Top Stories

January 15, 2015


Report: Ten pioneering companies taking action on biodiversity

A new report, The New Nature of Business, highlights ten pioneering companies, including Syngenta, Dow and Wipro, that are taking action on biodiversity. According to the report’s co-author Steve Elliot, a professor at the University of Sydney Business School, the biggest challenge to reducing loss biodiversity is that it competes with attention on environmental sustainability and climate change. “Companies get fatigued,” he says. The report stresses that “transforming from business-as-usual to a new approach of business-as-solution is critically important to reduce the rate at which the environment is degraded”. The key to this transformation, it argues, is reconsidering how companies view natural resources, by placing value on intangible assets like migratory birds’ habitats or clean water for spawning fish. Prime examples include US pharma company Pfizer and Indian IT company Wipro, which have both converted corporate campuses into biodiversity zones. (The Guardian)


Asda’s ‘Wonky Veg’ Campaign aims to show ugly produce is ‘beautiful on the inside’

UK supermarket giant Asda is trialling a new range of vegetable products it is calling “Wonky Veg,” in a bid to reduce food waste. The retailer created its new range of misshapen fruit and vegetables, sold at reduced prices, after working alongside TV chef Jamie Oliver on initiatives to reduce food waste. The project is to be trialled in five stores across the UK beginning January 26. Taking a cue from French supermarket Intermarché’s enormously successful “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” campaign last year, the new range is labelled “Beautiful on the Inside”, highlighting that there is no difference in taste or nutritional value of the product. “If most Brits had half an idea of the amount going to waste, they’d be snapping up ugly veg by the trolley load,” Oliver said. Asda concurred, saying that its own studies suggest that 75 percent of customers would be interested in purchasing the range if prices were lower. (Sustainable Brands)

Rankings & Standards

UN Global Compact expels 657 companies in 2014

The UN Global Compact announced yesterday that it expelled 372 companies in the second half of 2014 for failure to communicate progress for at least two consecutive years, bringing the total number of expelled companies in 2014 to 657. Business participants in the Global Compact commit to making its ten principles, on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, part of their business strategies and day-to-day operations. The expelled companies represent 10 percent of the 3,760 participants due to submit a Communication on Progress (COP) within the second half of 2014. A total of 197 companies achieved the GC ‘Advanced level’ in the same period, reflecting an increased commitment to transparency and accountability. The number of companies joining the UN Global Compact continues to exceed the number of expulsions, with 729 companies from around the world joining the initiative from July through December 2014. (United Nations Global Compact)

Supply Chain

Palm oil risk to Africa as prospectors eye swaths of land

Booming global demand for palm oil and limited room for the industry’s expansion in Asia have led large palm oil producers to look towards Africa. Producers are being welcomed by African governments, who are offering companies cheap land and tax holidays in the hope of generating jobs and development, often with no compensation to people living and working on the land. NGOs campaigning on the issue have been accused of standing in the way of development in Africa, but they argue that they are not against increasing palm oil production in Africa, merely that it just needs to be achieved more sustainably. Simon Counsell, executive director of Rainforest Foundation UK, says his organisation is exploring integrating smaller-scale production into a “pattern of local community tenure and ownership”, in order to ensure local income and employment opportunities. (The Guardian)

Corporate Reputation

London campaigners put pressure on overseas property investors

Foreign purchasers have bought 80% of the homes in a series of major new London housing developments, according to estate agent Knight Frank. The sales data will dismay campaigners who complain Londoners are being priced out of living in the capital by wealthy international investors. A promotional video produced by housing company Berkeley Group, aimed at foreign buyers, was last week taken offline almost immediately after it was attacked on Twitter as “nauseating” and “absolutely revolting”. It showed a buyer flying into London on a private jet, driving to the skyscraper in a Bentley and buying an apartment as a surprise gift for his girlfriend as if it was a piece of “curving glass sculpture”. London Mayor Boris Johnson has admitted that London is suffering “a desperate shortage of homes” and last year warned: “London homes aren’t some kind of new global asset class. They aren’t just blocks of bullion in the sky.” (The Guardian)


Image source: Colorful Photo of Vegetables by JeffC / CC BY 2.5