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New Challenges Reshaping Corporate Social Responsibility

nbis-new-challenges-wpBusiness has the capacity, innovation and duty to carve a new path toward sustainability, says Karl Ostrom, PhD, in his latest white paper titled New Challenges Reshaping Corporate Social Responsibility. The co-founder and co-executive director of the Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability (NBIS) released his paper today at the 2014 GoGreen Seattle Conference.

“As usual, NBIS is pushing us all to the next level on our sustainability journeys with this new white paper,” said Toronto-based author and speaker Bob Willard of Sustainability Advantage. “Karl defines how companies can respond to the sustainability imperative and position themselves to thrive on a finite, crowded, resource-constrained, climate-destabilized planet. We urgently need new visionary benchmarks of environmentally and socially responsible business performance, and NBIS is helping to define them. Thanks, NBIS!” (more…)

Harvest Eco-Hour Celebrates Northwest Sustainable Food and Farms!

Farming at 21 Acres

Northwest Sustainable Food Systems: An Eco-Hour with Antioch University, PCC Natural Markets, PCC Farmland Trust, 21Acres and Morethana Farm! 

What better time to learn about the sustainability of our food systems than at harvest time? For this event, we’ve brought together food producers and distributors to speak about the ways in which their organizations are promoting sustainability in how we eat.
Eco-Hour - Networking with a Purpose
Join us for our November Eco-Hour networking event, featuring Antioch University, 21 Acres, Morethana Farm,  PCC Natural Markets and PCC Farmland Trust.

When: November 18th, 5:00-7:30 pm
Where: Antioch University, 2326 6th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

 

Eco-Hour RSVP

 

Regulation of Coal Power Emissions: Advocates, Fence-Straddlers and Nay-Sayers

Karl Ostrom, PhD, Co-Executive Director, Network for Business Innovation & Sustainability (NBIS) – June 9, 2014

Introduction:

The Obama administration proposal calls for a reduction in coal plant greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. The plan offers each state the opportunity to construct its own pathways to this goal; e.g., renewables, switching from coal to natural gas or other new technologies. EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy states, “…we will turn climate risk into business opportunity, we will spur innovation and investment and we will be a world-leading clean energy economy.”

Negativity toward the EPA proposal gets a lot of press. In my review of responses, I am adding balance by highlighting the positive support for effectively addressing climate change that is coming from within state governments and a wide range of businesses.

The Advocates: Responses from States, Businesses and NGOs Who Are Addressing Climate Change but Welcome Federal Action to Strengthen Impact –

KC Golden, Senior Policy Advisor, Seattle’s Climate Solutions: “By providing flexibility for emitters and states to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency rather than just pollution control equipment, the EPA is forging a true partnership with the states and with public and private providers of climate solutions. These federal rules will support innovation and investment in the clean energy transition, building healthier local economies and good, sustainable jobs. …” (See Ceres on Rules attracting documented investor support)

“Northwest states will be able to comply with the federal rules in ways that drive new investment, new job creation, and deeper carbon pollution reductions by developing state climate plans that improve energy efficiency and tap our abundant renewable energy supplies….”

Utilities from Minnesota, Colorado, and Northeast Cap & Trade states welcome the stronger policy:

“Minnesota has a jump on other states to meet the 2030 goals. (Utilities)Xcel, Great River Energy, and Minnesota Power say they can meet them.  The proposed EPA rules require investments in energy efficiency and renewable and lower-carbon energy such as natural gas — policies that have been in place in Minnesota for years.” (Star Tribune)

Colorado government and utility officials said the state is well-prepared to comply with the federal rule — a key step for the nation to begin to address climate change. A combination of investments in low-carbon technology, greater efficiency in generating electricity, and shifting coal-fired power plants toward natural gas has set the state on course to meet tighter standards by 2030. (Denver Post)

NE Cap & Trade States — these 9 states are enjoying the “Best of Two Worlds – cutting emissions and accelerating growth that is stronger than the rest of the country! (New York Times)

The 800 business who have signed the Ceres “Climate Declaration,” including Seattle’s Brooks Running, K2 Sports, Microsoft and Starbucks.

The American Sustainable Business Council news release for 6/2 is headlined, “Business Leaders Applaud EPA’s Proposed Power Plant Rules As Good for Business and the Economy.” The ASBC represents a membership network of more than 200,000 businesses nationwide, and more than 325,000 entrepreneurs, executives, managers and investors. The news release directly quotes a sample of C-level officers regarding their support for the new regulation.

The proposed rules were applauded for mitigating the worst impacts of climate change, while opening the door for innovation and job creation. Last year, a national, scientific poll of small business owners commissioned by the ASBC, found that 63% of small business owners support EPA efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions of power plants. It also found that 62% of small business owners oppose continuing subsidies to oil, gas and coal companies. The small business owners in the survey were 47% Republicans, 27% Democrats and 14% Independents.

The Cautious Responders

Cautious responders doubt that the proposed cuts in emissions are enough to make a significant difference and assert that mitigation responses need to be technological rather than regulatory and international rather than unilateral in order to be effective.

A headlined article in the June 2nd Washington Post, reads: “Why The EPA’s New Power Plant Rules Are a Diversion from Serious Climate Policy.” Jonathan Adler argues that a 30% reduction by the United States acting alone is not sufficient to mitigate global warming. Furthermore, he believes that there is no evidence supporting the value of regulations; that, if anything, they are often barriers that need to be removed and suggests that incentives need to be more creative; such as, “offering prizes.” He indirectly admits that his bottom line is ideological, his libertarian leanings, meaning that in general, the least government is the best government because it releases innovation. He chastises those on the left for believing in regulations and those on the right for being deniers of climate change.

A 6/3 article in the New York Times, “ A Paltry Start in Curbing Global Warming,” byEduardo Porter, also argues that the proposed cuts are inadequate, saying that they are a digression from serious climate policy. “Rather than a bold stride into the vanguard of the battle against climate change, the new proposals offer just enough progress to shuffle along with a world that unfailingly falls short of delivering what is needed.”

The Nay Sayers

The Nay Sayers bring together a confluence of those who deny climate change, those who believe in a magical free market that solves problems independently of policies, and those cynical of businesses, states, or nations thinking that they can address a global problem. Unfortunately, this confluence includes the US Chamber of Commerce and the Association of WA Businesses, who often speak as though they are the sole voice of business.

Informed responses to the “Cautious Responders” and “Nay Sayers” can be found in several well-constructed and data rich articles. An analysis of how the so-called “free market” is embedded in its environmental and socio-political context is included in “New Challenges Reshape Corporate Social Responsibility.” Regarding the importance of the proposed Rules for catalyzing the advance of multilateral climate negotiations, see 6/4 article in Washington Post on U.S. leadership and the inspiration of other countries. The best articulated answer that I have seen to the deniers of climate change is in an article recently referenced by Jon Talton of the Seattle Times, “Climate Consensus, the 97%.”

The Time is Urgent for Business to Step Up to the Climate Challenge

The descriptive facts of our planetary societal and environmental crisis are clear. As Jeffrey Sachs puts it, this is “Our Last Chance for a Safe Planet.” Responsible businesses are called to move from incremental to Breakthrough Strategies. John Elkington, who coined “the triple bottom line,” proposes that 2015 to 2025 will be the Breakthrough decade. NBIS is targeted toward this strategic acceleration of sustainable business practices.

Meet Susan Dorsch and Jacob Sayles, June 13th at the Office Nomads’ Eco-Hour

Office Nomads emerged from founders Susan Dorsch and Office Nomads Susan & JacobJacob Sayles’ idea for a neighborhood based workspace that would foster co-working among Seattle’s nomadic workforce.  Susan met Jacob Sayles, who had been working on getting Office Nomads off the ground and the two began a working partnership that put them on the track to Office Nomads’ success.  According to Dorsch, the biggest concern was whether or not there would be sufficient interest in “working alongside one another and creating a community of independent workers.” The Office Nomads team was met with a pleasant surprise; “It surprises me every day how it not only got started, but flourished beyond my greatest expectations. I regularly hear from our members how much work they are able to get done or how they met people they never would have met otherwise. It never gets old for me to hear that.”

Office Nomads not only provides a physical location for co-working, but the opportunity to network with other Seattle professionals.  One project in particular that has developed from the unique environment is Cotivation. As Susan says, “It is an idea created by a great friend of mine who runs a co-working space in New York called ‘New Work City’. Part motivational accountability group, part support team, Cotivation is a structured group within Office Nomads designed to help members move forward on their goals, small & large. We meet once a week for 5 weeks to check in on our progress and have focused discussions. We’ve run one session so far, and are just getting started on the second session this week. It’s just in the early phases, but already members seem to be really into it. It’s one way that we are working to improve the quality of life for independent workers.”

Learn more about Co-Working in Action!

Register for the Eco-Hour:  www.officenomads.eventbrite.com

B Corporations, Benefit and Social Purpose Corporations: Impact-Driven Companies

Download our white paper

An NBIS White Paper

Business has a demonstrated power to deliver results. However, too often these results are biased toward the benefit of shareholders and at odds with what makes our society a better place. A new type of corporation with a formalized purpose that includes generating positive impact for society in its core was needed.

Launching a new era of sustainable business, certified B Corporations and legal entities such as Benefit Corporations and Social Purpose Corporations combine business success with social and environmental responsibility and public accountability. As their number, diversity and impact increase, these companies are demonstrating the creativity and innovation that sustainable businesses can bring to our economy. (more…)

NBIS wins 2011 Communitas Award

2011 Communitas Award Winner

March 3, 2011–Today the Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability found out it is a 2011 Communitas Awards winner. Communitas Awards recognize exceptional businesses, organizations and individuals for excellence in community service and corporate social responsibility. NBIS was recognized in the category of “Sustainability.”

(more…)