3 Options When Your Ship Is Sinking

Picture this. 190 people are on a sinking ship in the middle of the ocean. The bilge pump is broken. The captain announces that they are in mortal danger so all passengers – businessmen, politicians, scientists, academics, and others – agree to pitch in and help to bail the ship. They take a poll of how much each person is able to do and are excited to find that they can collectively bail 100 gallons of water a minute. Unfortunately, the boat is taking on 200 gallons a minute, so the boat will sink unless they double their efforts. What should they do? You have three 3 options when your ship is sinking. Read More

Wisdom from Kindergarten for a Future-Fit, Sustainable Life

Bob Willard Sustainability Champion Many years ago, I read Robert Fulghum's humorous collection, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, published in 1988. These days, I am co-authoring the Future-Fit Business Benchmark with Geoff Kendall. Public Draft 2.0 will be released shortly. As part of that work, we have been wrestling with the science-based social system conditions for a healthy, resilient human society on our finite planet. We are rediscovering truth. Fulghum is an insightful, humorous story teller. Here are his 16 maxims to live by that he learned in kindergarten. Read More

Future-Fit Companies Require Future-Fit Boards

future fit boards and sustainability (This blog by Geoff Kendall and Helle Bank Jorgensen was originally posted to the Sustainable Brands website on March 9, 2015, entitled “What Makes a Board Fit for the Future?” It is reposted here with permission. In the interest of full disclosure, and as the blog references below, Geoff and I are working together on the Future-Fit Business Benchmark. Bob)
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Unburnable Fossil Fuels Necessitate Zero-Carbon Goals

stopping fossil fuel depletion In their article in the January 2015 of Nature magazine, "The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2°C," Christophe McGlade and Paul Ekins confirm our global carbon budget. They quantify unburnable fossil fuels both globally and regionally. The writing is on the wall. To prepare for an inevitable low-carbon future, smart companies will integrate zero-carbon goals into their business models. The authors estimate that there are 11,000 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2) trapped in known fossil-fuel resources in the world. By 2050, we can only add about another 1,100 Gt CO2 to the atmosphere before we exceed a 2ºC rise in the average global temperature above pre-industrial levels. That is the upper limit beyond which climate scientists and policy makers unanimously agree that there is at least a 50% chance of catastrophic and irreversible global climate destabilization. That means that 90% of the CO2 that is trapped in worldwide fossil resources must stay in the ground as stranded assets. Read More

Sustainability – Announcing the Future-Fit Business Benchmark

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Ta-dah! As promised in my last blog, Public Draft 1.0 of the Future-Fit Business Benchmark is now available for use and feedback. This free, open-source resource defines science-based, aspirational, sustainability goals for a company that desires to be fit for the future on a scarcer, more crowded, and hotter planet. We invite your feedback on the goals and your ideas on appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs) by which to assess progress toward each goal. To recap, here is the what, why, who, how, and when of the Future-Fit Business Benchmark. Read More

Future-Fit Business Benchmark… It’s Time

Climate destabilization It's time for a Future-Fit Business Benchmark. The reality of planetary boundaries presents one of the most daunting challenges of the twenty-first century. We are damaging the carrying capacity of the planet faster than it can repair itself. We are exceeding planetary boundaries. We are denying our nested interdependencies. For the first time in human history, the future of a healthy resilient human society is in question. This is not sustainable, neither for society nor for business. Read More

Frankly, a Low-Carbon Economy Creates Jobs and Growth

low carbon economy Harper was refreshingly frank recently. As reported in the Globe and Mail, he used a June 9 joint news conference with visiting Australian Prime Minister Abbot to declare, “No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country. We are just a little more frank about that. … It’s not that we don’t seek to deal with climate change, but we seek to deal with it in a way that will protect and enhance our ability to create jobs and growth, not destroy jobs and growth. Frankly, every single country in the world feels the same way.” Read More

7 Ways to Get Credible and Stay Credible

credibility in sustainability sector In The Sustainability Champion’s Guidebook, I explain seven leadership practices used by successful change agents. They are all important, but the one that tops them all is “Get Credible; Stay Credible.” Leadership gurus Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner agree. After writing their landmark book, The Leadership Challenge, they wrote Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, and Why People Demand It. Without credibility, leaders are not trustworthy. Based on my years of leadership experience and hundreds of books and articles by sustainability leaders, here are 7 ways to become, and stay, a credible sustainable champion. Read More

7 Bold Strokes to Avoid Climate Destabilization

united nations climate change summit What would we expect governments to commit to at the 21st United Nations climate summit in Paris in December 2015 if they are serious about avoiding climate destabilization? In this blog post, we'll discuss 7 bold strokes they could and should consider. Let’s suppose they take April’s last-chance-before-it’s-too-late IPCC report seriously. Let’s suppose they act on the Pentagon’s warning that climate change is a bigger threat to national security than terrorism. Read More

Pay Employees at Least a Fair Living Wage

fair wage Here is another breakthrough corporate CSR idea; How about paying employees at least a fair living wage? My last blog suggested A Wild and Crazy Corporate CSR Idea: Pay Your Taxes. At the risk of being overly innovative by simply stating the obvious, I humbly suggest a second breakthrough corporate social responsibility (CSR) program: pay all employees at least a Living Wage. Otherwise, corporations may be setting themselves up for public embarrassment, like the report that went viral last October about how McDonald’s US pays its workers below-poverty-line wages while its “McResource” employee help line encourages them to use food stamps and government assistance to make ends meet. That is, McDonald’s wants the government (a.k.a. tax-paying citizens) to top up their paltry workers’ wages. Awkward. McDonald’s has since discontinued its McResource. Read More