Sustainability Reads: January 25- January 31

Yale’s Environmental Performance Index 2016 was released on last Saturday, revealing a “dire state of fisheries” and “worsening air pollution.” On an optimistic note, the report did find that countries “have expanded access to water and sanitation while creating more protected areas than ever before.” The United States improved, ranking number 26 out of 180 countries, as compared to 33 in 2014.

See the full report here.

The blizzard of 2016 was influenced by manmade global warming
The blizzard that hit the East Coast last week broke all-time snowfall records in multiple locations. Yet these kind of storms aren’t new to the region, which has been experiencing similar storms for the past few years. Although climate change by not be the dominant reason for the storms, it definitely plays a role.  Sea temperatures off the East Coast have been “milder-than-average.” And the East Coast will be becoming even more familiar with these types of storms as our world warms due to climate change: increased air and ocean temperatures and and increased amount of moisture in the air due to climate change brings heavier rains and snowstorms. El Niño’s role in these types of storms must also be acknowledged though: severe snowstorms are about twice as likely to occur in the Northeast and Southeast during El Niño winters. By Andrew Freedman at Mashable.

The Wild West of Measuring Corporate Sustainability
A thoughtful, spot on summary and critique of the world of Corporate Social Responsibility (actions and reporting). Here is the high-level summary:

  • Most companies invest heavily in creating a positive public image, which may or may not be accurate;
  • Companies have impact in many areas, from employee and supply chain welfare, to direct and indirect environmental impact, to the social impact of financial models and behavior, to the impact of goods and services on customers;
  • There is no universal agreement on what “positive impact” really means;
  • Many companies do “good” in some areas, while causing harm in others;
  • It’s difficult to compare across industries;
  • Companies use different models to create impact, some through their core business activities (like a solar company); some through an array of philanthropic efforts;
  • Companies self-report on sustainability, and are not always transparent

The main actors moving CSR ahead were also described in detail: Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), B-Labs, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). By Eric Nitzberg on Stanford Social Innovation Review

One thought

  1. I enjoy how many of the suggestions/observations in the “Wild West” article revolve around the idea of investors themselves being the ones who can contribute to this change. If companies want to get on board with the increasingly large number of people who want to invest in sustainability, they’ll voluntarily publish the necessary data for analysis (though this still leaves some difficulty in quantifying the relatively qualitative data of sustainability and social impact). All we have to do is educate the public about what sustainable investment really means, and the problem will start to take care of itself.

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