Monday, 17 September 2012

Unilever: Working harder to meet it’s Sustainable Living Plan targets.

Unilever has published a report earlier this year  on the progress it is making towards meeting its Unilever Sustainable Living Plan targets. The plan (first published in November 2010), broke new ground by committing to take responsibility for the company’s impacts right across the value chain, from the sourcing of raw materials all the way through to the consumer’s use of its products to cook, clean and wash. Unilever’s performance against its sustainable living plan targets fall into three categories:
1. Areas where  the company is making genuinely good progress, such as: Sustainable sourcing ( 24% of total agricultural raw materials now being sourced sustainably, versus 14% in 2010 ), Nutrition  ( over 90% of Unilever’s leading spreads now contain less than one-third saturated fat), Renewable energy ( now contributes 20% of Unilever’s total energy use and 100% of electricity purchased in Europe is now from renewable sources) and Safe drinking water .
2. Areas where the company has to consider carefully how to reach targets. These include amongst others  health and hygiene
3. Areas where the global giant is  finding it difficult to make progress and will need to work with others to find solutions. This applies particularly to targets that require consumer behaviour change, such as reducing the use of heated water in showering and washing clothes, or encouraging people to eat foods with lower salt levels.
“In a world where temperatures are rising, energy is costing more, sanitation is worsening and food supply is less secure, companies can no longer sit on the sidelines waiting for governments to take action. We have to see ourselves as part of the solution to these problems. In Unilever, we believe that our future success depends upon being able to decouple our growth from our environmental footprint, while at the same time increasing our positive social impacts”, says Unilever CEO, Paul Polman. For more information and the full progress report  for 2012, visit  .

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Nicholas Christakis: A new kind of social science is needed for the 21st century , says author of CONNECTED

In the 21st century, the social sciences offer a promise for improving human welfare. The advances that we have made and will be making, especially in understanding human behavior and its very deep origins, will be translated into interventions of diverse sorts that will have a much bigger impact in terms of improving human welfare , said Nicholas Christakis in a recent  conversation  in EDGE (see video). Christakis  is a Physician and Social Scientist at Harvard University and Coauthor (with James Fowler) of  “Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and HowThey Shape Our Lives”. The book suggests that your colleague's husband's sister can make you fat, even if you don't know her. A happy neighbor has more impact on your happiness than a happy spouse. These startling revelations of how much we truly influence one another are revealed in the studies of Drs. Christakis. CONNECTED overturns the notion of the individual and provides a revolutionary paradigm-that social networks influence our ideas, emotions, health, relationships, behavior, politics, and much more. A health care policy specialist Christakis (Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care) became interested in social connectivity when observing that the mortality rate of spouses spike after a partner passes away. Christakis sought out a collaboration with Fowler, a health systems and political scientist, and together they compare topology (the hows of a given structure) across different social networks to better explain how participation and positioning enhances the effectiveness of an individual, and why the "whole" of a network is "greater than the sum of its parts." Five basic rules describe the relationship between individuals and their networks-including mutual adaptation, the influence of friends and friends' friends, the network's "life of its own"-but the results do more than promote the good of the group: they also spread contagions; create "epidemics" of obesity, smoking and substance abuse; disseminate fads and markets; alter voting patterns; and more.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation approves a grant of €10 million to help support children’s programs and services

As part of its €100 million initiative, over the next three years, which aims to help ease the adverse effects of the current socioeconomic crisis in Greece, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation announced recently 3 new grants totaling €10 million, to help support those children and their families that are mostly impacted by the crisis. Since the beginning of 2012, the Foundation has already committed grants totaling €41 million as part of this initiative, and continues to evaluate additional programs on a daily basis. Specifically, the Foundation, in collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Interior, has approved a grant of €4.5 million to support nursery schools and childcare centers across the country. The initiative aims to help mothers who wish to enroll their children in daycare facilities and are unable to do so for financial reasons, so that they are able to join the work force.The Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Mr. Andreas Dracopoulos, stated : “Through these grants, the Foundation continues its commitment to assist, to the extent of our abilities, all those that the current socio-economic crisis has impacted in the most severe and direct way. Our concern is especially for the children, who rely on us. Through food aid, immunization programs, and support for the country’s nursery schools, we hope not only to help the children, but also to provide some relief for their parents, currently facing unprecedented hardship”. See more here.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Coca-Cola Foundation : New Grants to Spark Sustainability Efforts

Sixty-eight community organizations in 41 countries around the world were awarded a total of $10.5 million in grants from The Coca-Cola Foundation, the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company, during the second quarter of 2012. These grants support the Foundation's global priority areas, including: $3.2 million for active, healthy living; $2.9 million for water stewardship; $780,000 for community recycling; $630,000 for education; and $3 million for other local priorities, such as youth development, community improvement, economic development and environmental responsibility. "These grants represent our ongoing investment in the sustainability and the well-being of thousands of communities around the world," said Ingrid Saunders Jones, Chairperson of The Coca-Cola Foundation. "Our investment is designed to have real impact, by helping local communities with innovative ways to meet global challenges." You can see the full list of the  projects and the grants beneficiaries here