Top Stories

July 31, 2012

International Development

Leading companies share knowledge to help refugees

In 2009, the IKEA Foundation – the philanthropic arm of IKEA – partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with the idea of designing a new tent for emergency refugee accommodation. However, collaborating over tents soon led to a much broader “knowledge partnership”, whereby IKEA could share with UNHCR its entire supply chain and logistics expertise. The partnership is one of several between UNHCR and global companies, including Microsoft and PwC on ICT projects in remote areas; ManPower for training and skills assessments; HP for learning and development technology; and Facebook, Yahoo and Google to maximise digital presence during emergencies. The projects are still relatively young, but, according to Olivier Delarue, the UNHCR’s senior advisor on private sector partnerships, may prove to be “win-win-win: a win for the refugees, a win for the company, and a win for the humanitarian organisation as well.” (The Guardian)


Sharp and Hitachi to launch solar loan deal

Electronics giants Sharp and Hitachi have unveiled an innovative finance deal to provide loans to homeowners and businesses, in a bid to boost sales of solar panels in the wake of deep cuts to government subsidies. Sharp Solar and Hitachi Capital will offer UK customers a series of financing options, which are expected to be rolled out across Europe over the coming months. Businesses and homeowners installing solar PV panels using Sharp-certified installers will be able to apply for loans from Hitachi Capital. The minimum transaction for business customers will be £25,000, and financing will be available for terms of between seven and 10 years. Sharp did not disclose the minimum transaction value for domestic customers. (BusinessGreen)

Logging companies gain easy access to Papua New Guinea’s forests, says Greenpeace

More than 5m hectares of customary (community-owned) land in resource-rich Papua New Guinea has been signed over to landowner companies and foreign-owned corporations for up to 99 years, according to a report by Greenpeace. Papua New Guinea has the world’s third largest tropical forest, but demand for its logs has led to extensive deforestation. A satellite study in 2008 said the forests of the south Pacific country were being chopped down so quickly that more than half of its trees could be lost by 2021. Last week, the country’s rival prime ministers ended a political feud that had left the country with two leaders for most of the past year. Greenpeace said the new prime minister, Peter O’Neill, could spark a turning point in Papua New Guinea’s land policy. “He is a progressive figure and is best placed to implement the findings of the commission of inquiry,” said Paul Winn, author of the report. (The Guardian)

Corporate Reputation

General Mills under fire for ‘natural’ labelling

General Mills has been accused of deceptively marketing its ‘Nature Valley’ branded products as “100% Natural”, when they contain highly processed ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup. The accusation has reignited debate over products labelled as ‘natural’, with some surveys showing that consumers value the term more than the protected ‘organic’ label, and has led some groups to question General Mills’ public commitment to ethics and integrity. The allegations follow a string of other lawsuits against the company, which in 2009 was forced to remove cholesterol and cancer-prevention claims from its Cheerios cereal packaging. (Triple Pundit)