The 2014 Skoll World Forum: Always Act

Skoll World Forum logoSe hace camino al andar – the road is made by walking,” said Yves Moury of Fundacion Capital, quoting Spanish poet Antonio Machado. He went on to explain that the poet was telling us to find new ways to think and to act. “Always act,” he exhorted, “the road is made by walking.”

I identified with this call to action as the unofficial theme of the 2014 Skoll World Forum. The presentations, the side conversations and even the general spirit of the Forum underlined this. Here is a sampling of some of the more provocative actions and articulations I heard:

  • In the opening plenary, Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, argued that the world needs more CEOs to stand up to their shareholders.
  • Also in the opening plenary, Arif Naqvi, founder of private equity firm The Abraaj Group, emphasized the importance of a broad definition of stakeholder engagement because as he put it, “you can’t have islands of excellence in an ocean of turbulence.”
  • Jason Saul of Mission Measurement presented a framework that promotes deriving a cost/outcome across what he deems is 132 outcomes in the world.
  • Jeff Bradach of Bridgespan Group raised not only organization-centric pathways to scale, but also field-centric ones that would argue for strengthening a constellation of organizations.
  • Feike Sijbesma, chairman and CEO of Royal DSM, emphasized that more than shareholders have to be a company’s priority in “future-proofing a business” as he traced the company’s transition from a coal mining company to a chemical company to its current framing as a life sciences company.
  • Mike Barry of Marks & Spencer shared in a side conversation that in 10 years their most important strategic partner might be a healthcare company as they think about a frame of wellness rather than products.
Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

Finally, as a tour de force at the Forum were the words of Malala, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl who survived a Taliban assassination attempt as she advocated for education for girls. She spoke passionately and eloquently with a poise way beyond her years as she proclaimed, “Education is more powerful than any weapon.” Although she was specifically speaking about education for girls, her message is really universal whether speaking about individuals, investors or companies.

As I reflect back on the Forum, I’m inspired to continue challenging companies to always act, innovating to protect the planet.

EDF Honored to Receive EPA SmartWay Affiliate Challenge Award

EDF has been a long-time supporter of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) SmartWay Program and we are proud to announce that tomorrow EPA will honor EDF with an Affiliate Challenge Award. This award not only recognizes our commitment to the program, but also our significant efforts to promote, advance, and strengthen SmartWay. The voluntary program is a public-private initiative that promotes freight sustainability through efficiency and fuel reductions. The program first began with a focus on reducing fuel consumption from long-haul trucks, and in 2011 was expanded to increase sustainability from the trucking sector operating around marine ports.

Over the course of its 10-year history, SmartWay Partners have saved 120.7 million barrels of oil. This is equivalent to taking over 10 million cars off the road for an entire year and has helped to protect the health and well-being of locals residing close to transportation hubs. Additionally, the SmartWay Program has reduced 51.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide so far, which contributes to our nation’s economic and energy security. EDF is excited about these achievements and proud to support these clean air efforts.

Want to Market the Realities of Climate Change? Get a Handsome Vampire

…and the Terminator, and Indiana Jones, and a Titanically popular director and more. If you don’t get where I’m going with this thread, you may have been under a rock for the past week, because when Hollywood talks about climate change, all kinds of new audiences listen.

Years of Living Dangerously is an incredibly ambitious documentary on climate change airing on Showtime. It is also a fascinating case study in how to market a scary, complicated concept to mass audiences and stimulate new conversations across both virtual and physical communities.

al goreAl Gore – Won the Nobel Peace Prize

 

ian somerhalderIan Somerhalder - has 4.85 million followers on Twitter

 

al tweet

Al Gore, with 2.71m followers, is no slouch in social media – I’m just illustrating that perhaps Mr. Somerhalder has a bit more active fan base.

There are many different ways to tell a story and start a conversation. At EDF we focus on science, economics, partnerships and bipartisan outreach to find solutions to climate change. Our stories stem from the results we drive, and yes, we love talking about science and statistics.

The teams behind both the making and the marketing of the YEARS documentary are focusing on the human element. The series uses celebrities as the lens to educate the audience through human stories and simple language. They find the real value in communicating climate change at an emotional level.

Years of Living Dangerously - Ian Somerhaler

There’s also a human component in experiencing the documentary. There's no need to watch YEARS alone from your couch. The YEARS team is promoting human interaction: from social sharing through millions of celebrity followers, to spurring community action , to providing tools to host your own “viewing party” and find groups to watch with in your neighborhood.

Ian tweetYears tweet

In order to get climate change into the mainstream conversation, we need to lean on people who have high visibility in the mainstream. The bold names extending their environmental passion to this documentary include: Jessica Alba, Matt Damon, Michael C. Hall, Don Cheadle, Olivia Munn, America Ferrera, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lesley Stahl, Thomas Friedman, Harrison Ford, Ian Somerhalder and Chris Hayes.

Because EDF is chock full of scientists and economists, I’d be shunned in the break room if I didn’t provide you with some statistics:

twitter stats

Take over 16 million followers x thousands of tweets, favorites and shares, and YEARS just gathered a massive mainstream audience around an important issue.

At EDF, we are especially proud to be featured in the Years of Living Dangerously documentary.  Our flagship fellowship program, EDF Climate Corps, is featured in the May 26th episode, as Jessica Alba follows three of our Climate Corps fellows through their summer internships working with Caesars, Office Depot and Texas Southern University to help those organizations find energy efficiencies and become more sustainable.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be introducing you to our Climate Corps fellows and the important work they do every year in hundreds of organizations. And yes, we’ll also be inserting ourselves into the mainstream conversation, so please feel free to tweet and share (#YEARSProject, @EDFBiz). Especially if you’re Jessica Alba …

Jessica Alba retweets EDF

 

Additional reading:

Craig K. Comstock of HuffPo says YEARS could be the 2014 version of The Day Afterhttp://huff.to/1eqyw0S

How YEARS came to EDF’s Eric Pooley with a great idea – http://bit.ly/1g3ujPm

Talking Green Freight

I recently had the opportunity to speak about leading corporate green freight practices on Talking Logistics—an online weekly talk show and blog. Talking Logistics is hosted by industry expert Adrian Gonzalez and is a venue for thought leaders and newsmakers to discuss the supply chain and logistics industry.

During this discussion, we spoke about the EDF 5 Principles for Greener Freight, the actions of large freight shippers, including Ocean Spray, Caterpillar, and Boise; and the importance of freight shippers adding their voice in support of strong truck efficiency standards.

You can watch the episode here:

Freight Sustainability Forum in Dallas Engages Leaders on Supply Chain Solutions

Developing tomorrow’s innovative sustainable supply chain strategies requires knowledge, collaborative spirit, and creative thinking. EDF is helping to integrate these elements into the transportation network by highlighting successful sustainability practices already employed by industry leaders.

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At a recent freight forum co-hosted by EDF, the Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, and the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, we learned about best practices for co-loading heavy and lightweight freight in a single container, funding opportunities available through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), and intermodal strategies in key corridors. The freight transportation stakeholders in attendance ranged from cargo owners with global supply chains to international logistics providers to regional business associations.

The overarching theme of the forum was that securing emissions reductions from freight transportation is achievable through operational changes, partnerships, funding availability, and technology improvements. While many within the freight transportation community know that opportunities exist to increase sustainability and efficiency within the supply chain, not everyone implements these best management practices. Whether you are a logistics provider in Mexico, a shipper based in Texas, a global carrier or another transportation stakeholder, you play an important role in greening our logistics.

EDF also plays an important role, with a long history of working with companies to help them find ways they can improve their supply chain sustainability and efficiency, with new partnerships kicking off in the coming months. This year, we are beginning a supply chain logistics pilot as part of our highly successful Climate Corps program. We are also working on a marine port environmental performance metrics program that will help recognize top performers and share best management practices to reduce emissions. Together, all of our efforts are helping improve efficiency, reduce emissions, save costs, and protect public health.

This forum served as a launchpad for great ideas and new programs and partnerships like Climate Corps logistics and port metrics. Next time, we can share your success story!

Seeing the Future through the New Trucks of Today

I was able to peer into the future of trucking the other day. Anyone who was in Louisville, Kentucky could see it. And there were a lot of us there – 75,000 people attended the Mid-America Trucking Show.

This annual event is the world’s largest heavy-duty trucking show. Over a thousand companies exhibit. Leading truck and equipment manufacturers introduce products and make major announcements. This year, a lot of the announcements and new products focused on improving fuel efficiency.

Jason_and_SuperTruck

The focus on fuel-efficiency was in part because fuel costs are the single largest component of owning and operating a truck – accounting for nearly 40% of total cost-per-mile. New, federal heavy-truck efficiency and emissions regulations that went into effect January 1st sharpen the industry’s focus on fuel-efficiency. Read more

Harnessing Innovation to Cut Methane Emissions

Murray_TomI believe that Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is at its best when we are leveraging the power of market leaders to drive innovation and solve environmental challenges.  Over the years we have worked with McDonalds, Walmart, FedEx, KKR and many others to kick start market transformations in sectors including fast food, shipping, retail, private equity and commercial building energy efficiency. Notable initiatives included slashing supply chain greenhouse gas emissions with Walmart, creating a market for hybrid trucks with FedEx, and launching an innovative business internship program to catalyze energy efficiency in business.Notable initiatives included slashing supply chain greenhouse gas emissions with Walmart, creating a market for hybrid trucks with FedEx, and launching an innovative business internship program to catalyze energy efficiency in business. Read more

Scaling Up to Save Water: Bringing our Water Efficiency Toolkit to 5 Thirsty U.S. Cities

This year, the focus of World Water Day is on how intertwined our energy and water use are, with water supplies across the country growing increasingly strained – in areas that depend on flows from the Colorado River, like California, for example – and demand for both freshwater and energy continuing to grow.

Former EDF Climate Corps fellow Jen Snook with an AT&T representative

Former EDF Climate Corps fellow Jen Snook with an AT&T representative

In the U.S., 36 states faced water shortages last summer, and the 2012 drought cost the U.S. an estimated $35 billion from crop losses and business interruptions. U.S. water prices have doubled or even tripled over the past dozen years, and rates are expected to continue to climb.

Water is a critical business issue as well, and not just for the agricultural and industrial sectors. Increasing droughts and water shortages are causing companies to pay more attention to their water use throughout their operations. In particular, when it comes to buildings, companies are learning that their water and energy use are closely connected. Read more

Methane Emissions Are Risky Business

benI came to Environmental Defense Fund from the management consulting world, and was fortunate to bring a couple of lessons with me. A simple one is that successful companies keep a finger on the pulse of the returns and risks in their industry and core businesses. The oil and gas industry has a growing risk on its hands, and that risk is methane emissions.

Study after scientific study has shown that methane emissions from oil and gas are a leading source of that powerful greenhouse gas. At more than 100x the climate impact of carbon dioxide when it is first released, methane is a supercharged contributor to climate change.

Methane escapes into the atmosphere from oil and gas production wells and associated equipment, gas compressors, and many other sources. Every ton of methane pollution is resources being wasted. Every ton contributes to an unstable climate in our lifetimes. Read more

Co-loading Your Way to Green

By Homayoun Taherian

As transportation costs continue to rise, many companies are searching for ways to reduce spending by looking beyond their supply chain boundaries and collaborating with like-minded peers.

This type of horizontal collaboration – sharing supply chain assets with competitors – is known as co-loading in the freight transportation domain. Co-loading allows multiple companies to share space on the same transportation vehicle. It’s like ride sharing for freight. Co-loading does not only help save on transportation costs, it reduces carbon emissions, wear on transportation infrastructures and air pollution, in turn, creating healthier living environments across the nation.

To better understand the significance of co-loading, we need to look at the traditional utilization of truck capacities in the US. According to various DOT statistics:
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  • 15-25% of all the miles traveled in the US by freight trucks are empty miles. That means the vehicle carries no load while traveling. These are due to empty backhauls and deadhead miles.
  • The utilization of the remaining 75-85% of the non-empty miles is on average 64%. Another way of looking at this is that we are leaving 36% of our capacity for moving freight on the table. Co-loading is a way to get the full value of each move – leading to an overall reduction in necessary trips. Read more