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Updated: 1 hour 34 min ago

Sustainable Emulsifier Blog Proves Popular

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 4:30pm

Launched at the end of 2017, Emulsifiers for Good (EFG) is a new blog whose stated aim is to “inspire and share knowledge and ideas for how sustainably sourced and produced emulsifiers can help solve some of the world’s challenges.” And that seems to be a message that resonates with food manufacturers and ingredient suppliers alike.

Initiated and funded by the Danish-based inventor of the modern commercial emulsifier, Palsgaard A/S, the industry-level blog brings expert knowledge, know-how and ideas to help realize the full potential of sustainably sourced and produced emulsifiers. 

No-promotion zone

The blog doesn’t allow product or company promotion – an approach that is directly in line with its initiator’s status as a foundation-owned enterprise with a long history of social responsibility. Instead, it is an open, online, non-promotional forum, providing a platform for experts within the global food and non-food industry to share perspectives and discoveries around emulsifiers.

Claus Hviid Christensen, CEO of Palsgaard’s innovation center Nexus A/S, and the first Editor of Emulsifiers for Good, explains why there’s a need for the blog – and draws a direct line from sustainable ingredients to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

“We believe that emulsifiers used in food and non-food products should, as much as possible, be sustainably and safely sourced, produced and consumed. Specifically, we’ve launched Emulsifiers for Good to help lead, motivate and support the food industry and the wider community in working jointly toward the UN’s SDGs. So the emphasis is on making a difference in the world, and in keeping with this, we’ll be keeping the blog as brand-neutral as possible – and advertisement-free, of course.”

Early success

With just a few months of existence under its belt, Emulsifiers for Good is already finding favour among its targeted readers. And that doesn’t come as a surprise for Claus Hviid Christensen.

“Sustainable, plant-based emulsifiers are getting a lot of attention these days. In fact, there’s an understanding emerging in the food industry that sustainably sourced and produced emulsifiers are going to be one of our greatest tools for ensuring there’s enough, good-quality food supply in the face of climate change, population growth, and increasing affluence. Although emulsifiers contribute to a very small part of the ingredients list, they play a huge role in ensuring product quality and shelf life. And that directly supports a number of SDGs.”

Long history

Few companies know more about emulsifiers than Palsgaard. Since 1917, when founder Einar Viggo Schou invented the modern food emulsifier, the company has created hundreds of different specialized emulsifiers and perfected their use in many applications. With over 100 years in the business, Palsgaard has the benefit of a broad overview of emulsifier types and applications. The company is now partnering with the United Nations and Deloittes in a pilot program aimed at accelerating global business alignment with the SDGs.

For now, the blog is focused on emulsifiers as food ingredients. But in a wider application perspective, emulsifiers are now enabling the production of more sustainable plastic packaging, for example, as they can replace petrochemical additives while adding efficient anti-static and anti-fogging effects

Claus Hviid Christensen encourages his food industry colleagues to contribute to the new blog, too: “The potential of emulsifier technology to do good things for the world is far from fully realized by everyone in the food industry and in the wider community. We’re looking forward to working with the industry to communicate more strongly about this topic and support further innovation in the field”.

For questions to the press release, please contact

Claus Hviid Christensen
CEO, Nexus A/S and Editor Emulsifiers for Good
chc@palsgaard.dk
+45 7682 7637

Under Pressure From First Nations, Chevron Faces Major Test in Canada As Critical Court Hearing Over $12b Ecuador Pollution Judgment Gets Underway

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:25am

Chevron faces of wave of cascading pressures in Canada – including new evidence of a multi-billion dollar tax avoidance scheme – as a critical court hearing gets underway that could determine whether the oil giant is finally forced to comply with a $12 billion environmental judgment owed to Indigenous peoples and farmer communities in Ecuador’s Amazon. 

The two-day hearing before the Ontario Court of Appeal, which kicks off this morning in Toronto, will determine whether the assets of Chevron’s wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary – called Chevron Canada -- can be used to pay the Ecuador pollution judgment. Chevron reaps billions of dollars annually in profits from its Canadian subsidiary, but claims that the same subsidiary should be shielded from any of Chevron’s liabilities to the Ecuadorians.

(See this short memo on the Canadian court action and a longer briefing memo. See this press release on the arrival of Ecuadorian Indigenous leaders in Canada. )

“What principle of justice is advanced that allows Chevron parent’s shareholders to collect at least US $25 billion in dividends and yet excludes the enforcement of a judgment against Chevron Canada, 100 percent owned by Chevron parent?” said the legal brief of the Ecuadorians, signed by Alan Lenczner, considered one of Canada’s top litigators. Lenczner (see here for background) will be arguing the matter for the Ecuadorians along with Peter Grant, a noted aboriginal rights lawyer from Vancouver.

Chevron has vowed never to pay the Ecuador judgment and promised to fight the case “until hell freezes over”.  A company official also threatened the Ecuadorian indigenous groups with “a lifetime of litigation” if they persisted in pursuing their claims, which were originally filed in 1993 in U.S. courts before being shifted to Ecuador at the oil major’s request. Chevron has collected more than US $25 billion in dividends from its Canadian subsidiary since the enforcement action was filed in Canada in 2012, according to Lenczner. 

In the meantime, in the Amazon rainforest, the Ecuadorians continue to suffer from a well-documented wave of cancers and other public health problems due to Chevron’s dumping of an estimated 16 billion gallons of toxic waste water onto indigenous ancestral lands when it operated in the country under the Texaco brand from 1964 to 1992. (See this summary of the overwhelming evidence against Chevron that led to the pollution judgment.) The company also abandoned roughly 1,000 unlined toxic waste pits that continue to contaminate soils and groundwater on ancestral lands.

“This is a critical showdown between a corporate powerhouse oil company that wants to evade a major environmental liability and Indigenous peoples who have won the right to compensation to clean up their ancestral lands in the Amazon,” said Phil Fontaine, the former Canadian National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), who will be attending the hearing along with a delegation of Ecuadorian leaders from the Amazon Defense Coalition of Ecuador (FDA), the non-profit entity that along with 47 named plaintiffs brought the lawsuit and is leading the enforcement effort.

Facing a $12 billion damages award to Amazon communities in age of shrinking profits and structural change in the oil industry is only one of Chevron’s growing problems in Canada.  Other Chevron challenges include: 

**The Ecuadorians have won three straight unanimous appellate court decisions in Canada, despite the fact Chevron has hired at least 60 law firms and used an estimated 2,000 legal personnel in what is widely considered the most expensive corporate legal defense in history. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favor of the Indigenous peoples in a unanimous 2015 decision.

**In a move that raises potential corruption issues, Chevron has been using Chevron Canada to funnel billions of dollars in annual payments to the governments of Nigeria and Indonesia. The payments – disclosed weeks ago under a recently passed Canadian transparency law – have raised a host of concerns among a anti-corruption authorities in the United States and Australia. They also undermine Chevron’s main argument in the appeal that Chevron Canada only does business in Canada.

**On the tax front, it turns out Chevron pays almost no taxes in Canada despite reaping almost $5 billion in profits per year from its Canadian subsidiary while trying to stiff the Ecuadorians out of their environmental judgment, said Rex Weyler, a co-founder of Greenpeace who denounced the company for having committed “ecological crimes” in Ecuador after touring the area of Chevron’s operations last year. Chevron recently was fined $1 billion in Australia for paying no tax despite makings billions in profits from its operations in the country. (See here for background.) 

**Chevron is also under increasing pressure from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and environmental groups to lift a sweeping confidentiality order that it has imposed on the court docket in the Ecuador pollution case. Among other problems, the Chevron order prevents scrutiny of the sworn testimony of a Chevron Canada corporate official about the large payments from the subsidiary to foreign governments. “Lifting this confidentiality order could potentially blow the lid off of Chevron’s attempt to hide its efforts to evade taxes in Canada and avoid the scrutiny of anti-corruption authorities in the United States,” said Weyler. (Here is the CBC article about unsealing the documents.) 

**Chevron also faces increasing opposition from Canada’s AFN and several prominent environmental groups in the United States and Canada led by Oakland-based Amazon Watch. Current AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde yesterday tweeted his support for the Ecuadorian Indigenous peoples and plans to talk about Chevron’s pollution judgment today in New York at the United Nations Permanent Forum On Indigenous Issues. Bellegarde also wrote a letter to Canada’s Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, urging consideration of new legislation providing for more “expeditious” enforcement of foreign judgments in Canada. 

**Chevron is also under increasing pressure from some of its own institutional shareholders over its failure to settle the case. Two such shareholders – Zevin Asset Management and Newground Social Investment – are pressing resolutions at the company’s annual meeting in May calling out company management for its “material mishandling” of the Ecuador litigation. Last year, the same resolutions received roughly 40% support from all Chevron shareholders, an almost unheard-of level of backing for a resolution actively opposed by company management. 

**In the United States, Chevron’s “racketeering” judgment has almost completely collapsed with the revelation that the company paid at least $2 million to its star witness, Alberto Guerra, who later admitted lying in court. (See this detailed summary of Chevron’s fraud in the U.S. court case and this account of a criminal referral letter of Chevron to the U.S. Department of Justice over the illegal witness payments.) One Chevron lawyer, Larry Lowenstein, came under harsh criticism recently from the Ecuadorians for trying to mislead Canadian judges about Chevron’s fraud in Ecuador and the United States. 

No fewer than 21 separate appellate judges in Ecuador and Canada have either rejected or ignored the findings of a sole U.S. trial judge who ruled in Chevron’s favor in the racketeering case. “If Chevron is forced to present the same corrupt evidence it presented in U.S. courts before a neutral judge in Canada, there is little doubt the company’s false narrative of ‘racketeering’ will blow up in its face,” said Anton Tabuns, a Canadian lawyer who represents the FDA. “That’s why Chevron is fighting desperately to dismiss the enforcement action on technical grounds. If it is forced to trial in Canada, there is little doubt Chevron will settle this case.” 

Attending the court hearing in Ontario will be several Ecuadorian Indigenous and community leaders, including Jamie Vargas, the President of Ecuador’s national indigenous federation (CONAIE); Rafael Pandam, an Achuar who is the President of the Indigenous Amazonia Parliament of Ecuador, which has 325 parliamentarians; Janeth Cuji, a longtime woman’s leader and a Kichwa; Hugo Camacho, a community leader and FDA activist from the town of Pimampiro; and Domingo Peas, a historic leader of Ecuador’s Amazon indigenous federation, which includes 11 nationalities.

In its motion to lift the confidentiality order, the CBC argued that documents in the enforcement action containing “confidential information” were sealed by Chevron in two orders without any notice to the media as required by law and that the orders have prevented public access to the entirety of the evidence. “There is not evidence that any of the proceedings, documents, evidence, or information covered by the sealing orders are in fact confidential,” said the motion, which is to be decided after a hearing on June 20.

Research Reveals How Bark Types Affect Wood Decomposition

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:25am

A new study from researchers at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB) could help improve predictions of climate change by revealing the hidden role of bark in wood decomposition. For the first time, the scientists linked bark characteristics such as thickness, pH and density – which in life help protect the plant – to "afterlife effects" which help determine how rapidly woody plants decompose. According to the study’s authors, understanding how these effects vary between different plant species could provide a way for researchers to account for variations in plant decomposition rates. This could help scientists model processes in which decomposition plays a major role, such as climate change and nutrient cycling. 

According to the lead author, Gbadamassi G.O. Dossa of ICRAF and KIB, the results of the study established the importance of bark traits in determining variations in wood decomposition. “Incorporating these effects should improve our understanding of carbon and nutrient cycles,” he noted.

Woody debris (WD) is a critical but often overlooked component of forest ecosystems. WD represents a globally significant carbon stock, and its decomposition returns nutrients to the soil while providing some form of habitat to microbes, plants and animals. Models of climate change and nutrient cycles therefore depend on an understanding of the drivers of WD decomposition. Scientists have long known that different woody plant species decompose in different ways and at different rates, and that this is at least partially due to the role of the bark in decomposition. However, because previous studies have often failed to distinguish between bark and wood, scientists have been unable to determine how bark traits such as thickness, structure and chemical content affect WD decomposition.

In the recent research, published online in the Journal of Ecology, scientists tackled this issue by looking at the role played by different bark traits in the decomposition of 15 woody plant species. The study, entitled, “The cover uncovered: bark control over wood decomposition”, describes how interspecific variations in bark affect decomposition of the wood inside it. The scientists found that: (i) bark effects on WD decomposition are species- and wood size-specific; (ii) bark enhances the decomposition of coarser WD, but slows twig decomposition in some species, and (iii) in the early stages of wood decomposition, bark prevents certain animals from accelerating decomposition.

Future research could extend this analysis to other plant species, giving scientists a clearer understanding of how plants break down and release carbon and nutrients back into the ecosystem.

Publication Details

Dossa GGO, Schaefer D, Zhang J-L, Tao J-P, Cao K-F, Corlett RT, Cunningham AB, Xu J-C, Cornelissen JHC, Harrison RD. 2018.  The cover uncovered: bark control over wood decomposition, Journal of Ecology

https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2745.12976

Contact

Gbadamassi G.O. Dossa (lead author)

Email: dossa@mail.kib.ac.cn

Phone: +86 15974955240

The World Agroforestry Centre

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) – www.worldagroforestry.org is a centre of scientific excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Leveraging the world’s largest repository of agroforestry science and information, we develop knowledge practices, from farmers’ fields to the global sphere, to ensure food security and environmental sustainability.

Kunming Institute of Botany

The Kunming Institue of Botany (KIB) –  http://english.kib.cas.cn/ is a leading research institute which is affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and dedicated to research in the fields of Botany and Phytochemistry. KIB is committed to exploring the world of plants, to generating knowledge about them and to developing sustainable ways to use plant resources.

Consumers Energy Foundation Announces $500,000 in Grants for Kitchen Incubator, School of the Arts in Jackson

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:25am

The Consumers Energy Foundation today announced $500,000 for two major projects near its downtown headquarters, supporting an incubator for chefs to grow their businesses and the relocation and expansion of the Jackson School of the Arts.

“Consumers Energy is doubling down on our commitment to our hometown, and we are excited to support these two efforts that will create opportunities in downtown Jackson,” said Patti Poppe, Consumers Energy’s president and chief executive officer. Poppe announced the grants at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Luncheon.

“We started more than 130 years ago in Jackson. We are working to create economic and cultural opportunities for all residents in our community, including a vibrant downtown that's an attractive place to live, work and innovate,” Poppe said.

The Consumers Energy Foundation is providing $300,000 for the Marketplace Food Festival Kitchen, a city-led effort in the former Vermeulen’s Furniture building on Cortland Street to develop space for chefs to hone their skills and develop their businesses as part of the overall $1.3 million project. Work is expected to start in July and be complete by December.

“We’re truly excited to have the Consumers Energy Foundation contributing to make this project a reality for downtown,” said Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies. “Their commitment means we can better foster a culture of entrepreneurship, grow and scale new businesses, and have an incubation hub that can serve as a model for the rest of the state.”

The Jackson School of the Arts is receiving $200,000 to support its relocation to the historic Masonic Temple building on Cortland Street where it will create a center for the arts and offer programs in the visual and performing arts. The new downtown destination will also include an exhibit gallery and retail space. The organization's enrollment has grown 2,000 percent in the last decade, creating the need to expand. Its mission to make the arts accessible to all regardless of income remains the same.  

“This generous grant is an investment in our community and in the thousands of people we are already serving with enriching arts education programs. It also gives our robust organization room to grow,” said Kim Curtis, Jackson School of the Arts executive director. “A vibrant arts center in our downtown will have immense social, cultural and economic benefits and will impact generations to come.”

Consumers Energy is committed to the success of its hometown in several ways. The energy provider:

  • Was a founding member of the Jackson Anchor Initiative, a collaboration among several businesses to promote Jackson.
  • Renovated the former Woolworth Building into its Innovation Center two years ago.
  • Recently announced the new Jackson Smart Energy District, which will promote the next generation of energy technology in the downtown area. The company will be issuing a request for proposals nationally for third parties to develop new technologies in the district.
  • Helped Jackson earn honors for being the second-most energy efficient small city in the nation last year, with an eye on being No. 1.

“We want to do our part to help Jackson and the entire state of Michigan to thrive and provide opportunities for the current and the next generation of residents,” Poppe said. “We look forward to continuing to power up ideas that make our community an even better place to live.”

Consumers Energy, its foundation, employees and retirees last year contributed over $17 million to Michigan nonprofits. The Consumers Energy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Consumers Energy, providing funds for education, community, civic and cultural development, social services, the environment, and emerging issues.

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

Media Contacts

Brian Wheeler, 517-788-2394

Katie Carey, 517-788-2395

For more information about Consumers Energy, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com.

Check Out Consumers Energy on Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ConsumersEnergyMichigan/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/consumersenergy

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/consumersenergy

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/consumersenergy/

Listen Learn Care Foundation Hosts Women’s Symposium in South Florida

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:25am

The newly named Listen Learn Care Foundation, formerly known as the Office Depot Foundation, is hosting its fourth annual Women’s Symposium in a new venue and with a new theme: “All In: Life Leadership Lessons for the Queen Bee.” The two-day event will take place May 3-4, 2018 at Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek and feature 12 dynamic speakers, including Listen Learn Care Foundation President Mary Wong, who will speak from the heart in sharing her own “life and leadership lessons.”

All of the speakers, who range from technology experts to marketers to business strategists, will offer personal and professional insights and expertise to help attendees build and strengthen their own “hives.” Like past years, the Symposium is expected to bring together upwards of 300 women.LaJoie The environment is specifically designed to promote engagement, networking, learning, collaboration, and personal transformation.

“The Women’s Symposium is a unique opportunity for both personal and professional growth,” said Mary Wong. “We encourage women at any stage of their career and life path to attend. From the young woman just starting off, to the veteran career professional with decades of experience, to the entrepreneur looking for a change, to the woman like myself forced to face new challenges and continue to fly.” 

Speakers scheduled to appear at the 2018 Women’s Symposium include:

Wendi Blum – International Speaker & Published Author
Alexa Carlin – Women Empower Expo
Anthony Francis – Improv U
Felecia Hatcher – Code Fever and Black Tech Week
Stacey Hylen – Business Growth Strategist and Coach
Lisa LaJoie – Tapping Into It
Jess Ostroff – Don’t Panic Management
Karen Pfeffer – Fire Power Seminars
Connie Phelan – Fire Power Seminars
Mina Shah – Speaker, Strategic Consultant and Founder of the Mina Meetings
Kate Volman – Marketing Strategist
Mary Wong – President, Listen Learn Care Foundation

“From the first year we hosted the Women’s Symposium, we’ve always created an innovative and unique event that promotes creativity, interaction, rejuvenation and most importantly inspiration,” added Mary Wong. “This year will be extra special because I will personally be using the Symposium to nurture my own growth and will be leaning on my fellow attendees extra hard. I can’t wait to be with my hive!” 

Tickets are on sale now. Registration costs $249 per person. This includes breakfast, lunch and breaks on both Thursday May 3 and Friday May 4, as well as a networking reception on May 3, 2018. To register for the Listen Learn Care Foundation’s Women’s Symposium, please visit: https://listenlearncare.org/womensymposium/

Sponsors include Comcast, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, Arthur J. Gallagher and Co, Q-Q Research, CSRwire, Surplus Giant, Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, Anne Zuckerman Law, JKG Group, Fusionary Formulas, Contemporary Living, Maria Lopez, Luly B, and Andy Parry. Sponsorship opportunities available at https://listenlearncare.org/womensymposium-sponsorships/

History of the Honeybee: According to researchers, honeybees are able to fly despite their body size because they have a rapid wing beat. In contrast to the fruit fly that has one eightieth the body size and flaps its wings 200 times each second, the much larger honeybee flaps its wings 230 times every second. The bees make up for the extra work by stretching out their wing stroke amplitude; in other words, they work like racing cars!

About the Listen Learn Care Foundation
The Foundation is an independent foundation − tax exempt under IRC Sec. 501(c)(3). In keeping with its mission, Listen Learn Care®, the Foundation supports a variety of programs that give children tools to succeed in school and in life; build the capacity of nonprofit organizations through collaboration and innovation; help women succeed in business; and help communities prepare for disasters, as well as recover and rebuild afterwards.  For more information, visit www.listenlearncare.org.

Media Contact:
Melissa Perlman
BlueIvy Communications
561-310-9921
Melissa@BlueIvy.co

We’ll Change the Planet - Training 100,000 Sustainability Professionals and Entrepreneurs!

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 4:24pm

When anthropologist Margaret Meade talked about changing the world, global population was less than 3.7 billion.  Now, the population stands at 7.6 billion and growing!  As Earth Day approaches, how small of a group do we need to promote sustainability?  Or how big? 

The Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) wants to change the world.  We’re taking on a piece of this “small group of thoughtful, committed citizens” with an initiative to reach 100,000 of them by 2020! 

CSE has created the Sustainability Academy, an innovative online platform for organizations to maximize their Social Impact!  The goal is to teach the language of sustainability, promote its common goals and explain its unifying principles, across disciplines and international boundaries.  With the academy, companies can educate their staff, suppliers and other stakeholders in the field of Sustainability. 

“Education is key to individual, corporate and global prosperity,” says Nikos Avlonas, president and founder of CSE, best-selling author and sustainability pioneer.  He defines prosperity to include financial, social and governance (ESG) concerns and the triple bottom line – people, planet, profit. 

Beyond the lofty aspirations of Earth Day, corporations face the international objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), EU directives on sustainability, mandates from ASEAN on sustainable energy, and a global fixation on limiting carbon emissions.  Through education, organizations learn tools such as SROI (social return on investment) to help understand and calculate their Social Impact. 

For start-ups, world-changing opportunities are even greater.  The academy platform helps organizations support Social Entrepreneurship and young entrepreneurs who want to start careers and enterprises already focused on sustainability.  Established corporations or new, building a common understanding, knowing key definitions, where to turn for advance guidance, how to report ones successes – these all add to financial performance

We at CSE are dreamers – Earth Day for us encompasses the globe and all its inhabitants.  We are practical dreamers with results.  Based in part on his work with the Sustainability Academy, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the largest community foundation in US and globally, honored Avlonas as 2018 Practitioner of the Year for Corporate Responsibility, together with Google, Inc., winner of the corporate award.

Earth Day is about more than the ground we stand on – it’s about the people who eat its food, drink its water and care for each other.  Innovative platforms such as the Sustainability Academy help us all become committed citizens who can change the world!  

For more information on how you can promote the initiative or join in the effort, contact sustainability@cse-net.org.

Solidia Technologies Low-carbon Cement and Concrete Tech Qualifies Under BP’s New Advancing Low Carbon Accreditation Programme

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 4:24pm

 Solidia Technologies®, a cement and concrete technology, has been included in the first cohort of BP’s accreditation programme, Advancing Low Carbon (ALC), which was announced today. Solidia’s unique technology allows for a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the production of cement. Coupled with the capture of an additional 240 kg of CO2 during the CO2-curing process, Solidia’s systems can reduce the carbon footprint of cement and concrete by up to 70%.

“We’re thrilled that Solidia has received such a recognition for our cement and concrete, especially from a company like BP, whose BP Ventures business has been so crucial to our development,” said Solidia’s President and CEO Tom Schuler. “The ALC programme sets a high standard for BP and its partners, and today for building materials. Together, cement and concrete comprise one of the few global markets large enough to make a meaningful impact on CO2. We are so grateful that BP and BP Ventures finds value in our mission.”

Each ton of cement produces ~1 ton of CO2, making cement production the second largest industrial CO2 polluter, representing 5-7% of the world’s total CO2 emissions. If the global cement and concrete industry adopted Solidia’s technology, it would significantly reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. 

“I am delighted to see Solidia Technologies recognized in the first year of BP’s new Advancing Low Carbon programme. Companies like Solidia are a great demonstration of the lower carbon actions we want this programme to encourage across BP and BP’s partners,” said Vice President, BP Ventures, David Gilmour.

BP has introduced a new group-wide accreditation programme, Advancing Low Carbon (ALC), designed to encourage every part of BP to pursue lower carbon opportunities and to encourage customers and others outside BP to make lower carbon choices. The programme highlights activities that demonstrate and deliver better carbon outcomes. Qualifying activities range from emissions reductions in BP’s operations to carbon neutral products, from investments in low carbon technologies to BP’s renewables businesses. ALC activities are undertaken through BP’s own businesses as well as in partnership with others. Each activity included in the programme is evaluated, and subjected to independent assurance against defined criteria. The programme has been launched with an initial 33 accredited activities. More details on the Advancing Low Carbon programme and the individual accredited activities can be seen at www.bp.com/advancinglowcarbon

Easy to adopt anywhere in the world, Solidia’s systems produce sustainable Solidia Cement™ and cure concrete with CO2 instead of water, while utilizing manufacturers’ existing infrastructure, raw materials, formulations, production methods and specifications. Stronger, more durable and higher performing than traditional concrete, Solidia Concrete™ products cost less to produce, reduce water and energy use, and cure in less than 24 hours. 

# # # 

About Solidia Technologies® 
Solidia Technologies® is a cement and concrete technology company that makes it easy and profitable to use CO2 to create superior and sustainable building materials. Based in Piscataway, N.J. (USA), Solidia’s investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Bright Capital, BASF, BP, LafargeHolcim, Total Energy Ventures, Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) Climate Investments, Air Liquide, Bill Joy and other private investors. Honors include: 2017 ERA Grand Challenge (formerly CCEMC) Second Round Finalist; 2016 Sustainia 100; 2015 NJBiz Business of the Year; 2014 Global Cleantech 100; 2013 R&D Top 100; 2014 Best Place to Work in NJ; 2014 CCEMC Grand Challenge First Round finalist; 2013 Katerva Award finalist; and MIT’s Climate CoLab shortlist. Follow Solidia Technologies at www.solidiatech.com and on LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter: @SolidiaCO2.

Ecuador Indigenous Leaders In Canada for Critical Court Hearing Against Chevron Over $12b Pollution Judgment

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 4:09pm

Indigenous peoples and rainforest villagers from the Amazon Defense Coalition of Ecuador (FDA), the grass roots coalition trying to recover a historic $12 billion environmental judgment against Chevron, are scheduled to arrive in Toronto this weekend with the support of the Canadian Assembly of First Nations (AFN) for a four-day tour that will include a critical court hearing in Ontario that could re-shape indigenous rights and corporate law throughout the world. 

The hearing, which will take place April 17-18 before a three-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal, will determine whether Chevron can immunize itself from paying the Ecuador judgment by placing its assets in a wholly-owned subsidiary. Several Ecuadorian leaders from the FDA and AFN leaders, including National Chief Perry Bellegarde and former National Chief Phil Fontaine, are expected to attend the hearing.

Led by National Chief Perry Bellegarde, the AFN also passed a resolution by unanimous consent in support of the campaign by the Ecuadorians to enforce their judgment against Chevron’s assets in Canada, which are estimated to be worth at least $15 billion. The resolution called on Canada to consider legislation making it more “expeditious” for Indigenous peoples from other countries to enforce their judgments in Canada given that Chevron has succeeded in delaying resolution of the enforcement action for five years and the larger case for over two decades.

The AFN support for the case followed a high-profile tour of the affected area of Ecuador last September by former National Chief Phil Fontaine and Grand Chief Ed John, both of whom harshly criticized Chevron for failing to clean up billions of gallons of toxic waste it dumped onto ancestral lands and waterways. (See CBC article on trip and press release.) The Amazon area of Ecuador is home to 11 Indigenous groups – the most impacted by oil pollution being the Cofan, Secyoa, Siona, and Huaorani – and dozens of farmer communities.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Bellegarde stated: “The AFN fully supports Indigenous peoples in all regions. We stand with our brothers and sisters in Ecuador in this lengthy legal battle against Chevron in support of their quest for justice and restitution for the severe environmental damage in their territories. This legal battle has now moved to the Canadian courts. It is critically important that Canada’s courts look at this enforcement action, brought by our relations in the Amazon, in the framework of Indigenous rights and Indigenous legal traditions and that it be resolved so that justice can be achieved.” 

The issue in the Chevron matter before the Canadian court has a huge impact on First Nations and on the rights of all Indigenous persons worldwide, said Bellegarde. Chevron has argued that assets held by its wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary, Chevron Canada, should be off-limits to collection on the judgment even though Chevron reaps billions of dollars annually in profits from the subsidiary’s operations. If Chevron’s legal argument holds, it will be virtually impossible for First Nations and all human rights victims to collect on court judgments from private corporations once the corporations place their assets in a wholly-owned subsidiary. For more background on the Canadian enforcement action against Chevron, see this short memo for the media and this more detailed briefing memo.

Rafael Pandam, the President of Ecuador’s Amazonian Parliament who is a member of the FDA delegation, said, “The Indigenous nationalities and farmer communities of Ecuador are grateful to the Assembly of First Nations and all of our supporters in Canada for their support. Our issues with Chevron really impact the rights for all of the world’s 400 million Indigenous peoples. Like all polluters, Chevron must pay court judgments and should not be allowed to run from the law with convoluted technical arguments that undermine fundamental justice after more than two decades of litigation.” 

“We are coming to Canada to demand the courts of that country put an end to Chevron’s forum shopping and technical games designed to deprive our people of compensation for the destruction of their lands, waterways, and livelihoods,” said Carmen Cartuche, the President of the FDA, the organization founded in 1994 that represents the interests of the 30,000 peoples in the affected area in the legal case. “We won the trial based on overwhelming evidence. It is time for Chevron to pay up so we can clean up our ancestral lands and deal with the worsening health issues afflicting our communities.”

After an eight-year trial that produced 105 technical evidentiary reports, an Ecuador court in 2011 found that Chevron deliberately discharged billions of gallons of benzene-laced formation waters into the waterways that crisscross ancestral lands. (Here is a summary of the evidence.) The dumping decimated traditional lifestyles and caused an outbreak of cancer and other health problems that have either killed of afflicted thousands of people, according to independent health studies and other evidence presented to the court. 

The Ecuador trial court judgment was affirmed unanimously in 2013 by Ecuador’s Supreme Court. (That decision is here.) Chevron had insisted the trial on the environmental claims take place in Ecuador and had accepted jurisdiction there after filing 14 sworn affidavits in U.S. courts praising Ecuador’s court system. The case originally was filed in U.S. courts in 1993.

As the evidence against it mounted in the Ecuador trial, Chevron sold off its assets in the country and vowed to never pay the judgment. It also made its infamous “lifetime of litigation” threat and began retaliatory attacks against community leaders and their lawyers in courts around the world. The company has used at least 60 law firms and 2,000 lawyers on the case and recently was caught paying a witness $2 million to testify falsely about the case in U.S. federal court, leading to a criminal referral letter to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Ecuadorians came to Canada to enforce the judgment in 2012 given that Chevron has substantial assets in the country and the Canadian court system has a reputation for fairness. Chevron immediately hired four large Canadian law firms and again has been trying to tie up the case in procedural knots, said Patricio Salazar, the lead lawyer for the Ecuadorians. Nevertheless, the Ecuadorians have won three straight unanimous appellate decisions against in Canada, including one from Canada’s Supreme Court on a critical jurisdictional issue.

Members of the FDA delegation will be holding a press event on Monday in downtown Toronto at 11 a.m.  The court hearing will take place at 10 a.m. on April 17 and April 18 at the Ontario Court of Appeal at 130 Queen Street West.

For background on the Canadian lawyers for the FDA who are enforcing the Ecuador judgment in Ontario, see this profile of commercial litigator Alan Lenzcner and this profile of indigenous rights lawyer Peter Grant.

The Future of Sustainability Reporting: Trends to Watch

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 1:09pm

The Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York (CBSACNY) is an alumni organization seeking to strengthen alumni networks, support services, professional development, and education opportunities.  The Sustainable Business Committee produces events related to green businesses, the environment, sustainability, and pioneering new industry.  Visit CBSACNY online at http://www.cbsacny.org.

  • Hear from expert panelists with diverse experience in CSR and Sustainability Reporting.

  • Understand key factors and motivations that guide a company’s reporting strategy.

  • Learn about different reporting methods, frameworks, and standards.

  • Explore trends in CSR and Sustainability Reporting in the US and around the world.

  • Get answers to your questions - unique opportunity for open audience Q & A.

As companies strive to protect their reputational assets and earn trust from stakeholders, sustainability reporting and disclosure are no longer reserved solely for “green” or mission-oriented companies. Demand for transparency and disclosure is increasing, and sustainability reporting is becoming mainstream. However, how reporting is done may vary depending on the target audience and purpose of those disclosures. Dominant frameworks such as GRI and SASB, and emerging methods such as Reporting 3.0, Trucost, and <IR>, are evolving to play different parts and complement each other. Our expert panel will discuss best practices employed by companies, and how such practices create value for shareholders and stakeholders. While sustainability reporting remains largely voluntary, our panel will explore legal trends and any potential movement to integrate sustainability and financial disclosures, from a US and global perspective.

Register and learn more: http://www.cbsacny.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1088046

For more information, please contact:
Leila Goldmark, LGoldmark10@gsb.columbia.edu (re event details)
CBSACNY, contactus@cbsacny.org (re event registration and ticketing issues)

3rd ESG Investing & Green Finance Berlin Forum 2018

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 10:09am

We would like to raise awareness on our next 3rd ESG Responsible Investments & Green Finance Forum in Berlin, on 26.9.2018. The Forum is a unique communication, knowledge and networking platform, connecting asset managers, funds, asset owners, banks, insurance, corporates, startups, associations, institutions, always in cooperation with our partners Investment Bank Berlin (IBB) and Forum for Responsible Investments (FNG).

In the previous years, among speakers were seniors from top global brands (Thomson Reuters, S&P Dow Jones, European Investment Bank, MSCI, Deutsche Börse, Triodos Bank, Quadia Investments, Wermuth Asset Management, AON, Danone, CDP, FNG, IBB etc.) and top media partners (Thomson Reuters, Handelsblatt, Business Wire etc.). We have already booked our first speakers, our standard corporate and institutional cooperation partners (FNG, IBB), corporate and media partners.  

In terms of agenda format, the event consists of 2-3 panels (strategic/institutions panel, investors panel, corporations panel) with an impulse speech before each panel and 1-2 keynote speeches. 

Speakers and attendants come from a mix of senior managers from financial, banking, AM, AO, Investment Industry, Insurance, corporations, associations, startups etc. 

We are in the process of composing the panels and selecting the speakers. We believe that your company could add value with an impulse speech or as panelist.

Save the date and express your interest to be a forum speaker or panel speaker in time to enjoy all sponsorship and partnership benefits. 

For more information regarding sponsor packages please open the attached early bird sponsors deck and visit the forum’s dedicated website to learn more about the agenda, speakers, partners and also about our past forums in 2017 and 2016 (http://sustainabilityforum.de/).

Global Sustain Group (www.globalsustain.org), is an international Sustainability Management & ESG/SRI Responsible Investments Advisory Firm with 12+ years expertise and international track record in the field of ESG / SRI Investments, with companies in London, Berlin, Athens, office in Brussels, Affiliate in NY, Nicosia  (PRI Signatory Member, GRI Data Partner) conducting also ESG / SRI relevant market studies such as the one recently released New ESG/SRI Investments Market Report & Benchmark Analysis on "ESG Investing. From Niche to Mainstream", a teaser of which you can find attached.

Achieving Certification as Largest B Corp™ in the World and Unveiling New Name: Danone North America Celebrates First Anniversary with Two Major Milestones

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 7:09am

Building on Danone’s long-term commitment to balancing financial success with social and environmental responsibility, its U.S. subsidiary, formerly known as DanoneWave, commemorates its first anniversary by announcing the achievement of becoming the largest Certified B Corporation® in the world — two years ahead of its declared target — and changing its name to Danone North America.

Two milestones to mark 1st anniversary: new name, new mark of trust
 
As the maker of beloved food and beverage brands including Dannon®, Danimals®, Silk®, So Delicious®, Horizon Organic®, Vega® and Wallaby®, among others, Danone North America is a top 15 food and beverage company and top organic food manufacturer in the U.S., as well as a leader in plant-based and organic food and beverages. It was formed one year ago as DanoneWave, when the Danone U.S. dairy and WhiteWave businesses were combined, to create the largest Public Benefit Corporation in the world, following Danone’s acquisition of WhiteWave Foods. Incorporating as a Public Benefit Corporation legally committed the new subsidiary to balance shareholders’ financial interests with social and environmental considerations.
 
The company’s new name – Danone North America – represents an intention to continue its purpose journey with a single identity that’s easily recognizable to the many people who enjoy the beloved brands Danone North America makes.
 
Becoming a Certified B Corporation takes the company’s commitment one step further. B Corp™ Certification is for businesses what Organic is to food products: a promise that a company is doing business in a way that meets rigorous standards of verified performance, transparency and accountability and is Certified by B Lab®, a third-party non-profit.
 
We are incredibly proud to officially join the B Corp movement today as Danone North America. Our new name better positions us as part of Danone, a forward-looking and unified global food and beverage company that demonstrates business success can be synonymous with building a healthier world through food,” said Mariano Lozano, CEO, Danone North America. “This designation demonstrates to employees, consumers, partners, retailers, society and governments that we are committed to continuous improvement as we work to bring the company’s One Planet. One Health vision to life through our business and brands. We couldn’t have achieved this milestone with such speed and efficiency without the passion, dedication and tireless work of our more than 150 employees who helped in the certification process, along with the incredible support of our partners.

A new milestone in Danone’s global B Corp journey
 
Today’s announcement also supports Danone’s long-time dual project of balancing economic success and social progress, which the company’s then CEO, Antoine Riboud, first articulated publicly in 1972.

Today, with the addition of not only Danone North America in the U.S. but also Danone Canada, 8 Danone subsidiaries in total have been Certified so far in Argentina, France, Indonesia, Spain and the United Kingdom, including the leading U.S. organic baby food brand Happy Family.

Danone aims to be the first multinational food company to obtain a global B Corp Certification and has partnered with B Lab since 2015 to help define a B Corp model suitable for publicly traded global companies.

People rightly expect large organizations like Danone to use their scale for positive impact while demanding transparency, authenticity and action. It’s time to make sustainable business the only way of doing business,” said Emmanuel Faber, Danone Chairman and CEO. “I’m incredibly honored by our teams in North America, whose ability to achieve B Corp Certification in just one year is not only commendable, but will also help serve as a model of what’s possible to other Danone subsidiaries and other large companies. Representing around twenty percent of our global business, Danone North America’s B Corp Certification is an important milestone in our global company’s broader B Corp journey and a fundamental step towards realizing our Danone, One Planet. One Health vision.”

A rigorous B Corp Certification process reflective of core commitments

To obtain the B Corp Certification, companies must complete a B Impact Assessment and earn an audited minimum score of 80 out of 200 possible points and recertify—with the aim to continuously improve—every two years. Danone North America achieved a score of 85.
 
In addition to becoming a Certified B Corporation, Danone North America continues to make progress towards its purpose of nourishing people, communities and the world. This includes fighting climate change, driving more sustainable ingredient sourcing, advancing packaging recyclability, reducing waste, conserving water, fighting hunger, supporting local communities and ensuring animal welfare.

"A successful B Corp movement needs an inclusive community of companies of all sizes: from Fortune 500 companies to small sole proprietors. Today’s announcement shows how even complex multinational corporations can commit to balancing meaningful change with shareholder expectations. We could not be more excited that Danone North America undertook the significant effort to become the largest Certified B Corporation to date, and we are confident that this news will inspire other companies of similar or larger size and scope to join the movement,” said Bart Houlahan, co-founder of B Lab.

B Corp Certification is more than a logo, it connotes a core set of beliefs, vision and promise to redefine success in business,” said Lozano. “Our B Day is an exciting moment as we join a community of 2,400 Certified B Corporations from more than 60 countries across 150 industries. Together, we will be a force for good and serve as a model of shared and durable prosperity.”

For more information about Danone North America, please visit www.danonenorthamerica.com.

For more information about B Corp, please visit www.bcorporation.net

To see the B Corp profile for Danone North America, please visit 
www.bcorporation.net/community/danone-north-america.

About Danone North America

Danone North America is a Certified B Corporation business unit of Danone and operates in the U.S. from headquarter offices in White Plains, NY and Broomfield, CO.  Danone North America was formed as a Public Benefit Corporation in 2017 to nourish people, communities and the world through its diverse portfolio of healthful dairy- and plant-based products, coffee creamers and beverages. Its portfolio of brands includes: Activia®, DanActive®, Danimals®, Dannon®, Danonino®, Danone®, Earthbound Farm®, Horizon Organic® premium dairy products, International Delight®coffee creamers and iced coffee, Light & Fit®, Oikos® Greek yogurt, Silk®plant-based foods and beverages, So Delicious® Dairy Free, Vega® and Wallaby® Organic. The mission of the Company is to bring health through food to as many people as possible. For more information, please visit DanoneNorthAmerica.com.

About B Lab

B Lab is a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good. Its vision is that one day all companies will compete to be best for the world and that society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity. B Lab drives this systemic change by: (1) building a global community of Certified B Corporations; (2) promoting Mission Alignment using innovative corporate structures like the benefit corporation to align the interests of business with those of society; (3) helping tens of thousands of businesses, investors and institutions Measure What Matters, by using the B Impact Assessment and B Analytics to manage their impact — and the impact of the businesses with which they work — with as much rigor as their profits; and (4) inspiring millions to join the movement through compelling storytelling.

Being Fearless Live Online

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 7:09am

Race. Climate. Politics. We live in a time of disruption. We need a new way forward. Join us for a 3-day online event, live and on demand, featuring Van Jones, Amy Goodman, Bill Moyers, Opal Tometi, and other courageous voices. With a $5 donation or more, gain insight and tools to navigate these complex times and help open the event to thousands.

The UPS Foundation Awards $16 Million to Increase Humanitarian Relief, Community Resilience, and Safety Efforts

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 1:07pm

The UPS Foundation, which leads the global citizenship efforts of UPS (NYSE: UPS), today announced it is awarding 2018 grants and in-kind support totaling more than $16 million to non-profit, non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies for humanitarian relief, community resilience and safety programs worldwide. Grants provide support for disaster response, preparedness and recovery, enhancing public health care supply chains and improving global road safety.

Among the programs, The UPS Foundation is expanding its work with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Zipline, a California-based robotics company, to leverage drones to deliver life-saving blood, medicines and vaccines to remote communities like Rwanda. The global partnership, which was announced in May 2016 and formally launched the first drone deliveries in October 2016, has resulted in more than 4,000 drone deliveries expediting over 7,000 units of blood to remote hospitals across Rwanda. The world’s first national medical drone delivery network in Rwanda has proven so successful that in 2018 it’s being expanded across all of Rwanda.   

“This groundbreaking partnership with Gavi and Zipline provides access to life-saving medical supplies in only minutes rather than hours for millions of men, women and children in need,” said Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and chief diversity and inclusion officer. “With this expansion, the reach of the drone program will double from 6 million to 12 million people across Rwanda. Additionally, the initiative will expand to deliver basic medications, vaccines, and medical supplies to hospitals and health clinics via drone.”

The UPS Foundation’s top goal is to leverage its philanthropy, the resources of UPS and expertise of its employees to create public-private partnerships that are dedicated to advance the resiliency of communities around the world. 

“UPS is honored to work side-by-side with these preeminent institutions who together are impacting the lives of people in crisis today and helping to “future proof” these communities so that they can thrive in a safer, healthier and more prosperous world,” said Martinez.

The UPS Foundation also will award grants to the following organizations, among many others:

  • American Red Cross, in support of the Annual Disaster Giving Program that enables the Red Cross to provide food and shelter immediately following disasters as well as the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign

  • CARE USA, to aid with emergency response and to develop supply chain solutions for vital relief efforts in famine impacted areas of Africa

  • Good360, in continued support of DisasterRecovery360 platform technology enhancements and transportation assistance for long term recovery efforts

  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), toward the Community Pandemic Preparedness Program and support for local resilience programs

  • National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD), to support the organization’s Long-term Recovery Initiatives and Long-term Recovery Mini-Grant Program

  • Operation Hope, toward the Disaster Recovery Fund to help disaster survivors with financial recovery solutions as well as the Financial Recovery Preparedness Program for small businesses

  • St. Bernard Project, Inc., to support the National Disaster Resilience & Recovery Lab (DRL), which provides re-building support for communities impacted by disasters

  • UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, toward capacity building for global fleet management, emergency preparedness supply training and Safe Road Use workshops

  • UNICEF, toward efforts to strengthen health system supply chains through vaccine stock management tool development and emergency and global crises transportation support

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Corporate Citizenship Center, to aid in the expansion of the Connecting Business Disaster Resilience Program and Resilience in a Box Toolkit to enhance the disaster preparedness of small and medium businesses and to build community resilience  

  • World Food Program USA, in support of emergency and global crisis response and capacity building efforts including road safety training in Tanzania, and food distribution supply chain optimization efforts in Rwanda and India

The UPS Foundation also will award grants that help extend the reach of UPS Road Code™, a teen and novice safe driving training program available in the United States and internationally. Taught by UPS volunteers and based on the company’s safe-driving methods, the program is available to teens between the ages of 13 and 18. To date, more than 48,000 teenagers have participated. The program has been extended to Canada, China, Germany, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.

The program is offered in the U.S. with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and overseas in six countries with various youth development organizations. The UPS Foundation has contributed $16.6 million to the UPS Road Code program since its inception.

These community investments are part of The UPS Foundation’s commitment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and advancing humanitarian action and global resilience by combining its philanthropy with the resources of UPS and the expertise and volunteer spirit of UPSers all over the world. For more information about UPS’s philanthropic and volunteerism efforts, please visit www.UPS.com/Foundation.

About The UPS Foundation

UPS (NYSE: UPS) is a global leader in logistics, offering a broad range of solutions including the transportation of packages and freight; the facilitation of international trade, and the deployment of advanced technology to more efficiently manage the world of business. Since its founding in 1907, UPS has built a legacy as a caring and responsible corporate citizen, supporting programs that provide long-term solutions to community needs. Founded in 1951, The UPS Foundation leads its global citizenship programs and is responsible for facilitating community involvement to local, national, and global communities. In 2017, UPS and its employees, active and retired, invested more than $118 million in charitable giving around the world. The UPS Foundation can be found on the web at UPS.com/Foundation and @UPS_Foundation on Twitter. To get UPS news direct, follow @UPS_News on Twitter.   

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2017 Co-op Way Report

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 10:06am

Blommer Announces New Sustainability Initiative for Cocoa Farmers

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 10:06am

Blommer Chocolate Company, the largest cocoa processor and chocolate manufacturer in North America, announces a new sustainability initiative supporting cocoa farmers in Cote d’ Ivoire, Africa. The Livelihood, Infrastructure, Food & Technology program, L.I.F.T. Cocoa, provides the ability to make a serious impact on the daily lives of cocoa farmers by providing access to life’s basic needs, including clean water, nutritional food, health care and basic education. With this new initiative within the L.I.F.T. program, a portion of the proceeds from Blommer’s Founder’s Reserve line of chocolate has built the infrastructure to provide clean drinking water to villagers in Cote d’ Ivoire.

To launch this initiative, Founder’s Reserve directly funded the building of water wells with borehole pumps that have begun providing clean water to thousands of individuals in Baleyo and Koffibakro. Blommer chose these villages because most of the current water supply is collected from surrounding ponds and hand-dug wells that are exposed to contamination and to drying out during the dry season. The planned wells will provide safe drinking water to 300 families representing nearly 3,000 people.

“Blommer has long been a steward in pioneering sustainable cocoa farming and advancing farmers’ livelihoods around the globe,” said Steve Blommer, Vice President Business Development. “As an industry leader, we believe sustainability efforts in cocoa communities provide value at every touch point in the supply chain, through improved and consistent product quality and a sustainable future for cocoa farming families.”

As a global cocoa processor and ingredient chocolate supplier, Blommer Chocolate Company’s sustainability initiatives focus on the critical need of farmer support in their endeavor to achieve economic viability for generations to come as well as the vital importance of making accessible the infrastructure necessary for a thriving community. The LIFT Cocoa program was created in 2015 and is one of many sustainability programs the company offers.

About Blommer Chocolate Company
Blommer Chocolate Company is the largest cocoa processor and ingredient chocolate supplier in North America. With over 800 employees and five strategically located manufacturing facilities in North America and China, the company provides comprehensive business solutions for domestic and international customers of all sizes in the confectionery, baking and dairy industries. Among Blommer’s core competencies are cocoa bean processing, chocolate manufacturing, commodity risk management, and product and process R&D. The company is a leader in advancing sustainable cocoa farming as a founding member of the World Cocoa Foundation, a member of the Cocoa Action sustainability initiative, and through its privately managed farmer programs in Cote d'Ivoire, Indonesia and Ecuador. Founded in 1939, the family-owned and operated company maintains an outstanding reputation for customer service and quality. For more information about Blommer Chocolate Company, please visit www.blommer.com

New Social Impact Technology Company “Givewith” Enables Businesses to Increase Sales and Profits While Giving Millions to Nonprofits

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 7:05pm

Social impact technology company Givewith announced its official launch during yesterday’s “Transforming Commerce” symposium. Founded by social entrepreneur Paul Polizzotto in partnership with CBS Corporation, the company’s twin offerings, Givewith Commerce and Givewith Advertising, enable businesses to increase sales and profits and attract socially responsible investors, while raising awareness and funds for some of the world’s most effective nonprofit organizations.

“We have an audacious mission,” said Paul Polizzotto, Givewith’s Founder and CEO. “We’re unleashing the power of commerce as an engine for social change. Our model makes social impact a business driver, so we’re fulfilling two objectives at once: realizing greater business value for our corporate clients and creating new sources of critical funding for nonprofits. It’s a paradigm shift that’s moving the traditionally underserved to the head of the line, to the center of every business transaction. And we’re leveraging technology to do it at scale and with precision.”

Givewith expands on the success of its sister company, CBS EcoMedia, which Polizzotto founded in 2001 and sold to CBS in 2010. As reviewed by Mission Measurement, CBS EcoMedia has guided approximately $100 million in funding and resources to nonprofits supporting important social impact programs and service projects that have, and will, touch the lives of an estimated 60 million people. Volunteers of America, Junior Achievement, Feeding America, Waterkeeper Alliance, and Black Girls Code are some of the hundreds of leading nonprofit organizations in the EcoMedia and Givewith network.

“Givewith solidifies CBS’s place in the vanguard of social corporate entrepreneurship,” said Leslie Moonves, Chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation. “Thanks to its technology platform, Givewith allows for a positive social impact to take place with every single transaction between a seller and buyer. Going forward, we look forward to helping transform the way both business and philanthropy are done.”

“Givewith has been a critical partner as we advance positive social impact for more than a million people each year,” said Mike King, President and CEO of Volunteers of America. “The need is undoubtedly great—and yet, Givewith has enabled Volunteers of America to access new funding streams and generate added awareness of our mission. With innovative companies like Givewith stepping forward to support our work in unprecedented ways, we are certain to create greater positive change in our communities.”

Givewith’s inaugural business clients include Dell, Allstate, Coldwell Banker, Molina Healthcare Natixis, HP, Toyota, and UnitedHealthcare.

Givewith Commerce and Givewith Advertising are now available to business clients. Both offerings enable companies to achieve quantifiable, measurable business gains; generate increased interest from investors who allocate capital with social impact in mind; meet a variety of investor relations objectives, including increased sales, profits, and improved ESG scores; and accomplish United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through social impacts, while also reducing recruiting and retention costs. As a result, Givewith creates a new and sustainable source of funding for nonprofit organizations.

Givewith Commerce can leverage any business-to-business “transaction.” Sellers differentiate their offering to buyers, and gain a unique competitive advantage, by providing access to the proprietary Givewith technology platform. The platform identifies nonprofit programs that will deliver the maximum business value; measures and tracks project outcomes; and provides detailed reporting, translating the social impact from the transaction into hard numbers.

Givewith Advertising enables consumers to join with companies to support nonprofit programs. Through engagement on premium digital sites, consumers direct corporate dollars to a selected nonprofit organization, making a positive impact for a cause that matters to them, in real time and without taking money from their own pockets. Brands connect with consumers around a shared purpose, creating a deeper and more meaningful relationship.

Givewith was unveiled at the 'Transforming Commerce' symposium held at United Nations Headquarters on April 10; the event was supported by the United Nations Office for Partnerships. During his opening address, Polizzotto introduced the new company to an audience of more than 300 business, tech, and creative professionals, entrepreneurs, and social innovators. Polizzotto and Leslie Moonves, Chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation, co-hosted the event. 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker acted as Master of Ceremonies for the day. The symposium featured sessions on a variety of topics, including corporate social entrepreneurship, inclusive and sustainable standards for businesses, and forward-thinking, multi-sector partnership models.

ABOUT GIVEWITH

Givewith Video 

http://www.givewith.com 

We’re a social impact technology company on a mission: To empower business to create social good in never-before-seen ways.

Founded by career social entrepreneur Paul Polizzotto in partnership with CBS Corporation, Givewith is pioneering a technology-enabled collaboration between business and nonprofits that goes well beyond traditional corporate giving to put social impact at the center of every business transaction.

Givewith is an end-to-end solution that allows companies of every size to increase sales and profits, improve ESG scores, attract capital from social impact investors, and accomplish United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, while creating a new, sustainable source of critical funding and resources for nonprofit organizations. Our proprietary platform measures and tracks social impacts and translates them into hard numbers. By assigning a business value to companies’ social responsibility efforts, Givewith highlights areas for growth and facilitates collaborations with nonprofit programs that will achieve these goals.

Givewith moves people in need to the center of commerce, transforming the way both business and philanthropy are done.

ABOUT PAUL POLIZZOTTO

Over his 30-year career as a social entrepreneur, Paul has dedicated himself to developing, refining and realizing one vision: that by prioritizing social impact, businesses can deliver a sustainable source of funding for the critical work of nonprofits and differentiate themselves from the competition.

Paul has been honored with numerous recognitions for his work, including the US Conference of Mayors’ Award for Excellence in Public Private Partnerships, Cynopsis Media’s Social Good Leader of the Year, and the Santa Monica Baykeeper’s and the Waterkeeper Alliance’s “Keeper Award.” Paul has also been named an “Environmental Hero” by the EPA and a “Public-Private Visionary” by Vanity Fair magazine. In 2012 and 2013, Paul and his team earned back-to-back Edison Awards for Social Innovation and Social Impact.

Paul was first motivated to dip his toes into the waters of social entrepreneurship in 1989 when, as an avid surfer distressed by the pollution plaguing his hometown waters—the Santa Monica Bay in Southern California—he pioneered technology to remove toxins from run-off before it entered the storm drain system and ultimately, the Bay.

In 2001, Paul founded EcoMedia, which became CBS EcoMedia when he sold the company to CBS Corporation in 2010. At EcoMedia, Paul innovated three unique advertising products—EcoAds, EducationAds, and Wellness Ads—through which brands and leading nonprofits continue to collaborate to deliver positive, tangible, and lasting social impacts to communities across America.

Givewith, officially launched in April 2018, is the latest iteration of Paul’s vision: To move people and causes in need to the center of every business transaction.

Consumers Energy Helps Nurture STEM Careers through Sponsorship in FIRST® Robotics State Competition

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 4:05pm

A competition of student-built and remote-control operated robots is helping spur interest in and pursuit of future high-demand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers at the FIRST® in Michigan robotics state championships, sponsored by Consumers Energy.

“At Consumers Energy we know how important STEM careers are, because this talent powers many areas of our company,” said LeeRoy Wells Jr., vice president of operations support for Consumers Energy and FIRST in Michigan board member. “Many of our recent STEM hires have prior robotics experience, so we know our support of this competition provides an excellent opportunity to inspire the next generation of Michigan leaders.”

The event is at Saginaw Valley State University’s Ryder Center today through Saturday, April 14, and features 160 high school robotics teams from across Michigan vying to win their matches and advance to compete at the world FIRST Robotics Championship in Detroit April 25-28.

In 2017 the Consumers Energy Foundation contributed more than $425,000 to support STEM programs, including FIRST teams at elementary, middle and high school levels across the state. With help from the foundation, FIRST in Michigan now boasts 500 high school teams, more school robotics teams than any other state.

“FIRST Robotics has grown rapidly at all levels, thanks in large part to the support of Consumers Energy, a company that recognizes the importance of encouraging a new generation of youth to explore all that the STEM has to offer, personally and professionally,” said Gail Alpert, president of FIRST in Michigan.  “As we like to say, FIRST is the only varsity sport where every kid can go pro, and Consumers Energy helps nourish that K-12 pipeline that leads right into their company.”

Highlights of the three-day state event include:

  • Team competitions Thursday through Saturday within the Ryder Center.
  • A Dean’s List reception on Friday evening, hosted by Consumers Energy President and Chief Executive Officer Patti Poppe, where outstanding robotics students will be recognized at this event which is named after Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST.
  • A visit by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder who has made FIRST accessible to even the smallest of schools through a state grant.

Many of the skills and tools needed to perform jobs at Consumers Energy are the same students learn through their FIRST involvement. Examples include:

  • The use of a robot, called a “pig” that performs in-line inspections of natural gas pipeline that would otherwise be difficult and expensive to excavate. The pigs feature cameras and also record data from inside the pipe to ensure safety and reliability.
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, use sensors to collect data about the company’s electric and natural gas systems. They can inspect electric circuits, wind turbines and hydroelectric dams, assess post-storm damage and detect vegetation and also help improve reliability and safety.

“Consumers Energy’s mission is to help create sustainable FIRST robotics teams at every school in Michigan, and to cultivate future STEM careers,” Wells said. “We want every interested school and student to be able to participate, from the largest to smallest schools, to those in rural areas and those that are under-resourced.”

About Consumers Energy

Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

About FIRST

FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – was formed in 1989. FIRST has engaged millions of people in a global movement to build problem solvers who transform our world. Each year the FIRST community celebrates young innovators through high-quality, inspiring, life-changing experiences, the culmination of which is the FIRST Championship.

Media Contacts

Roger Morgenstern, 616-530-4364, or Terry DeDoes, 517-374-2159

For more information about Consumers Energy, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com.

Check Out Consumers Energy on Social Media

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YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/consumersenergy

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Advertising for Good: Nominations Open for Ethicmark Awards

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 4:05pm

Nominations are open until June 31, 2018, for the 2018 EthicMark® Awards for ads and media campaigns that “uplift the human spirit and society.” Winners are judged by the illustrious Global Judges Panel and announced at prestigious global conferences and media. These Awards have been inspirational, while raising the ethical standards for the $570 billion global advertising industry for over a decade. 

The nomination period is open to ads and media campaigns. These can be produced by businesses, nonprofit organizations or individuals. Nominations are submitted on the EthicMark® website, where previous winning campaigns are showcased www.ethicmark.org

The EthicMark® Awards seek to transform advertising by demonstrating the power of media campaigns to inspire and to further both the public interest and legitimate private interests.

"We expect our 2018 Annual awards to continue highlighting the power of advertising and global media, including social media platforms, to enlighten the public and inspire companies to new levels of creative responsible marketing worldwide," said Hazel Henderson, president of Ethical Markets Media, founder and co-chair of the EthicMark® Awards. The previous winners include the "Do Right Initiative", from Tata Capital in India, and "Give Mom Back Her Name", a UN Women campaign from Egypt, and for 2017 "All That We Share" TV2 in Denmark and "Refugee Nation" from Amnesty International. 

The annual EthicMark® Awards are co-sponsored by Ethical Markets Media, LLC, and the World Business Academy, whose president Rinaldo S. Brutoco, as co-chair said, “Ethical advertising is a critical characteristic of a healthy, long-term sustainable corporation that honors what it sells and the deeper values of its customers.” The Awards are in partnership with GlobeScan, the preeminent polling firm; Sustainable Brands, Tomorrow's Company, Goodvertising,TBLI, SRI Conferences and ESPM, Brazil’s premier institution of higher education in communication, marketing, and business.

ABOUT ETHICAL MARKETS

Ethical Markets Media (USA and Brazil), Certified B Corporation, is a global media network of networks with the mission of reforming markets and metrics while helping accelerate and track the transition to the green economy worldwide with the Green Transition Scoreboard®, Ethical Biomimicry Finance®, Transforming Finance TV Series with reports, articles, newsletters, and analyses from its global Advisory Board and Hazel Henderson, editor-in-chief, on www.EthicalMarkets.com, promoting systems thinking and best practices to raise global standards.

ABOUT THE WORLD BUSNESS ACADEMY

The World Business Academy (www.worldbusiness.org) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit think tank that has been researching, publishing and convening meetings globally on the leading edge of business since 1987. The Academy membership is supported by a group of approximately 90 Fellows who represent a broad cross-section of academic business thinking and social thought leaders. Areas the Academy specializes in are Building Sustainable Corporations, Corporate Governance, Alternative Energy, Nuclear Energy, Advanced EnergyTechnologies, Microgrid Implementation and related subjects under the heading of “New Paradigms In Business.”

Ray C. Anderson Foundation’s NextGen Committee Issues Grant RFP for Projects Showing Measurable Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 10:05am

The NextGen Committee of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation has issued a call for proposals for one $90,000 grant to fund work in the 2019 calendar year for currently existing or new programs that would measurably reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, measured by metric tons (or “tonnes”) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), either by preventing the emission of those gases or by sequestering gases presently in the atmosphere.

The Ray C. Anderson Foundation is a private family foundation committed to advancing the legacy of its namesake by supporting environmental sustainability initiatives. Ray’s five grandchildren, along with their spouses, comprise the NextGen Committee of the Foundation, which makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees for worthwhile grants and initiatives. In 2018, the NextGen Committee has decided to focus its philanthropic efforts on programs that help to reverse global warming. Grants are limited to 501(c)(3) charities in the United States.   Those interested in applying for the grant should visit the grant web page to review the proposal guidelines and submit their proposal.   All grant inquiries should be directed to nextgengrants@raycandersonfoundation.org   No phone calls.

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