This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.


Environment MinisterStéphane Dion today announced that significant progress is being made in implementing Canada?s Climate Change Plan

This Week's Headline News
September 8, 2005

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Canada's climate plan moves forward

OTTAWA, ON, September 2, 2005 - Environment Minister Stéphane Dion today announced that significant progress is being made in implementing Canada’s Climate Change Plan. The Plan is a key component of Project Green, the Government’s broader vision that links Canada’s economic competitiveness and prosperity to a sustainable Future.

Six greenhouse gases have been added to Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and published in the Canada Gazette. This is a necessary step in the development of regulations to cover large industries required to meet the 45 megatonne emissions reduction target set out in Canada’s Climate Change Plan.

"With this measure, the Government of Canada is taking an important step today to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effective way, including for the industries involved," said Minister Dion. "There is overwhelming scientific evidence to conclude that climate change is the greatest ecological danger facing the planet."

"Canadians overwhelmingly support actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time, they expect all sectors of our economy – governments, industry, consumers – to play their part," said Ujjal Dosanjh, Minister of Health.

Over the course of the summer, progress has been made on a number of dimensions on Canada’s Climate Change Plan, including the publication of a clear description of the proposed Large Final Emitters system. Publication of a draft regulation setting out the key elements of the system is planned before the end of this year. As well, discussions with provinces have also begun on possible equivalency agreements.

In August, a proposed set of rules for an offset credit system was released. This system will award credits to large and small industries, technology companies, municipalities, farmers, foresters, and individual Canadians who achieve emission reductions. The system will also create a market allowing these individuals, industries and organizations to sell their credits, helping Canada to respect its Kyoto commitment.

Consultations have also started with the provinces and territories to identify strategic new technologies (for example, clean coal technology) and infrastructure projects for cost sharing through the Partnership Fund. The first projects under the Fund are expected to be announced before the end of 2005.

As the Government of Canada moves forward on implementing the Climate Change Plan, preparations are underway for hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal, November 28-December 9, 2005. In support of this international conference, Minister Dion is now traveling in China, Australia and India. The Minister will also host an international meeting of environment ministers in Ottawa, September 23-24.

The policies and programs under Project Green address environmental initiatives for the 21st century including measures to conserve our biodiversity, protect our water, clean up contaminated sites and ensure cleaner and healthier air. Through Project Green, Canada can set an international example by developing effective model solutions for the long-term health of the planet.

For further information, please see Kyoto Protocol Greenhouse Gases and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Also, see Greenhouse Gases, Climate Change and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 [Fact Sheet]

Is the environmental and ethical integrity of products and brands part of a new marketing responsibility or just another way to con the consumer?

Green Brands

New Zealand Marketing Magazine, 8 September 2005 - Is the environmental and ethical integrity of products and brands part of a new marketing responsibility or just another way to con the consumer? Rachel Helyer Donaldson takes a London view of a new trend.

It's not easy bein' green, It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.

And people tend to pass you over 'cos you're not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water, or stars in the sky.

Kermit the Frog sang about the difficulties of being green on Sesame Street in 1972. It was the dawn of a new era, as green issues came to the fore, albeit among a small minority. In the 30 years since, we've seen the success of the Body Shop established in 1976, the empty sloganeering of the environmental movement in the 1980s and the rise of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the 1990s. In the 21st century, campaigns to Make Poverty History and the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases dominate public consciousness.

But the problem faced by Kermit back then still rings true for things green today. Despite the increasing awareness of environmental issues, green is misunderstood.

Like Kermit, most green products are still passed by. Attitudes to ecological issues may be changing but these don't necessarily translate into action by consumers. Kermit plays second fiddle to nature's flashier sparkles and stars. The supermarket shopper shuns the eco-friendly floor cleaner with the 1970s label for ultra-modern looking Mr Muscle; the time-poor parents go for bulky nappy packs showing happy babies, rather than use recyclable cotton.

In the United Kingdom, ethical consumerism is growing at a rapid rate, according to the Ethical Purchasing Index. The amount of money spent on such products has soared 16 percent in 12 months.

Some [GBP]24.7 billion was spent on ethical consumerism in 2003. That means such spending is up a hefty 40 percent since 1999.

Certain ethical goods in Britain are successfully competing side-by-side with non-ethical products. Sales of free-range eggs now command 40 percent market share, while in 2003 sales of energy efficient household appliances topped 50 percent market share for the first time. Both these markets have, however, benefited from supplier, retailer or government intervention.

But in other areas ethical products have yet to make a serious impression on total market share. Sales of Fair Trade goods, for instance, have grown from [GBP]22 million in 1999 to [GBP]92 million in 2004 yet that still accounts for less than four-percent market share.

And overall the figures remain low when compared to total domestic consumption in Britain, with about [GBP]1 in every [GBP]29 spent ethically.

London strategist, Wendy Gordon, calls this the 30:3 ratio. "Thirty percent of people claim to be concerned about the environmental and ethical integrity of products and services they purchase and yet only three percent translate this attitude into behaviour," says Gordon, who is the author of a booklet, Brand Green: Mainstream or Forever Niche?

The increase in ethical spending is encouraging but "distinctly patchy", she says. "People may recycle their newspapers and bottles regularly, yet still drive to work in a car alone. They may refuse to buy Nike products on the grounds of social ethics, yet buy products that are not biodegradable."

There are several reasons for this, believes Gordon.

Firstly, for most consumers, the brand remains king, even when it comes to saving the planet. "It isn't that people don't care about green products and services but simply that they aren't prepared to give them special dispensation."

Many green marketers push the environmental or ethical benefit of their product as if it supersedes all other reasons for choosing it. But often that is not how consumers choose a product in reality. Mr Muscle, which is marketed as "anti-bacterial", will win hands-down over the eco-friendly United Kingdom brand Ecover, which promotes itself as "effective products for people who care about a clean environment", she says.

"Although I, as a consumer, care about the environment, I want my kitchen to be free of germs and power-cleaned. This is more important to me."

Gordon argues green products can be sold to the mass market in the same way major brands sell anything from mobile phones to cafe latte.

"The challenge for the green movement as a whole is to convert the groundswell of popular concern about the environment and ethical responsibility into personal accountability, altered behaviour and effective action. Those involved with products and services in particular have to learn how to connect with brands that have green credentials to the everyday lives of ordinary human beings, so that we consume less or consume differently."

Thanks to new technology, many green products have greatly improved, says New York green marketing consultant Jacquie Ottman. "Many can now attract users on the basis of cost, health and convenience - benefits that appeal to all consumers, and the reasons why consumers buy certain products in the first place."

Clever marketers no longer make 'green' their primary sell, she says.

In the US, Philips Lighting relaunched its Earth Light brand compact fluorescent light bulb under the Marathon brand. It had not ditched the environmental angle - the US Energy Star symbol (which has 40 percent awareness among Americans) is still prominently displayed on the package - but marketing now emphasises long life and money savings.

In Britain, internet bank Smile pushes its customer service and attractive interest rates as well as its ethical policy, while solar-power manufacturer Solar Century markets itself as a smart technology via strategic partnerships with major energy suppliers. Similarly, Toyota highlights the "quiet ride" of its massively popular gas-electric hybrid Prius, while downplaying the car's ecological benefit - fuel efficiency.

According to Kermit, green represents nature and tranquillity. But consumers have a rather different take.

"Wacky, alternative, annoying, opinionated, virtuous and responsible," was one reply, when Wendy Gordon asked people to describe 'green' as if it were a brand. "Argumentative, militant and intolerant" was another. There were more positive attributes given but, generally green is "far too depressing and far too serious".

This, she says, "is one of the fundamental reasons why these brands fail to break through into the mass market".

Some of that worthiness needs to be substituted with humour and lightness. "Green must learn how to connect with people in a positive, fun and engaging way. Until it learns to do this, consumption behaviour will never change dramatically."

The most successful green products connect with consumers' hearts as well as their heads.

"They make the link between the big, world issues - the stuff that we're all aware of but, in reality, little old me doesn't do anything about - and the things that affect individuals," says Acacia Avenue co-founder and strategist Caroline Whitehill.

"Certain companies are making it easier for consumers to feel good."

Coca-Cola Amatil recently became the first business in New Zealand to enable people to recycle their plastic bottles while out and about by providing bins throughout Auckland's Botany Town shopping centre. Each Kiwi throws away a staggering 83 kilograms a year in packaging.

Likewise, Whitehill argues that the reason organic vegetables are so popular is not due to food scares or awareness, but because many companies deliver them to customers' doorsteps.

"That's probably a more compelling reason than that they are organic, but it's a bonus that they're organic. No one plays the lottery to help charities. But if I keep playing and losing then at least my money is going to a good cause."

Successful green marketers create a sense that something can be done - and that the onus is as much on the individual as the corporations.

Meanwhile, with boycotts in the UK worth [GBP]3.2 billion in 2003, brands can no longer afford to behave badly and assume they will get away with it, says Gordon. "All major brands are potentially exposable in the age of mass media, the internet and scrutiny by non-governmental organisations."

Whitehill agrees. "It's about being open and transparent and that we're all in this together. Green marketing messages are likely to be worthy, they are trying to say how great they are yet they just want to make money."

She points out the concept of green now means all manner of different things, to different people. Consumers want to make the world a better place in all sorts of ways, from health to the environment to social change. And this is reflected on television, with the number of TV shows concerned with self-improvement. On a new Channel 4 show an 'eco-expert' works with some of Britain's most environmentally unfriendly families to change their ways.

"It used to be a tactical message, it used to be a very narrow subject, just one marketing message among many. But now it's almost the underpinning of all these messages and it's very broad. It's not really about 'green' any more, it's about life."

Back in the swamp, you can be sure Kermit would agree.


"Hate something, change something, make something better" is the strapline for Honda Diesel's award-winning campaign, Grrr. Although executed using ultra-cute animation, Grrr focuses on hate as the driving force for change - and that's as far from hippy-style environmentalism as you can get. The campaign from Wieden + Kennedy London has been lauded with advertising gongs, including the prestigious Film Grand Prix at this year's Cannes International Advertising Festival.

The advert shows a tranquil world invaded by flying, dirty old diesel engines. But the creatures get angry and even, using their hate for good by destroying every last engine. They then welcome the brand new Honda Diesel engine.

Back in the real world, the story goes that Kenichi Nagahiro, the company's chief engine designer hated noisy, smelly and dirty diesel engines. When asked to design Honda's first diesel engine he flatly refused - unless he was allowed to start completely from scratch - and invented the VTEC. Honda claims it is one of the cleanest, most refined diesel engines on the market today. The campaign ran across TV, cinema, radio, press, interactive TV and the internet. According to Wieden + Kennedy, Grrr generated an increase of 43 percent in the number of people visiting Honda's website and an increase of 62 percent in spontaneous brand awareness.

Green & Glossy

A new UK style magazine aims to give the environmental and ethical movements a much-needed makeover.

Project, which launches later this year, is targeting style aficionados who don't want to impact on the environment but still love well-designed, beautiful things.

"We don't believe something should just be environmentally and socially responsible - it should also be desirable and function as well as, if not better than a non-ethical product," says the magazine's editor, ex-pat Wellingtonian Liz Hancock.

To date, the environmental industry has been "po-faced and holier than thou", says Hancock. "With the magazine we want to lighten it up and inject a bit of humour."

The quarterly magazine will be printed on recycled paper and espouses to "encourage ecological and social change", but there is nothing homespun about this rag.

Project, which will still be a 'glossy', is to be produced by writers, designers and publishing consultants who have worked for some of the world's biggest magazines, such as Marie Claire, GQ, Wallpaper and Dazed & Confused. Hancock herself is i-D magazine's beauty editor and a regular contributor to Vogue and the Sunday Times. The magazine also has an advisory panel of some of the top environmental and social specialists and designers, such as Green & Black's organic chocolate founder Josephine Fairley and fashion designer Katharine Hamnett.

Hancock first came up with the idea of the magazine in 1997, as a final-year project during her studies at the London College of Fashion.

She believed that in terms of fashion and design, more people needed to get involved in environmental issues, but no one was doing so.

"An image change was needed for the movement and I really felt that doing a magazine was one way it could happen."

Hancock fears people may get "total burn-out" from these issues, but also acknowledges such concerns are widely held, particularly now that fashion looks likely to follow in the footsteps of the food and cosmetics industries and go organic.

"And when fashion embraces something you can be sure it will go mainstream."

But can fashion truly embrace ethics? Fur, for example, is back with a vengeance, despite the much-heralded backlash against it by models and designers in the 1990s. Hancock argues that even the fashion industry is moving away from the short cycles of disposable fashion. There is the penchant for recycled 'vintage' clothing, and plenty of designers, such as American Apparel, are producing styles that are not trend-driven.

Crucially, the magazine will not try to be perfect, says Hancock. No one - company or individual - is 100 percent faultless, she says. Ideally, Project's advertisers will be responsible companies. "But we can't make a hard or fast rule - there will always be someone advertising in our magazine a reader takes umbrage with.

"A lot of what we are about is not pointing the finger," she adds.

"It's about being realistic and encouraging readers to do as much as they can, within their financial restraints, rather than laying a guilt trip on them.

"Project magazine is for all shades of green - so if someone reads it and merely starts to recycle, that's bloody great. If they already use green energy, and decide to switch to a hybrid car after reading the magazine, that's bloody great too."


New HBS CSR program -- Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategies to Create Business and Social Value

Dear Colleagues,

We have just received information from Harvard Business School on the
launch of a new executive development program:  Corporate Social
Responsibility: Strategies to Create Business and Social Value.  We at the
World Bank Institute thought that this might be of some interest to you.

Please contact the Harvard Business School of Executive Education for
further information on this new program curriculum.
or visit:

Thank you,

R. W. Pinkney