Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Japanese show the behavior change route to sustainability

In my last post (and earlier missives) I noted that behaviour is the key starting point to address sustainability issues.

If you remember from the posts about community action I proposed an 8 step approach.

1) identify concerns and assets in the region

2) identify the behaviour associated with the concern

3) analyse the systems affecting behaviour

4) define reasonable behaviour level

5) plan measures across the board

6) plan “marketing” campaign

7) get approval of stakeholders

8) implement and monitor

This is EXACTLY how the Japanese have started to address energy security concerns

1) A government report urges Japan to secure channels for a stable energy supply as global energy demand is expected to surge in the next 25 years. The paper said Japan needs to continue energy stockpiling, conserve more energy and reduce its dependence on oil and other resource imports to lower the risk of an energy shortage

2) Government officials follow the custom of dressing in suit and ties, even in summer. Many feel the strict dress coded preserves dignity. A cool 25 degree indoors though means hefty air conditioning bills.

3) The dress code and the air temperature control systems are the major contributory factors

4) It would be reasonable to forego the code for lighter clothing and reduce air conditioning

5) The government plans to introduce a casual dress code and raise the indoor temperature to 28 degrees

6) Chief Cabinet Secretary and Hiroyuki Hosoda, appeared on TV demonstrating the government’s new energy-saving dress code clad in a new blue dress shirt without tie or jacket,

7) Jiro Kawasaki, chairman of the Lower House Steering Committee, has asked major parties to consider new no-tie dress codes for summer.

We applaud this activity as it demonstrates simply how we all can work to reduce energy costs and still maintain or even improve the quality of life. Often more benefits come from this approach. Suits need dry cleaning, which uses solvents and who needs those ties anyway?

Consumer Power. If you never start the car you don't pollute.

One of the keys to understanding and getting involved in sustainability is to understand the power of the consumer. Let’s look at the basics in this briefing.

Back in the 80’s consumers would use their purchasing power to boycott products to make their voice heard. Nowadays, consumers are making an active choice, searching the web for “green” products, “fair trade” products etc.

If you think of any electronic device, (say, an MP3 player) full of electronic chips, you can envisage a whole supply chain starting with the sand for the chips, the iron ore for the metal parts, the trees for the packaging and oil for the plastics. A gigantic, global supply chain sends material and components back and forth to add value to these raw materials until they end up in the consumer shopping basket.

For every one kilo of product there are 30 kilos of waste going out. The costs for that waste are oftentimes neither borne by the producer nor concomitantly, the consumer.

If the consumer never takes the product off the shelf, no more will be made. If the consumer does not push the gas pedal, no oil will need to be refined.

The best place to focus on is consumer behaviour. True many factors affect it, by focusing on behaviour as a starting point you can better influence the functioning of these huge supply chains.

Two factors to note: local products and marks.

Local products reduce environmental impact by requiring much less transport, and often lees packaging. Local products are often better suited to the local market as well.

Marking of consumer products provides a guarantee that that they are organically grown, fairly traded, etc.

As consumer concern grows it is more and more important that companies provide transparency about their products, being open about their origin, content, manufacturing and transport, and the contribution of the product to sustainability.

AVBPs service “Adapting to the sustainable world” leads companies along a four dimensioned analysis of their offerings to find ways to climb the “experience” ladder.

To put it another way.. the world is a beautiful place to experience. Sharing this experience with customers is the ultimate way to create a stable future for your organization.

The steps of the experience ladder.

Step 1: Raw materials focus. No connection to region only the features of the materials. Example: “organically grown carrots”.

Step 2: Product focus on region. Example; “Carrots from the island of GOTOLAND”. Can be used to package “vegetable basket from GOTOLAND.” Emphasizes that buying these products supports development of sustainable farming in the region, so consumers contribute to that development.

Step 3: Services. Regions as a brand. Examples “ Vegetables from GOTOLAND supplied to your door”. Recipes from GOTOLAND.

Step 4: Experience. GOTOLAND as a place to visit, shop from, reside in and work in and with. Examples “invest in GOTOLAND, learn carrot recipes on GOTOLAND” etc.

Regions have the potential to create brands far stronger than any private enterprise. And together with the power of the consumer regions have the potential to create a sustainable way of life for their inhabitants.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Public Sector should operate a Zero tolerance policy on counter sustainability

Let's give it to you straight as we see it, and try and point you in a constructive direction. We also want you to work with us if you are as serious about it as we are.

Today is about the public sector. Lets's take a physical area, for the sake of this exercise we?ll say it corresponds to national borders.

Now, to ensure sustainable development (if that is what the people want) some things should not be allowed within those borders. Right? Most of this seems clear doesn?t it?

  • In terms of health :damaging working conditions, harmful substances in food, misleading claims made by sellers that could damage health etc
  • For environment: environment damaging activities, release of toxins, depletion of resources,
  • For companies : externalizing costs to society, waste and depletion of earth?s resources, spreading of untruths that lead to health damage, dangerous products, misuse of other?s money etc
  • For society: creating displacement and disadvantage and misery, prejudice and discrimination.

From a sustainability point of view, the public sector should be all about enabling a standard of living (as agreed on by the people in that area) within the constraints of the environment in its area of management. And setting up restrictions and other barriers to prevent sustainability being undermined.

But it doesn't work that way. In fact, a lot of the restrictions to malpractice by financial institutions in the US have been removed, labeled "old fashioned". And Corporations enjoy the legal status of a living individual whilst their employees are duty bound to act counter-sustainably if they are to fulfill the intentions in the articles of association.

From the US we have heard stories of the poor nutritional value of school dinners partly as a result of having food chains in as sponsors. And we hear from all over the world how public space (physical and mental) is being intruded on by corporations.

Officers in the public sector would do well to:

  • Set about rigorously reinforcing restrictions especially for the workplace, for care of young people, for environmental depletion and heath standards.
  • Work to define and concretize what is meant by standard of living for that particular area and to what degree people believe it should be enabled. Should everyone in the area have a right to roof over their head and clothes on their back and food in their stomachs. Or is that the right of those who have the economic resources to buy these things?
  • Work to put appropriate requirements and legal restrictions into place. For example: manufacturers must prove their activities and products are not harmful to health or environment before being granted permission to operate.
  • Work to remove restrictions on living standard being created. For example lowering barriers to housing and healthcare.
  • Generally operate a zero tolerance policy for counter sustainability activities.

And then make it transparent. Many British and Australian government and local government authorities are publishing GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) reports and in the US some are publishing indicator reports.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Global Warming weakly branded?

I've been following the debate about WHY GLOBAL WARMING IS BRANDED SO BADLY. See Tom Peters blog marketing global warming.

Gill Friend (click on title) even got involved.

Why should an impending disaster have a BRAND? Does " Millions of people are starving" have a brand? Or "5000 people control 80% of the world's economy"? Brands are for organisations (or an organisation of one). And organisations, unless it is specifically written in in the articles of association, have NOTHING to do with global problems. Meaning no manager is assigned to do anything about it.

Put it another way. Researchers are assigned to study and present risks and probabilities. No one is assigned to listen. We mix up people and corporations. Corporations have the legal status of the individual without the heart. Individuals have the heart without the clout of the corporation.

Now, what we need is a big corporation where the articles of association require it to respond to major risks to sustainability. Now...what could they sell? But more interesting; how would their BRAND look?

Anyway it's not Global Warming. It's impending global climate destabilization. The issue is not If it is when and how much. And is there enough oil left in the Earth that if we burnt it all up (will take 30 years at this rate) would it destabilise the climate system to cause a major extinction event. Or would it mean killing off half the world like in the film "Day after tomorrow"?
Add to Technorati Favorites