MOOC @ Bath : Sustainability for Professionals : Week 3 reflection

This week : Reporting standards

Good to go through some of these standards. Until recently I was mainly on the “environmental” side of sustainability, but I have learned to appreciate the social aspect of sustainability.

One thing that keeps coming to my mind, and that is something I hope will come back later in the course, is tooling for delving into the really fundamental questions around sustainability:
“Is (part of) my company / our industry itself at all sustainable?” and if not (because I am a coal mine or lil company) what can we do to reinvent ourselves, be open and honest about that and show the world that we really care.

It’s of course really easy for me to ask these questions because I am not a player (yet) but these are the type of questions that keep me wake at night.

(Some of) the Standards

EMAS – EU management tooling framework for Environmental Reporting and company policy making. Requires registration. Currently (3-2014) 4500 members.

ISO26000 – social Responsibility framework (not certifiable)
BS8900 – sustainable Management (British)
SA8000 – Social accountability

Other reporting standards
PAS2060 (carbon reporting)
ISO 20121 – Management entertainment industry
ISO 14001 – Environmental Management System (integral part of EMAS)
BES 6001 – Responsible SOURCING of construction materials

On labeling schemes
Marine Stewardship Council, Fairtrade and other “labels” are intended to help consumers make a “wise choice”, but are they really??

One issue I see with these labels is that they are “product oriented”, you as a consumer are making a choice between brand A and B. So you read that this meat is “from better kept animals”, but there are no “meta labels” saying “eating meat is far mor damaging to the environment than eating beans and mushrooms”. The latter is necessary to grow to a “sustainable” food supply, “better kept animals” are not going to save the planet.

Far fetched idea to mitigate this: The supermarket as a whole would need to re-zone their aisles with color codes : RED-floor meaning, don’t buy this stuff if you care about sustainability, and GREEN-floor saying, it’s OK to fill your baskets here. Doubt if it would be a very successful formula though 🙂

Stakeholders and stakeholder engagement
The most interesting part of this MOOC until now : stakeholder engagement standard AA1000ses. It defines a process on how to plan, implement, react and report on stakeholder engagement. GOOD STUFF!

Ideas from fellow student Geoffrey Rowlands on changes required to implement CSR:

William Bridges is one of the change/transition educators that I admire. He is able to boil complex approaches down to simple questions or steps like:
1. What is changing?
2. What will be different because of the change?
3. Who’s going to lose what?

“Change” is an event. “Transition” is the evolving process of individuals adapting to the change.

Or the 4 “P’s” that I have used numerous times. Purpose, Picture, Plan, Part.

I’ll quote the slide of implementing CSR-sustainability policies in companies because I will want to look this up often

“Practical considerations include:

phased development and implementation
recognition of the need for identifying priorities
keeping the strategy simple and practical
starting with easy wins
recognising the need for a long planning process upfront”

All in all a very good week, I learned a lot and have lots of new ideas I can chew on!!


MOOC Refelctions : Climate Change, Exeter, week 1

How cool is that! My First ever MOOC, and the first thing they tell me is that I have to write blogs and tweet about them! I love to write blogs! ha!

So here we go, my first reflections on “climate-change-challenges-and-solutions”

What is the difference between weather change and climate change?

Weather, in my part of the world, The Netherlands, changes on a daily basis. Yet streams transport low and high pressure systems across the Atlantic and bring wet & windy weather when the wind blows from the west, cool and wet when wind blows from north, cool and dry when from the east and soft and wet when blowing from the south. The yet stream is the motor of weather changes.

“Climate” used to be the average measured, by definition, over a period of 30 years. Looking at these averages you could tell that winters were soft and wet, springs usually pleasant, summers comfortable, and autumn wet and windy. These averages show a lot of variability leading to winter periods with frost and snow (skating!!!) and sometimes semi tropical summers.

What I see changing in my lifetime is that the variability both in weather AND climate are changing:
– weather patterns get stuck : weeks on end with northerly winds, switching to weeks on end of southerly wind. Huge downpours, unknown since measuring began in the 1700’s, dried out dikes because of lack of rain. All weather phenomena.

With the changing of the weather (freak events every month, we just had the three “hottest” January days ever recorded) we see a changing of the climate: spring starts sooner (second week of January and we still see flowers), autumn ends later.

The relationship between the changing of the weather and changing if the climate was one of the reasons to enter this MOOC. I’ve done a lot of reading, and I think the culprit is the yet stream that is powered by the temperature difference between the equator and the poles. Because the poles (at least the arctic) heats up a lot faster than the equator, the delta-T gets smaller! and the motor behind the yet stream fails.

Time to discuss now, please do!!