been tested in Peru and Chile. The current product was developed on site at Cerro Verde, a slum on the outskirts of Lima, following feedback from the inhabitants on use of the GiraDora. Doubts as to whether women will fork out for the new apparatus remain. Kennedy Leavens from the Peruvian charity Awamaki believes they will, as they could spend the

time saved on other occupations. However, Sonia Newhouse of Living Heart Peru is unsure the cost is justifiable. GiraDora has been granted $19,500 funding from the US-based National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance to bring the product to market. – Isabel Sloman

English engineers work on a house made from waste Old toothbrushes, cut-up jeans, video cassettes and mattress filling: landfill fodder, or the building blocks for a family home? According to a team of engineers in the UK, it’s the latter. In fact, these are all items that are being put to use in the construction of the UK’s first permanent building made entirely from waste. ‘The House that Kevin Built’ takes its name from a prototype that Kevin McCloud, presenter of the Channel 4 series ‘Grand Designs’, shimmied up in just six days at a 2010 exhibition in London.

The current £300,000 project is more long term. Based at the University of Brighton, it has developed over four years of stakeholder engagement, involving the university (which has provided the site), the council, local schools, environmental groups and business partners. Building work finally got underway in November 2012. The project shows what can be achieved when waste is incorporated into design and construction, says Jon Lee of the Ecology Building Society: “It’s a leap forward in highlighting the More waste than meets the eye

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Sitting pretty?

Brick ‘n’ brac

Photo: Stephen Swintek

An ‘intelligent’ toilet with an automated flushing system is set to improve urban sanitation in developing countries. Designed by India’s Eram Scientific Solutions Private Limited, the ‘Delight’ public toilet combines advanced GPRS technology for remote surveillance and maintenance, with minimal drain on resources. The design was awarded a grant of over $450,000 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation earlier this year, as part of the Foundation’s second ‘Reinvent the Toilet Challenge’ – a scheme which aims to encourage the development of nextgeneration toilets to bring sanitation to the estimated 2.5 billion people who are without. Units are already operational in Delhi, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, and Eram Scientific plan to roll out a further 10,000 over the coming year. The unit includes an in-built bio-membrane water recycling facility, and minimises water use by altering the touch-free flush according to the amount of time the user spends in the closet. If they are in there for under three minutes, it uses just 1.5 litres – and no more than 4 litres thereafter. Mud and dust can also be flushed from the closet floor twice a day

For those without access to electricity or running water, hand washing clothes can take a significant amount of time and water. Design students Alex Cabunoc and Ji A You have come up with a pedal-powered washing machine that could make the whole process quicker, easier and more water efficient, without any additional wires or pipes. The self-contained ‘GiraDora’ works in a similar way to a salad spinner. Inside the plastic tub there is a smaller basin mounted on a centre post which is connected to a foot pedal. The user simply sits on the cushioned lid and uses the foot pedal to agitate, rinse and spin the clothes in the basin. GiraDora reduces the amount of water and time spent with conventional handwashing by at least a third. There are also health benefits: the ergonomic design allows the user to sit upright, reducing the Photos: David Robbins / RTI International Organization; Eram Scientific Solutions Pvt Ltd

The humble coconut can offer a quick-fix for the thirsty, but could it also provide a reliable source of clean water? Research Triangle International [RTI] believes it could. With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it has been

www.greenfutures.org.uk

effectiveness of such materials.” The brainchild of Duncan Baker-Brown, the local architect behind the first house, the 80m² building will have a wooden frame, which will include leftovers from other construction projects, glued and nailed together. The interesting part is the ‘cassettes’ that will fill in the gaps between the internal and external walls. These removable components will comprise different types of waste – from plastic bottles filled with sand to pieces of denim from cut-off jeans – donated by a local repair worker. “Waste chains can be tested and trialled. That’s what I love about this building”, says Paul Kellaway of the social housing group Mears, a corporate sponsor of the project. The ‘learning’ legacy is as important as the physical one, he adds. Mears has seconded about 20 apprentices to the scheme. The mainly teenage trainees will help with plumbing and wiring, and other elements of the fit-out, alongside university students. “We grabbed this opportunity with both hands,” he says. “Apprentices are important drivers in community-building, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them.” – Virginia Marsh

Green Futures January 2013

11


Hot under the bonnet

Layering up

Engineers re-imagine city roads as heat collectors

Bike showcases additive layer manufacturing

The black asphalt roads of urban centres are notorious for soaking up the sun, often helping make cities uncomfortably hot during the summer. Special piping Streets get into hot water

technology from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, however, is offering a way to trap this heat and use it elsewhere, potentially transforming urban streets into giant solar collectors. The idea is simple: the sun-warmed asphalt can be used to heat up water, which is pumped through tubes embedded a few centimetres below the road surface. This has the dual effect of cooling the asphalt, prolonging the lifespan of the road, and heating water which can be used either as is, or to produce electricity. A prototype using copper piping pointed to an average asphalt temperature drop of around 10°C. The next step for the researchers will be to experiment with different materials for the piping, while different conductive aggregates will also be added to the asphalt in a bid to improve the overall rate of heat absorption. “Our preliminary results provide a promising proof of concept for what could be a very important future source of renewable energy”, says Rajib Mallick, the

associate professor leading the research at Worcester’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. The concept is not without its drawbacks, however. For starters, installing and maintaining piping within roads would be costly, and the potential returns are yet to be quantified. “It would seem to make sense: take heat from the road using water then store it for another purpose – such as distributing it to buildings”, says solar energy expert Tim Anderson, a senior lecturer of mechanical engineering at the Auckland University of Technology. However, Anderson doubts the temperature of the water will be high enough to give a good return on investment in most cases. He suggests that the system might be better employed for niche applications where the temperature does not need to be high, such as the de-icing of airport runways or roads. “There may be an economic case for this,” he says, “as it could lead to increased productivity.” – Ian Randall

Engineers at the European Aerospace and Defence Group [EADS] have developed the world’s first bike using additive layer manufacturing [ALM]. Made entirely from high-strength nylon powder, the ‘Airbike’ was designed to showcase the possibilities of the technology. ALM is the process of building objects by joining materials, layer by layer, from a 3D computer model – in contrast to traditional subtractive manufacturing. It uses computer-based design tools, which means that highly complicated designs can become a reality, says Supriyo Ganguly, a lecturer in welding science at Cranfield University. The process “will increase mass efficiency, reduce material wastage and simplify logistics. However, challenges related to manufacturing need to be overcome in order to realise such

Jonathon Trent, aquabiologist, NASA

Crack cure

Highway vies with cars in smart design

12

Green Futures January 2013

Rachel Armstrong enthuses about the wider application of these ideas, especially the road markings. She suggests they might be made legible to in-car systems, and become part of a vehicle’s intelligent monitoring of its environment. In her vision, our roads may be multifunctional: “Not only will they light the way, but they will update geodatabases, informing us of traffic accidents, for example”, she projects. – Jon Turney

‘Bioconcrete’ draws strength from bacteria

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Photos: EADS; Henk Jonkers

No product evokes a sense of solidity and sturdiness the way concrete does. However, the tiniest of cracks in an otherwise colossal slab will inevitably lead to structural degradation, leakages and costly repairs. It is precisely this problem that two Dutch researchers from Delft Technical

Photos: iStockphoto/thinkstock; Studio Roosegaarde & Heijmans

on just 200 metres of road) in collaboration with Dutch civil engineers Heijmans. The paint will need to store enough energy during the daytime to shine for up to 10 hours at night, and withstand weather and traffic as well as normal road markings. Extra cost should be recovered by savings on installation, maintenance and energy bills for streetlights. Sustainable architecture advocate

so the incentive to save money as well as material is high. “Once you transition to an additive approach, it takes you less time to make a lighter part. It uses less material, so it costs you less. It’s a win-win”, explains Meyer. Producing light-weight parts can also help reduce the amount of fuel used during flight: “If we could save 5% of the weight of a component, then we’d save more [in fuel] than what we’ve saved in material”, predicts Meyer. The future of this technology varies from niche markets in customised jewellery and shoes to medical implants such as hip implants, which can be designed with the utmost precision. As for the growing number of cycling enthusiasts out there, Charge Bikes will be releasing titanium bikes with parts made using ALM in 2014, inspired by the Airbike. – Kyla Mandel

“What is really required for sustainability is integration more than innovation. Long term, I have great faith in our collective and connected ingenuity.”

Driving change Designs for cars of the future invariably showcase innovative technology. They deserve roads which benefit from new thinking as well. So argues Dutch design firm Studio Roosegaarde, whose ‘smart highway’ concept, set to be piloted in the Netherlands in 2013, demonstrates. The design involves motion sensors that detect oncoming vehicles and light the way for them, before turning themselves off again to reduce both energy consumption and light pollution from roads. Lane markings will use glow-in-the-dark paint to minimise the need for lighting, and another temperature-sensitive paint will be used to show ice warnings when the surface is unusually cold. The concept road also features priority lanes for electric vehicles. Studio Roosegaarde’s designers envision induction loops buried beneath the tarmac, giving drivers the chance to charge their vehicles quite literally as they go. While this final concept may prove too costly to pilot in the near future, the dynamic paint and luminescent lane markers will be tested against the elements next year (albeit

advanced design in practice”, he added. Jonathan Meyer, ALM research team leader at EADS, admits they built the bike “not necessarily because it’s the best way to build a bicycle, but because it was an engineering challenge.” However, Meyer is optimistic about the potential of the technology for aircraft design. Currently EADS wastes 90% of the titanium used to produce aircraft parts,

www.greenfutures.org.uk

University have been working on. Beginning in 2006, Henk Jonkers, a microbiologist, and Eric Schlangen, a specialist in concrete development, sought to develop a selfhealing cement [pictured] that would stop cracks from forming in the concrete, thereby extending the life of constructions. Microcracks have a width of just 0.20.4mm, but that’s enough for water to leak in, degrading the concrete and the steel reinforcements embedded within it. Using the potentially damaging water to their advantage, Jonkers and Schlangen added a healing agent into the concrete, composed of bacterial spores and a feed. Jonkers explains that the incoming water activates the bacterial spores, causing them to convert the feed into limestone, which seals the crack. Tunnels, basements and highway infrastructure are ideal ‘wet environments’ which will benefit from this innovation. Rachel Armstrong, senior lecturer in the School of Architecture and Construction at

the University of Greenwich, calls the project “a landmark in developing ‘living’ materials”. However, “the production of calcite does not appear to me to actually increase the structural integrity of the concrete: [it] just stops the progression of the faults”, Armstrong added. While this bacteria-infused cement is not alone in the world of self-healing concrete, Jonkers and Schlangen’s concrete has succeeded in healing cracks 10 times longer than other methods. At present, the biggest challenge is producing large-scale quantities of the healing agent at affordable costs. With the hope of long-term savings from the increased life expectancy of constructions, several companies and stakeholders have expressed interest in the product, including the Dutch ministry of road affairs. The two researchers expect their concrete to enter the market in about four years. – Kyla Mandel

Green Futures January 2013

13


Tried and trusted

Home help

Scotland sets a new standard for re-use

House of brands offers lifestyle advice

A new quality standard to mainstream second-hand shopping has just launched in Scotland. Zero Waste Scotland [ZWS] is pioneering the Revolve accreditation to increase consumer confidence in the country’s re-use sector, and raise awareness of it. At present, it is the only initiative of its kind in the UK, and most closely resembles Belgium’s 100-plus network of government-backed second-hand goods shops, Kringwinkels, which likewise seeks to improve the image, understanding and functionality of the re-use sector. “There are very few existing re-use standards in operation today”, says Tim Burns, Head of Waste Watch. “Standards, such as the Fairtrade mark, have been proven to help consumers do the right thing by building trust in the products and services they accredit. This is important especially in sectors like re-use, where there are many local enterprises, rather than larger trusted brands.” Alongside the launch of Revolve, ZWS published a report which found that, while 46% of Scottish consumers would

hesitate to buy re-used goods due to concerns over quality and reliability, 70% believe they offer good value for money. Revolve aims to overcome concerns by offering re-use organisations training and support to develop a business model that will give customers a shopping experience comparable to the high street. So far, two retailers have achieved accreditation, including the charity shop Blythswood Care and Furniture Plus in Fife. Both testify to a boost in customers’ and local interest as a result. A further 20 organisations are expected to achieve the first stage of accreditation in 2013. Revolve is backed by a £650,000 investment from the Scottish Parliament, which has set a target of a maximum 5% waste to landfill by 2025. In the year 2011–12, Scottish councils paid £92 million in landfill tax bills, or £50 per tax payer – up from £54.5 million in 2007–8. Conversely, it is estimated that Scotland’s re-use sector diverts around 45,000 tonnes of unwanted materials from landfill and generates in excess of £20 million per year.

Unilever has launched a social experiment that it hopes will change our approach to food shopping and waste disposal. Commentators are welcoming the project as an important development in brand communications around sustainable living. Having calculated that customers generate 70% of its environmental footprint, the fast-moving consumer goods firm has recruited 12 families to participate in its ‘Sustain Ability Challenge’. Over the next two months, Unilever will help participating households lower their food bills by 15% and reduce waste by 25% through initiatives such as creating shopping lists and using up leftovers in recipes. It will gather data about the families’ attempts via an online portal, and share its findings with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, local government and sustainability organisations.

Almost one in two Scottish people bought from a charity shop in the last year, according to Cristina Osoro Cangas, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the Charity Retail Association. She adds that charity shops in Scotland generate nearly 1,700 paid jobs and provide over 17,700 volunteering and training opportunities. “The Charity Retail Association supports any initiative that raises awareness of Scotland’s reuse sector”, she says. – Tess Riley

Besides shrinking the four million tonnes of edible food thrown away every year by British households, the initiative aims to counter public perception that sustainable living is expensive. According to insights group The Futures Company and waste-reduction organisation WRAP, which are partnering Unilever in the challenge, 68% of UK adults cite cost as the main barrier to environmentally conscious lifestyles – and yet the average family throws away around £680 worth of edible food every year. Unilever’s Director for Savoury, Dressings & Snacking, Nora Costello, eagerly anticipates the consumer insights she hopes the project will reveal. “The challenge will help us understand how, for instance, we could adapt information on our packaging. Long-term, this experiment will give us insights into the future of developing sustainable products.”

Forum for the Future’s Sally Uren hails the Sustain Ability Challenge as a “really important initiative” because of its behaviour change potential. “This project is about working with real people and generating data that will help us to understand the triggers that change our behaviour. It’s a great example of a Brands 2.0 project, moving on from awareness-raising to mainstream action [see GF86, p37].” – Emily Pacey

Who’s got the bottle? Cottoning onto recycled materials for clothing

A case of taste

Melts in your mouth, not your pocket

14

Green Futures January 2013

The cell membranes are made from natural electrostatic gels and then, if necessary, covered in an outer, more resilient layer made of nuts and seeds, or small pieces of chocolate or dried fruit. For example, WikiCell ice cream [pictured] contains balls of ice cream served in a container made from bagasse, the fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane has been crushed for juice. This can either be eaten, or peeled and left to biodegrade, depending on the tastes of the user. Edwards and his creative team have been careful not to let scientific innovation compromise taste. For example, they have created a tomato membrane that contains gazpacho soup, and orange juice housed within an orange membrane. The designers believe that almost any membrane flavour is possible. The creators have been granted $10 million of investment capital from Flagship Ventures and Polaris Venture Partners after trialling WikiCell ice cream, yoghurt, mousse, soup, cheese, juice and cocktails during the first half of 2012. The first commercial products will be launched

early in 2013 at the WikiBar in Paris, and then in Cambridge, Massachusetts, later in the year. But what are the environmental benefits? WikiCells states that the amount of energy needed to produce its membranes is equivalent to that of standard packaging, though it is currently working on a low-energy production method. The ultimate success of the product may come down to consumer experience and demand. Ann-Marie Brouder, Principal Sustainability Advisor for the Food Team at Forum for the Future, asks whether edible is ‘credible’: “Edible packaging might be part of the solution, but it must overcome concerns about food safety, as well as the thornier issue of consumer perception.” Another concern is the life cycle of such products. Edwards says, “We’re trying to avoid any kind of chemical modification and just use natural processes and materials. But there is a time-scale on this packaging. It depends what it is and how you store it.” On the upside, he adds, “it is not like plastic that is around forever.” – Isabel Sloman

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Photos: Digital Vision / thinkstock; Levi’s® WasteLess™ collection

Plastics, paper and polystyrene from food packaging make up a significant proportion of household waste sent to landfill. But what if we could simply eat packaging like we do the skin of an apple? Harvard professor David Edwards and French designer Francois Azambourg have developed WikiCells, a tasty and nutritious membrane made from natural polymers and food particles. WikiCells are designed to mimic bottles, and also containers found in nature – such as grape skins or coconut shells.

Photos: iStockphoto/thinkstock; Wikicell DR

Scientists are developing packaging that is good enough to eat

Jeans made from plastic bottles are set to be part of Levi’s 2013 collection, as big fashion labels continue their commitment to sustainable design. The 400,000 products in Levi’s Waste<Less collection use at least 20% recycled content per garment – or an average of eight bottles. That’s 3.5 million recycled plastic bottles in total. The clothing company collects PET plastics through municipal recycling programmes. These are then sorted by colour, crushed into flakes and made into polyester, which is blended with cotton and other fibres to be woven into yarn. Kirby says that Levi’s recycled designs don’t sacrifice quality or style. In fact, he explains, the colour of the bottles adds a “beautiful undertone” to the denim. The Waste<Less collection is just a small start, if you consider that Levi’s produced 29 million pairs of jeans for its Water<Less line in 2011. The design for this line reduced the amount of water used to finish a pair of jeans – usually 42 litres – by an average of 28%. “Our life cycle assessment shows that cotton is one of the biggest sources of environmental impact in our products, and as such we’re always looking for alternative sustainable fibres”, says Jonathan Kirby,

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Levi’s Vice President of Global Men’s Design. It’s also better for their bottom line. Levi’s 2011 annual report shows that, despite an 8% increase in net revenue, higher cotton prices had a detrimental impact on their net income – which, at $336 million, was $45 million lower than the previous year. Sarah Ditty, Deputy Editor of Source Intelligence, believes the reasons companies are using recycled materials is four-fold, driven by media scrutiny and consumer demands, as well as by cost and scarcity resources. “Big companies know they have to be inventive and innovative to survive, but their supply chains are so complex it takes a lot of time and money to implement new systems”, she says. “It’s slow moving and a long journey, but we’re on the right tracks.” At the 2012 Olympic Games, Adidas used recycled polyester as the main material for the uniforms of 70,000 volunteers, while the shoes in Timberland’s Earthkeepers range include fibres from PET bottles and 42% recycled rubber soles. The line, introduced in 2007, is expected to represent 75% of Timberland’s footwear in 2013. Recycled fibres are nearly identical to those made from non-recycled fibre in terms

of strength, softness, shrinkage-resistance, and colour-fastness, according to Foss Manufacturing who make Eco-fi, a polyester made from recycled plastic. As such, Levi’s, Adidas and Timberland are far from the only big names in the fashion world looking to incorporate recycled materials into their designs. – Lizzie Rivera Bottle cut is the new boot cut

Green Futures January 2013

15


The new nomads

more washing of clothes, sheets and towels, and so on. Fleura Bardhi, a research professor in consumer behaviour at Northeastern University, Massachusetts, is interested in the evolution of “alternative relationships to the material world”. After all, new nomadism isn’t simply about being on the move: it’s about a world in which ‘your own place’ and ‘your own stuff’ no longer make such a difference – to your productivity, your wellbeing, and even your identity. “Our relationships to place and people are becoming more ‘liquid’, they’re changing constantly”, says Bardhi. “It means we also have to adapt and change. The most successful are those who can adapt very quickly.” This could be good news for behaviour change: the less attached we are to our bad habits, the more easily we can switch to better ones. But it could also go the other way: a more sustainable action may never become a habit if the context is always changing. For the business community, the implications of a shifting world go far beyond working from home and video conferencing. Daniel Pink, author of ‘Free Agent Nation’, anticipates a shift towards self-employment. “If you look the underlying economics of why firms exist – such as high transaction costs and coordination problems – then, as those forces dissipate, companies themselves might become less necessary”, he says. Indeed, if individuals can maintain their professional profile through their own networks, the attraction of an official job title could fade. As Pink puts it: “When talented individuals can have the communications and computing power companies once had, they need organisations far less than organisations need [them].” What role might these highly adaptable ‘free agents’ play in building resilience around them? Already, greater connectivity is helping relative strangers identify common problems and engage in

On-the-go access to energy and communications is changing our relationship to the world around us, says Anna Simpson.

16

Green Futures January 2013

We’re witnessing the rise of the modern nomad, “defined not by what they carry but by what they leave behind”. That’s the definition The Economist proposed nearly five years ago, in a feature written in anticipation of a wireless world, called ‘Nomads at last’. What the author didn’t foresee was today’s triple whammy of nomad-friendly trends. Anytimeanywhere connectivity is one of them. Then there’s the rise of decentralised energy, in which anyone who can afford the kit is able to generate, store and even sell their own power. And finally, there’s the tide of consumers who favour access over ownership, met by the rapid growth of peer-to-peer lending and sharing schemes. With the likes of AirBnb, the light-footed can feel at home anywhere in the world. Already, for many, the bedroom wall has been replaced by Pinterest as a place to hang your favourite things… So, what does all of this mean for sustainability? Fewer belongings and more sharing may hold promise for resource-efficiency – but it all depends on tight management. One counter-trend could be unnecessary maintenance to ensure hygiene:

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Anna Simpson is Managing Editor, Green Futures.

Content to roam Symon Hill visits a Bedouin community in the West Bank.

Photos: Wavebreak Media / thinkstock; box: Christian Aid / Sarah Malian

A tide of consumers favours access over ownership

In a touring exhibition that visited London in 2012 and will be at the Sydney Festival until March 2013, the Chinese artist Song Dong displayed all the contents of his mother’s flat – over 10,000 everyday objects. Not exactly the contents of a backpack, though there were several backpacks among the halls of a single person’s sprawl. Song’s mother, the artist explains, would cling onto everyday objects because they offered her a sense of security – something anyone who has lived through political upheaval or the fear of scarcity will understand. But a new generation of consumers is cultivating a very different relationship to personal belongings. Living light is their aspiration, their daily needs answered by a single object – a sleek smartphone or slender tablet. In years to come, people may live lighter yet, suggests Gerd Leonhard, CEO of the Futures Agency. These personal devices, with all their cloud-based functionality, will have moved into our minds. If we require energy on the move, our clothes will harvest it through integrated photovoltaic or piezoelectric generators...

Photo: Oli Scarff / Getty Images News

Song Dong’s ‘Waste Not’: a retrospective to mark a new era

fruitful collaborations – from spontaneous one-offs to organised ‘hackathons’ [see ‘Crowdsource your future’, p18]. If sharing more space and more stuff means we also develop a greater sense of our dependence on common resources – including each other – then there’s much to look forward to.

“We’ll put it on Facebook”, jokes Nisreen as she poses for a photojournalist. It’s not an unusual comment for a 17-year-old girl. But it’s surprising to hear it in the desert. Nisreen lives in the Bedouin community of Al Rashayda, a collection of tiny tented settlements spread over several miles in the south-eastern corner of the West Bank. Once nomadic, its movements are now restricted by the Israeli army’s training exercises. Nisreen’s cousin Ali [pictured] is leading goats over the hills. If he needs to contact his family, he will use his mobile phone. Meanwhile, young men are texting on phones that appear to be swinging from the top of a tent. Looking up, I see

www.greenfutures.org.uk

the tent’s wooden frame has electricity sockets, with phone chargers plugged in. The community’s goats and camels are kept well away from the sparkling solar panels that make this communication possible. Funded by UK aid money, they were fitted by Christian Aid and the YMCA, along with a water pipe that the electricity helps to power. “We thank God the water is here”, says Nisreen’s mother. It means a bath every three days rather than weekly. Nisreen and her sister Tahany use it to sustain a vegetable patch. Christian Aid emphasises that the pipe and solar panels were requested by the villagers themselves. The villagers

told me the initiative came from a young woman, who I can’t meet as she’s busy with the olive harvest. She’s also studying through the Open University. The internet helps. Symon Hill is author of The No-Nonsense Guide to Religion.

Green Futures January 2013

17


Crowdsource your future

small-scale egg sellers with customers through a simple text system that then enables buyers to locate the nearest eggs to them through a mobile digital ‘eggmap’. Scale this kind of project up, and you start to challenge the assumption that you need shops to help you find local produce. Crowdsourcing goes far beyond the inception of new solutions. Start-ups are drawing on the masses for everything from funding – through investor platforms like Kickstarter – to development. Digital communities are fast-moving, open to experiment, flexible in approach and committed to refinement – all qualities that fit the climate in which social enterprises operate. But, of course, not all these communities see ‘saving the world’ as their raison d’être… “There’s great digital talent out there”, says Taplin, “but, in the main, the focus of their work is not sustainability. It still has to register as an opportunity for them, so that these enterprises get fired up about using the crowd to address some of the most significant challenges we face.” The power of live feedback and criticism to drive innovation in business is not just beneficial for entrepreneurs, though. In the last year, one of the UK’s largest retailers Sainsbury’s asked an expert crowd to review its 20 x 20 Sustainability Plan, pioneering an approach to planning for the future which may become a blueprint for the sector. Not that it was the first: Wikimedia launched a special wiki dedicated to its own strategy back in 2009, generating over 900 proposals over two years. But Sainsbury’s is perhaps the first to do it for the sake of sustainability. “The fundamental thing was to embed sustainability into our wider business strategy – to ask the crowd what was working and what we need to do differently and then to act on that”, says Alex Cole, Corporate Affairs Director at Sainsbury’s. “We had been quietly getting on with driving forward our sustainability agenda but became increasingly aware that mass stakeholder engagement was critical and would turbocharge momentum into what we were doing. The outcomes have been hugely positive.”

the world – through brainstorms on a scale never seen before. Forum for the Future is working on ways to nurture this through its project ‘Wired For Change’. It’s a series of worldwide ‘hackathons’: day-long events which bring together digital entrepreneurs and those campaigning for systematic change in the food, energy and finance spheres, to search for solutions. “The key thing is to bring together the ‘ideas people’, the coders, the hackers and the designers”, James Taplin, an expert on innovation at Forum for the Future, explains. “They then have 24 hours and all the support we can offer to develop a business model that is sustainable in both the ecological and business sense.” Taplin and his colleague Hugh Knowles believe that experimentation is key. If you can launch 1,000 experiments, 100 might have merit, 10 might happen, and out of these, one could create big change, goes the logic. Take HatchTag, for example, one of the projects to emerge from the first Wired for Change event, held in Bristol last September. The app links

Photos: xxxxx

Before the dawn of digital conversation, it made sense for a business to decide on its strategy first, and then go public with it. The thinking went on behind closed doors, perhaps with the help of a select group of stakeholders from the outside world. Today, things are happening backwards: first you ask the public, and then you publish the strategy. It’s partly down to advances in ICT. Digital platforms mean businesses can ignite and sustain conversations with the outside world, letting new expertise inform their activities and decisions. Some businesses are taking this to heart, asking the crowd to help them find the best way forward. The implications for sustainability are colossal. For businesses looking to nudge the public into new behaviours more in harmony with the resources to hand, engaging them from the outset is crucial. And for consumers and stakeholders wanting to see a bit more leadership on behalf of their favourite brands, there are new ways to speak up. Then there’s the potential to come up with completely new ways of running

Photo: iStockphoto / thinkstock

What sort of business leader would ask a bunch of strangers to write its strategy? A very wise one, says Tess Riley.

18

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Two things stand out from the Sainsbury’s review: firstly, the crowd of 220 people included employees from direct competitor chains Tesco and Marks & Spencer. Cole admits that the team at Sainsbury’s hesitated over this, but ultimately decided that if any aspect of the business was going to offer positive scope for cooperation, sustainability would be it. Secondly, Sainsbury’s was entirely transparent about what it did in the belief that only a wholly open process, warts and all, would deliver the innovative, strategy-shaping outcomes the company was seeking. As Cole points out, transparency is a trend, not a fad, “so it’s important to manage it, and use it as an opportunity to get 360 degree feedback of your performance”. Jim Woods is CEO of the sustainable business network Green Mondays, which played host to Sainsbury’s crowd review project: “There are two types of company who are going to benefit from getting naked in front of the crowd”, he says. “At one end of the spectrum there are the leaders who are confident of their story and who therefore want to share their innovation, knowing that they’ll get a good response. At the other end, and perhaps more surprisingly, are those for whom trust is a big problem, organisations like banks and utilities. If they are able to say ‘We’re broken, we know we need to change, so help us!’, then the crowd will respond and get involved.” This touches on something that not many of those getting down with the crowd are saying overtly, but which much of their evaluation implies. Namely, that crowdsourcing information from external contributors is as tactical from a PR point of view as it is strategic from an operations perspective. In a world where collaborative consumption and peer-topeer exchanges – from crowdfunding to sharing networks – are becoming the norm, no business wants to be left behind. Andrew Perchard, an expert in contemporary trends at the University of Strathclyde Business School, believes seeking input from the crowd is above all a tactical corporate move: “Sainsbury’s have carefully projected an image of themselves of being open. In light of public cynicism of business and politics in the current climate, cultivating that image of a trustworthy company could be a distinct boost and give them a comparative advantage.” In this, therefore, start-ups and large corporations share an agenda. Both are looking for a way forward in the context of a new political and economic scene, in which local democracy, collaboration and openness come up trumps. We’ve already seen iTunes and Spotify knock CDs out of the ring, and Skype has given phone providers a shock. Those companies wanting to keep ahead of the disruptive innovators need to be tuned in to the shifting mood of the crowd. For Taplin, this is where the real potential for change lies. “There are systems that need to be fundamentally overhauled: we need to find new ways of doing business that work in harmony with wider sustainability goals. The ideas with the potential to overturn the incumbents can come from the crowd, so it’s vital that we, as individuals and organisations, have the desire, ability and vision to embrace that change.”

Companies need to tune in to the shifting mood of the crowd to keep ahead

Tess Riley is a freelance journalist and environmental campaigner. @tess_riley

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Green Futures January 2013

19


Delicious abundance

Latin lessons What can we learn from the native foods cultivated by the ancient civilisations of pre-Columbian America – the Incas, the Mayas and the Aztecs? Their diets reflected the biodiversity of the region, and offer important insights into what a sustainable diet may look like today. We know their diet was well-balanced: rich in the quality and variation of carbohydrates, protein, fibre, fats. The staples were corn, yuca and potatoes, but even these three basic carbohydrates

Katherine Rowland seeks out the perfect diet for health, good cheer and the planet. No human activity has a greater impact on the planet than food production and consumption. The expansion of industrial agriculture around the globe means the world is now producing more food than ever, dazzling consumers with unprecedented choice. Some consumers, that is. One billion people live in chronic hunger today, and the supply challenge will only get more difficult with population growth, water stress, biodiversity loss and climate change. Efficiencies in production and distribution will play their part in cutting waste, but what can be done at the consumer end of the chain? What we choose to eat is not simply a matter of personal taste: our diets have vast implications for the health of the planet. Can we re-imagine our diets so that they entertain our taste buds, satisfy our stomachs and keep us in good health – while also helping to enrich biodiversity, maintain water supplies and decrease greenhouse gas emissions? It may sound a reasonable political goal, but make it personal and it soon becomes a hot potato.

Agriculture Organization [FAO] and Bioversity International, published in 2010. It stressed the need to narrow the ‘nutrition gap’: the difference between the foods we make readily available, and those we actually need for better nutrition. So what sort of diet are we talking about? Thankfully, austerity on a plate isn’t it. Greater diversity is actually the recommendation of the experts. Currently, the three major staple foods (rice, wheat and maize) supply 60% of the global calorie intake from plants. It’s an alarming over-simplification of diet and agriculture, says Emile Frison, Director General of Bioversity International. In Kenya, Bioversity is working to reintroduce leafy greens to the table and markets, and in India it has partnered the Swaminathan Foundation to reintroduce the ancient grain millet in regions where its production had been abandoned in favour of cassava for starch. But changing habits isn’t easy, admits Frison. “In Kenya, the major obstacle in getting those leafy vegetables onto the table was one of image. [There’s a] common conception that this is the food of the poor.” Cultural attitudes towards food do change though. Not so long ago, oysters were dismissed as the ‘pigeons of the sea’: now they’re a delicacy to grace trendy wine bars… The promise of a new foodie culture, with diversity at its heart, is significant. If the 3.5 million people who signed the FAO’s petition to ask governments to eliminate hunger were to embark on a year of gastronomic experimentation, the lay of the land in years to come may be very different. So where should they begin?

Of course, no one wants their favourite dish struck off the menu. But is it our attitude towards food that needs to change, above all? “We almost feel we have a right to eat what we like”, says Ann-Marie Brouder, who works with organisations across the food system at Forum for the Future. But, Brouder warns, if we don’t consider the impacts of our choices now, and adjust them accordingly, it’s unlikely we’ll enjoy the same plentiful supply and affordable prices in years to come. She believes change is possible: after all, we get used to setting our own dietary limits – “maybe once we’re over eight years old!” David Russell, Founder of the strategic food consultancy The Russell Partnership, would like to see a new culture emerge, in which we think of food as something to share – beyond our own household. “We’re very focused on looking after our own needs”, he says, “but where is the thought of how the whole world feeds itself?” Feeding the world on a sustainable diet is the focus of a joint report by the UN Food and

Attitudes do change... Not long ago, oysters were dismissed as the ‘pigeons of the sea’

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Photo: iStockphoto / thinkstock

Meat for a treat

Photo: iStockphoto / thinkstock

20

were extremely bio-diverse. There are over 5,000 potato varieties present in the Andes region, with different, sizes, shapes and skin colours. These would be complemented by high protein foods such as beans, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Now, the FAO is collaborating with governments across the region to maintain crop and plant biodiversity. Through the Latin-Foods Net project, it also analyses food composition

Whether they like it medium or rare, meat is the burning question for many. Is vegetarianism the only way to feed the world? By no means, says Duncan Williamson, Senior Food Policy Advisor at WWF. “You can eat meat and have a sustainable diet”, he maintains. “We just can’t eat meat the way we currently are.” Worldwide meat consumption is increasing astronomically. The UN predicts that by 2050 meat production will nearly double to 465 million tonnes annually to keep pace with demand. But livestock rearing already takes up to 30% of all ice-free

www.greenfutures.org.uk

data to better measure resources, consumer health and crop biodiversity. – Isabel Sloman

land on the planet, and is responsible for 18-25% of global CO2 emissions, with its dependence on pesticides, fertilisers, fuel, feed and water. What’s more, the growing faith in ‘a steak for every plate’ is doing no good to global health. For the first time in history, chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and certain cancers are appearing in significant numbers in Japan, China and parts of Southeast Asia and Africa. “Meat has gone from being an occasional treat to something people expect at every meal”, Williamson explains. “There’s this idea that a ‘real’ meal consists of a big chunk of meat with a small portion of veg on the side. It should be the reverse.” “By necessity, meat can’t continue to be the centre of Western diets”, agrees Danielle Nierenberg, Director of the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet programme. “But people can benefit from the added animal protein of using meat in smaller portions, or as flavouring.” While the livestock industry has a bad rap, meat and dairy production can be part of a thriving ecosystem, helping to renew the fertility of the soil, and making organic farming financially viable. Operations that allow livestock to graze rather than rely on feed grains can have a much lower environmental impact, using less water and fossil fuel and producing less waste. Moreover, raising animals in these more humane settings also translates into healthier meat, with lower levels of fat and more omega-3s. Although smaller animals, like chicken and turkey, are often cited as smarter choices for the heart and the environment, Williamson notes that impact depends on scale. The 4,325 litres of water used to produce a kilogram of chicken may seem modest compared to 15,415 litres spent to produce the same amount of beef. But the picture changes when considering that chicken consumption has increased more than 400% in the EU since the 1960s. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine [PCRM], Americans now consume one million chickens each hour. “The point is not to just switch from red meat to white meat because it’s healthier, but to eat less altogether”, argues Williamson. As with produce, animal diversity also benefits both producers and planet. Williamson suggests

For diversity, try wild species, like boar, deer, and rabbit

Green Futures January 2013

21


A variety of colours will take care of everything you need

trying wild species, like boar, deer and rabbit. Russell says integrating more non-meat proteins is also essential. “You don’t need to replace beef, but to supplement it”, he says, whether from beans and legumes, or from more ‘radical’ options, like algae and insects [see box, ‘Finger-licking bug’]. “The alternatives are clearly there, and they’re not second best but part of the right answer for a sustainable future.”

Chasing the rainbow If meat is to be savoured as an occasional side dish, what should our staples be? Marion Nestle is a nutritional scientist at New York University, and author of Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics. For her, tomorrow’s top meal should feature “more vegetables and smaller portions of everything else”. Not only does a plant-based diet offer more nutrients, she says, but it has less ecological impact

More fish in the sea

than a carnivorous one. Susan Levin, Director of nutrition education at the PCRM, agrees. A diet composed of fruits, grains and vegetables could satisfy the entirety of human nutritional requirements, she says, including protein. But the same helping of greens every day won’t do the trick. Despite the abundance of the world’s edible plants, just 12 species make up 75% of the plant life consumed. Increasingly, fruits and vegetables are cultivated as monocrops. The result is that roughly 70% of agricultural genetic diversity has been lost since 1990. Experts are calling for a shift towards diverse species, prudent irrigation and fewer chemicals. Research from FAO, the World Bank, the US Agency for International Development and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research all indicate that this will bolster food security, improve nutrition and preserve resources. Fortunately, nutritional research is also calling for more variety on the plate. Rather than focusing on ‘superfoods’ (like pomegranates, acai or wheatgrass), diets should contain 20–30 biologically distinct foods each week. Nierenberg would also like to see more indigenous and wild plants on the menu, and in particular native species. She notes that native species are nutrient-rich, and tend to be better adapted to local environmental conditions, and as a result require less irrigation, pesticides and fertilisers. “Go for a rainbow” is Levin’s advice. “Eating a variety of colors will take care of everything you need.” Is there no conflict of interest, though, between the need to eat a greater variety of fruit and veg, and the low-carbon benefits of locally harvested, seasonal produce? Not necessarily. In cities and rural areas, apps like Eat Local and Boskoi are pointing consumers towards local suppliers – and even foraging sites. Urban farming can play its part too. Take Montreal’s Lufa Farms: a 31,000 square foot greenhouse on top of an office building, complete with a rainwater harvesting and recycling system. It’s supplying fresh, seasonal veg to residents via a box scheme and pick-up points, and offering advice on “what to do with that mysterious spicy leafy green”.

Not long ago, the ocean’s bounty was thought to be limitless. But efficient fishing vessels and our growing taste for seafood have busted that myth. Today, as much as 70% of fish stocks are exploited or facing collapse, presenting an alarming scenario for the world’s oceans, and for the one in five people who rely on fish as their primary protein. Not only does eating fish provide protein and omega 3 fatty acids: robust evidence suggests it supports cardiovascular health. But given the rate of ocean depletion, can fish remain on the menu? Seafood chef and National Geographic Fellow Barton Seaver jokes that “eating broccoli” is the best way to save the seas. However, he says, there are numerous sustainable ways to savour the deep. The author of the cookbook, For Cod and Country, Seaver promotes dining on abundant species that have been sustainably harvested. He also notes that size makes a difference. Smaller species, which tend to reproduce earlier in life, are a good choice. For James Simpson of the Marine Stewardship Council, how the fish is caught it key: “By buying sustainably sourced fish you can make a difference all the way down the supply chain, and help change the way the oceans are managed.” There are some ‘no-no’s: Bluefin tuna is among the species hardest hit by industrial fishing. Faced with depleting stocks, catch limits and soaring prices, some chefs have found surprising replacements for their sushi, from smoked venison to raw horsemeat. But Seaver has sourced ample alternatives to tuna without turning his back on the waves: he recommends pole-caught Yellowfin or Albacore, which offer a similar taste without a burdened ecological conscience. “The fishing industry has been following a race to the bottom”, says Andrew Kuyk of the UK’s Food and Drink Federation. “With the economy down, fishers try to catch more in the hopes of earning more.” While this grim market logic has, alongside consumer demand, been driving the oceans’ plunder, Kuyk believes it is “possible to catch less, and sell at a higher price, which would give stocks time to recover”.

22

Green Futures January 2013

As with all treats, the trick with chocolate is quality

Katherine Rowland is a freelance writer specialising in health and the environment. Additional material by Anna Simpson.

And that bean of beans…?

Finger-licking bug restaurants cater to crowds hungry to dine on larvae and scorpions. – Kyla Mandel

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Photo: Zoonar / thinkstock

sale or export all year round. Traditional knowledge is essential to sustainable harvesting, however. If an insect is overharvested at a particular life-cycle stage, or certain plants destroyed in the process, the species and valuable biodiversity could be lost. Yet, insects are quick adapters to environmental changes. With warmer temperatures, their populations are expected to increase, making them an accessible and abundant food source. The edible insect trend is already catching on in Singapore, where some

Photos: iStockphoto / thinkstock; iStockphoto / thinkstock

Termites and grasshoppers don’t typically make your mouth water. However, insects have been a staple in many indigenous African diets for centuries. As food security concerns loom ever larger, should we be eating bugs instead of beef? There are hundreds of edible insect species, high in protein, minerals, and vitamins. They use fewer resources than livestock, rate more highly in food conversion efficiency (squandering fewer calories) – and can be used as both human food and animal feed. They’re also easily preserved for local

canopy, where they support biodiversity and soil health. However, in response to rising demand, many farmers have begun growing cacao in full sun, which boosts yields, but also contributes to deforestation and increased dependence on agricultural chemicals. As with all treats, the trick is quality – not quantity. In 2012, a new organisation was launched to put chocolate makers in touch with cacao growers, supporting them to “strive for the recovery of heritage cacao and to preserve and protect this valuable resource”. The founding members gathered on Soldier’s Beach, Guanaja, where legend has it that Christopher Colombus made the first European landing in Central America. Here, they planted two ‘criollo antiguo’ cacao trees, identified as genetically similar to samples found in ancient Mayan pots – in recognition of the heritage of this precious resource. On the board of Direct Cacao is the UK’s award-winning chocolatier Paul Young. His advice to consumers? “Eat less chocolate, but pay more for it. The better it is, the more intoxicating.”

Few foods inspire such lore and craving as chocolate. The recent buzz around its health benefits owes to the flavanol-rich cacao bean, touted to improve circulation and cardiovascular health. Following this year’s Nobel Prize ceremony, a somewhat tongue-in-cheek study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, observed a significant correlation between per capita chocolate consumption and the number of awards of each nation... But can we afford to keep eating it? Today, 4 million tonnes of cacao are produced each year, and production has been increasing at an annual rate of 2.2% to satiate the global appetite. Cacao trees thrive in humid conditions – they only grow within 10 degrees of the equator – and can be cultivated in the shade of the rainforest

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Green Futures January 2013

23


Welling up These cascades are no sign of an abundant water supply. Tipped into dry wells from tanker trucks, they are a temporary fix for Indian villages facing acute water scarcity in summer months, such as Yethewadi [pictured] in Maharashtra State. However, across the country, communities are coming together to boost local reserves. With support from the Indian Government and UNICEF, villagers from Palve Budruk – also in Maharashtra – have linked 20 canal bunds, 19 village ponds and three check dams to a central tank, and agreed a set of rules to ensure the precious fresh water is used wisely. Further north, in Himachal Pradesh, the upstream and downstream communities of Kuhan have come to an agreement to stop the reservoir filling up with silt. The upstream farming community will stop grazing cattle by the river for eight years, reducing soil erosion. In return, the villagers downstream will provide cash for saplings and labour to build check dams. And in the Gundar Basin of Tamil Nadu, Unilever is working with local communities to revive water-sharing arrangements, as Martin Wright recounts in our forthcoming Special Edition, India: Innovation Nation [see ‘Capital flow’, p24].

24

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Photos: xxxxx

Photos: xxxxx

Image: Lynsey Addario/VII

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Green Futures January 2013

25


Cargo cuts

26

Green Futures January 2013

The first step has to be finding out where the inefficiencies lie. You might start by looking for the worst performers – but that’s not always easy, says Peter Harris, Director of Sustainability, EMEA at the logistics firm UPS. The complexity of the supply chain makes it “very difficult to measure sustainability performance objectively between two companies, even in the same sector”, he says. One beacon of hope in all of this is the trend towards transparency. If data hackers are able to make sense of supply chain impacts, retailers and consumers will come to expect a new level of accountability. This should help to drive improvements in performance and ultimately enable more sustainable decision-making for business and, in particular, procurement. Take, for example, Green Freight Europe. This consortium of more than 65 carriers, shippers and logistics firms monitors and reports on the carbon performance of road freight companies. It’s facilitated by the (neutral) European Shippers’ Council and the Dutch Shippers’ Council, and the London-based Energy Saving Trust has been contracted to develop the methodology and

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Photo: iStockphoto / thinkstock

Despite growing enthusiasm for local products, most of the items that end up in your shopping basket or in your wardrobe will have journeyed through a global cargo system that is as complex as it is carbon-intensive. Indeed, according to most estimates, moving things (including people) around accounts for 15% of global carbon emissions. Shipping, according to the International Maritime Organization, represents more than 80% of global trade – and is the most efficient means of transporting large quantities of goods over significant distances. The World Shipping Council points out that if all the containers from an 11,000TEU [twenty-foot equivalent unit] ship were loaded onto a train, it would need to be 77km long. Nevertheless, the 50,000 merchant vessels on the world’s seas and oceans at any given time are responsible for emitting 1 billion tonnes of CO2 each year. Cross-continental traffic is set to increase with population growth and urbanisation, so the race is on to rethink each stage of the global supply chain. Can industry find a way to transform this heavy load into an efficient system of exchange?

Photo: UPS

The world shoulders a heavy burden when it comes to shifting our stuff. Can new approaches lighten the load? Michael Ashcroft weighs up the potential.

operate the platform. The aim is to help logistics companies pick the carrier best placed to boost their sustainability credentials – while saving them money on fuel. This also drives best practice by rewarding carriers that invest in energy-efficient technology with new business. “We intend to use Green Freight Europe to get a better understanding of the environmental performance of our subcontractors”, says Harris of UPS. “And it will give us an opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities to our customers.” It’s all very well for road freight moving across defined and well-regulated geographical regions. But how would it work for shipping? At the moment, sea freight works something like this: the organisation with goods to transport subcontracts to a logistics company, and the logistics company, in the majority of cases, charters a ship. Here’s the hitch: as the cost of a ship’s fuel is paid for by the charterer, the ship’s owner has no incentive to install efficiency measures. One way to overcome this could be to increase the demand for efficient ships, and make sure they are available to charter, thereby rewarding those owners who do maintain a clean fleet. An initiative spearheaded by the Carbon War Room seeks to do just this, by providing a database of a large proportion of the world’s shipping fleet, complete with efficiency data. When charterers need to procure a ship, they can search the database of over 60,000 vessels and select an efficient one. Each ship is assigned a rating using an A–G rating system, the Existing Vessel Design Index [EVDI], developed by Melbourne-based ship vetting specialist RightShip. When an owner upgrades a ship, they are encouraged to update the details on the database. This initiative is already being used by some major players. Cargill, one of the world’s leading agribusinesses, is one of 180 organisations globally to have signed up to RightShip’s EVDI rankings service. “We endeavour to charter the most efficient vessels operating in the shipping market”, says Jonathan Stoneley, Environment and Compliance Manager at Cargill. “This is a significant commitment as it marks a first in the industry.” At the same time, ship owners, charterers, builders and engineers, as well as the insurance and logistics sectors, have teamed up with Forum for the Future and WWF to launch the Sustainable Shipping Initiative [SSI]. It aims to set the industry on course to be resilient, socially and environmentally responsible, and profitable – by 2040. Making transport more efficient is the most pressing challenge facing the industry right now, and the most attractive from a savings point of view, and so the SSI is exploring everything from better planning of shipping routes to enhanced ship design to slower (and therefore cleaner) traffic. Making the vessels themselves more efficient is just a start, admits Sam Kimmins, who leads the SSI at Forum for the Future. More pressing over the longer-term, he explains, is the need to make the logistics chain as a whole more sustainable, something which requires a major rethink of not just how goods get from A to B but why they are sent in the first place. Indeed, would it be best to just cut out the need for global transportation completely?

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Not necessarily. According to the Low Carbon Leaders Project, an initiative supported by the UN Global Compact and WWF, transport can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Its ‘Chasing the Sun’ initiative, which has the support of Maersk, imagines a more holistic approach to transport and logistics, going way beyond new hull designs and fuel-efficient routes. Take fruit and vegetables. While produce grown locally may, to European consumers, appear to be the ‘green option’, Chasing the Sun asks whether shipping fruit and vegetables from regions of high solar input such as Africa may be more sustainable. The fertiliser and pesticides needed to grow such crops in colder climes have a greater carbon footprint than that of a fuel-efficient container ship, the reasoning goes. Kimmins would like to see the speed of travel given the same public profile as the distance, where environmental impact is concerned. Any possibility of moving freight by sea rather than by air should be explored as a priority, he maintains, replacing the culture of getting the product from A to B as quickly as possible with one where it journeys as sustainably as possible. “Both consumers and importers need to ask themselves, ‘Can I wait a few more days and get this shipped rather than sent by air mail?’”, he says. Patience is one thing; financial incentive another. To create change at scale, sustainable cargo options have to be attractive to business. “It’s a case of constantly looking for ways to bring things into the space where economic and environmental intersect”, says Harris. “Sustainability is a commercial thing. Ultimately, organisations cannot function on a dysfunctional planet”.

Demand for efficiency could reward those who do maintain a clean fleet

Michael Ashcroft is an energy technology and policy analyst and freelance writer.

Green Futures January 2013

27


One company, two cultures

28

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Photo: iStockphoto / thinkstock

When the board of Ecover asked its former Finance Director, Philip Malmberg, to come back and run the show as Chief Executive, it had two things in mind. The first was growth: to make Ecover a big brand in the sustainability space, with no apologies for its humble beginnings as a niche ethical cleaning products company based in Belgium. And the second? Culture. After all, it was shared values that brought the right people together to make Ecover what it is today. They had a vision of healthy lifestyles within healthy ecosystems that drove the brand’s development across Europe. Keeping this vision fresh is a challenge – but it’s one the board sees as crucial to the company’s development, particularly as it takes on new directions. Which is very much the plan. The board is eyeing up other industries – with pilots underway in clean water technology, new concepts for retail, and sustainable homes. And it’s also probing new markets, beginning with the US... Cue Philip Malmberg. After he left Ecover, 13 years ago, he worked for G4S, the security services multinational. It was perhaps a different kettle of fish in values, but its aspiration at the time was also international expansion. Malmberg worked in many roles in India, Dubai, the US and the UK, and met the man he now calls his greatest source of inspiration: his former boss, David Hudson MBE. In 1989, Hudson moved to Delhi to establish G4S India, and spent 25 years there, winning the V. V. Giri Centenary Award in 1995 and the Shiromani Award in 1997 for creating employment opportunities for the less privileged. He had created over 200,000 jobs. Malmberg met him in 2000, and worked with him for ten years before Ecover asked him back. “The remarkable thing about this man”, he recalls, “was how intently he listened to the people around him. Whenever I spoke to him, however complex my concerns at the time, he would always see to the heart of the matter and respond with a succinct and extremely helpful piece of advice.” Malmberg sees the ability to listen as a ‘make or

Photo: johannmalawana.com

Are mergers and acquisitions a route to scale for innovative companies that want to reach the mainstream without losing their edge? Anna Simpson meets Philip Malmberg, CEO of Ecover and its new acquisition, Method.

break’ skill for business, especially when you’re working in new cultural contexts. “The insights you gain mean a lot from an economic perspective”, he says. “The better you understand the culture, the better you can assess the opportunities to leverage your business. When I was in India I wasn’t thinking of Ecover – I had other goals and was absorbing the culture. But, looking back, the perspectives I gained help me think through my priorities now. I can see more clearly where the gaps lie in our current business.” When Malmberg joined Ecover the obvious gap in the business was North America. But how to move into that market wasn’t clear. “There are so many new competitors in this space”, explains Malmberg. “Even the conventional brands are jumping in with semi-green products. The whole arena has changed so rapidly around us that it’s difficult to stay ahead of the game, unless you have particular skills.” This was when Ecover started to look into acquisitions, and, as soon as it did, the US brand Method stood out as a possible solution. It’s worth saying a few words about Method. It made its first sale at Mollie Stone’s grocery store in Burlingame, California, in 2001. On the shelves were four sprays, created with the aim of “revolutionizing the cleaning world with stylish, eco-friendly products made with non-toxic ingredients that clean like heck and smell like heaven”. This is perhaps all you need to know: it’s a company as serious about its sassy image as it is about cleaning. “The acquisition of Method brings us much more than just a brand”, says Malmberg. “It brings another way of thinking – a complementary skill set. And, at the same time, it has brought the skill that’s necessary to stay in sustainable business.” But hadn’t Ecover already nailed the ‘sustainable business’ side of the game? Yes and no, says Malmberg: “The only real way forward, to inspire change, is to bring in more and more consumers, making sure they buy our products – and our type of product. We can’t keep prodding our existing core group. The two brands sit very well next to each other because they are relevant and attractive to different types of consumer. The good thing is, there are a lot of overlaps. We’re both built on a strong belief around sustainability – but they express it in a trendy, stylish, young, dynamic way – whereas we’ve been more the serious brand in the game.” There aren’t many examples of companies coming together in this way. Look at the history of ethical brands, and you often find the same story, in which the nifty newcomer gets gobbled up the incumbent giant. The Body Shop by L’Oréal, Innocent Drinks by The Coca-Cola Company, Green & Blacks by Kraft… Did you ever hear of a merger that was really a meeting of minds? “I sincerely hope we are a leading example of the potential for brands with shared values to grow by joining forces”, says Malmberg. “That’s why the board at Method preferred the offer Ecover made to many other propositions. By ‘tying the knot’ with us (in their words!) they could be sure the brand would be maintained and the people would be treated in a decent and responsible way. That’s why they

www.greenfutures.org.uk

are also very committed to this merger: they can see it could make us a green, dynamic, visionary champion.” So what’s next for these ‘newlyweds’, which now represent the largest green cleaning company in the world? Malmberg’s ambition makes me sit up. He wants to move from the niche to the mainstream, and for this to work, he wants consumers to change their whole way of thinking. He’s talking about a cultural shift far beyond the walls of his company. “As a business you can’t do this alone, but there’s a big difference between consumers today, compared to 30 years ago. The current generation is much more environmentally aware. With them, we can skip the education part!” In years to come, Malmberg believes, this new generation will have a holistic view of their resources, their water use, their role in the community, and so on. “That’s why this whole partnership thing is so crucial”, he says. “As Ecover, we can try to do a lot, but if the consumers aren’t on board, it just won’t happen.” And how will they come on board? “The niche will expand, that’s the first thing”, explains Malmberg. “But sustainability will also become more interesting for more mainstream businesses.” Ecover and Method have a part to play too, of course – in their different ways. Malmberg wants to use the contrasting cultures of the two brands to promote common themes, namely water resources and behaviour change. As a start, Ecover recently sponsored the Blue Mile, a public race staged in the UK to protect marine and freshwater environments, through a partnership with WWF. “We went in for this in a big way and had a lot of fun!”, says Malmberg – but it was just the start, he asserts. “We really needed to reinvent ourselves, get more creative. We, as leaders, have to give the example – but a new culture takes time to build.” Philip Malmberg is CEO Ecover. Anna Simpson is Managing Editor, Green Futures.

By ‘tying the knot’ with us, they could be sure the brand would be maintained

Clean water culture: one brand leads the way, the other adds a splash

Green Futures January 2013

29


Object lessons

movement in design. At its heart is not the object’s appearance, but the story behind it, the life ahead of it, and what might happen when its serviceable time is up. Yarmuth spots the same concern for origins and destinations in the farm-to-table movement, the popularity of home-made preserves, and even the subtle touch of restaurants serving drinks in repurposed jars. She puts it down, in part at least, to the disconnect people are experiencing today from their ‘essential’ tools: we’re not talking pocket knives and fountain pens, but phones and tablets... “The idea of being connected to the source of things is at the heart of sustainability”, she observes, “and I think that design is totally mirroring that. ‘Authentic’ is the word we hear most from our clients. There’s a little bit more of an expectation that the story behind the materials will be clear.” Robbins readily acknowledges that he is one of many designers turning to sustainability as a design principle, and changing his aesthetic in the process. In his opinion, this shift was inevitable: “Sustainability is the natural course of design, always was and will be.” Sustainability-led design is surfacing in the mainstream, too. Take, for example, Puma’s Clever Little Bag, an alternative to a shoebox that uses recycled synthetic fibres, and so requires less paper

as works of art, after nearly a century of weather has forced their grain into abstract curves. And old rosewood wagon wheels stand proud with a glossy finish of natural oil, their dents and other signs of wear left as found… This is the work of Tucker Robbins, a designer based in New York, and it’s testament to a growing interest in embracing the old while making the new. In Robbins’ showroom, every piece has a narrative: not just where it was made, but how, with what and by whom. For Lauren Yarmuth, Principal and Co-Founder of YR&G, a sustainable design consultancy, Robbins’ ‘industrial chic’ aesthetic is part of a wider

‘Authentic’ is the word we hear most from our clients

Photos: xxxxx

High above New York’s Lexington Avenue, in a dimly lit loft with plain white walls and concrete floors, new signs of life are emerging from what might seem the detritus of a forgotten garage. A slab of Kumbuk – a tree indigenous to India and Sri Lanka – has been fashioned into a table, a glint of gold leaf along the rough edge where bark once clung. Above it hangs a fishing net transformed into a chandelier by Indonesian fishermen whose livelihood was in jeopardy. Around the table stand solid stools made by Philippino craftsmen, drawing on natural objects, such as seeds and eggs, for inspiration. Satinwood railroad ties masquerade

Photo: John Eischeid

John Eischeid delves into the stories behind sustainable design.

and water than the traditional box, and has a lower carbon footprint. Or Interface’s carpet tiles, many of which are made from 100% recycled materials and have been put through a full-life cycle anaylsis, including the carbon footprint of transporting them, and how they can eventually be recycled or reused. “Which is more sustainable”, prompts Rodrigo Bautista, Senior Sustainability Advisor at Forum for the Future: “designing food packaging made of recyclable materials, or designing a digital platform which takes the whole supply chain from farmers to people of what we will eat into account?” Bautista is keen to make the distinction between ‘sustainable design’, which incorporates every aspect of the product’s life – and ‘eco-design’, which rarely goes beyond using recycled or natural materials, and which he sees as a mere “entry point for designers”. David McFadden, Chief Curator at the Museum of Art and Design in New York, agrees. “Sustainable design takes you from the conception of the product all the way through to its end,” he says, adding that the idea “has gone so far beyond recycling.” Such holistic thinking isn’t new to the design world. It was put forth in the 1970s by Victor Papanek in his book, Design for the Real World. But Papanek was “a little bit of a voice in the desert,” at the time, says McFadden.

30

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Green Futures January 2013

31


Photos: xxxxx

John Eischeid is a freelance writer based in New York.

A global leader in environmental and infrastructure services

Photos: John Eischeid; Engage by Design

Some 30 years later, Michael Braungart and William McDonough co-authored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. They proposed an economic, social and industrial system that is based on nature: highly efficient and – in theory – producing no waste. Many designers are now looking to discards as a source: take Glove Love, an enterprise founded by UK charity Do The Green Thing, which seeks out lost mittens and sells them on as attractively mismatched pairs. What Glove Love’s clever marketing recognises is that good design depends not only on the lifecycle of the product, but also on the relationship of people to it. Bautista calls this “emotional durability”: if something is designed in a way that the user will develop an emotional attachment to it, he argues, the owner will be less likely to give it up, even when it’s showing signs of wear. “How might we design a mobile phone that will be inherited and cherished by our children?” Bautista asks, pointing out that many phones are abandoned long before they become dysfunctional. “[We need to] design things that actually age slowly, that have a timeless aesthetic”, he argues. As an example, Bautista cites the Wandular: an easy-to-carry handheld device that evolves with you

Shaping the Future

Image e courte courrt syy o off UTS TS Bi Bi o og ogas gas gas Ltd ga d

Above and previous page: Tucker Robbins shows off the potential of the past

over your lifetime. The concept is the creation of his own sustainable design research studio, Engage by Design, and Forum for the Future is collaborating with Sony to sound out potential business models for it. The Wandular “aims to encourage people to attach a different meaning to a device and develop a longer-term relationship with it”, Bautista explains. It stays up-to-date thanks to cloud downloads and the latest hardware plug-ins, and is encased in quality materials that will age gracefully. Concept designs feature combinations such as leather and stainless steel, or titanium and wood. Which brings us to the fundamental question: how does use relate to beauty? And which should come first? “For me, if something is not as beautiful as it could be, but does the job, that’s ok. I’d certainly put the right job before beauty”, says Wayne Hemingway of Hemingway Design. As an example, he cites his own Toyota Prius, which was one of the first hybrid electric vehicles to roll off the line. Then it was a “reasonably ugly car: not designed with sleekness or with classic lines in mind”, he admits – but he asserts that, after nearly a decade and about 114,000 low-carbon miles, he has forgotten about how it looks. Of course, not all consumers are willing to put environmental credentials on such a high pedestal. Today, many designers are working hard to make sustainable rhyme with ‘belle’, not ‘dull’. “We really try to combine aesthetics and sustainability so that there’s no contradiction”, says Majken Bulow, Brand and Communications Director at Interface. Its Biosfera range is made from 100% recycled materials, and requires about half of the typical amount of yarn. Small adhesive strips at the corner of each tile mean it can be fitted without glue, an idea inspired by the feet of a gecko. The pattern on it has little quirks – a nod to nature’s subtle variations – but also a feature that means the tiles don’t have be laid in the same direction, and can be easily replaced. Admittedly, this lack of uniformity in the tiles took a bit of ‘selling in’ to the retailers. Yarmuth was watching keenly: “Interface had to convince the whole market place to accept irregularity in the product.” The root of the problem, she argues, was the need for everyone to understand why the aesthetic had changed. Once they understood the rationale, they began to see the tiles differently. As the adage goes, there’s no accounting for taste. But the notion that a greater understanding of an object’s provenance and purpose could transform its aesthetic appeal is a promising one for sustainability. Keats may have been on to something when he wrote: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, – that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

AMEC is a leading supplier of consultancy, engineering and project management services to our customers in the world’s oil and gas, minerals and metals, clean energy, environment and infrastructure markets. Come join our team!

32

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Visit www.amec.com/careers for more information.

amec.com

Green Futures January 2013

33


Forumupdate

Smart Manchester

Home comforts

Plans to build a resilient economy in Greater Manchester promise new jobs and energy cuts.

For more information, visit: www.agma.gov.uk

34

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

A new project will shape how households use energy in years to come.

Photo: iStockphoto / thinkstock

One Angel Square: leading Manchester’s new low-carbon look

use electricity. Another £3 million scheme to facilitate housing retrofits and test Green Deal processes, called ‘Go Early’, will be rolled out, thanks to £1.3 million revenue funding agreed by the GMCA to cover procurement and start-up costs. Under an earlier programme, the non-profit company Northwards Housing installed solar panels on 711 houses, with Carillion Energy as its delivery partner, saving residents an estimated £74,000 per year. The Hub will also give universities, businesses and NGOs a platform to share their knowledge, making sure start-ups have the necessary skills and technologies to take off. The £800 million low carbon redevelopment NOMA, backed by The Co-operative Group, is a big part of this, beginning with One Angel Square, the Group’s new head office [pictured]. Ruairidh Jackson, NOMA’s Strategy and Development Director, hopes the Hub will attract dynamic SMEs to Manchester and help train the local workforce in skills for low-carbon development. That is the key, he says, to creating a resilient economic model which will make Manchester an attractive place to live and work. For Michael O’Doherty, who leads the Hub’s ‘Buildings’ work, the Low Carbon Hub is a way for Greater Manchester to take some of the risk out of investments in new business ideas, and make them a reality. He’s looking forward to connecting with other projects, and hopes they will “share the technological expertise and regulatory advice we need to scale up”. Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, adds: “The Low Carbon Hub will enable us to pioneer exciting new projects, creating jobs and develop expertise which will prove essential over the next few years.” High hopes, then – but ones that have won the backing of central Government. In October, the GMCA secured a unique `pathfinder’ commitment from the Department for Energy and Climate Change to help pioneer innovative approaches in the region. Through this, Manchester now hopes to provide an example of civic leadership globally, creating a clear strategy to cut its carbon emissions by almost 50% by 2020, in line with the UK’s national target. Of course, good intentions don’t always translate into reality. The Hub aims to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges in achieving these targets. The biggest challenge, says Atherton, is to engage all of Greater Manchester’s population – communities, organisations and businesses – creating strong relationships over time which will put sustainable economic development at the heart of local decision-making and culture. – Emilie Beauchamp

Photo: NOMA / The Co-operative Group

New momentum comes from the launch of the Low Carbon Hub

Will Manchester – former capital of the global cotton trade, birthplace of the industrial revolution, and home to the first modern computer – be renowned in the future for its low carbon lifestyles and clean tech economy? That’s the plan. Organisations across Manchester city region are joining forces to shift towards a more resilient economy. New momentum comes from the launch of the Low Carbon Hub, a platform created by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority [GMCA] to promote the design and delivery of sustainable initiatives. The Hub will channel funds towards projects that touch all aspects of society, explains Mark Atherton, Environment Director at GMCA. A combination of capital investment in low-carbon buildings and infrastructure, resource efficiency, and advice in innovation for businesses will set the region on track for a low-carbon economy. The Hub will also raise awareness of pilot projects to help them expand across the city region. One project ready to grow is the Oldham Energy Switching Scheme, which encourages residents to join together and offer their collective purchasing power to energy companies at auction, to get a cheaper deal. So far, the scheme has attracted 8,726 households, and is set to achieve an average annual saving per household of £171, totalling an estimated £1.4 million. Plans are underway to extend it across Greater Manchester in 2013. Domestic energy management will get smarter too. An agreement between Japan’s Department of New Energy and Development Organisation [NEDO] and the GMCA, backed by the Government, will see low-carbon heat units and a remote ‘smart grid’ management system fitted in homes across GM. Subject to feasibility, around 300 social-housing properties will become the first in the world to trial the technology which, if successful, could be rolled out to thousands of properties across the region. Electricity North West is working on a £10 million project with Ofgem to release unused capacity in the network and encourage customers to change the way they

Home energy consumption currently accounts for around a quarter of the UK’s energy demand and carbon footprint, making it the single biggest slice of the national energy pie. Consider that this includes 26.5 million individual dwellings, nearly all of which will be different to their neighbour, and the challenge of cutting emissions seems even greater. However, improving the energy efficiency of residential dwellings is now accepted as one of the easiest and most cost-effective means of achieving a substantial reduction in harmful emissions over the next two decades. And yet all the national and local initiatives to act on this since 1990 have together only succeeded in reducing residential carbon emissions by 6%. Meanwhile, the UK’s energy infrastructure continues to age. The pressure to take a bigger bite out of this slice is therefore great, and may require home energy use to be reimagined from scratch. So, what will home energy look and feel like in the future? Will its generation be centralised or local? Will most homes be properly insulated? How much will we know about our use? Will smart management systems be integrated with our phones? And what role will our neighbours and wider communities play in all of this? It’s a question Forum for the Future is setting out to tackle over the coming year in a new collaborative project called The Future of Home Energy. The project will bring together key players

www.greenfutures.org.uk

from Government, energy companies and other household brands to develop the kinds of products and services that will deliver the step change required to make our housing stock fit for the future. Ben Ross, Senior Sustainability Advisor at the Forum, foresees a big shift in household energy management: “By 2030, the UK’s energy mix will be far more diversified and decentralised, and there will be an ever increasing emphasis on energy efficiency and demand reduction. These will all have big impacts on our homes and, while they won’t be evenly spread across our housing stock, there will be significant benefits for those who engage. What really excites me is how technology and great communication, as well as rising prices, will mean people pay far more attention to their energy demands. They’ll become active users, rather than passive consumers.” The Future of Home Energy will examine rising trends in areas ranging from technology to policy – asking how people may relate and respond to them. The aim is to work with partner organisations to uncover fresh insights into consumer needs and desires, and identify opportunities for today’s market and future stakeholders – giving those involved new tools to shape the future of energy use in the home, and profit from it.

New to the Forum Network Since the last issue of Green Futures, 3M, Barclays Bank and Taylors of Harrogate have joined Forum for the Future as Partners, and Ecology Building Society has joined Forum for the Future as a Member.

Forum for the Future is seeking partners and funders for the project. To get involved, please contact Ben Ross: b.ross@forumforthefuture.org

Green Futures January 2013

35


Tomorrow’s leaders

SallyUren

Since 1996, Forum for the Future’s Masters in Leadership for Sustainable Development has been training the sustainability leaders of the future. Each issue, we track the career of a Forum alumnus.

Stephen Hale Class of: 1996 – 1997 Currently: Deputy Advocacy and Campaigns Director, Oxfam International Why I chose the Masters I’d studied politics and development at university, and been a very active campaigner on third-world debt and development issues. I could have gone into campaigning, but I wanted to get an understanding of how the world really works. I wanted to know how powerful people saw the world, and why they do what they do. The Forum course attracted me because of the insider understanding it offered. What I learnt When I was an activist, I used to think that if I got up early enough and campaigned

hard enough, we could change the world. The Masters made me realise – somewhat depressingly – that change is rather more complicated than that. Going through the work placements helped me understand the linkages and connections between sectors. For me, the recurring theme in all my work has been the constant struggle to figure out where the levers are, and how to make the greatest contribution and the greatest difference. Career to date After the Masters, I worked for four years as a consultant on social and environmental issues. I enjoyed that time hugely, and worked in Azerbaijan, Georgia and elsewhere, which gave me an understanding of how things play out on the ground. I’d also been working as chair of SERA [the environmental group affiliated to the Labour Party] during this time and, through that, was asked to be an advisor in Government. I did that for four years, before becoming Director of the Green Alliance, an environmental think tank. After eight years of being an ‘insider’, I was able to speak my mind there, and to develop strategies, coalitions and proposals of a scale of ambition that I couldn’t articulate in my previous roles. The beauty of being an outsider is that you can develop plans that are radically

outside the boundaries of what’s currently negotiable. I’m proud of the fabulous team we built there, which was recognised when we were named think tank of the year for 2009, and when I received an OBE. From there, I was keen to move abroad, return to development issues, and work for a large organisation, which brought me to Oxfam International, where I manage their global campaigns.

To compete or not to…? A question worthy of Hamlet. Market dynamics mean that competition between brands and business is a primary business driver. Get your competitive edge right, the MBA professors tell us, and the market will reward you well. Even when it comes to sustainability, competition drives progress. This is particularly true in the UK retail sector, where an ‘I’m greener than you are’ contest has been on the go for a few years now. But collaboration, too, drives progress. It has to: some issues, notably big hairy supply chain challenges, are just too great for one business to tackle alone. We know collaboration works. Collaboration along value chains (the ‘vertical’ variety) can be very successful in making serious reductions in carbon

What I plan to do next I enjoy my current role in Oxfam hugely, as well as life in Geneva. But one day the family and I will return to the UK, if they’ll let me back in! Advice for future leaders There’s nothing more important than holding onto the bigger picture. There’s a danger you can become preoccupied by the internal logic of an organisation, rather than the overall, external context. But if you do that, you become less effective both internally and externally in terms of the impact you can make. Remember your values, and your organisation’s mission, and that will enable you to ask the hard questions about what your organisation needs to do.

A collaboration to stir your cuppa

Stephen Hale was in conversation with Katie Shaw.

Engaging investors in sustainable business

36

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Photo: iStockphoto / thinkstock

To join the next phase of work, please contact Clare Martynski: c.martynski@forumforthefuture.org.

Photo: iStockphoto / thinkstock

Few investors take an interest in sustainability, or show an understanding of it as a driver of business success. The wider societal

The main insight, says Bent, “is to frame sustainability in terms of shareholder value – which probably means saying you are ‘future-ready’ – and have a hard-nosed quantified business case where you can.” The investment relations directors involved in the first roundtable will now put these insights into practice, and the Forum is planning another roundtable to assess the results. To read Forum’s insights so far, see: www.forumforthefuture.org/forum-network/ engaginginvestorsustainability

Sally Uren is Deputy Chief Executive at Forum for the Future. @sallyuren

Tea team

Show us the money benefits of sustainable business tend not to tickle the fancy of financial analysts and fund managers, who are more concerned with short-term gains. Is there any point trying to change this? Yes, says David Bent, Deputy Director of Sustainable Business at Forum for the Future. “Many of our partners tell us regularly that investors are a barrier to their sustainability ambitions.” With this in mind, in October Forum for the Future held its first roundtable for engaging investors. The aim: to let companies share their experiences of trying to engage investors, and explore how they can best take the next step towards sustainability.

and water use. ‘Horizontal’ collaboration across different businesses can provide commonality in standards: look at the Higgs Index borne from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. And then there’s the mother of all collaboration, the multi-stakeholder variety. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is a bit of a poster child in this category. So maybe a better question might be when to compete, and when to collaborate? Here, a systems perspective helps to frame the answer. If our aim is to make sustainable products and services the norm, which systemic barriers are preventing this step change? Of course, they vary according to sector, but there are constants: the lack of mainstream consumer engagement on sustainability would be one. The failure to ignite mainstream investor interest in sustainability would be another. In order to change the mood music among mainstream consumers, we need new collaboration. We need to see the dial shift between what companies believe will give them competitive edge and what they see as ‘pre-competitive’ – moving a bunch of activities into the pre-competitive box. True, EU competition law doesn’t help here, but a mindset that sees the value of both competition and collaboration goes a long way. And here is the rub. Businesses need to rethink the purpose of competition and collaboration. Of course there will still be room to compete, but it has to be against a new backdrop, once the barriers to a sustainable future have largely been removed.

Tea is an everyday ‘essential’ for many of us. We rely on it on to warm us up when it’s cold outside, and cool us down in hot climates. But the landscape of tea – where and how it is grown, by whom and at what price – looks set to change considerably. Climate change may soon lead to many parts of the world becoming unsuitable for growing tea, including regions where the crop has been an integral part of the landscape for centuries. On the consumer side, while demand from the health-conscious may remain strong, tea could become less appealing to communities in need of a calorie-dense diet. Meanwhile, finding enough people to work the tea fields is already proving problematic in countries such as Sri Lanka. All of this has implications across the entire value chain – which a new coalition of leading businesses and organisations means to explore. Forum for the Future has brought together a group under the banner ‘Tea 2030’, steered by Tata Global Beverages, Unilever, Yorkshire Tea, Finlays, the Ethical Tea Partnership and the Sustainable Trade

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Initiative. Tea 2030 will work to ensure that tea remains available to us all into the long-term future. “Tea 2030 will ask which pressures will come to bear on the crops, the growers, the retailers and the consumers”, explains Ann-Marie Brouder, Principal Sustainability Advisor at Forum for the Future. “How will the whole journey – from leaf to lips – have to

change? What needs to happen to make sure we can all enjoy a good quality cuppa when we want one, and who needs to be involved?” The coalition is interested to hear from other organisations who would like to get involved. To find out more, contact Madeleine Lewis: m.lewis@forumforthefuture.org

Green Futures January 2013

37


Youth on board

Forum for the Future’s Network brings together business and government globally to create a brighter, more sustainable future for everyone, inspire new thinking, build creative partnerships and develop practical solutions. We share what we learn so that others can benefit – and act. Working with pioneering partners, we transform the essential systems of food, energy and finance to secure a more fulfilling life for us and future generations. For more information, visit www.forumforthefuture.org

ABN AMRO www.abnamro.com

ClimateCare +44 (0)1865 591 000, business@climatecare.org www.climatecare.org

AkzoNobel Elizabeth Stokes, +44 (0)1928 511 695

The Co-operative Group Chris Shearlock, www.co-operative.coop

Alliance Boots Ltd Richard Ellis, Richard.Ellis@allianceboots.com

The Converging World Wendy Stephenson, wendystephenson@theconvergingworld.org

AMEC Francesco Corsi, +44 (0)191 272 6128

Crest Nicholson Plc Dr Elizabeth Ness, +44 (0)1932 580 555 www.crestnicholson.com

Arjowiggins Graphic Shannan Hodgson, shannan.hodgson@arjowiggins.com Ashden Jane Howarth, +44 (0)20 7410 7023 Aviva Investors Steve Waygood, +44 (0)20 7809 6000 Azaria International priyanka.kripalani@azaria.in +91 22 2285 6161 www.azaria.in Balfour Beatty Plc Chris Whitehead, chris.whitehead@balfourbeatty.com www.balfourbeatty.com Bank of America Merrill Lynch Matt Hale, +44 (0)20 7996 2054 Barclays Bank Plc Lauren Lannarone, www.barclays.com BASF Geoff Mackey, geoff.mackey@basf.com www.basf.com Benchmark Software Simon Harvey, +44 (0)1458 444 010 BP Shipping www.bp.com/shipping BSkyB Daniella Vega, daniella.vega@bskyb.com BT Plc Eric Anderson, +44 (0)7730 426 189 Eric.Anderson@bt.com Bunge www.bunge.com Bupa Andrew Smith, +44 (0)20 7656 2343 Burberry Limited Jocelyn Wilkinson, +44 (0)20 3367 3100 Cafédirect Robyn Kimber, +44 (0)20 7033 6022 Capgemini Ltd James Robey, +44 (0)870 904 5761 Cargill Fiona Cubitt, +44 (0)1932 861 916 Carillion Plc Louise Perry, +44 (0)1902 316 258 Carnival www.carnival.com Certis Europe www.certiseurope.co.uk Chi Group www.chigroup.co City of London Simon Mills, +44 (0)20 7332 1431

38

The Crown Estate Sustainability@thecrownestate.co.uk www.thecrownestate.co.uk Delhaize Group Megan Hellstedt, mhellstedt@delhaizegroup.com www.delhaizegroup.com Delphis Eco Mark Jankovich, +44 (0)20 3397 0096 www.delphisworld.com

IGD Dr James Northen, +44 (0)1923 851 919 Ingersoll Rand www.ingersollrand.com

Royal Mail Group James Kokiet, james.kokiet@royalmail.com

Innovia Films Lucy Cowton, +44 (0)1697 342 281

RSA Insurance Group Plc Peter Collins, www.rsagroup.comRWE

Interface Europe Ltd Ramon Arratia, +44 (0)20 7490 3960

npower Anita Longley, +44 (0)1793 892 716

Jaguar Land Rover Fran Leedham, fleedham@jaguarlandrover.com John Lewis Partnership Moira Thomas, +44 (0)20 7592 4413 Johnson Matthey Sean Axon, +44 (0)20 7269 8400 The Jordans & Ryvita Company Ltd David Webster, +44 (0)1767 319 415

DSME www.dsme.co.kr/epub/main/index.do

Kingfisher Becky Coffin, becky.coffin@kingfisher.com

eBay Inc Lorin May, lmay@ebay.com

Kimberly-Clark Corporation Tom Berry, Tom.Berry@kcc.com

Ecology Building Society www.ecology.co.uk Anna Laycock, alaycock@ecology.co.uk +44 (0)1535 650 773

Kyocera Document Solutions Tracey Rawling- Church, Tracey.Rawling.Church@KyoceraMita.co.uk

Ecover Philip Malmberg, +32 3 309 2500 EDF Energy Darren Towers, +44 (0)7875 110 289, darren.towers@edfenergy.com Ella’s Kitchen Sarah Bright, sarah@ellaskitchen.co.uk EnergyDeck Benjamin Kott, www.energydeck.com Energy Saving Trust +44 (0)20 7227 0398 www.energysavingtrust.org.uk Finlays Michael Pennant-Jones, +44 (0)20 7802 3239 Firmenich SA Neil McFarlane, +41 227 802 435 FirstGroup Plc Katie Smart, katie.smart@firstgroup.com Food and Drink Federation Nicki Hunt, +44 (0)20 7420 7132 Gearbulk www.gearbulk.com The Geo Group UK Limited Paul Starkey, pstarkey@geogroup.co.uk GSH Group David Whiteley, +44 (0)20 7015 0350 david.whiteley@gshgroup.com www.gshgroup.com

Lafarge UK Emma Hines www.lafarge.co.uk

Sony Europe www.sony-europe.com Sustaination Ed Dowding, ed@sustaination.co.uk Swire – China Navigation Co www.cnco.com.hk Target www.target.com TalkTalk Simon Richards, Simon.Richards@talktalkPlc.com Tata Global Beverages www.tataglobalbeverages.com Taylors of Harrogate Ltd Simon.Hotchkin@bettysandtaylors.co.uk

Tesco Plc Helen Fleming, +44 (0)1992 806 790

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) James Simpson, +44 (0)20 7811 3315

Technology Will Save Us www.technologywillsaveus.org

Marks & Spencer Plc Rowland Hill, PlanA@marksandspencer.com

Tetra Pak Ltd Gavin Landeg, +44 (0)1978 834 018

Mondelez www.mondelezinternational.com OgilvyEarth Kathleen Enright, +44 (0)20 7309 1226 kathleen.enright@ogilvy.com Panasonic UK Ltd Simon Eves, +44 (0)1344 853 325 PepsiCo UK & Ireland Andrew Slight, Andrew.Slight@pepsico.com Powys County Council Heather Delonnette, +44 (0)1597 826 165 Pret A Manger Ltd Nicki Fisher, +44 (0)20 7827 8888 Pureprint Group Richard Owers, +44 (0)1825 768 811 Quintain Estates and Development Plc Louise Ellison, +44 (0)20 7478 3430 lellison@quintain.co.uk

Heineken UK Richard Heathcote, +44 (0)1432 345 277

Recyclebank +44 (0)20 3205 3980 ukinfo@recyclebank.com www.recyclebank.com

Green Futures January 2013

Small World Henry Rawson, +852 2799 3998 www.interiorsourcing.com

Lloyd’s Register www.lr.org

Rail Safety and Standards Board Shamit Gaiger, +44 (0)20 3142 5380

HSH Group Natalie Chan www.hshgroup.com

Skanska Jennifer Clark, +44 (0)1923 776 666

Telefónica UK Simon Davis, simon.davis@O2.com

Hammerson www.hammerson.com

Hewlett-Packard Nancy Keith Kelly

Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd Stuart Wright, stuart.wright@sainsburys.co.uk

Leeds City Council www.leeds.gov.uk

Maersk Line www.maersk.com

Want a business model for the future? Ask the people who count.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc Elfrida Hughes, +31 610 974 798

Triodos Bank William Ferguson, +44 (0)117 980 9770 Tsakos www.tsakos.net TUI Travel Plc Jane Ashton, +44 (0)1293 645 911 Twin Jessica Frank, jessicafrank@twin.org.uk www.twin.org.uk Unilever Plc Karen Hamilton, Karen.Hamilton@unilever.com +44 (0)20 7822 5917 United Biscuits Alice Cadman, Alice_Cadman@unitedbiscuits.com Veja Aurélie Dumont, aurelie@veja.fr vento ludens Vanessa Ravenscroft, +44 (0)7850 779 024 vanessa.ravenscroft@ventoludens.co.uk www.ventoludens.co.uk Volac Andy Richardson, +44 (0)1223 208 021 Wärtsilä www.wartsila.com Wessex Water Plc Dan Green, +44 (0)1225 526 000

Rexam Plc sustainability@rexam.com, www.rexam.com

Willmott Dixon Ltd Rob Lambe, +44 (0)7814 003 046

Rio Tinto www.marine.riotinto.com

WWF-UK Dax Lovegrove, +44 (0)1483 412 39

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Photo: B&Q

3M www.3m.com

“First, do no harm”, they teach medical students. It is a fine ethical touchstone. But a doctor who stopped there wouldn’t be great to consult. We’d like them to make us better. Home improvement giant Kingfisher is applying the same logic to business. Lots of companies try and minimise the harm their products or services might do, but Kingfisher wants to contribute to our social and environmental wellbeing in a ‘net positive’ way. The question is, how can a retailer with 1,000 stores in eight European countries help people improve their homes, both to the benefit of natural resources and also – importantly – make a profit? Finding the answers calls for a long-term strategy. Last October, the company announced that it is planning a complete transformation of its business model by 2050, working on four fronts: energy, innovation, timber and communities. Wisely enough, it has already started the search for new directions, by asking those with the greatest stake in the future: young people. Kingfisher’s main UK operation, B&Q, worked with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to recruit nine 16 to 18 year-olds, the winners of an exacting nationwide competition. They formed a ‘youth board’, with unprecedented access to the business. Each participant was mentored by a member of the ‘grown up’ board. Over a period of nine months, the board worked to come up with strategies to help B&Q cope with a future of rising costs of energy, raw material and waste disposal. “We could find out pretty much anything we wanted to”, says youth board member Jamie Taylor, who worked with Operations Director Damian McGloughlin. Taylor was surprised to find that retailing draws on a much wider range of skills than he had realised. Jaideep Wasu, who acted as CEO for the youth board, was impressed by the company’s commitment to minimising its environmental impact. Their investigations homed in on whether the company

www.greenfutures.org.uk

could introduce a combined “take back, repair and rental” model, and the management was particularly struck by the case the young board made for it. At its simplest, it is as it sounds. When you’ve finished with something, you take it back. When it comes to tools and equipment for a one-off project, such a business model is straightforward enough. Extending beyond that, however, is not so simple – though it is now an integral part of the company’s thinking. What about the shelves you’d like to hang onto for a few years? Or the paint you’re daubing on the walls? “We may not be selling stuff in 20 years’ time, we may be renting everything out”, says Kingfisher CEO Ian Cheshire. This isn’t a throw-away remark: it’s a bold statement of intent. As he says, “To think this way just challenges every single principle of our operation”. The youth board’s final presentation impressed many of the board, Cheshire included. “The level of interest and debate it sparked was quite something”, remarks project manager Alex Duff. Their vision of how to make the “circular economy” work in practice has already borne fruit. The company is focusing on “closed-loop” innovation, in which anything that would have been discarded as waste is re-used. They have set a target to introduce 1,000 products with closedloop credentials by 2020. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the strength of the contribution made by the Youth Board resulted in this target being set to help Kingfisher move towards becoming Net Positive”, says Duff. The young thinkers will be keeping an eye on progress, too. The company will be in touch with them every year for the next decade. Jaideep is looking forward to the first update: “They have a lot of people who care about what they can contribute to the world as a whole”, he says. – Jon Turney

To think this way challenges every single principle of our operation

Kingfisher is a Forum for the Future partner. www.kingfisher.co.uk

Green Futures January 2013

39


Voluntourism can bring much needed resources to local projects – as long as it’s well managed.

One drop at a time won’t cut it for water management: we need joined-up strategies.

What some communities need is not only manpower but financial support

Seeing the sights is old hat for today’s tourists: they want to leave their mark, far beyond scratching ‘i woz ere’ into the walls. Ever since the gap year boom of the 1990s, voluntourism – trips through which individuals offer time and energy to charitable causes – has been a rising trend. An estimated ten million well-meaning travelers now flock annually to destinations such as South Africa, India and Thailand to work in diverse fields: education, community development, construction, conservation and public health. The motivations vary from one tourist to the next, but the rewards are clear. Volunteering can provide an incomparable insight into the lives and cultures of foreign communities, a way to ‘get under the skin’ of a destination that takes travellers out of their comfort zone. Of course, the more fundamental question is what the host destination gets out of it. The potential of practical support to drive positive change is great – and there’s no shortage of need, as Western governments, once profligate with aid money, enter periods of fiscal restraint. But, says Matt Fenton, Product Manager at Real Gap Experience, it takes good management to ensure that tour operators make the right sort of difference and that the objectives and outcomes of the project are realised. “Before we embark on a partnership with a host organisation, we discuss with them what tangible, long-term outcomes they’re looking to achieve to ensure a positive benefit for all”, Fenton explains. “We’re constantly getting feedback from communities about what’s happening on the ground, and we work closely with our in-country partners to ensure a positive experience for volunteers and communities alike.”

This feedback is key – because, for all its good intentions, voluntourism has its share of ethical hazards. Unskilled volunteers, no matter how enthusiastic, can lack requisite training and may abandon projects before they’re complete. Whereas some projects help to create long-term jobs, criticisms have been levelled at others that make use of free labour from abroad rather than provide opportunities for local workers in need of an income. In the worst cases, the need for aid is exaggerated to attract visitors and their money: orphanages in Cambodia have been accused of renting children from their parents to keep the tourists coming. Fortunately, travel companies are increasingly aware of these pitfalls, and working to overcome them. Real Gap and i-to-i are among a number of operators developing new guidelines for sustainable voluntourism with the travel association ABTA. It’s still early days, but the working group is speaking to the likes of Tourism Concern and academics to get a better understanding of the issues. “Volunteering holidays are growing in popularity, and so we want to encourage their growth, but it’s vital that they have a long-term positive effect on the local communities”, says Simon Pickup, Sustainable Tourism Manager at ABTA. One concern for Fenton is that the efforts of volunteers aren’t spread too thinly: “With the current economic climate, we’re keen to make sure the organisations we’re supporting get the right levels of support.” Of course, what some communities need is not only manpower but financial support to help ensure the sustainability of the projects. To that end, i-to-i Volunteering administers a campaign called Big Giving, through which volunteers can purchase basic amenities, like mosquito nets and bags of cement, for development projects. Through this campaign, i-to-i Volunteering’s South Africa Literacy project, which offers children help with reading in one of Capetown’s poorest neighborhoods, received a $3,000 grant to purchase supplies and convert an old shipping container into a classroom. The container was put in place by a South African contractor, and then renovated by local people and volunteers in cooperation. The gift has helped to ensure the future of the literacy project, which, says Will Jones, Marketing Manager at i-to-i and Real Gap, is the ultimate goal of any voluntourism project. – Ben Goldfarb Real Gap Experience and i-to-i Volunteering are part of TUI Travel PLC, a Forum for the Future partner. www.realgap.co.uk www.i-to-i.com

40

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Photo: Goodshoot / thinkstock

Watery world

Photo: Ali Bell-Leask / i to i

Good trips

Earth isn’t lacking for freshwater. Our planet is deluged by 110,000km3 of rainfall annually, and underground aquifers contain millions of cubic kilometres more. But that water isn’t always accessible when and where people need it: witness the drought that devastated the US this summer. And our thirsty population, now at seven billion and counting, has already depleted many rivers, reservoirs and aquifers. Climate change, which has begun to shift global precipitation patterns, will only intensify water shortages. According to Michael Norton, Director of Municipal Water at AMEC, this scarcity is exacerbated by the patchwork way in which we manage our most precious resource. “Drinking water is managed separately from water for hydroelectric”, explains Norton, “which is managed separately from agricultural water, water for industry, and so on.” The result is that competing priorities fight to grab their share of dwindling H2O, to the detriment of both humans and ecosystems. In recent years, however, a holistic paradigm has begun to replace the piecemeal one. Called Integrated Water Resources Management [IWRM], this new philosophy considers how disparate uses of freshwater affect one another, and links different sectors – both within individual watersheds and, increasingly, around the world – through forwardthinking management strategies. At the local level, capturing and reusing stormwater – an approach adopted by the city of Philadelphia and highlighted in Green Futures last year [see GF81, p8] – is a vital precept of IWRM. In Calgary, Canada, AMEC planted a former military base with green infrastructure like rain gardens and swales, vegetated areas that catch water, filter pollution, and provide wildlife habitat. Numerous American communities practise aquifer storage and recovery, a process that entails injecting water into aquifers during the winter, when supply is higher and demand is lower, and withdrawing it in the summer. And countries such as Israel recycle both ‘greywater’ (water from sources such as laundry and showers) and ‘blackwater’ (the contaminated wastewater that passes down toilets) for irrigation and drinking. These measures may be preludes to national water strategies, in which countries conceive of their water resources as precious assets and seek to maximise their value. Among the early adopters of national planning is water-rich Scotland, which has dubbed itself “Hydro Nation”, and this summer passed a bill that compels the Scottish Government to develop water-using industries, from whisky

www.greenfutures.org.uk

producers to aquaculture, and expands the power of the country’s public water utility. Norton predicts that integrated management will soon go global, and ‘virtual water’ (the water bound up in the production of goods, like the 1,300 litres that go into growing a kilo of wheat) will become central to international trade. At present, trade balances don’t reflect water scarcity: for example, arid Australia sends much of its water abroad, embedded in thirsty exports like rice and cotton, a practice which has contributed to severe shortages in the country’s Murray-Darling River basin. Through measures such as tariffs, a global strategy would encourage water-scarce countries to import crops from wetter ones, allowing dry countries to devote their own water to, say, drinking – enhancing both water security and global efficiency. For global planning to flourish, cautions Norton, the World Trade Organization will have to lower trade barriers that hinder the movement of goods, and allow a new cohort of nations to ship their virtual water around the planet. “If we can get the protocols right”, Norton says, “we’ll see water-wealthy countries like Brazil, India and Indonesia take up the challenge of feeding the world.” – Ben Goldfarb

‘Virtual water’ will become central to international trade

AMEC is a Forum for the Future partner. www.amec.com

Green Futures January 2013

41


Why food needs science

Healthy planet, healthy people

Consumers should welcome scientists to the table, says Andrew Kuyk.

‘Green’ products could also contribute towards good health.

Andrew Kuyk is Director, Sustainability Division at the Food and Drink Federation. Food and Drink Federation is a Forum for the Future partner. www.fdf.org.uk

42

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Photo: Kzenon / shutterstock

what if the weather is repeated drought, and the wind a hurricane? What if climate change helps spread new animal and plant diseases with the potential to devastate yields – the food equivalent of ash dieback? What would we give then for resistant crop strains and effective animal vaccines – or for varieties that can be grown with less water and in poorer soils? Or for food technologies that extract every ounce of goodness from what can be grown, and help make products last even longer – so that we can eat them all up, without throwing half away when they spoil… A sustainable supply of food isn’t our only concern. We also want our food to be healthier, tasting good with less salt, fat or sugar – and ideally giving us additional nutrients as well. How do we think all this can be achieved if we leave science out of the equation? And why should food be the one area of human activity where we turn our backs on how to achieve our aims more efficiently? Where would we be in transport, medicine or communications if we had stopped investing in research and development? In a world where we need to produce more from less, and with less environmental impact, we cannot afford not to be open to what new technologies may have to offer, or to imagine that business as usual will do. For countries under severe pressure to produce more food, getting smarter with science to meet future demand is simply common sense, not vested interest on the part of big business. China, for instance, has around 20% of the world’s population, but only 9% of global arable land and 6% of water resources. Of course, safety has to come first, for people and for the planet. There should be rigorous assessment, and decisions must be founded on evidence. If we are to make progress before empty shelves or empty pockets start dictating our choices, we need to build trust and engage in rational public debate. That is a task for government and the whole food chain. And for scientists and consumers, too. Photo: iStockphoto / thinkstock

We need to build trust before empty shelves start dictating our choices

Heston Blumenthal apart, putting science and food in the same sentence makes many people feel a bit uncomfortable. But we see nothing scary about the innovation and technology in instant coffee, or tomato ketchup, or any of the hundreds of familiar processed food products the safety, convenience, quality, consistency and shelf-life of which we take for granted every day. We have even come to assume that it is ‘natural’ to have fresh fruit and vegetables all year round, without any thought about delayed ripening, artificial atmospheres and extended growing seasons. We are simply used to buying what we want, when we want it, without any real idea how it gets to the shelves – or whether it will be there tomorrow. In part, these assumptions are a result of the growing disconnect in modern urban societies between what we eat and where it comes from. Some children don’t know that milk comes from cows, let alone what pasteurisation is. Some adults would be at a loss to say what does or doesn’t grow on trees or come out of the ground. Another factor is the success of the food industry in providing us with effortless choice and abundance, come wind or weather. But

In 2003, Glenn Albrecht, an Australian academic, coined the phrase ‘solastalgia’ to describe the personal distress caused by negative environmental change. A pioneer in studying the relationship between ecosystems and human health, his research in drought-blighted communities identified ‘Earth-related’ mental illness, caused by the severing of healthy links between individuals and their home territory. Many consider climate change the defining issue of our age because of the damage inflicted on the planet. Far fewer, however, are considering sustainability in terms of human health. As far back as 1946, the fledgling World Health Organisation redefined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. At the time, the definition was controversial for its broadness. Today, with increasing evidence that many factors influence a person’s health, it resonates more than ever. Yet an influential 2009 report by The Lancet, the UK medical journal, and University College London, said that even though climate change was “the biggest global health threat”, there was ignorance and apathy about its impact. “Health professionals have barely begun to engage with an issue that should be a major focal point for their research, preparedness planning, and advocacy”, the report said. Well before widespread awareness of climate change, concern about the environment fuelled a move to organic produce in western societies. Consumers sought to protect both the planet and their health by eating food that had been less intensively farmed, and subject to fewer chemicals. This, in turn, gave rise to other ‘environmentally friendly’ products, such as detergents. “People would go into these [health food] stores to buy food and see our detergent,” says Tom Domen, an innovation manager at Ecover, the Belgian company that pioneered plant-based cleaning products. “They opened up the market for us.” Formed in 1979, Ecover’s mission was avowedly green: it aimed to reduce the amount of phosphates flowing into the water ways. Only later did it emphasise hygiene and the efficacy of its products. Last year it restated its mission as ‘making a healthy and sustainable lifestyle easy’. The link is not tenuous. Protect waterways, and you protect lives.

www.greenfutures.org.uk

The link between health and sustainability is beginning to resonate in the mainstream, too. Unilever, the consumer goods giant, for example, has called its 10-year corporate strategy the Sustainable Living Plan. In it, ‘health and well-being’ sit alongside ‘reducing environmental impact’ and ‘enhancing livelihoods’ Nonetheless, for consumers, the most compelling argument for using green products remains concern over the environmental legacy, says Professor Simon Knox, a branding expert at the UK’s Cranfield School of Management: “They are not yet making the connection that green products are good for us as an instrument of health.” A key issue is the dearth of research. According to the European Centre for the Environment and Human Health, there are approximately 100,000 industrial chemicals in use worldwide, only 3,000–4,000 of which have been evaluated for their human and environmental toxicity. This multidisciplinary centre, established last year within Exeter University’s medical school, claims to be the first to have a research focus on the relationship between the environment and human health. It seems likely that the next generation will accept the concept of ‘healthy planet, healthy people’ more easily – thanks to education programmes. Take Eco-schools, which operates in more than 50 countries, teaching youngsters about healthy living, alongside issues such as biodiversity and litter. Some new brands, such as Innocent Drinks, owe their success to these savvy youngsters. Its colourful labels tell children how to reach their ‘five a day’, while also promising to plant trees in developing countries, if they convince their parents to buy more of its products… “People want to do the right thing”, says Andy Redfern, founder of the online retailer ethicalsuperstore.com. “The feeling that you have gone the extra mile and shown commitment can be very positive from a mental health point of view.” – Virginia Marsh

The link is not tenuous. Protect waterways, and you protect lives

Ecover is a Forum for the Future partner. www.ecover.com

Green Futures January 2013

43


Fish source

Propping up oil We need a clearer picture of fuel subsidies if we’re to avoid a dash for gas.

those that don’t [meet our standards], it will identify and inform improvement projects to address current barriers to procurement. It would be fantastic if this led to the introduction of new, locally caught and locally processed species to our shelves.” The key is the MSC’s “preassessment” tool, by which certifiers evaluate a fishery’s performance, provisionally, against the MSC standard. This identifies any potential problems and enables a fishery to prepare accordingly for “full” assessment, which leads to certification. Project Inshore will use the preassesssment template to show what is working well, but also to highlight what additional information is needed to be able to say a fishery is on the right track to sustainability. Between now and the summer, an independent certifier will score each fishery and give it a colour-coded grading. “It gives a recommendation to the fishery on whether it’s ready to go for full assessment, or if perhaps it has a bit more work to do”, Watson explains. Findings will be shared with Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities, with the aim of improving local management strategies. Thereafter, fisheries will be helped as much as possible to ‘buff up’ to full certification. Smaller inshore vessels comprise nearly threequarters of the English fleet, yet the EU allocates them just 4% of the national quota for lucrative species such as cod. If they harvest more than this small share, they have to discard it, meaning the day’s catch can sometimes be just a few boxes of mixed fish, such as gurnard and John Dory, which are difficult to sell into mainstream markets. “Chefs are very excited to know where their fish is coming from, and this also satisfies a growing need among consumers for locally sourced fish”, says Laky Zervudachi, Group Sustainability Director of Direct Seafoods, which buys from inshore fishermen for restaurants and caterers, and is a funder of Project Inshore. “The food service sector is terribly important in changing attitudes. With a species like gurnard, if people get to try it in a restaurant, beautifully cooked, they are more likely to say, ‘Actually, it was delicious’.” The hope is that, in the wake of Project Inshore, fisheries from different regions will join together to share information and spread the cost of full MSC certification. They may even form “super-cooperatives” which would sell direct to buyers, helping to maintain livelihoods in fishing communities. Fisheries as far afield as Western Australia and California have already shown an interest. – Jon Turney The Marine Stewardship Council is a Forum for the Future partner. www.msc.org

44

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Photo: Ingram / thinkstock

This could introduce new, locally caught species to our shelves

Sustainability reassures, provenance sells. That is the thinking behind Project Inshore, an ambitious plan to map the sustainability of English coastal fisheries and revive the fortunes of small-scale fishermen, by stimulating local markets. Led by Seafish, the UK industry authority, and drawing on the expertise of the Marine Stewardship Council [MSC], retailers and other partners, it aims to produce tailored sustainability reports for every fishery, representing 7,000 small boats. “Not much in the way of science is dedicated to the inshore fleet”, says Matt Watson, English Fisheries Outreach Officer at the MSC. If more were known about the species being caught, local fishing methods, seasonality and the true impact of these fisheries when taken as a whole, it could transform the way retailers and others source their fish sustainably. In November, baseline reports were published for every fishery, detailing what is being caught where, and the seasonality of the catch. “If you’re a restaurant in Brixham”, Watson says – referring to a small fishing town in the county of Devon, “you can pick up these reports, see what’s happening nationally and at your local port, and say, ‘I can see a trend in landings of John Dory in summer and autumn, dropping off in January’. You can then think seasonally and locally about what you are buying.” The same goes for big retailers, too. “Project Inshore will provide us with much greater insight into our local inshore fisheries, enabling us to understand whether they meet our [existing] sustainable seafood policy,” says Hannah Macintyre, Wild and Farmed Fish Sourcing Manager at Marks and Spencer. “For

Photo: MSC / M Watson

Restaurants and retailers get closer to the catch.

Public opinion of renewables is often coloured by the apparent favoritism they receive at the hands of government. Critics of clean energy subsidies, such as Feed-in Tariffs or the UK’s Renewable Heat Incentive, sometimes forget that the fossil fuel industry received similar preferential treatment some 40 years ago. What’s more, it still does – but today the support is offered in a less transparent way, and the true costs are difficult to pin down. A 2011 report by Ecofys cited 53 types of ‘intervention’ in the Dutch energy market, most of which are not publicly recognised as subsidies. The actual price of developing clean energy – compared to fossil fuels – is hidden in this rather murky picture, and determination to uncover it is on the rise. A group of investors led by Triodos Bank, WHEB Asset Management and UKSIF, alongside green energy companies and NGOs, have called for the UK Government to set its records straight on the real costs of developing the different sectors in the energy mix, taking into account all interventions, subsidies and beyond. Driving the enquiry is the arrival of a new Energy Bill, which has proved a point of contention for UK Government departments. The Treasury wants to stick to the status quo, focusing on a mix of oil, gas, coal and nuclear with upfront investments. On the other hand, the Department of Energy and Climate Change is pushing for a broader policy framework to stimulate the development of renewable energy technologies in UK, thinking long-term. “We need to avoid falling into the short-term trap of a fossil fuel strategy,” says James Vaccaro, Head of Market and Corporate Development at Triodos Bank: “The ‘dash for gas’ mentality is like saying, ‘Stay warm this winter by burning your own furniture’.” Vaccaro explains that shedding light on the true costs of fossil fuels will likely lead to long-term government support for renewables. This is essential to reassure investors of the stability of financing renewable energy projects and technological R&D on a large scale. It could be the key to a low-carbon future, he says, making it possible to secure the funds needed to develop more wind farms, realise the full potential of wave and tidal power in the UK and make our electricity grid smarter. As the Environmental Investigation Agency points out in its 2012 World Economic Outlook, dirty energies still receive more financial support from governments than clean ones. Global fossil fuel subsidies, taking the form of tax credits, soft loans or trade measures, reached $409 billion in 2010, compared to $60 billion for renewable energy subsidies.

www.greenfutures.org.uk

“These dirty-energy subsidies dwarf the support given to clean energy”, says Peter Madden, CEO of Forum for the Future. Without a long-term policy with a focus on renewables, the UK risks missing its target to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 (from a 1990 baseline), warns Nick Molho, Head of Energy Policy at WWFUK. Moreover, it risks missing out on large-scale investments in the growing renewables market. Molho points to Denmark and Germany as examples of governments that have smartly laid out long-term policy frameworks to encourage renewables – complemented, in both cases, by energy efficiency incentives for businesses. What does this mean for local businesses? For a start, they can afford to turn to sustainable energy producers (the equivalents of Good Energy and Ecotricity in the UK) and to invest in on-site renewables, offered by technology firms like Solarcentury. This bold approach has also boosted both countries’ economies, and fostered the development of new businesses to secure local supply chains for the emerging technologies. It’s no surprise that Denmark and Germany host the two largest wind turbine manufacturers in the world: Vestas Wind Systems and Siemens Wind Power. The question is, can the UK afford to plough more money into fossil fuels, coal and nuclear, at the expense of real progress to harness the wind, the sun and the sea? – Emilie Beauchamp

It’s no surprise that Denmark and Germany host the two largest wind turbine manufacturers

Triodos Bank is a Forum for the Future partner. www.triodos.co.uk

Green Futures January 2013

45


Feedback

Every fish has a tale.

Join the debate

www.greenfutures.org.uk letters@greenfutures.org.uk @GreenFutures Comments may be edited for publication.

boundaries. We need to see more projects like this artificial photosynthesis initiative. – Jack Dorsey

Telling it like it is Jonathon Porritt asks why we play down the horror of climate change [see GF86, p48]. Being the ripe old age I am, much of this won’t affect me personally but I have close relatives and very young friends all over the globe whose lives will be seriously damaged by what is being said – and done – by smug operators who cannot see beyond that bloody bottom line. So keep up and intensify the good work. – Rashid Karapiet

Know what’s on your plate (and how it got there). When it comes to sustainable fishery practices, we work closely with our suppliers to be sure we know where all our seafood comes from - and how it was harvested.

Here today. Here tomorrow. Sourcing from responsible suppliers ensures the long-term health of the world’s fisheries, so you’ll be able to buy the same quality seafood tomorrow that you bought today.

Seafood you can trust. Fresh, frozen or canned – Hannaford is the first supermarket in America to offer only responsibly harvested seafood throughout the store.

Wild about restorative ecology We are not Gods and we do not know everything. I therefore worry that this obsession with mitigation and restorative ecology [see ‘Recall of the wild’, GF86, p26] just masks a convenient way of allowing for ‘business as usual’ under the pretext that, whatever we do, we can always rectify it. Rainforests are ecosystems of great complexity: the forest floor is made up of thousands of years of composted material that we cannot simply conjure up. We must protect what is left, full stop. Yes, let’s create more ecosystems but don’t let us make it easy for those who are happy to destroy what is already there. – James Byrne

The prospect of apocalyptic outcomes is what motivates many of us to promote sustainability and campaign against the causes of man-made climate change, such as the flagrant and wasteful use of fossil fuels, the destruction of biodiverse habitats and carbon stores, and the overproduction of livestock. The paradox is that trying to communicate those prospects to other people turns them right off the subject and does more harm than good. They become inured to our concerns and dismiss the whole green agenda as eco-babble.

JonathonPorritt

This is the kind of news that gives you hope. And it shows that, with the right mindset, we can accommodate a growing global population. Thanks for sharing! – Chris Zacharia

Nice to see some corporates exploring a more progressive agenda [see ‘Reinventing the leaf’, GF86, p6]. Yet we still need to see more action! We need to push for companies to do more than simply attend talking shops. The truth is that only a handful of organisations are pushing

48

Green Futures October 2012

GF_Issue86.indd 48

46

Green Futures January 2013

www.greenfutures.org.uk

www.greenfutures.org.uk

who may still describe themselves as ‘climate sceptics’, if not full-on ‘denialists’. No doubt I’ll end up moderating the message to avoid alienating them. To ensure that ‘scary’ doesn’t lead to denial rather than enlightenment. Keeping people on side is a precondition of making any progress on sustainability issues. I feel bad about that. All the more so having just read the latest broadside from the redoubtable Kevin Anderson at Manchester University, taking to task the vast majority of climate scientists for their mealy-mouthed inability to tell it as it really is: “Contrary to the claims of many climate sceptics, scientists repeatedly and severely underplay the implications of their analyses. When it comes to avoiding a 2°C rise, ‘impossible’ is translated into ‘difficult but doable’, whereas ‘urgent and radical’ emerge as ‘challenging’ – all to appease the god of economics. Put bluntly, climate change commitments are incompatible with short to medium-term economic growth.” He’s right about this. In one way or another, many of us are now involved in playing down the full horror of accelerating climate change. I even do it with my own children, both of whom have started to ask me how, after 40 years trying to narrow the gap between what needs to be done and what is being done, I haven’t collapsed into utter despair! “Never too late”, I tell them. Not as in “never too late” to avoid some pretty horrendous shocks to the system, but “never too late” to avoid total apocalyptic meltdown. I spent much of my summer holiday reading books by people wrestling with that very demarcation line, including the latest reworking of the original (1972) Limits to Growth analysis by Jorgen Randers. This time round, he’s casting his somewhat gloomy Norwegian perspective out to 2052, and here’s his conclusion. “Don’t let the prospect of impending disaster crush your spirits. Don’t let the prospect of a suboptimal long-term future kill your hope. Hope for the unlikely! Work for the unlikely! Remember, too, that even if we do not succeed in our fight for a better world, there will still be a future world. And there will still be a world with a future – just less beautiful and less harmonious than it could have been.” I suspect I’ll avoid even those uplifting exhortations in the US. Just too scary! Jonathon Porritt is Founder Director of Forum for the Future. www.jonathonporritt.com

www.greenfutures.org.uk

10/10/12 4:59 PM

Well said, Jonathon. It is a tricky one. If you tell people what science is suggesting the future is likely to hold in store for us, they think it’s incredible and that the truth probably lies somewhere between what you say and what ‘the bloke down the pub’ has told them. Either that or they think you’re losing it. Even if they’re personal friends who know you well enough to trust you’re right, they often just don’t want to hear the worst. So we end up pussyfooting around trying not to upset people. Point people to an article from the Guardian, and they’ll point you to a sceptical article from the Mail. Point them at a scientific paper and they can’t make head or tail of it. In my opinion the problem comes down to scientists who won’t extrapolate from their work to what it might actually mean in a practical sense to the reader. They just don’t think it’s their job. Collectively, we’re a species in denial. – JR

2013 Delhi Sustainable Development Summit

Theme: ‘The Global Challenge of Resource Efficient and Low Carbon Development’

Don’t feed the fungi Plenary sessions include: • Adapting to the impacts of climate change • Mitigating emissions of greenhouse gases and associated co-benefits • Employment and growth potential of a green economy • Choices before the BRICS and a new economic constraint • Sustainable development and the new knowledge economy • Defining the future we want

I don’t think that this is a good idea [see ‘Feeding Fungi’, GF84 p5]. We will be To register, visit: http://dsds.teriin.org replacing landfills with mass-produced Launching at the event: the latest Green Futures Special Edition, INDIA: mushroom farms, saying, ‘Don’t ‘India: Innovation Nation’. A major collaboration and between TERI NATION INNOVATION INNOVATIO and Forum for the Future. worry about making that plastic bottle into To find out more, visit: http://www.forumforthefuture.org/india-innovation-nation another one, let’s just carry on taking oil from the earth because mushrooms will eat our waste... We’re helping the mushrooms grow.’ It is not the solution in terms of a wider image of biodiversity and ecology of the planet. – Anon greenfutures

at g in 13 ch 20 un S La DSD

New adventures in business

Where’s it from? hannaford.com/seafood

Many of us are now playing down the full horror of accelerating climate change

So here I am, writing this on a flight out to join Forum for the Future colleagues in New York (I know, I know…), pondering, as always, how to manage the advocacy challenge that lies ahead. I’m leaving on the day the British media went into overdrive on the latest data from the Arctic on the extent of melting in the summer sea ice. Superlatives abound: ‘worst ever’, ‘unprecedented’, ‘no known comparison in at least three million years’ etc. But the thing that really grabbed me in all the coverage was the personal testimony of some of the scientists involved: shocked, horrified and astonished as they clearly are at the prospect of an ice-free summer Arctic by 2030 – decades earlier than the same scientists were predicting just a few years ago. The Guardian’s headline says it all: “We have changed the face of the planet. It is staggering and scary”. Scary. A word that’s hopelessly understated, and yet seriously difficult to use effectively – especially in the US. In his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention, Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney mentioned climate change only once, and used speech marks around it to demonstrate his contempt for Barack Obama’s marginally more committed position. It’s election time, and both parties still get a lot of money from the oil, coal and gas lobbies. Money talks louder than science or even basic reason. Just check out the official platform of the Republican Party in Texas: “We strongly oppose all efforts of the extreme environmental groups to disrupt and stop the oil and gas industries. We believe the Environmental Protection Agency should be abolished. We support the freedom to continue to use and manufacture incandescent light bulbs. We strongly support the immediate repeal of the Endangered Species Act. We strongly oppose the listing of the dune sage brush lizard either as a threatened or an endangered species.” Now that is scary. Especially if you’re a dune sage brush lizard. Fortunately, I suspect I won’t have to deal with any Texas Republicans on this visit, though I have in the past. But I will be engaging with many people

A few years ago, I ran a global warming awareness theme over a series of Scout meetings for 11–13 year old boys and girls. They enjoyed watching a few videos, playing games around sustainability themes and calculating their carbon footprints. When we covered the predicted sea level rise by 2100 and 2200, and the numbers of people who would be displaced, some of these young people became too upset to continue. As a result, I cannot run this programme again. The question is, without knowing what’s likely to happen in the coming generations, why should today’s children choose a more sustainable future? – Archipet

ON A FAST TRACK TO SUSTAINABILITY?

DSDS_advert-FINAL.indd 1

10/10/2012 11:47

Green Futures January 2013

47


2013 Delhi Sustainable Development Summit

JonathonPorritt

48

Green Futures January 2013

UK, numbers have actually been growing over the last few years – despite the economic recession. But any hope that more sustainable products might command a premium evaporated years ago. The vast majority of consumers are astonished at the idea that cheap is often synonymous with destructive, unhealthy, irresponsible and cruel. And the sad truth of it is that a disturbingly large percentage of UK consumers are either too lazy or too indifferent to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. You’ll not hear any of our corporate partners express such heretical views. They never do it in public, and only very rarely in private. And you’ll not hear any of the campaigning NGOs express such views either. They love beating up on the corporates, but they won’t beat up on the consumers who support those corporates in their unsustainable ways. Too many of them could be members, or prospective members… All you hear about today is what companies can do to ‘enable’ or ‘empower’ their consumers – in terms of product innovation, reducing risk in the supply chain, increased transparency, ‘doing the right thing’ and so on. Ok, I exaggerate to make a point. It is of course brilliant that fair trade, organic and niche ethical brands continue to thrive in these troubled times. But there is something worrying about the current state of play. Not so long ago the prevailing view was that governments would sort it out on our behalf – poor, deluded fools that we were! Now we’ve transferred that semi-detached dependency onto the corporate world, indeed onto the very multinationals we once looked to governments to regulate the hell out of! We’ve moved from one illusory comfort blanket to another – this one market-friendly, seductively branded, and reassuringly undemanding. From Nanny State to Nanny Corp – ‘editing our choices’, doing the heavy lifting on water, carbon or waste, refurbishing that yellow brick road to the land of notionally sustainable consumption… This is a funny one for us to get our heads around. Forum for the Future spends every waking moment urging companies to do more. And more. Given the economic backdrop, what today’s leading companies are doing – with no support from governments, near zero interest from investors, and very little limited affirmation from mainstream consumers – occasionally borders on the astonishing. And you know what? That’s simply not sustainable.

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Plenary sessions include: • Adapting to the impacts of climate change • Mitigating emissions of greenhouse gases and associated co-benefits • Employment and growth potential of a green economy • Choices before the BRICS and a new economic constraint • Sustainable development and the new knowledge economy • Defining the future we want a greenfutures Special Edition

Published by

INDIA:

To register, visit: http://dsds.teriin.org Launching at the event: the latest Green Futures Special Edition, ‘India: Innovation Nation’. A major collaboration between TERI and Forum for the Future.

INNOVATION NATION

Photos: xxxxx

To find out more, visit: http://www.forumforthefuture.org/india-innovation-nation www.greenfutures.org.uk

Green Futures January 2013

3

Photos: xxxxx

Jonathon Porritt is Founder Director of Forum for the Future. www.jonathonporritt.com

Theme: ‘The Global Challenge of Resource Efficient and Low Carbon Development’

at g in 13 ch 20 un S La DSD

We’ve moved from one illusory comfort blanket to another

I honestly can’t remember when I last heard anybody argue that the sustainability revolution we so urgently need will be driven primarily by consumers. There have been times when such a view was strongly favoured, going right back to that original classic, The Green Consumer, by John Elkington and Julia Hailes in 1988. That particular surge of consumer interest in all things green fizzled out ingloriously a few years later, and every subsequent resurrection seems paler and paler by comparison. So where does the consumer fit in when it comes to analysing the potential for change? For a start, we’ve pretty much given up on our politicians doing anything substantial about today’s converging sustainability crises. It seems they’ll only act when they’re ‘given permission’ to act by others: by the private sector, for instance, or, occasionally, by voters. Worse yet, we’ve completely given up on investors, as they’ve proved themselves incapable of doing anything other than sticking to their short-term profitmaximisation story. The NGOs are still doing good stuff, but with much less traction than we would all like to see and, though we haven’t exactly given up on the voters, in the round you would have to say they don’t seem to be particularly engaged! Which is why such a huge burden of responsibility now sits on the shoulders of leading companies – and why this seems to be the only place where real leadership can currently be detected. Not that they’re acting on their own. They still depend on government not to screw up (in terms of bad regulation, inconsistent incentivisation and so on), and indeed they depend on their investors not taking fright. But, from personal experience, I know that they have very low expectations of both – as they do of their consumers. Recent years have taken the shine off the idea of ‘green consumerism’. Every survey that purports to demonstrate significant levels of consumer concern is automatically discounted by companies because of the yawning ‘say–do gap’: we talk green, but we buy brown. A minority of consumers stay loyal to organic food and fair trade products and, outside of the

www.greenfutures.org.uk

Green Futures January 2013

49


01892 882 207 or visit i-to-i.com Since 1994, i to i Volunteering has been bringing together travellers from all over the world with projects that respond to local communities in need. With over 100 projects in 20 countries, do something extraordinary whether you teach English to underprivileged children or help to conserve endangered species.

Work with children Conservation work Care for wildlife Build for communities

greenfutures No.87 January 2013

Lighter lives The dawn of the new nomads

Why asking the crowd is the answer for business Variety is the spice of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s healthiest diet Profiled: Philip Malmberg, CEO of Ecover and Method

GF87_lowresPDF  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you