Top Stories

January 18, 2019


BlackRock chief Larry Fink tells CEOs to fix society’s problems in an increasingly divided world

BlackRock chief executive officer Larry Fink’s annual letter to CEOs is a widely-read – and hotly debated – missive. Last year, he warned leaders to start accounting for the societal impact of their companies, or risk disappointing the largest asset manager in the world. In this year’s letter, the manager of $6 trillion doubled down on his argument that businesses have a responsibility to the communities they serve, not just to their bottom line, since “profits and purpose are inextricably linked.” The 2019 letter, released the day after a fake hoodwinked some financial media, instructs companies to lead better in a divided world. As governments fail to address social and economic issues, the public increasingly looks to corporations for leadership on problems from protecting the environment to racial inequality. While Fink acknowledges companies cannot solve every issue, he highlights a few dilemmas that require some corporate action, including retirement, infrastructure, and job preparation. (Business Insider)


Environmental consulting sector enjoys best growth in a decade

The market for environmental consulting services enjoyed a bumper year of growth in 2017, with new data released yesterday revealing the global market jumped 6.2 percent in value to reach $34.1 billion.  The performance marks the best growth figures in a decade for the sector, according to Environment Analyst which published the research. Early analysis suggests 2018 provided similarly encouraging growth figures, the researchers added. The buoyant results were fuelled by a recovery in demand for environmental consultancy services from the mining and commodities market, as well as “strong demand” for climate resilience and storm recovery work in North America after a brutal hurricane season. China’s tighter focus on environmental standards and enforcement also helped drive growth in Asia, the report said. The bulk of revenues in the global market still come from North America, but following double digit growth in 2017, Asia Pacific now ranks third in terms of regional revenue share, commanding almost 22 percent of total spend, the report added. (Business Green)*

Supply Chain/Innovation

New web platform to offer consumers greater supply-chain transparency

Launched by WWF and investment firm BCG Digital Ventures, OpenSC is a website that harnesses block chain technology to allow users to scan a QR code on a product or menu that reveals the full history and supply chain before they buy. “For those catching and producing things in a very unsustainable way, it’s quite easy for them to hide behind the complexity of supply chains,” said Paul Hunyor, Asia region head at BCG Digital Ventures in Sydney. OpenSC allows consumers to cut through the complexity and lack of transparency in supply chains, said Hunyor. The tool will cover environmental, social and human rights, and hopes to attract sustainability bodies, as well as corporations and major commodities producers, said Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia. The OpenSC platform, conceived in 2017 when WWF was piloting a tuna fisheries traceability project in the Pacific Ocean, will initially focus on fish and beef. It plans to expand in the next two years to cover other commodities like palm oil and timber. (Thomas Reuters Foundation News)


VW and Ford forge partnership to spur low-carbon transport transition

Carmakers Ford and Volkswagen (VW) have forged a new low-carbon road transport partnership, which will see them work together to develop electric vehicles (EVs) and other clean technologies. Unveiled on Tuesday, the collaborative agreement will initially see the two firms jointly develop a range of commercial vans and medium-sized pickup trucks, which will be launched across all of Ford and VW’s global markets in 2022. Ford estimates that by collaborating on the development, manufacture and launch of these vehicles, the two companies will collectively save $500m (£387m) per year, starting in 2023. Looking to the long-term, the agreement signed by Ford and VW also includes a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that the two companies will “investigate collaboration on autonomous vehicles, mobility services and further EVs”. The carmakers have both started to explore opportunities in these three fields on a standalone basis. (Edie)

Social Investments

Invest in health for global security and growth, Gates urges donors

Donating billions of dollars to global funds that fight poverty and disease is one of the best investments governments can make to boost security and economic growth, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates said on Thursday. Ending epidemics of infectious diseases such as malaria, polio, HIV and malaria is proving tough, they said, but dramatic progress made by global aid mechanisms recent decades means the world’s people are now healthier and more productive. “The data has been really striking,” Melinda Gates told reporters on a teleconference. She cited figures from the World Health Organization and others showing that since 1990, under-five mortality rates have fallen by more than 50 percent, and deaths due to infectious diseases like HIV, malaria and measles have also halved. “A child born today is half as likely to die before the age of five, compared to if she was born in 2000,” Melinda Gates said. “The human and economic benefits of this are enormous.” (Reuters)

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External Event

edie Sustainability Leaders Forum

5-6 February 2019, Business Design Centre, London

An award-winning event for global sustainability leaders inspiring change for good, edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum brings together hundreds of ambitious professionals every year, including Government, NGOs, investors, business leaders, and more.

The 2019 Forum theme “Embracing the fierce urgency of NOW” inspired the development of the programme which features leadership labs, a Mission Possible call to action, live edie podcast, and more, giving you the most interactive and immersive experience on the day. Speakers from the likes of BEIS, Unilever, Coca-Cola, M&S, Carlsberg, Tesco, BT and more will address how to connect sustainability with profitability, unlock the power of purpose-driven strategies, and accelerate behaviour change.

View full details and book here and quote CCB15 to receive 15% discount.


Image source: Hong Kong Supermarket in Chinatown by Clemens v. Vogelsang on Flickr.CC BY 2.0.