How Can We Accelerate the Transition to a Circular Economy?
How can we harness the power of business to resolve our economic, environmental, and social challenges? There are opportunities to profoundly change our economy, serve our community and safeguard our environment. The circular economy model is regenerative by design and requires us to rethink what we buy and how we use, reuse, reuse, repurpose and then finally if absolutely necessary recycle any item.
What Can We Do Now?
While some of these circular economy concepts are being applied across the world, there remain many legislative gaps and technological barriers to global implementation. In the short to medium term, the linear economy will remain prevalent. In the meantime, the following actions have been identified as important steps towards the transition to a circular economy:
London & Abu Dhabi, 17th April 2019
Abu Dhabi, 17 April, 2019: We are proud to announce that Sustainability to Action will lead the Natural Capital Coalition Regional Platform in the UAE. The launch of the UAE Regional Platform is taking place today, 17 April 2019, during the Fifth Annual Abu Dhabi Sustainable Business Leadership Forum 2019, which is held by the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Group in the capital city Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Speaking at the event, Sandra Anani, Director Sustainability to Action said: “Natural capital is about the assets that nature provides us for free. Valuing natural capital means we can understand the role of the environment as the key input into our economy. We are proud to work with the Natural Capital Coalition in the UAE to help organisations measure and value their impacts and dependencies on natural capital.
The Natural Capital Protocol provides a framework for businesses to identify, measure and value their direct and indirect impacts and dependencies on natural capital and we look forward to sharing knowledge and practical know-how through the Natural Capital Coalition Regional Platform in UAE”.
The UAE joins a global network including USA, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Spain and Colombia.
Natural Capital Coalition
The Natural Capital Coalition is an international collaboration that unites the global natural capital community.
The Coalition is made up of almost 300 organisations (and engages many thousands more) who together represent all parts of society and span the global economy. Coalition organisations have united under a common vision of a world that conserves and enhances natural capital.
The Coalition is working to develop and encourage an international ‘enabling environment’ for natural capital approaches. This environment will cultivate the climate necessary to support the transition to a society in which the natural capital approach is an integral part of public and private decision-making.
A Regional Platform is a collaboration of interested parties coming together at a national, sub-national, regional or local level to advance natural capital thinking.
Regional Platforms connect leaders and leading initiatives to ensure that the right people are communicating across the system, and will provide a space for geographic and context- speciﬁc challenges and opportunities to be discussed among stakeholders.
The work and conversations taking place in the Platforms will be fed back to the global Coalition, to inform their collective, global strategy and inspire the international community.
Mark Gough, Executive Director, Natural Capital Coalition commented, “We are delighted that Sustainability to Action will lead the UAE platform for the Natural Capital Coalition. Platforms like this one will serve to bring natural capital thinking into practice all around the world, and strengthen its relevance across different contexts. We have greatly enjoyed working with businesses in the region throughout the past year, and I am extremely happy to see this evolve and grow with the collaboration with Sustainability to Action."
Sustainability to Action & the UAE Natural Capital Platform
Our objective is to:
About Sustainability to Action
Sustainability to Action (STA) is a group of consultants and associates based in Abu Dhabi and the UK who are experts in business responsibility in the areas of sustainability, corporate responsibility, materiality, stakeholder engagement, communications and behaviour change through social engagement.
STA’s team work with stakeholders to embed and integrate responsible business practices in organisations by providing insight and consultancy services, training, coach-mentoring and thought leadership.
For more information, please contact:
Sustainability to Action Communications Oﬃce
For further information on the Natural Capital Coalition visit: www.naturalcapitalcoalition.org
Invitation to join the UAE Natural Capital Platform
This network is aimed at decision makers within UAE businesses, government bodies, science & academia, NGOs and membership organisations
It will consist of:
With a global climate change agreement that has been signed by 95% of the world’s governments, many companies are now thinking about how they can operate and continue to grow while cutting their environmental impacts in line with the new climate goals.
The United Arab Emirates has published its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) (click here to see the full document) The UAE’s actions are based on a strategy of economic diversification that will yield mitigation and adaptation co-benefits. To achieve these commitments, the UAE is dedicated to pursue a portfolio of actions, including an increase of clean energy to 24% of the total energy mix by 2021.
The UAE’s goals for national development are set in the Vision 2021, in alignment with the National Innovation Strategy, provides a roadmap for economic growth and social development rooted in sustainable initiatives and development supported by a knowledge-based competitive economy.
It is clear that the focus of business must now shift from awareness and good intentions to active implementation to support the Government, whether that includes funding for new product innovation or supporting the roll out for projects and plans for sustainable development.
Initiatives highlighted in the COP21 agreement, estimated to cost $16.5tn by 2030 by the International Energy Agency, may be a useful tool for companies by providing guidance for planning growth, assessing product portfolios, manage innovation development, redefine how companies measure their performance and review programs and processes needed to make the paradigm shift to a more sustainable future.
UAE Energy and Water Efficiency
The UAE has developed and continues to work on comprehensive policies to reduce energy and water consumption while promoting efficient use of resources through multiple channels, including:
Some of the key points that were raised throughout the COP21 from the private sector perspective included the following:
The impact of global warming
Naturally, when we consider any organisation, it will have a supply chain and that may well be directly impacted by climate change. This is an issue that needs to be addressed through scenario planning and an assessment of climate change impact on the suppliers' regions is required if business continues as usual or regulation intervenes.
The cost of climate change
Climate change impacts and mitigation highlight several potentail scenarios, including water scarcity, rise in temperatures and rise in sea level, all of which will have an economic impact. These financial costs will require new financing models to help address the challenges adequately. Awareness, knowledge and advance accounting for these costs will give companies a greater chance for success and allow for stability in an unpredictable future.
Importance of employee awareness about how climate change links to their company
Now, more than ever before, it is critical for employees to understand how their business has a direct impact on climate change and what role they can play to reduce impacts and drive positive change.
For support with sustainability strategies, processes, reporting and communications, contact us at Sustainability to Action to support you in making the shift to a more sustainable future: firstname.lastname@example.org
More information click here
Looking after your people is essential in any successful organisation. That's the key function required from management.
Employee development is one of the most important ways to drive productivity in the workplace. Well-trained employees will not only work efficiently but they armoire empowered and generally happier at work. Employee development should be designed to fit in with both your organisation’s needs and your employees’ preferences. By aligning training with both your business’ and your employees’ needs, you can successfully organise and implement an effective employee training program. Not only will you drive productivity in the department being trained but you will find your whole business inspired and motivated to motor ahead.
There are essentially two learning methods that allow adults to become better equipped with dealing with their future work life; learning facts and process learning. To increase the performance of the company it is important to choose the training method that gives the desired results for the individual, while giving the best benefits for the company.
Which methods and techniques to be used depend on the skills that employees need to develop. Fact based learning is appropriate when employees need to gain theoretical knowledge in a certain subject, for example increased factual knowledge of a task, increased industry expertise or a better knowledge about the company. When employees need to develop a more efficient work pattern or improve behaviour or performance, process learning is a better option.
Formal and informal learning
Learning can be divided in formal and informal learning. Formal learning usually means that external or internal trainers are hired to conduct a training course. The training can be carried out in house or outside the company where employees have the chance to meet people from other companies. Training can be conducted in groups via meetings, remotely via the web or a mix of the two. Informal learning means all learning that takes place during work projects, discussions, meetings etc.
How to increase the performance of each employee
Many employees have extensive experience in their area of work but their performance may not be as good as it could be. Alternatively, they perform well but they have the potential to perform even better. The longer a person works for a company, the more knowledge they get and the more they should be able to perform.
Low or average performance may occur due to several reasons. To increase the performance of employees a short training course is usually sufficient. However, even though a course might have the immediate effect of increasing the knowledge, improvement in performance is a process that needs more time. The employee will need time to test the new knowledge that has been gained and thereafter performance can be improved.
As a manager, you have a big responsibility to develop both you and your employees and create a successful team. Therefore, it is not always the best solution to send an employee on training for a few days and assume that will be sufficient in order to increase the employee performance. Often training is tremendously good and rewarding - while you are in the classroom. But what happens after the training? When you are back at work and as time goes by the new knowledge will fade and your high aspirations to change decreases when the workload is high.
Here are some tips to help you get the best results from increased employee performance:
Use experiential learning rather than theory. This type of learning is based on the employee's own experiences and on what the person feels she needs development in. When learning starts from the employee's own level, the employee will find her own opportunities for learning and development.
Problem-oriented rather than subject-oriented learning. Think about which concrete problems need to be solved. Instead of just sending someone on a course, analyse the problem and the solution needed.
This means developing the employee’s skills through learning based on problems at work, rather than following a pre-established pattern.
Formulate a concrete development plan with the aim of improving performance.
The employee is responsible for the development results, but the responsibility for driving the development process itself should be the manager.
Blog written by: Erika Lindholm
Some stress management tips for better work-life balance, from our recent Twitter Chat #STAIWD #IWD2016
Blog written by Erika Lindholm, all artwork credited to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
In our current economic system, the linear economic system, we extract resources from our planet at an ever-increasing pace, and turn them into a product that we mostly dispose after use. From the perspective of an individual or organization, that seems efficient. However, zooming out to a global level shows how unsustainable this approach is. The circular economy is a redesign of this future, where industrial systems are restorative and regenerative by intention and design.
A circular economy reflects the natural systems in which waste from one process becomes nourishment to another. Materials circulating in distinct streams - the biological, in which the materials are designed to be able to return to the biosphere without causing damage, and technical, in which the materials are designed to circulate while maintaining quality in order to become nourishment for industrial processes. The cleaner these flows and the higher the quality of the materials is when they circulate, the more value is retained in the economic system.
Principles of circular economy
Two distinct cycles: biological and technical. Starting from the idea that all materials will be included in a biological and technical cycle Ellen MacArthur Foundation developed a schematic overview of how the circular economy can function (picture below).
On the left side of the figure: Clean biological material returns to the biosphere without doing harm, as biological nutrients that help to restore natural resources. This is done by composting or by anaerobic digestion for production of biogas and fertilizers. Production based biological material means new withdrawals from the biosphere. Materials become nutrition that becomes new materials, in an eternal cycle. Another possibility is to extend the life of the biological materials in a way that they are designed to be used in several different products following one another, before returning to the biosphere. For example, cotton clothing used as upholstery and then as insulation before the material is returned to the biosphere.
On the right side of the figure: Clean and defined technical materials (such as metals and polymers) are kept in circulation as nutrients for industrial processes in the techno sphere. In the outer circle (recycle) recycling of materials is done in ways that ensure materials do not lose in quality and can be returned to production, over and over again. Much of today's recovery is downcycling, a sort recycling where materials are not designed to be recycled, which means that they lose the quality of every recovery cycle. In the circular vision all technical materials are designed for upcycling, meaning that the materials circulating maintain their quality - and thereby their economic value, regardless of the number of cycles.
A core principle to maintain the value of the materials and create economic opportunities in the circular economy is that the closer you can get to the innermost circles of the direct re-use, the greater the savings because the need for new raw material is reduced and less energy is needed for transport and processing of materials.
The circle inside the recovery is about re-manufacturing, meaning that manufacturers take back the products to a remanufacturing facility to replace worn-out parts and refurbish parts that can be reused. The products are then reintroduced on the market with renewed warranty but at a lower price than newly manufactured counterparts. This is done today for example in the automotive industry with good profit margins.
Innovative business models
In the two innermost circles (reuse / redistribute and maintenance) the value-creating principle is that the longer the products and components can be circulated "as they are", the lower the cost of materials, labour and energy. These include re-distribution models (such as various types of second-hand markets) and innovative business models based on rental, subscription and sharing of products. The latter type of circular business models comes from the idea that access to a product in many cases is the most important factor, not necessarily to own it. Companies would then sell the product as a service, rather than the product itself. In this context, it is more relevant to speak of users rather than consumers.
It is also important to design products so that they last long and is upgradable to work for several consecutive users (reuse) or, with the help of the maintenance / service can stay with a single user for a long time (maintenance). In these business models, the principle is that if the product can serve as many customers as possible and for as long as possible it provides more profit per unit.
Design of circular economy
A prerequisite for the breakdown in a biological and technical cycle to work is that products, components and materials are designed for circular economy, which is in a horizontal plane is about "designing out waste".
Biological materials need to be as clean as not to cause injury when they return to the biosphere and technical materials need to be designed so that they can be recycled without loss of quality for each cycle. In addition, products need to be designed for disassembly. This means that the products must be easy to dismantle and composite materials should be avoided. Certain types of product should be modular and built with replaceable parts so that repair / update can easily be done instead of replacing the whole product. Products affected by rapid technological development should be designed for upgrading (preferably software-rate), not to prevent development.
We would love to hear your thought and responses about the #CircularEconomy please comment and share with us!
Sustainability communications is important because it enables dialogue and engagement between organisations and their stakeholders. Often, this communication can take different approaches, using multiple platforms with many organisations producing regular sustainability reports to share performance with stakeholders on material issues promoting transparency as a way to manage and operate their business.
In recent years, we have seen organisations and companies increasingly integrating sustainability into their value chains and reflecting triple bottom line accounting into their corporate governance. When companies are truly incorporating sustainability into their decision making top down and bottom up, then reporting on this scale should go beyond just transparency, and sustainability reports should provide those organisations with a wealth of data as a tool to help them in becoming more effective and efficient. Sustainability reporting comes into its own element here, adding real value and helping organisations, their stakeholders and communities to reap the true benefits of sharing sustainability performance data and information.
One of the issues can be producing reports that fail to connect with a broad range of stakeholders and audience. Readers seek specific information in sustainability reports, depending on their needs. Sustainability reports should be designed in a way that allow flexibility and access to in depth details, avoiding generic, broad statements and information that doesn't provide the required level of disclosure and information.
Sustainability reports already contain a wealth of information. However, many stakeholders don’t have the time to sift through all the information to find what matters to them which presents an opportunity to review how the reports are being used and what information is most important to users.
Once you start planning your sustainability report, you can review the option that are available to you about how you present and provide the information in your sustainability report in a format and size that suits your stakeholders and readers, this can include: blog posts, info-graphics, informative tweets, presentation slides, mini-briefings, webinar presentations.
These are some of the ideas that you can explore to present your sustainability achievements, challenges and progress, please contact the Sustainability to Action team for more ideas and to support you in getting your sustainability messages out.
It's a new year ahead, 2015, with promise of new opportunities. So why not take this chance to make a better furuture as you make all your other plans. We share with you here some quick and easy steps that you can use and share with colleagues, friends and family. You can start with:
Good luck as you get involved and take the lead!
While science evolves, the overwhelming consensus among scientists is that climate change is manmade. The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference which took place in 2009 raised climate change policy to the highest political level with 115 world leaders in attendance. The question of a worldwide climate deal has been up in the air since talks fell apart at the 2009 UN conference in Copenhagen, and that was the last time that engagement at such a high level took place. Click here for details about this Conference.
The latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change highlighted the acceleration of global warming and its effects. Despite strong involvement of the European Union and France in post-Kyoto negotiations, as well as agreed-upon concrete commitments, it is evident that government efforts alone will not singlehandedly prevent climate change. To achieve this, it is important to involve all stakeholders such as: national governments, businesses, financial institutions, scientists, civil society and private citizens.
The next Climate Change Conference will be in Lima, Peru in December this year. Most view this upcoming COP as an opportunity to pave the way to signing a new treaty : Click here to access documents and the agenda for this upcoming COP.
The most important sustainability question centres around how we can we sustain human life, economic prosperity and support developing countries without pushing dangerous levels of Green House Gas emissions. Many argue that this is indeed the greatest challenge for humanity in this century.
What is needed is an agreement that will be effective and put the world on a pathway towards a decarbonised future, most likely to take place at the Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015.
It is encouraging to see that a number of events took place in recent months which indicate serious intention and political will, creating momentum behind action towards managing climate change. Those events include:
1- UN Climate Summit 2014 in September 2014
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to Climate Summit 2014 this 23 September to galvanise and catalyse climate action.
The original concept was to use this event as an opportunity to bring together the eaters of China and the US as well as the G8 leaders to commit to negotiations and invest in capital to ensure real momentum is gained as we head into paris later this year. The Summit brought together 130 governments who collectively made a concerted effort towards global action on climate change.
2- EU 2030 Package
EU leaders agreed on 23 October 2014 the domestic 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target of at least 40% compared to 1990 together with the other main building blocks of the 2030 policy framework for climate and energy, as proposed by the European Commission in January 2014.
This 2030 policy framework aims to make the European Union's economy and energy system more competitive, secure and sustainable and also sets a target of at least 27% for renewable energy and energy savings by 2030.agreement signed china and us to reduce emissions by 20% and china also agreed to peak and reduce emissions by 2030
3- World Summit of Regions for Climate
Chaired by Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Governor of California and Founder of non-profit organisation, R20, this summit brought together regions and local governments from across five continents, as well as economic leaders, in order to formulate a new international agreement on climate change.
The summit ended with concrete commitments for sustainable development, by signing the Paris Declaration – a real road map for the United Nations conference on climate change (COP21) that will take place in Paris in 2015. The Summit closed with a signing ceremony involving six networks of cities and regions who commit to the Paris Declaration.
These are all positive indicators towards a tangible global agreement on climate change, the challenge is to ensure that concrete outcomes emerge.
Reported by Erika Lindholm and Sandra Anani
"Energy management" is a term that has multiple meanings, but mainly it relates to conserving energy in various organisations as well as private homes. When it comes to energy saving, energy management is concerned specifically with the process of monitoring, controlling and conserving energy in a building, or potentially within an organisation .
With carbon emissions from buildings accounting for a significant proportion of emissions, it is increasingly evident that large savings can be made through effective energy management. Taking the lead on such sustainability matters can play a key role in the success of any business. Not only does effective energy management help companies to save on significant energy costs, it also helps drive their sustainability program and their reputation. Moreover, it helps to conserve the environment by reducing the organisation’s carbon footprint.
Here are three simple steps that can help your organisation to manage energy more effectively and efficiently:
1- Senior management commitment
Without the support of senior managers, energy management will be difficult to launch and embed.
2- Developing an energy policy
An energy policy is a written statement of senior management's commitment to managing energy and its environmental impacts. Sometimes, it can be part of a wider organisational sustainability policy.
3- Launching an energy strategy
An energy strategy is a working document setting out how energy will be managed in an organisation. It should include a plan and involve a review of the current status as a benchmark.
You can access more information by clicking here for the Middle East Energy Institute.
From a practical point of view, you can seek opportunities to save energy; the first step is data collection. Start to measure by ensuring accurate metering is in place in all areas of operation and isolate them. This includes buildings, data centres, production, transportation etc. The second step, looking for opportunities, is to identify how much energy each area consumes and how energy can be saved. When collecting the information it can be difficult to get complete data sets of information for all areas, that is why it is important to focus on the larger areas which have a significant impact and are metered accurately, rather than smaller areas which may not have adequate metering. The last step is developing an action plan that targets the opportunities which have been identified. As always, a p,an, do,check, review approach should be followed to ensure your energy saving aspirations are realised.
New buildings are being designed to more stringent standards through various regulations and guidelines such as the required local planning permissions and requirements, e.g. Part L of the UK Building Regulations (which focuses on conservation of fuel and power), and the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council’s Pearl Rating. However, generally speaking a large proportion of existing building and infrastructure will exist well into the future and it is clear that energy use in these buildings must be fully addressed as well. New energy management standards such as ISO 50001 can also be helpful and offer a wealth of information and guidance.
By conducting an energy breakdown and identifying the main areas for improvement a company can develop an energy forecasting mechanism that will help in for seeing future energy needs and set future energy/carbon targets.
An effective energy management cycle has short-term and long-term benefits for any organisation. It improves performance and productivity and ensures that these are sustainable over time. More importantly, it helps to conserve scarce resources and reduces climate change impacts.
Get in touch with STA to find out more by email: email@example.com
Sandra Anani is passionate about sustainability, with over 19 years’ experience. She has dedicated her career to sustainable development and communications.