Environmental and sustainability resources

November 3, 2007 at 3:00 am 1 comment

Kim photo BowralI’ve been researching into corporate sustainability and have come across some useful resources that I thought I’d share with you. First up, is a new publication by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development – The New Role of Corporate Leadership in Global Development. Check it out here. A key message for business is: “Given the right conditions, the private sector can improve the lives of people in the low-income segment through direct employment, procurement from local suppliers and delivery of affordable products and services.”

Sorry, but having read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, I’m a tad skeptical about this. Seems to me that relentless privatisation just feeds greedy corporations and is creating a gaping wealth divide. So people in the low-income bracket don’t always get a share of the wealth. And will corporations actively worry about improving the lives of people in this income bracket?? I wonder.

The Wall Street Journal has a special issue on the environment. It looks at topics such as public attitudes towards climate change and personal sacrifice; building green and affordable; alternative energies. I also found the United Nations Environment Programme has just published the fourth Global Environment Outlook. Its compiled by 390 experts from observations, studies and data garnered over two decades. Pretty bad news: the report says that humanity is ravaging the planet so voraciously and so rapidly that future generations will be bequeathed a devoured planet. Earth has experienced five mass extinctions in 450 million years, the latest of which occurred 65 million years ago and the report highlights that a sixth major extinction is under way, this time caused by human behaviour.

Interesting and scary statistics from this report. Here’s a taste.

  • climate is changing faster than at any time in the past 500,000 years
  • global average temperatures rose by 0.74 degrees Celsius (1.33 Fahrenheit) over the past century and are forecast to rise by 1.8 to four C (3.24-7.2 F) by 2100
  • global population is expected to peak at between 8 and 9.7 billion by 2050
  • in Africa, land degradation and even desertification are threats; per capita food production has declined by 12% since 1981

The UN report presents four scenarios to the year 2050: “Markets First”, “Policy First”, “Security First”, “Sustainability First”.

Also news about rising sea levels and other disasters related to climate change. 33 cities are predicted to have at least 8 million people by 2015 and at least 21 of these cities are highly vulnerable – Dhaka, Bangladesh, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai and Tianjin in China, Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt, Mumbai and Kolkata in India, Jakarta, Tokyo and Osaka-Kobe in Japan, Lagos, Karachi, Bangkok, New York, Los Angeles.

643 million people or more than one tenth of the world’s population live in low-lying areas at risk of climate change. In descending order, China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Egypt, the U.S., Thailand and the Philippines are countries most at risk.

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Entry filed under: Climate Change, Education and Awareness, Environment, Sustainability, Useful resources.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Ray  |  November 6, 2007 at 1:29 am

    Kim,

    The corporate social responsibility rhetoric seems to have gone into overdrive since Climate Change became a hit, but I’m inclined to agree with you – it’s all for show; a marketing campaign, capitalising on the steady flow of critiques that have been aimed squarely at the corporation as an entity since the beginning of the decade.

    For all the talk, a corporation that brings about poverty or environmental destruction due to innate business policy (lowering costs, maximising revenue) isn’t going to affect any real positive change.

    Example: here in WA, Woodside Petroleum’s north-west shelf gas project has destroyed rock art that was thousands of years old and ravaged the underwater environment. At the same time, the company commissions the WA Museum for “research” on environmental sustainability and provides funding for a new display about marine life.

    Reply

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