Top Stories

June 23, 2015

Supply Chain

Starbucks allocates £19m for farmers fighting climate change

Global coffee giant Starbucks has added £19 million to its Global Farmer Fund, which offers loans to farmers help them become more resilient to climate change, more than doubling its size. More than 40,000 farmers have already benefited from the funding scheme, carried out in partnership with leading lending organizations such as Root Capital and the Fairtrade Access Fund. Craig Russell, executive vice president of global coffee for Starbucks, said “By providing access to capital, farmers have the ability to make strategic investments in their infrastructure, offering the stability they need to manage ongoing complexities so that there is a future for them and the industry.” Preparing for extreme weather is particularly important for coffee farmers, whose crop requires almost five times the amount of water as tea to grow. This work improves coffee quality, sustainability and overall profitability for the entire coffee industry, Starbucks said. (Edie)

Cargill and PwC link up on supply-chain sustainability

Food conglomerate Cargill and PwC have launched a Responsible Supply Chain service to help companies improve their supply chains and align them with sustainability goals. The service stems from Cargill’s work with PwC to assess its own environmental and social supply chain risks, and involves working sessions to identify quick “wins” to improve supply-chain efficiencies, lower costs, differentiate brands and spark innovation. The Cargill-PwC alliance is another manifestation of the recent trend of companies partnering to address sustainability challenges. Other business-to-business collaborations aimed at creating profitmaking sustainability solutions include Coca-Cola and Pepsi joining Nike, Ford, P&G and Heinz to accelerate the development of 100 percent plant-based PET and Natureworks, a corn-based plastics venture that began as a partnership between Cargill and Dow. (GreenBiz)


Survey: HR practitioners not confident in wellbeing policies

Only 21% of organisations believe they have the correct wellbeing policy in place, according to the 2015 Wellbeing Barometer from the employee benefits firm Edenred. 81% of the HR decision-makers surveyed claimed they invest in a wellbeing initiative, but 60% said they either do not know or have not taken steps to understand which specific health and wellbeing issues are problematic for their organisation. Edenred sales and marketing director Andy Philpott said there is a substantial gap between the support that HR practitioners believe will make a difference to wellbeing and what their workplaces actually offer. This is despite the fact that 97% of HR professionals believe there is a link between wellbeing and organisations’ performance. Almost two-thirds (64%) say that HR policy is critical in improving employee wellbeing. (HR Magazine)

Innovation & Technology

IBM teams up with The Weather Company for emergency tech

Tech firm IBM has announced a partnership with The Weather Company to create a new emergency management product designed for use during disasters. Called the Intelligent Operations Center, the product is intended to help cities figure out how to respond efficiently to weather-related disasters. It pulls up historical and sensor data and then uses “deep analytics, data visualization, and real-time collaboration to help agencies coordinate and manage response efforts.” Natural disasters claimed 7,700 lives across the world last year, running up a bill of $110 billion. “We can take information that’s near real time, including sensor feeds,” said Bob Griffin, IBM’s vice president of industry solutions. “From there, we can take that information and make predictable kinds of decisions and, more importantly, improve awareness so [cities] can quickly turn awareness into action.” (Fast Company)

Responsible Investment

Asia renewable bond market set for take-off

Issuance of renewable energy bonds is set to take off in Asia as new regulations push banks to step back from extending loans to projects, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in its June bond market report. “To ensure that the growing energy needs of Asia can be met sustainably, there will have to be increased diversification of energy sources away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy,” the report said. But the main obstacle to Asia adopting more renewable energy sources is from financing. New regulations requiring banks to hold more liquid assets may reduce long-term financing for renewable energy projects, but could spur greater investment in green bonds, the ADB said. “While issuers from the US and Europe currently account for around 43 percent of the outstanding market, Green Bonds are gaining traction in the rest of the emerging and developing world as well,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note last week. (CNBC)

Climate Change

Report: Fossil fuel addiction harms health as well as the planet

Curbing our carbon habit wouldn’t just stop us ward off the worst of climate change – it would also make us healthier. This according to a research conducted by the Climate Health Commission on behalf of The Lancet journal, which assesses the health benefits of tackling climate change and the penalties of failing to do so. The resulting report, published today, cites huge health advantages as a reason for switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. Doubling the proportion of renewable energy from its 2010 level of 18 percent to 26 percent could annually save $230 billion in healthcare costs worldwide by 2030, due to the large amount of ill health directly or indirectly caused by burning fossil fuels. “All the things we want to do to combat climate change will also protect us against ill health”, said Anthony Costello, co-chair of the commission, at the report’s launch. (New Scientist)

Image source: Dhiraj Singh / Bloomberg / Getty Images