Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Maturity of the Sustainability Ecosystem in Hawaii

Written by Joe Kent

I have just returned from a one-week exploration of the sustainability ecosystem in Hawaii. I met with a range of stakeholders on my journey, from grass-roots workers to investors, all who exhibited a high level of enthusiasm for their work, and optimism for sustainable development in the state. I concluded my visit in Honolulu sharing the sentiment. It was encouraging for me to see so many people working towards creating a more sustainable state on many different fronts: sustainable agriculture, water and marine life conservation, education, renewable energy, and corporate sustainability. However, as I learned more about each of their individual efforts, the need for a more cohesive, synergized approach emerged.

My exploration took place in Honolulu and began with the July 15 HI Impact conference, which provided a platform for discussing the needs of the innovation ecosystem in Hawaii, and how it can be supported by Impact HUB, a global network of collaboration-driven co-working spaces and incubation labs which is launching in Honolulu this October. A poll at the beginning of the conference revealed that we were in the company of a mix of impact investors, entrepreneurs, consultants, and government representatives, all from whom Impact Hub enjoyed support.
Group discussion at HI Impact on "What does the Innovation Ecosystem in Hawaii need?" Collaboration, communication, exploration, and risk taking were common responses.
Although the forum was open to experts in any industry, 90% of the people were working to promote sustainability through their professional occupation or their lifestyle. To me that was another indicator that – in case anyone had any doubts – the issue of sustainability is at the forefront of concern in Hawaii. The market demands sustainable options. Entrepreneurs have identified this fact as a business proposition, and the government has adopted it as a platform to gain public approval.

Sustainability is starting to show up everywhere you look; there are more and more environmental bills being passed, eco hotels, energy efficient products, sustainable residential neighborhoods, and specialized sustainability consulting firms like Climate Miles. Even traditional businesses are starting to realize the value of adopting environmental sustainability as a competitive strategy. Since 2009, 74 businesses have voluntarily joined the State Energy Department’s Hawaii Green Business Program. Dozens more are a certified B-Corp or LEED certified.

Although there is undoubtedly momentum in the right direction, the sense I was left with is that each service provider, green tech expert, sustainability consultant, and green certification program is playing a compartmentalized role in the ecosystem, and cutting short the potential for deeper, self-sustaining impact. Sustainability consultants do a good job of mobilizing green tech solutions and certifications during the period of their contract, but are their clients any more empowered to take sustainability a step further on their own? Green business certifications are great for providing benchmarks and goodwill, but do businesses maintain those standards on a day-to-day basis?

Sometimes businesses do successfully implement a sustainability management system and make commitments to continuous improvement, but more often the progress stops until the next sustainability sales man comes along or it’s time to renew the green certification. One gentleman representing a B-Certified described the B-Corp certification process in the same way as Ron Poeil describes Showtime Rotisserie Grills: “Set it, and forget it!”

The most widely-adopted sustainability maturity frameworks, including our own at Climate Miles, describe a business’ sustainability maturity as on a spectrum. A less mature business is characterized by taking up isolated, desynchronized sustainability initiatives which are made without a long-term, strategic agenda. A fully mature business, on the opposite end of the spectrum, is committed to long-term goals and continuous evaluation and improvement which are reflected in their systems and management approach throughout the organization.

If the sustainability ecosystem in Hawaii is evaluated on a parallel framework, it would rank on the less mature end of the spectrum, which should be expected in this nascent stage. Each ecosystem player acts largely independently of one another, and are working towards independent goals. There is some collaboration taking place in the sector, and long-term goals have been vaguely defined by a few independent organizations, such as the Hawaii 2050 Task Force, but none have been convincing enough to take hold of and guide the ecosystem on one collaborative mission.

I look forward to being a part of this ecosystem as it works to define common interests and goals, begins sharing information and resources, and encourages the system to self-evaluate and make improvements and new targets. All of us, as stakeholders in the sustainability ecosystem, need to start discussing what we are learning, feeding on each other’s momentum, and collaborating on projects to create deeper, long-term impact. If we look at the combined capabilities of our individual organizations – the technology providers, consultants, educators, certifiers, farmers – and continually evaluate our performance and understanding of the market, we’ll start to realize our potential as a community and be able to set targets which reflect this. If we do this, we may find that the state’s current environmental goals are too low. We may also find gaps in our tools or knowledge, but we will be in a position to collaborate and fill them in quickly.

Impact HUB’s launch in Honolulu is symbolic of a more collaborative and inclusive ecosystem. The Sustainable Leader forum is another. As entrepreneurs, we need to make a commitment to use these platforms, to share, and to explore, with the ultimate goal of establishing a cohesive, synergized effort in making Hawaii a more sustainable state.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Green SME Summit – Collaborating across the Value Chain Featuring the launch of the do-it-yourself Software Tool – U-Sustain - GHG Accounting tool developed by Climate Miles under the aegis of the India GHG Program Mumbai on 16th July, 2014

WRI India, in association with TERI and CII has set-up the India GHG Program – a voluntary industry led partnership that aims to build institutional capabilities towards measurement and management of greenhouse gas emissions. By providing relevant trainings, tools, capacity building and facilitating best practices, peer interactions etc., the program aims to eventually promote profitable and competitive businesses in India. The India GHG Program is supported by the Pirojsha Godrej Foundation, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, and, the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

The program partners, as well as its founding member  (26 of the largest corporates in India, across all industrial sectors) realize there are business benefits associated with management of greenhouse gas emissions, and these are not limited to large organizations alone. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) form the core of the economy, and contribute not just to the supply chains of select large organizations, but to the overall GDP in a significant manner.  However, the challenges that SMEs face in terms of understanding the environmental impacts, benefits or opportunities are very unique and these are generally pertaining to dedicated capacity, resources and availability of tools/guidance etc.

The GreenSME Summit, with the India GHG Program, was aimed at convening various stakeholders and key influencers together to explore potential avenues of collaboration between large companies and SMEs across the value chain using GHG Accounting as a tool.  The Summit also saw the official launch of the do-it-yourself GHG Accounting Software tool developed under the aegis of the India GHG Program. 

Convened by the India GHG Program, the Green SME Summit included participation from leading businesses – YES Bank, Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Ltd.KPIT TechnologiesMahindra & MahindraACC LimitedAditya Birla Group, JSW GroupFord MotorsBayer Group. The SME sector was represented by Matru ChemicalsVijayesh InstrumentsSA Glass, and, SimaPro India

The summit focused on outlining the opportunities, challenges and current developments for SMEs within large corporate value chains to reduce emissions and improve efficiency. The summit included discussion on how engagement among large enterprises, SMEs and vendors in the value chain can promote profitable and sustainable businesses in India.  Remarks by the Keynote Speaker Mr. Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman, Godrej & Boyce, emphasised the shared value across the supply chain and the importance of shifting the perspective from regarding Sustainability practice from a cost centre to a profit centre.

The online demo of Pilot Software developed by Climate Miles for GHG Emissions Inventory of SME’s was enthusiastically accepted by all present.

The press release by IGHGP can be found here:

posted by Jaya