Archive for June, 2012

More than Business as Usual

Posted by Ken on June 27, 2012
Posted under Express 169

Rio+20 is over and, as expected, it has produced a flurry of words and good intentions. But hopefully there are continued commitments from countries and companies to keep their word and do more for the good of the planet. Many wonder whether these big global events are all they are cracked up to be. Maybe just as much can be achieved by regional events. Look at Impact Forum in Singapore with its focus on social enterprise and sustainable development. Look at Singapore International Water Week – from 1 July – with its associated events, World Cities Summit and CleanEnviro Summit. These amount to much more than words. They bring people together with ideas, products, programmes and services. They mean business.  Read More

More than Business as Usual

Rio+20 is over and, as expected, it has produced a flurry of words and good intentions. But hopefully there are continued commitments from countries and companies to keep their word and do more for the good of the planet. Many wonder whether these big global events are all they are cracked up to be. Maybe just as much can be achieved by regional events. Look at Impact Forum in Singapore with its focus on social enterprise and sustainable development. Look at Singapore International Water Week – from 1 July – with its associated events, World Cities Summit and CleanEnviro Summit. These amount to much more than words. They bring people together with ideas, products, programmes and services. They mean business. We can only reiterate that unless businesses around the world – including NGOs with a business-like approach – adopt sustainability as their mantra and commit to doing good as well as making money, we will continue to see a greater divide between rich and poor and all the dire predictions of climate change will be a reality sooner than later. So there is a lot banking on business. And we can only hope that leaders of countries will continue to not only protect the environment but foster an environment where business is encouraged to invest in green growth, clean energy, energy efficiency and sustainable development. As The Economist concluded in a recent article:  “Green growth offers the best hope that the countries facing the sharpest conflicts between prosperity and preserving the environment can square the circle.” There is – in our book – a sustainable business model. It makes perfect business sense. Many companies get it as they can see that the bottom line benefits. May green growth and sustainable development flourish.- Ken Hickson

Profile: Durreen Shahnaz

Posted by Ken on June 27, 2012
Posted under Express 169

By helping Social Enterprises in Asia gain access to capital, Durreen Shahnaz believes it will help them play a greater role in the global fight against climate change. Through Impact Forum and the planned “social enterprise stock exchange”, IIX and Shujog see that a challenge of this scale can only be tackled with the understanding of the intrinsic link between societies and their natural environment. Read More

By Forbes (29 April 2012):

Singapore’s Social Enterprise Stock Exchange to Launch Soon

For impact investors and social enterprises looking for ways to link up, the ultimate dream is to have a stock exchange aimed solely at mission-driven companies.

That’s a difficult feat to pull off, to put it mildly. You need a critical mass of investors and stock-exchange ready companies, not to mention the wherewithal to meet all manner of red tape and regulatory hurdles, as well as establish the technology capable of supporting the venture.

But such an exchange is well underway in Singapore.

It’s the brainchild of Durreen Shahnaz, a former social entrepreneur and banker. About a year ago, she launched Impact Partners, a private marketplace that connects accredited investors with social enterprises making $5 million or less in revenues looking to raise $1 million to $7 million; the median is $2 million.  The venture has raised about $70 million of capital, lists about a dozen companies, and has about 140 investors, with four or five more signing up every week, according to Shahnaz.

Impact Partners, however, was part of a larger plan to form a public stock exchange for social enterprises called Impact Investment Exchange Asia, or IIXA. And  Shahnaz says she plans to launch it officially at a forum to be held June 25 to 26 in Singapore called Igniting Capital Markets for Social Good.  That, in itself, is an ambitious event, with Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Obama administration’s Office of Social Innovation, as the key note speaker.

Because Singapore regulators insist that the exchange not be open to retail, it will be for accredited investors only, at least initially. But companies will have to meet social, as well as financial, parameters, with general listing criteria such as having a social and/or environmental goal as their main focus and regularly publishing assessments of their social impact. Trading will take place online through a partnership with PhillipCapital Group, the largest brokerage firm in Southeast Asia, according to Shahnaz.  As she puts it: “We’re taking their existing platform and white labelling it into our own exchange.”

Still, don’t expect this to be up and running July 1. The launch is more an announcement that the IIX will be open for business soon. For example, there aren’t any companies actually listed yet, although Shahnaz expects some of the investors involved in Impact Partners will migrate to IIX. “This is about opening IIX up to the world,” says Shahnaz.

In the meantime, Impact Partners will continue to provide fuel for IIX. According to Shahnaz, many of the social enterprises that want to participate in the private marketplace need a lot of help before they’re ready for prime time. Many are firmly founded on admirable ideals, with less grounding in financial rigor. So, there’s a lot of work on financials and business plans.

More important, Shahnaz is developing a pipeline, of sorts. Recently, she teamed up with a former Silicon Valley entrepreneur who, after selling his company, moved to Singapore and is looking to give back. Now, she regularly pitches companies–mostly technology startups with, say, systems for water purification or for providing energy to rural areas that are off the grid– to him to receive seed funding.  Then, once those companies are ready for their next rounds of funding, Shahnaz hopes they can  move to the private marketplace and, after that, perhaps the public stock exchange.

“In the U.S., there’s this whole ecosystem where there’s venture capital funding and a system through which organizations can grow,” she says. “That’s what we’re trying to do here.”

IIX and Impact Partners aren’t the only marketplaces out there aimed at social enterprise. For example, there’s Social Venture Exchange in Ontario, which links accredited investors with companies making $100,00 to $25 million in revenues. Founder Adam Spence hopes to turn that into a public exchange eventually. Similarly, Mission Markets in New York aims to build a hub linking stock exchanges globally. And there’s been an effort underway in London for several years to build a regular, retail social stock exchange.

Still, IIX seems to be the furthest along. And, for Shahnaz, even if there’s still a ways to go in getting the exchange up and running, just making it this far means a lot for the future of impact investing and social enterprise. “It has done a tremendous amount for creating a social capital marketplace,” she says.



IIX & Shujog

To share our pioneering achievements thus far, IIX and Shujog are hosting the biggest Impact Forum to date in Singapore on June 25 and 26. The event will coincide with the launch of Impact Exchange – Asia’s first social stock exchange.

A global conference focusing on the latest developments in Impact Investing and Social Enterprise in Asia Pacific, Impact Forum will bring together Impact Investors, Social Entrepreneurs, academics, high government officials and Ecosystem Partners from across the globe and provide a unique opportunity for learning, engaging, and deepening relationships across the Impact Investing and Social Enterprise spaces.

Social enterprise and climate change

Even with rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, changes in the climate system will continue to unfold over the coming decades. The scientific community has established that the poorest regions will be the most severely affected. Owing to rapid economic growth, developing countries are also likely to become the next biggest contributors to global warming.

For many companies, the risks associated with climate change will be enough to drive action. For others, opportunities for current or future business activities will be an added incentive, but this hasn’t necessarily been beneficial to the most vulnerable populations. For Social Enterprises (SEs), this means sizing up the market opportunities and finding innovative ways to help those most in need.

SEs do not tackle climate change in a ‘silo’. There are two main ways in which SEs play a role in the fight against climate change, while creating positive social impact. First, SEs help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by bringing low carbon energy sources to the disadvantaged population and by encouraging sustainable farming practices. Some SEs help preserve forests as livelihood and ‘carbon sinks’ while others help to change the behaviours or locals and encouraging energy conservation.

Second, SEs help the most disadvantage populations adapt to the impacts of climate change. SEs are closest to the local challenges and can bring about innovative, affordable and much needed services such as flood defence, weather resilient crops, healthcare and micro-insurance instruments to help farmers cope with changing weather patterns.

A recent report from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) estimated that the global cost of adaptation could range from USD 49 to 171 billion per year globally. So far, most private sector efforts have been initiated by large corporations. By helping SEs in Asia gain access to capital, IIX and Shujog plan to help them play a greater role in the global fight against climate change. IIX and Shujog believe a challenge of this scale can only be tackled with the understanding of the intrinsic link between societies and their natural environment.


Online Platforms Link Impact Investors and Triple Bottom Line Companies

Social stock exchanges and match-making services aim to address a gap in a growing market.

By Anne Field for Cisco (12 March 2012):

On the one hand, there’s a burgeoning interest in a brand-new asset class. Called impact investing, it focuses on for-profit companies with a social mission. Enterprises from J.P. Morgan Chase to the Rockefeller Foundation, which estimate the market could grow to as much as $1 trillion over the next 10 years, have been trying to develop the area for several years now. And, by some accounts, there are thousands of so-called double- and- triple- bottom- line companies–businesses with a financial, social and /or environmental mission – – in operation worldwide.

On the other, however, matching impact investors with social enterprises – – another term for these companies – – is another matter entirely. There have been few effective platforms for linking up the two sides. (Social enterprises include anything from companies selling wind farm technology to organizations providing micro-finance to villagers in India.)

That is, until now. Recently, a growing number of efforts, from London to Singapore to New York, have sprung up to address that gap, many incorporating online systems into their platforms. “It’s social technology for social change,” says Adam Spence, founder of the Social Venture Exchange (SVX), a Toronto-based platform aiming to launch later this year. “Technology is the enabler.”

Closer to becoming a reality is Impact Investment Exchange Asia , better known as IIX. It started about a year ago, when social entrepreneur Durreen Shahnaz launched a private online marketplace in Singapore with the intention of using it as a stepping stone to creating a public exchange. Called Impact Partners, so far it’s raised $70 million of capital, listing 12 social enterprises with $5 million or under in revenues raising $1 million to $6 million , and “more than 100 in the pipeline,” according to Shahnaz, and more than 120 investors. “It’s allowed us to get our feet wet,” she says.

But later this year, she plans to launch IIX as a public exchange through which actual trading will happen online. IIX is working with an exchange partner that has an already up and running platform it can leverage. Due to regulatory restrictions in Singapore, the exchange will be open only to accredited investors initially. But, eventually, according to Shahnaz, once it’s a proven concern, the platform will be opened up to the general public. Says Shahnaz: “This represents a fundamental step in a big, global movement.”



Social enterprises need to create success yardstick

Measurement model has to balance flexibility and standardisation

By Timothy Loh for The Business Times (26 June 2012):

As social entrepreneurship gains traction in Asia, one issue that keeps popping up is that of assessing social impact. Unlike traditional business concerned only with financial return, social enterprises (SEs) seek double or triple bottom-line returns, which are not easy to quantify.

According to speakers at Impact Forum 2012, the onus is on the SE sector to create a culturally relevant model of measuring SE success that finds the balance between flexibility and standardisation.

“As we started looking at it, we found there were issues and concerns that were very much (part) of impact measurement in the West, which really were not relevant here in Asia,” said Durreen Shahnaz, co-founder of Impact Investment Exchange Asia and Shujog.

And such a model is needed here, because investors in the region are “much more critical (than those in the West) in terms of the SEs and how they should perform:, she added, something that Shujog found “sobering”.

For one, Asian investors tend to be more qualitative.

She said: “They want something simple, to the effect of ‘Give us a number, or give us one indication if we should invest in this or not’.”

Another issue is sorting out the balance between flexibility and standardisation.

On one hand, because different SEs tend to serve different communities, all of which have unique needs, impact assessment has to take a flexible approach. On the other hand, without a standardised tool, there will be no basis for comparison between different SEs.

Currently, many success measurement models exist. For example, Impact Finance Management, of which Fabio Malanchini is the managing director, has its Kharmax Impact Monitoring System, which divides the indicators that it uses into general, sector-specific and project-specific.

The challenge ahead is to come up with a unified standard for social impact assessment in the region, an effort would take both time and money, the panel cautioned.

“The Generally Accepted Accounting Principle (GAAP) took 50 years to come to where it is today, and we’re just starting on the social side,” said Ms Shahnaz. She is optimistic about the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS), created by the Global Impact Investing Network. It marked the first time that an accounting principle was created for the social sector.

It is also important to invest funds to come up with an assessment model, said Sanjay Sinha, managing director of Micro Credit Ratings International.

Laura Callanan, consultant and head for Social Impact Initiative at McKinsey & Company, advocated a learning-based approach as the SE sector moves forward in creating a unified model for social impact assessment.

The model for social impact assessment is also being created in the hope of bringing retail investors, not just institutional investors, into supporting the SE sector.

It has to be easy to understand, and “good enough to allow people to communicate their financial results across the world”, concluded Jeremy Nicholls, CEO of the Social Return on Investment Network.



With much pride I read the front page article in the International Herald Tribune recently about Bangladesh, which was once known as a land of disaster is now known as a land of success. Yes, my country still has its share of problems and hurdles, but the tireless work of many NGOs coupled with effective public policies and private sector initiatives has resulted in the country being a front runner in sustainable development and women’s advancement in South Asia.

This pride of mine spills over to the fantastic work that Social Enterprises are doing across Asia and the role impact investing is playing in helping them grow. Many of the NGOs of the past are the Social Enterprises of today and they are continuing to forge ahead with their work in sustainable growth and development. In order to help Social Enterprises more effectively raise capital from Impact Investors, we recently launched Impact Partners 2.0. If you haven’t yet, please do check out Impact Partners 2.0 which makes it even easier for investors and Social Enterprises to connect.

Our work at IIX and Shujog of the past few years is culminating into our largest gathering yet in Impact Forum 2012.  With the theme of ‘Igniting Capital Markets for Social Good’, Impact Forum is gearing up to be an exciting amalgamation of Social Entrepreneurs, Impact Investors, Public Policy Makers and the Eco System Partners.  Our special thanks go to our supporters Asian Development Bank, Singapore Tourism Board, National University of Singapore Entrepreneurship Centre, Bloomberg Media, SASA, Prestige Magazine, and the list continues…

I look forward to your comments on Impact Partners 2.0 and to lively discussions at Impact Forum 2012!


From a very, very warm Singapore,

Durreen Shahnaz

Founder, IIX & Shujog


Durreen Shahnaz, Founder and Chairwoman

Durreen is the Founder and Chairwoman of Impact Investment Exchange and Founder and Managing Director of Impact Investment Shujog.  Durreen is Adjunct Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.  She has a track record as a successful banker, media executive and social entrepreneur.  She founded, ran and sold the social purpose business oneNest in New York. She also headed up the Asia operations of Hearst Magazines International, Reader’s Digest Asia, and Asia City Publishing Group. Durreen began her professional career as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley (New York), followed by stints at Grameen Bank (Bangladesh), World Bank (Washington, D.C.), and Merrill Lynch (Hong Kong).  She holds a BA from Smith College; an MBA from Wharton, University of Pennsylvania; and an MA from the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Durreen was a TED 2010 Fellow and Asia Society Asia 21 Fellow. She is an appointed member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Social Innovation for 2011 and on the advisory board for CASE i3 at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Durreen is also the Social Entrepreneur in Residence for INSEAD’s Social Entrepreneurship Catalyst Program.

Can Singapore’s Water Week Win Where Rio+20 Lost?

Posted by Ken on June 27, 2012
Posted under Express 169

Water did feature heavily in the discussions at Rio+20 as it is recognised that the scarcity of safe water is a problem that will be further exacerbated, but the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development failed to produce realistic targets in resource consumption and water use. Seeing this as both a threat and an opportunity, the upcoming Singapore International Water Week aims to present innovative solutions through the commercialisation of water technologies. Read more

By Brian Clark Howard for National Geographic News (22 June 2012):

Although it looks like world leaders are not going to adopt specific Sustainable Development Goals at Rio+20, the delegates from 190+ countries did spend a lot of time talking about water in Rio de Janeiro.

Before the United Nations conference this week, advocates had hoped international leaders would make firm commitments on clean water, especially when it comes to extending infrastructure and sanitation to the 1 billion or so people who still lack access.

While the Brazilian negotiation team was leading the effort to hammer out the road map document to present to the leaders at Rio+20, the UN special rapporteur for safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, was urging member states to support those goals in as strong terms as possible.

Although water was already recognized as a human right by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council (in 2010), there is still a long way to go, she argued.

de Albuquerque told the Inter Press Service that during the negotiations for Rio+20, a number of states lobbied to remove the words “right,” and to weaken commitments around water in other ways.

The final draft document did retain relatively strong language on water, although it does not present specific actionable targets or detail funding mechanisms. This has left many activists to deride it as so much hot air, although it’s also true that mission statements can help set an agenda.

Water Day at Rio+20

June 19, Tuesday, was Water Day at Riocentro, the suburban conference center that hosted the main part of Rio+20. Unfortunately, that was also a day of intense press conferences around the last-minute pre-negotiations, which many say sealed the fate of the official negotiations. So water issues didn’t get as much traction as they otherwise might have.

Still, the agency UN-Water released a statement for the day, noting, “Success of green economy depends on sustainable, integrated and resource-efficient management of water resources and on safe and sustainable provisioning of water supply and adequate sanitation services. This approach must be underpinned by timely measurement of economic performance in terms of indicators of social and environmental sustainability.”

UN-Water added, “Universal coverage of water supply and sanitation services must be a central development goal in the post-2015 period. UN-Water urges national governments to set realistic intermediate targets and goals.”

To get down to more specifics, several panels were held throughout the day, with speakers from water ministries around the world, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and others.

H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Goodwill Ambassador for Water and Sanitation in Africa, chaired one of the panels.

In May, Sirleaf told the Summit for Sustainability in Africa, “How do we ensure that our watersheds, forests, fisheries and other ecosystems are protected from overuse and degradation because we need one more hospital or one more school? Development and conservation can go hand in hand, provided we develop a framework for action around a shared vision.”

It’s too early to say what the result of Rio+20 will be for the water space, but hopefully new connections were made between those with experience and those with problems. Member countries have said they are concerned about protecting freshwater, so that may be a solid first step.

Howard is an Environment Writer and Editor at National Geographic News. He previously served as an editor for and E/The Environmental Magazine, and has written for,,, Yahoo!, MSN, Miller-McCune and elsewhere. He is the co-author of six books, including Geothermal HVAC, Green Lighting and Build Your Own Small Wind Power System.



Singapore International Water Week 2012 to focus on industrial water solutions and successful commercialisation of innovative water technologies

The global platform for the sharing and co-creation of innovative water solutions taps on business interest in water technologies and emerging global industrial water sector.

Singapore, 21 June 2012 – The Singapore International Water Week 2012 shines its spotlight on the emerging global industrial water sector and sets the stage to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative water technologies that address the world’s most pressing water challenges.

To be held from 1 to 5 July this year at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands, the fifth edition of Singapore International Water Week provides the global platform for the sharing and co-creation of innovative water solutions and technologies under the theme “Water Solutions for Liveable and Sustainable Cities”. The theme underscores the pressing need to integrate sustainable water management strategies into the urban planning process.

Today, the global industrial water sector ranks second in water consumption, taking up an estimated 25% of global water demand, and forcing industries to search for innovative solutions to improve water sustainability across the value chain. According to the Global Water Intelligence, the industrial water and wastewater equipment market will grow at 7.5% a year over the next five years to reach a total value of $22 billion in 2016. Demand for equipment is expected to grow fastest in the oil and gas sector, at an annual rate of over 24%.

Responding to this shift in global focus, the Water Week takes a four-pronged approach to share and co-create solutions in the industrial water sector, starting with the debut of the Industrial Water Solutions Forum to examine the issues surrounding the water-energy nexus. Themed „Towards Water Sustainability in the Industrial Sectors‟, this Forum is held against the backdrop of increasing water scarcity and more stringent environmental regulation worldwide, with global industries conducting vigorous reviews on their water footprint and how it impacts their operations. Key industries such as oil and gas, mining, food and beverage, and chemical sectors will be in focus to find a global view on how water solutions can turn their challenges into opportunities. In addition, the Water Convention, a key flagship programme of the Water Week, will also see its popular Hot Issues workshop discussing “Water Treatment and Management for Industries” and papers presented on industrial water solutions. The Water Week’s holistic approach also sees a variety of industrial water events held in co-location.

“As our world’s water supply is further stressed by global population growth, it is imperative that industry find sustainable solutions to meet their water demands,” said Lisa Henthorne, Chief Technology Officer of Water Standard and chairperson of the Industrial Water Solutions Forum. “The economic prosperity of our planet depends on water just as critically as our human health and welfare does. I’m excited to lead some of our industrial giants on a discussion of finding these solutions.”

Accelerating the successful commercialisation of innovative water technologies is another focus of this year’s Water Week in response to the rapid growth in business interest in emerging water technologies. The event continues to be the breeding ground for international collaborations on water technology R&D solutions that help to solve global water issues and the key driver to grow both Singapore’s and the global water industry. The TechXchange Workshop which made its debut last year makes a bigger showing in its second year, with over 200 participants and an impressive line-up of 21 water R&D innovations from Singapore and all over the world. It brings together venture capitalists, angel investors, private equity fund managers and institutional investors with industry representatives, start-ups and technology inventors for targeted business matchmaking and rewarding technology commercialisation opportunities.

“Singapore is an acknowledged “innovation hub” for its years of planning and application of advanced technologies to smartly manage its water resources. TechXchange highlights Singapore’s rising status in stimulating and fostering early-stage water innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Steve Kloos, Partner, True North Venture Partners and speaker at the TechXchange Workshop.

Linked to the TechXchange, this year’s Water Expo will also feature highlights such as the much-awaited showcase of Singapore’s – six new home-grown innovations at the Water Innovations@SIWW booth – ranging from biomimetic membranes to water quality monitoring systems using live fish. These new technologies are the result of years of R&D by Singapore-based scientists with support from the Environment and Water Industry Programme Office, an inter-agency body set up to spearhead the growth of Singapore’s water industry.

With the five flagship programmes – the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize, Water Leaders Summit, Water Expo, Water Convention, and Business Forums – this year’s Singapore International Water Week continues to present a comprehensive suite of events which cater to the interests of every segment of the water industry. The event continues to attract some of the world’s largest water companies and prominent personalities including Helen Clark, Administrator of United Nations Development Programme and Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, HE Kamal Nath, India’s Minister of Urban Development, HE Shintaro Ishihara, Governor of Tokyo, Pamela Cox, Vice-president ( East Asia and the Pacific) at World Bank, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Minister for the environment and water resources as well as Prof Wim Kuijken, Commissioner of the Delta Programme in the Netherlands. This year, the Singapore Water Week will be co-located with the third edition of the World Cities Summit and the inaugural CleanEnviro Summit Singapore, delivering even greater value to the delegates with broader opportunities for cross pollination of ideas and access to integrated solutions for sustainable urban development.

“The Singapore International Water Week showcases the capabilities and expertise of Singapore‟s water industry to the world. Today it has grown into one of the pinnacle events on the global water calendar with its dynamic programmes strategically evolving to respond to the shifts in global focus on the water industry,” said Maurice Neo, Managing Director of Singapore International Water Week 2012. “What’s new in this fifth edition of the Water Week is a stronger focus on the co-creation and commercialisation of innovative water technologies and emerging challenges in the global industrial water sector. In providing this global platform, we hope to catalyse new ideas and see new collaborations to address the world’s pressing water challenges.”

For more details on the full programme for Singapore International Water Week 2012, please visit

Funding Social Enterprise to Achieve Much More

Posted by Ken on June 27, 2012
Posted under Express 169

Social enterprises have risen as a dynamic alternative to public sector response in facing social and environmental issues by combining the “heart” of the aid sector with the ambitions, drive and business acumen of entrepreneurs. However, most social enterprises remain small-scale initiatives, and need better access to financing to scale up their operations. Impact Forum in Singapore successfully brought together social enterprises and impact investors for the first time to advance their collective cause. Read more

By Stephen P. Groff Vice-President, Asian Development Bank for Huffington Post and Straits Times (21 June 2012):

Asia’s rapid rise, considered by many to be the most successful story of economic development in recent history, has seen national economies expand at an unprecedented pace and human conditions dramatically improve.

Years before the Millennium Development Goal deadline of 2015, the region has already achieved targets for reducing gender disparities in education enrollment, for preventing a rise in HIV prevalence, for halting the spread of tuberculosis, and for halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water.

Between 1990 and 2009, the percentage of Asians living on less than $1.25 dropped dramatically, from half the population to less than a quarter.

Yet Asia’s growth has brought a new set of challenges, from food insecurity to growing urban slums to rising inequality. Asia and the Pacific is already highly vulnerable to natural disasters, and rapid growth has led to natural resource depletion and environmental degradation.

The enormity of these challenges requires more than just a public sector response — especially since aid funding is under increasing pressure as traditional donor countries tighten their belts.

There is, therefore, a great deal of excitement around the emergence of social enterprises. By combining the “heart” of the aid sector with the ambitions, drive and business acumen of entrepreneurs, social enterprises have created a powerful model for tackling social and environmental problems.

Take Frontier Markets, for example. This Indian social enterprise seeks out innovative ways to bring high quality, low cost renewable energy, clean water and health and hygiene products to poor households. It is steadily making progress toward its vision of reaching three million households, focusing on women and children living in rural and peri-urban areas, using a market-based model that puts a high value on customer care and service reliability.

In Vietnam, a for-profit company, Ecolink, provides its network of 800 ethnic minority farmers a marketing channel for their fair trade, organic agricultural products, particularly tea. While it exports products to Western Europe and North America, it is also developing a local market, and aims to open 20 stores across Vietnam.

Dhaka-based Waste Concern, meanwhile, collects organic waste from cities, recycles it into organic fertilizer and generates revenues through the carbon credits it earns by eliminating greenhouse gases emitted by rotting garbage. But Waste Concern’s impact doesn’t stop there. It saves cities and taxpayers the cost of waste collection, helps improve the environment and hygiene conditions of Bangladesh’s capital, provides jobs at its processing and recycling center and contributes to the country’s food security by helping farmers achieve higher yields. This remarkable model is being replicating in other cities in Bangladesh, and elsewhere in South and Southeast Asia.

There are of course many, many more examples of the ways that social enterprises are contributing to job creation, provision of basic services, and improving our environment.

However, most social enterprises remain small-scale initiatives, and the sector remains undersized in most developing countries of the region. To truly realize their tremendous potential, social enterprises need better access to financing to scale up their operations and increase their field of coverage. They also need the right regulatory and policy environments to grow.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) supports access to finance through multiple inclusive financing initiatives, and advises governments on the basics of building and maintaining business-friendly environments through reliable rules, regulations and policies that don’t work against or disadvantage the private sector, including social enterprise.

We are also supporting social enterprise development by collaborating with various partners, including Impact Investment Shujog, the advocacy, research and capacity-building arm of Impact Investment Exchange Asia (IIX) — the region’s first private and public platforms for social enterprises to raise capital efficiently. Together we are preparing social enterprise landscape reports and studies on impact investors and market intermediaries.

The knowledge generated through this work is being made publicly available to inform, inspire and catalyze social entrepreneurship and impact investing. Forums in Bangladesh, India, Thailand and the Philippines have also connected social enterprise entrepreneurs with impact investors.

Finding funding to support social enterprise remains one of the sector’s greatest challenges, so creating incentives for private investors to put their money on the line for socially or environmentally beneficial purposes is a crucial component to the sector’s growth.

Much promise lies in the concept of Social Impact Bonds or Development Impact Bonds, which provide a vehicle to invest in the delivery of services that produce social or developmental results with the promise of near-commercial returns. Social Impact Bonds are currently being tested in Australia, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S., and these pilots show that there is plenty of room to address many of the region’s challenges through market-based approaches.

A critical factor behind Asia’s economic success is an ability to innovate, and a willingness to do the hard work required to succeed. These are the same characteristics we see in the nascent social enterprise sector.

With a continued commitment to harnessing the power of the market for social and environmental objectives — and the imagination and tenacity that forms the core of the world’s most dynamic region — there is little doubt that Asia can become the world’s social enterprise incubator.

Stephen P. Groff is Vice-President (Operations 2) of the Asian Development Bank. He is responsible for the full range of ADB’s operations in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. He is also responsible for the Central Operations Services Office. His mandate includes establishing strategic and operational priorities in his areas of responsibility, producing investment and technical assistance operations amounting to $4-5 billion annually, managing an existing portfolio of about $23 billion, and leading about 700 staff.

In addition, Mr. Groff supports ADB’s President in managing ADB’s overall operations, represents ADB in high-level multilateral fora, and contributes to managing its relationships with its 67 member country shareholders, other multilateral financial institutions, and key government, private sector, and civil society partners.

Prior to joining ADB, Mr. Groff was Deputy Director for Development Cooperation at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Stephen P. Groff is Vice President for East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific at the ADB in Manila and is a keynote speaker at the June 25 first annual Impact Forum organized in Singapore by IIX Asia Impact Investment Shujog. This article was originally published in The Straits Times.


More Pledges Even If Little Action on Goals & Targets

Posted by Ken on June 27, 2012
Posted under Express 169

Despite disappointments over the lack of a strong text on specific goals and targets, there was a positive outcome of the Rio+20 summit in the form of pledges from governments and companies for projects aimed at reducing the stresses on the planet’s resources, representing a crucial component in the efforts to combat the effects of climate change by nurturing public-private partnerships. Read more

By Reed Landberg and Alex Morales for Business Week (22 June 2012):

The United Nations obtained pledges worth $513 billion from governments and companies for projects aimed at reducing the strain on the planet’s resources, the biggest accomplishment at a meeting that world leaders and environmentalists assailed for not setting strong enough goals.

The 692 individual commitments from governments are for projects that cut fossil fuel use, boost renewable energy, conserve water and alleviate poverty, Sha Zukang, secretary- general of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, said yesterday in Rio de Janeiro.

UN officials said the voluntary pledges are the most important legacy of the Rio+20 meeting marking two decades since the first Earth Summit. They may accomplish more than the official agreement from the meeting, 49 pages of recommendations that disappointed leaders from French President Francois Hollande to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“Highest expectations are on governments, but they cannot get the job done alone,” Sha said as three days of discussions concluded. “It is about concrete action.”

The summit in Rio in 1992 led to treaties on global warming, deserts and biodiversity. This year’s gathering, the UN’s biggest ever, had 45,300 delegates from more than 180 nations. It produced a non-binding document, with nations agreeing to keep talking about still-undefined “sustainable development goals.”

Summit ‘Hijacked’

Much of the work detailed by the UN today already has begun, including projects backed by PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) (PEP) and billionaire Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room, and $2 billion in support from the U.S.

Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth International said the summit was “hijacked” by business interests. Delegates said governments need the help of companies.

“Without the private sector it’s not going to work,” Jose-Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development, said in an interview. “While governments put up the seed money, the big numbers come from the private sector. The private sector is looking at green growth with great interest, seeing it as an opportunity, as jobs, as investment.”

Many of the pledges were made public before the conference in Rio this week. This is the first time the UN has given a comprehensive estimate of their value.

Sustainability Studies

The promises include at least 243 programs related to higher education projects such as studies of sustainability issues at universities in Sydney, Beijing, Paris and New York.

About $280 billion was invested in renewable energy worldwide last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The London research group has counted more than $1 trillion of funds for projects in wind, solar, biofuels and geothermal energy since its records began in 2004.

“There’s no doubt that Rio+20 fell short,” said Manish Bapna, acting president of the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based environmental research group. “But it’s a mistake to conflate what happened here with what’s happening on the ground. You just need to look beyond the walls of the conference to find real-world examples of action.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental advocate following a smaller group of commitments with specific targets, counts 209 separate commitments worth at least $500 million on its website.

‘Rallying Cry’

“Rio can’t be about the text,” said Jake Schmidt, NRDC’s director of climate policy. “It’s got to be about the commitments and the rallying cry that’s coming from the public.”

The record of governments delivering on promises like the ones they’ve made this week is “very poor,” said Bjorn Lomborg, a professor at Copenhagen Business School and author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist.” He said the pledges reflect efforts of companies to take advantage of government incentives they expect to flow due to the recommendations set out in Rio.

“The reason lots and lots of businesses are in Rio is they’re rent-seeking,” Lomborg said in an interview. “They’re looking for huge potential subsidies for everything they produce.”

The UN pledges also cover a Dutch cycling campaign, Bank of America Corp.’s $50 billion plan to stimulate lending for sustainability and the UN’s $50 billion program to bring cleaner forms of energy to the world’s poorest nations.

Half Done

“I don’t see business people demanding a stronger UN text,” Bank of America Chairman Chad Holliday said in an interview in Rio. “We won’t save the world alone, but we’ll get half of it done, and we’ll get some momentum.”

Among the voluntary efforts unveiled this week in Rio is a $20 million grant from the U.S. to spur clean energy in Africa, which will unlock greater financing from the Overseas Private Investment Corp. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said sustainability won’t happen without business investment.

“Governments alone cannot solve all the problems we face, from climate change to persistent poverty to chronic energy shortages,” Clinton said at an event announcing the funding in Rio. “That’s why we are so strongly in favor of partnerships.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Reed Landberg in Rio de Janeiro at; Alex Morales in Rio de Janeiro at


Climate Action By Cities A Model For Countries & Companies

Posted by Ken on June 27, 2012
Posted under Express 169

Cities around the world are already taking real measurable actions to combat the threat of climate change and environmental degradation. The C40 grouping of mayors from 58 megacities globally estimated that the initiatives already undertaken could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over a billion tons by 2030. As the upcoming World Cities Summit in Singapore could well show, agile, municipally based actions could serve as models as they lead the way in fighting global warming. Read more

By Associated Press (20 June 2012):

RIO DE JANEIRO — While squabbling between rich and poor countries casts a pall over the upcoming United Nations’ Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, the world’s mayors said Tuesday that they were already taking real, measurable action to stave off environmental disaster and preserve natural resources for future generations.

The C40 grouping of mayors from 58 megacities around the globe estimated that the nearly 5,000 measures they’ve already undertaken to fight global warming could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over a billion tons by 2030. That’s the equivalent of the combined annual emissions of Mexico and Canada, said C40 chair and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Cities have recognized the responsibility to act. We haven’t waited for our national governments to go first,” Bloomberg told participants at a C40 conference in Rio de Janeiro. The event was taking place on the eve of the Rio+20, the United Nations’ three-day-long mega-conference on sustainable development, which is expected to bring some 50,000 people to Rio over the coming days.

U.N. officials and country negotiators said Tuesday that they hammered out a final draft of the summit’s end declaration that world leaders are expected to officially sanction on Friday. Governments’ quibbling over long-standing deadlock issues like technology transfers from rich to poor nations slowed talks and resulted in what environmental groups decried as a watered-down document that makes virtually no advances on what was agreed upon at the original Rio conference in 1992.

Again and again, Bloomberg stressed the contrast between the paralysis of national governments and the agility of municipal authorities, which he said were up to meeting the social and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

“We don’t have the luxury of just sitting back and talking about the problems because on a whole range of critical action, the buck stops at city hall,” said Bloomberg, adding that cities are key players in the fight against global warming because about 75 percent of global emissions take place within city limits.

“We aren’t arguing with each other over reduction targets, we’re making progress individually and collectively to improve our cities and the planet,” he told journalists on a conference call ahead of Tuesday’s event. He added that two-thirds of the C40 initiatives to combat climate change were financed solely out of municipal budgets, with no funds from national governments.

Some of the projects already under way include Paris’ rental bike and electric car programs, Bogota’s electric taxis, Los Angeles’ use of more efficient bulbs LED in its street lights, and the improved solid waste collection initiatives by New Delhi, Lagos and Mexico City.

Open air landfills are major sources of methane released by decomposing trash, but because it dissipates from the atmosphere much more quickly than carbon dioxide, reducing methane emissions could significantly slow global warming, Bloomberg said.

With the volume of garbage expected to double in the next 15 years, improving landfills is a top priority for the C40 cities, Bloomberg said. He announced a partnership with the Clean Air Coalition, which will provide technical assistance to help C40 cities improve their waste management.

The C40 already works with the Clinton Climate Initiative on global warming issues, and the former U.S. President Bill Clinton was beamed in via video conference to address the participants.

“When I first began working on climate change more than two decades ago, a (projected one billion ton reduction) would never have been thought of as possible,” Clinton said. “Today mayors are showing that the work can be done, all over the world, from Bogota to Istanbul to Seoul.”

During the conference, host city Rio de Janeiro was hailed as a model of sustainable development for recent efforts including this month’s closure of a giant open-air landfill on the banks of the city’s hyper-polluted Guanabara Bay.

But the significant challenges still facing this seaside metropolis of 9 million were underscored by the absence at Tuesday’s conference of the U.S. Environmental Protection Administrator Lisa Jackson, who missed the conference because she was stuck in Rio’s notorious gridlock.

Founded in 2005, the C40 now includes megacities on six continents. Its North American member cities include Austin, Houston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and New Orleans.


Business Stepping In Where Governments Fear to Act

Posted by Ken on June 27, 2012
Posted under Express 169

The task of facing global challenges can no longer be borne by governments alone. Large scale multi-sectorial approaches involving multi-stakeholders can achieve sustainable development goals, so business schools are taking the lead, offering the motivation and skills to put global challenges at the heart of how they create value. Meanwhile, the Friends of Rio+20, a coalition of high level business, scientific and civil society leaders convened by the World Economic Forum, is showing that business means business! Read More

By Anthony Buono, Jean-Christophe Carteron and Matthew Gitsham for Financial Times (11 June 2012):

This week is the 20th anniversary of the UN’s 1992 Rio earth summit. More than 300 leaders from the world’s business schools will convene in Rio de Janeiro as the third global forum of the Principles for Responsible Management Education kicks off the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.

Rio+20 will bring together world leaders to make decisions that could lead to a healthier, more equitable and prosperous world for all. In time this could lead to the adoption of an economic model – sustainable development – that focuses on building prosperity for the medium and long term.

It is significant that business schools are opening this gathering. At the first Rio summit, business leaders were at the margins and business schools were nowhere to be seen. But it is now the norm for business leaders to play a central role in creating the future we want alongside political and civil society leaders.

In a UN report produced for Rio+20 – Leadership in a Rapidly Changing World – it is the chairs and chief executives of some of the world’s most influential businesses who are calling for business schools to accelerate this change. They are urging schools to develop business leaders who are motivated and equipped to put global challenges at the heart of how they create value.

Business schools have moved from the fringes to centre stage: accelerating the shift in the mindset of managers is one of the most influential interventions that can be made in the transition to a global society that has sustainable development as its economic model. This is why Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, and corporate signatories to the UN Global Compact led the call to create PRME in 2007.

On one level, the news is encouraging. A guide produced for Rio+20 illustrates the changes taking place in business schools across the globe. Many institutions are changing curricula, refocusing pedagogy and research and reorienting campus operations, aided by increasingly visible sustainability initiatives.

Yet, while these changes are promising, we need to do much more. Business schools must recognise that creating a generation of professionals who understand the critical importance of sustainable practice needs to be at the core of all that we do.

The dialogue at Rio+20 will build further consensus on the path business schools must follow in the next decade. Many faculty members are already embracing this challenge, acting as change agents within their institutions, but many are not.

We need to engage systematically with our colleagues to help motivate and equip them to embrace this vision in their teaching and research, whatever their subject specialisation. And we need senior figures in business schools to understand and champion why this is important and to lead the cultural shift required to reach this goal.

But although change will come from within, business schools need help from others.

Governments need to support this cultural change through the incentives embedded in funding frameworks for higher education.

Business leaders need to give an even louder voice to their demands for a different kind of business graduate and make this clear in the way they recruit MBAs and purchase executive education.

And accrediting bodies and rankings providers – the AACSB, Equis, the Association of MBAs, BusinessWeek and the Financial Times – need to support business schools by assessing how schools are developing this generation of business leaders and placing this measure at the heart of their work.

Now is the time for us to work for the future that we want.

Anthony Buono is professor of management and sociology at Bentley university. Jean-Christophe Carteron is director of corporate social responsibility at Euromed Management. Matthew Gitsham is director of the Centre for Business and Sustainability at Ashridge. Written on behalf of the PRME global forum discussion leaders group.



The Friends of Rio+20 is a coalition of 26 high-level business, scientific and civil society leaders convened by the World Economic Forum.

The group calls on governmental leaders at Rio+20 to take actions aimed at marshalling large-scale multistakeholder coalitions to help governments achieve sustainable development.

To download the message of the Friends of Rio+20, including over 30 practical examples of such coalitions, please visit

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20 June 2012 – Representatives of Friends of Rio+20, a coalition of global leaders from business, science and civil society, yesterday presented a joint message to the Co-Chairs of Rio+20, Izabella Teixeira, Minister of the Environment of Brazil, and Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Minister of External Relations of Brazil. The group called on governments to take action to help accelerate progress towards global sustainable development.

The message, conveyed to government leaders gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the Rio+20 Summit, asks governments to take two specific actions:

-       Commit to designing economies that put the world on a path to sustainable development and to developing a clear set of ambitious, universal and equitable global goals

-       Invite multistakeholder, multi-country coalitions of willing and able actors to undertake sets of actions to help achieve these goals

At the heart of the Friends of Rio+20’s message is the belief that, with over 900 million people experiencing hunger, 1.4 billion lacking access to electricity and clean water and 600 million jobs needing to be created this decade, the magnitude and time sensitivity of these challenges require the international community to adopt a more practical, results-oriented approach to organizing progress.

The message explicitly encourages governments to enlist the support of a wider range of partners, not as a substitute for multilateral agreements or national plans, but as a way of translating their aspirations into additional action. By drawing more fully on the resources and expertise available in the business, civil society and academic communities, evidence suggests Rio+20 can leave a lasting legacy of accelerated progress on sustainable development.

Commenting on the agreement, Josette Sheeran, Vice-Chairman of the World Economic Forum, said: “The complex challenges of our time require bold, new solutions that unite all stakeholders in common purpose. This new model of multistakeholder coalition is critical in delivering sustainable development goals at scale. This is the most powerful way to develop and deliver a truly transformational agenda for change.”

Minister Patriota, receiving the message from Friends of Rio+20, said: “The size and urgency of the world’s sustainable development challenges are so great that no one single government or international agency acting alone can solve them. A model based on strong leadership from international and national governments, supported by a variety of actors, represents the best way of harnessing the combined skills, creativity and resources available to us as we strive to make progress towards our goals.”

“To create the future we want, we will need real leadership from governments. We will also need to recognize the vast potential for action by coalitions of the committed – national governments, cities, companies and civil society groups who are ready to come together to make sustainable development a reality,” said Jim Leape, Director-General, WWF International, World Wide Fund for Nature, Switzerland.


1. Sir Fazle H. Abed, Founder and Chairperson, BRAC, Bangladesh

2. James Bacchus, Chair, World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council Governance for

Sustainability, Greenberg Traurig LLP, USA

3. Peter Bakker, President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD),


4. Marcos Bicudo, Chief Executive Officer; President CBDES (Brazil Business Council for

Sustainable Development), Philips Latin America, Brazil

5. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of the Board, Nestlé, Switzerland

6. Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC),


7. Cynthia Carroll, Chief Executive, Anglo American Plc, UK

8. Frederico Curado, Chief Executive Officer, Embraer, Brazil

9. Carlos Fadigas, Chief Executive Officer, Braskem , Brazil

10. Gao Jifan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Trina Solar Ltd, People’s Republic of China

11. Bekele Geleta, Secretary-General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent

Societies, Switzerland

12. Vitor Hallack, Chairman of the Board, Camargo Corrêa, Brazil

13. Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Coca-Cola Company, USA

14. Caio Koch-Weser, Vice Chairman, Deutsche Bank Group, Germany

15. Barbara Kux, Chief Sustainability Officer and Member of the Managing Board, Siemens AG,


16. Jim Leape, Director General, WWF International, Switzerland

17. Lee Yuan Tseh, President, Nobel Laureate, International Council of Science, France

18. Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever, Netherlands/ United Kingdom

19. Maria Ramos, Chief Executive, Absa Group and Chief Executive, Barclays Africa, South


20. Johan Rockström, Executive Director, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden

21. Richard Samans, Executive Director, Global Green Growth Institute, Korea

22. Josette Sheeran, Vice-Chairman, World Economic Forum, Switzerland

23. Wang Shi, Chairman, China Vanke Co. Ltd, People’s Republic of China

24. B.G. Srinivas, Member of the Board, Infosys, India

25. Maurice Strong, Chairman of the Advisory Board, Institute for Research on Security and

Sustainability for Northeast Asia, People’s Republic of China

26. Ben J. Verwaayen, Chief Executive Officer, Alcatel Lucent, France

A total of 15 Business leaders and 12 scientific and civil society leaders

Nothing Need Go to Waste: Convert it to Energy

Posted by Ken on June 27, 2012
Posted under Express 169

Municipal solid waste represents one of the biggest challenges in sustainable development, with increasing living standards and urban populations.  A recent World Bank report shows that this waste is projected to increase by 70% globally between now and 2025. One of the best approaches to deal with the growing waste mountain is to convert it to energy. Nothing needs to go to waste, as an article by Ken Hickson for CleanEnviro Summit Singapore shows. Read more

New report points to 70% global increase in urban solid waste

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2012 – A new, far-reaching report on the state of municipal solid waste around the world predicts a sharp rise in the amount of garbage generated by urban residents between now and 2025.  The report estimates the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) will rise from the current 1.3 billion tonnes/year to 2.2 billion tonnes/year, with much of the increase coming in rapidly growing cities in developing countries. The annual cost of solid waste management is projected to rise from the current $205 billion to $375 billion, with cost increasing most severely in low income countries.

The report, What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management, for the first time offers consolidated data on MSW generation, collection, composition, and disposal by country and by region. In itself, this is an accomplishment because, as the report states, reliable global MSW information is either not available or incomplete, inconsistent, and incomparable. Nevertheless, the authors of the report point to a looming crisis in MSW treatment as living standards rise and urban populations grow.

“Improving solid waste management, especially in the rapidly growing cities of low income countries, is becoming a more and more urgent issue,” said Rachel Kyte, Vice President, Sustainable Development at the World Bank. “The findings of this report are sobering, but they also offer hope that once the extent of this issue is recognized, local and national leaders, as well as the international community, will mobilize to put in place programs to reduce, reuse, recycle, or recover as much waste as possible before burning it (and recovering the energy) or otherwise disposing of it. Measuring the extent of the problem is a critical first step to resolving it.”

The report notes that municipal solid waste management is the most important service a city provides. In low-income countries, MSW is often the largest single budget item for cities, and one of the largest employers. A city that cannot effectively manage its waste is rarely able to manage more complex services such as health, education, or transportation. Improving MSW is one of the most effective ways of strengthening overall municipal management.

The report shows that the amount of municipal solid waste is growing fastest in China (which surpassed the US as the world’s largest waste generator in 2004), other parts of East Asia, and part of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Growth rates for MSW in these areas are similar to their rates for urbanization and increases in GDP. There is a direct correlation between the per capita level of income in cities and the amount of waste per capita that is generated. In general, as a country urbanizes and populations become wealthier, the consumption of inorganic materials (e.g. plastics, paper, glass, aluminum) increases, while the relative organic fraction decreases.

“What we’re finding in these figures is not that surprising,” said Dan Hoornweg, Lead Urban Specialist in the Finance, Economics, and Urban Development Department of the World Bank and eco-author of the report, “What is surprising, however, is that when you add the figures up we’re looking at a relatively silent problem that is growing daily. The challenges surrounding municipal solid waste are going to be enormous, on a scale of, if not greater than, the challenges we are currently experiencing with climate change. This report should be seen as a giant wake-up call to policy makers everywhere.”

The authors of the report say an integrated solid waste management plan is needed in cities to approach solid waste in a comprehensive manner. Key to such a plan is consultation and input from all stakeholders, including citizen groups and those working on behalf of the poor and the disadvantaged. Public health and environmental protection aspects of any such plan are also critical.

The report also spells out policy recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, many of which emanate from inefficient solid waste management practices. Post-consumer waste is estimated to account for almost 5% of total global GHG, while methane from landfills represents 12% of total global methane emissions. The report says that a number of practical approaches could be applied in most cities, including:

·         Public education to inform people about their options to reduce waste generation and increase recycling and composting;

·         Pricing mechanisms (such as product charges) to stimulate consumer behaviour to reduce waste generation and increase recycling;

·         User charges tied to the quantity of waste disposed of, with (for example) consumers separating recyclables paying a lower fee for waste disposal; and/or

·         Preferential procurement policies and pricing to stimulate demand for products made with recycled post-consumer waste.

For a link to the report, click here:


Waste Not, Want Not: In a Throwaway Society, More Rubbish Produces More Energy

By Ken Hickson

In a land-scarce urbanised society like Singapore, Waste To Energy (WTE) plants are seen to offer the best technical solution by reducing waste volume efficiently to conserve landfill space and also contribute significantly to resource recovery.   Along with waste minimisation and recycling, it becomes another key component of the city state’s integrated solid waste management system.

Singapore has found that waste-to-energy incineration as most cost effective option too, as it can reduce waste volume by over 90%.  In 1978, the first waste-to-energy (WTE) plant was opened and today the solid waste disposal infrastructure consists of the four WTE plants located at Tuas, Senoko, Tuas South and an offshore sanitary landfill, Semakau Landfill.

Singapore is not alone in this regard. WTE technologies are recognised globally as offering cost-effective, near-term solutions for producing base-load electric power, meeting renewable energy targets and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Stan Rosinski of the United States-based  Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) says WTE plants also present opportunities for improving resource management practices, increasing energy security, enhancing environmental quality, and supporting climate policy goals around the world.

Waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies convert the chemical energy stored in residues associated with human activities into heat, steam, and electricity. Primary fuel sources include municipal solid waste (MSW) and other materials diverted from disposal facilities as well as gases rich in methane that are generated when organic substances decompose in the absence of oxygen.

Globally, WTE capacity has expanded significantly in recent years, according to EPRI, driven largely by policy considerations. In 1999, the European Union directive essentially banned the landfilling of combustible MSW fractions in order to control methane emissions, avoid non-productive use of land and other resources, and prevent water and soil contamination.

In Europe, Asia, and elsewhere, such policies—along with climate change mitigation and renewable energy targets—have motivated the construction of hundreds of mass-burn incinerators, the early commercial application of various advanced thermal conversion technologies, and the proliferation of smaller-scale landfill gas (LFG) and digester gas systems.

Frequently, these WTE plants supply heat or are combined heat and power (CHP) facilities; in fact, 18% of the district heating load in Denmark is served by MSW combustion.

What is going on in the development of WTE technologies globally?

The CleanEnviro Summit Singapore and WasteMET (1 – 4 July) at Marina Bay Sands will be showcasing a numerous examples of WTE plants and processes from companies located in Asia and elsewhere.

Advanced biofuels that use waste feedstocks to deliver a low carbon footprint and do not compete with food crops are entering a critical stage of development as a number of new facilities prepare to enter service.

Here’s a glimpse at just some of the latest developments in WTE around the world:

•             Waste to ethanol produced from demo plant in Canada

Waste to biofuels company Enerkem has confirmed the successful production of cellulosic ethanol from waste materials at its demonstration facility in Westbury, Québec.  While the company has produce ethanol on a smaller scale at a pilot plant in Sherbrooke, the Westbury demonstration is a stepping stone to full scale commercial deployment in Edmonton and other locations. This technology has been developed and tested during the past 11 years, at both the pilot laboratory facility in Sherbrooke, Québec, and the Westbury demonstration plant.

•             Anaerobic Digestion to Biogas Fuel Facility underway in California

Construction work has started on a commercial scale Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and Biogas facility in California that could fuel 80 buses a year. Clean World Partners’ (CWP) Organic Waste Recycling Center at the South Area Transfer Station in Sacramento will convert 25 tons of food waste per day collected by Atlas Disposal from food processing companies, restaurants and supermarkets into renewable natural gas. In 2013, the facility will be expanded to process 100 tons of waste per day, which CWP said will make it the largest commercial-scale, high solids AD system in the United States.

•             Vehicle fuel made from organic waste products in the Philippines.

London, UK based waste to biofuel specialist, Gazasia is to begin development of a vehicle fuel made from organic waste products from landfill. It has signed an agreement with Philippine power, financial services and food group, Aboitiz Equity Ventures that secures US$150 million of investment to fund the development of plants to create liquid biomethane from organic waste.The company said by cleaning and refining the natural gas produced by organic waste found in landfill sites it can create liquid biomethane – a carbon-neutral, sustainable and high-quality vehicle fuel.

•             160 Million Euro French Algae Project Targets Biofuels from Wastes

French agricultural research organisation, the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) has launched a 160 million Euro collaborative platform aimed at developing efficient biofuels and high added value substances by utilising micro-algae feeding on nutrients contained in waste and industrial emissions of carbon dioxide.  Led by INRA in collaboration with 45 partners , the ‘GreenStars’ project aims at becoming, within five to ten years, one of the top Institutes of Excellence worldwide in the field of micro-algae bio-refinery. The Institute said that Microalgae – a group of microscopic plant like organisms – have shown great potential to offer low carbon energy, chemicals, food and feed due to their unique composition, but their potential has yet to be fully realised. INRA experts anticipate that we will see major breakthroughs in the production and use of microalgae over the next decade, which is why more than $2 billion has been invested in microalgae research and development.

•             Canadian Gasified Waste to Biofuels Firm Selects Construction Partner

Canadian wood waste to biofuel specialist, CORE BioFuel has selected French engineering and project management firm, Technip to complete the construction engineering of its first wood to gasoline biorefinery. CORE said that the facility is planned to produce 67 million litres of renewable gasoline and create over 20 million litres of water each year from wood waste.  Its technology is based on proven industrial equipment and processes combined in a novel and efficient fashion to produce a valuable products from biomass.

•             Green Diesel from Scrap Tires Using Slow Pyrolysis

Pyrolysis creates renewable fuels by degrading waste tires in a high-temperature, oxygen starved environment. Diesel fuel is the primary by-product of this process while synthetic gas or “syngas” is produced as a secondary benefit. A small portion of the syngas is then used to fuel modified diesel engines, or gas/steam turbines which in turn drive the generators that produce all the electricity needed to power the facility. Energime has a verbal commitment for 1200 tons of tires per week for this facility and is currently negotiating one of three tire feedstock agreements for this project including one source that will provide 100,000 tons per year at an average .

•             Converting liquid waste to energy  in urban areas of India

An estimated 55 million tonnes of municipal solid waste and 4400 million cubic meters of liquid waste are generated in urban areas of India annually with a potential of 2600 MW of power production. Currently only 84MW of power is produced against total potential of 1000 MW from agricultural waste. With growing government support and demand for renewable and sustainable energy supplies for the future, demand is greater than ever and the potential in this industry sector continues to encourage an evolution of new processing methods and technologies to leverage the industries opportunities and current project developments. Most waste generated by Indian industries still finds way to land and water bodies in large quantities, without proper treatment, emitting various CXO gases, air and water pollution, and increase in GHG emissions. Currently 130MW produced against total potential of 2000 MW.

•             British Airways to get jet bio fuel from London rubbish

The Solena and British Airways partnership is providing the first such plant to produce jet biofuel in Europe. Located in East London close to the source of the municipal waste and close to British Airway’s operations in the South East (the nearest airport is London City), when the plant is in full operation in 2014, 200 permanent jobs will be created. This will be the first development of its kind in Europe, and should provide a proven pathway for a number of other global cities to generate valuable resources from waste. The partnership was formed in 2009, when the two companies agreed to work together to develop a unique project for London. Solena, a renewable energy technology company based in Washington DC, offered a pathway to sustainable aviation fuels by converting waste biomass into fuels, renewable energy and heat.

A great source of information on WTE – including some items in this article – is the magazine and e-newsletter Waste Management World, which is devoted entirely to presenting articles of interest to the industry. For more information go to:

Waste to Energy is just one of the important issues and opportunities being showcased in Singapore. For the full programme details of all CleanEnviro Summit Singapore events and to see who’s attending and participating, go to:

Renewed Emphasis on Sustainability to Meet Global Climate Goals

Posted by Ken on June 27, 2012
Posted under Express 169

The focus of meeting the global environmental challenges shifts from crafting grand plans to combat climate change to actions based on sustainability.  A showcase for sustainable action will be the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics in London, which bills itself as the “greenest Games in history”, with various goals that include higher energy efficiency, resource conservation and the use of renewable energy. Read more

By Environmental Leader (11 June 2012):

The 2012 Summer Olympics in London will reuse 90 percent of demolition waste, send zero waste to the landfill and its venues will use 30 to 40 percent less drinkable water than standard, making London the “greenest Games in history,” according to a report by Jones Lang LaSalle.

London has partnered with World Wildlife Fund and BioRegional to create One Planet Olympics, a program that addresses energy carbon, water, waste reduction, biodiversity and public health, the report says.

The plan’s goals include:

•             Developing a decentralized energy network using combined heat and power technology, which would save up to 30 percent when compared to standard national grid-supplied electricity and individual housing unit heating.

•             Using renewable sources for 20 percent of energy needs, although Jones Lang LaSalle says this target is in jeopardy because an on-site 2-MW wind turbine was scrapped for safety reasons. The Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 reduced its renewable energy forecast to 11 percent for the Games. However, organizers report that through other measures such as renting instead of buying many infrastructure components and cutting 969,000 square feet from venue spaces, overall carbon emission forecasts are about 315,000 metric tons — 20 percent less than an estimate of two years ago.

•             Installing a dual water system in new buildings with separate supplies of drinking and recycled water.

•             Cleaning up all contaminated soil on site, using five soil washing machines and a bioremediation plant that will clean 1.3 million tons of soil by the time they are finished, instead of landfilling contaminated soil.

•             Making food packaging that cannot be reused or recycled from compostable materials such as starch and cellulose-based bioplastics.

•             Designating 45 hectares of wildlife wetland habitat and 675 bird nesting boxes in Olympic Park, ensuring that otters, swans, bats and scores of other wildlife will occupy the same area as athletes and spectators. In addition, the Games will remediate invasive Japanese knotweed has enabled more diverse native species to proliferate.

Titled “Olympian steps for sustainability,” the Jones Lang LaSalle report says that an environmental focus at Olympic sites extends at least as far back as 1994, when the International Olympic Committee added “Environment” to “Sport” and “Culture” as a guiding principle.

The financial and professional services firm is advising the London Olympics, although it says much of its work remains confidential. Jones Land LaSalle also worked with the Chinese government on sustainability initiatives for Beijing’s 2008 Games.

This spring, BMW unveiled its London 2012 Olympic fleet of more than 3,000 low-emission, diesel, hybrid and electric cars, motorcycles and bicycles and McDonald’s announced that it will serve chicken exclusively from U.K. farmers at the London Olympics, following pressure from farming and environmental groups.

Last year, Coca-Cola promised to recycle all clear plastic PET bottles used at the London Games.



By Margaret Ryan for AOL (12 June 2012):

Forget “climate change” and grand master plans. Focus on “sustainability” and accountability.

Twenty years after world leaders met for the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the global plans envisioned to limit human damage to the environment have not materialized, but sustainability initiatives are making a difference, experts told Environmental Law Institute (ELI) teleconference this week.

That’s putting “sustainability” front and center in the next two weeks as leaders, and tens of thousands of activists, once again gather in Rio for “Rio + 20,” a follow-up to the 1992 conference that formed the foundation for global environmental action including biodiversity and climate change treaties.

The partisan political schism in the US over climate change is primarily focused on environmental regulation, said John Dernbach, Co-Director of the Widener University School of Law’s Environmental Law Center.

Sustainability avoids that divide because it is explicitly about making job growth, economic development, and the environment all work together for a “higher quality of life,’ he said.

Sustainability “is primarily bottom-up,” led by popular and customer demand for more environmentally viable ways for doing things, said Dernbach.

It includes initiatives like “green buildings” and sustainable products and business supply chains. Over the last 20 years, organizations and businesses have grown that help businesses go green and certify that products meet standards, Dernbach said. Governments have made a difference with appliance and auto efficiency standards.

Grassroots, Bottom-up Instead of Top-down

But the net for the US has been “modest progress,” he said, because at the same time the US carbon footprint has grown.

One focus at Rio + 20 will be aggregating all the sustainability commitments, public and private, on an internet site so people can hold those responsible accountable for following through, said Jacob Scherr, Director of Global Strategy and Advocacy, Natural Resources Defense Council.

The first Rio meeting envisioned “top-down” master plans to tackle environmental ills, with major transfers of money from industrialized to developing nations, said Scherr. But that proved unrealistic, he said, and the key now is shorter term measures but holding leaders accountable for following through on them.

“I think we will see hundreds of millions of dollars in new commitments” involving energy and low-carbon activities coming out of Rio + 20, he said.

NRDC is working on a site called Cloud of Commitments, he said.

Carl Bruch, co-director of international programs at ELI, said the first Rio conference occurred at the end of the Cold War and amid a worldwide sense of hope and cooperation. Rio + 20 will try to regain that sense of vision and optimism, he said.

“We have to have a new structure if we’re going to make progress” to a low-carbon economy, said Scherr, and it has to be more than government. Walmart, he noted, has a bigger climate footprint than half the world’s countries, and the Gates Foundation spends more on health care annually than the World Health Organization.

Putting into Practice the Global Objective of Energy For All

Posted by Ken on June 27, 2012
Posted under Express 169

Energy shortage is a heavy impediment to economic progress, as developing nations lack reliable supply and connectivity to remote communities. With the United Nations aim to ensure universal access to energy, improving energy efficiency and increase usage of renewable energy, the deployment of sustainable energy systems will contribute to meeting these objectives and promoting sustainable development. India has got the message with plans for Asia’s largest solar energy park by output in Gujarat state. Read more

By Timothy E. Wirth for AOL (8 June 2012):

In rural villages in East Africa, nearly 150 women entrepreneurs are selling solar lamps and cell phone chargers that provide clean and reliable lighting and connectivity to remote and energy-poor communities. These women, empowered by the social enterprise Solar Sister, are the ground troops of social and economic development.

On June 20, world leaders will gather in Brazil for Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Their mission is to set a development agenda for the next 20 years. As shown by groups like Solar Sister, the starting point for such an agenda should be clear: Energy is essential for development, and sustainable energy is essential for sustainable development.

Even in today’s modern world, one in five people do not have access to electricity. Their daily reality is life without light or refrigeration, without energy for water pumping or computers. Twice as many people, nearly three billion, still rely on wood, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating, breathing in smoke that harms their lungs, killing nearly 2 million people a year. This energy poverty is an enormous impediment to economic progress.

In industrialized countries, the energy challenge is different – a problem of waste and pollution, not shortage. Inefficient energy use harms economic productivity. Emissions from fossil fuels, especially coal and oil, foul the air and are causing the planet’s climate to change. But rapidly falling costs for renewable energy technologies are now making them the cheapest choice in many parts of the world, and more than $260 billion was invested globally in clean energy last year.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has set out three intertwined energy objectives for the world to achieve by 2030: ensuring universal access to modern energy services, doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

These are ambitious objectives, but they are also achievable.

Development is central to the United Nations’ mandate, and now this global institution is advancing energy as critical to achieving development goals, whether in health care, education or poverty reduction, or to produce more food or clean water.

To deliver sustainable energy for all, government action is necessary but not sufficient. Development assistance from governments will never be enough to deliver the new investment that is needed. And businesses won’t invest where there is not an opportunity for profit.

The UN is bringing both parties to the table to agree on sound policies that can unleash the flow of capital: Governments can enact policies and regulations that expand energy access and encourage private investment. Companies can invest in research and create new energy products, services and markets that will deliver solutions on the needed scale. They can also improve efficiency and adopt renewable energy in their global business operations and supply chains. Investors can provide funding for clean technologies and help scale up successful models.

At the Rio summit, governments, businesses, and non-profit groups will announce their commitments to action on Sustainable Energy for All, demonstrating early progress – a “down payment” toward transforming the world’s energy systems over the next 20 years.

This is a unique moment. National leaders, corporate executives, and now the UN have put energy at the top of the global agenda. In the Secretary-General’s words, “Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, social equity, and environmental sustainability.”

Achieving sustainable energy for all will require a significant investment in our collective future – but one that will pay off by improving lives, growing businesses, creating new markets, and generating jobs. And by using energy more efficiently and investing in renewable energy sources, we can build the clean energy economy of the future we want.

Timothy E. Wirth is President of the Better World Fund and the United Nations Foundation. He previously served in the U.S. House and Senate and as the Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs.



By James Fontanella-Khan for Financial Times (17 June 2012):

Two years ago, the dusty plains of Charanka were just desert wasteland that could barely sustain life, let alone create energy.

Today, the isolated area in the western state of Gujarat, about 30km from the border with Pakistan, is at the forefront of India’s solar power boom, boasting Asia’s largest solar energy park by output.

The recently inaugurated Gujarat Solar Park was developed in less than two years with the co-operation of 21 international companies. Surpassing China’s Golmud park in terms of its potential output, the $600m project marks India’s rise as a key market for global solar power developers and manufacturers.

Laurence Mulliez, chief executive of Eoxis, a solar investment fund focused on southern Europe, says India is the new frontier for solar energy. “The potential is huge,” she said on a recent visit to Gujarat.

Plagued by power shortages, India desperately needs energy. More than 400m people still lack access to electricity, and the International Energy Agency estimates that India’s consumption demands are likely to double by 2035.

Although conventional fossil fuels will fill the bulk of that demand, renewable energy is playing an ever greater role. New Delhi has directed companies to source 15 per cent of their energy needs from green resources by 2022, although sceptics doubt this measure will be enforced.

“They say they want us to use more green energy, but then they will have to deal with whatever we can get,” says one executive at a large conglomerate. “It’s not certain that we will have enough solar and wind … to comply.”

India has a poor record when it comes to implementing reforms. However, some investors think the government has no option in this case but to proceed, given the country’s urgent power needs.

“India’s government is often criticised for not pushing through reforms that the country needs to keep growing,” says Alan Rosling, founder of solar developer Kiran Energy, whose investors include Bessemer Venture Partners, an early backer of Skype. “Solar is the one sector where the government has been forward thinking and progressive.”

India decided just two years ago to increase the capacity of solar power from virtually zero to 20,000 megawatts by 2022. That was part of a broader effort to boost the total capacity of renewable energy to 72,400MW out of the 455,000MW the country hopes to generate from all sources of energy within the next 10 years.

The new Gujarat park, for example, is capable of producing as much as 214MW.

These national targets are attractive for developers, because the government has agreed to buy the power they produce at subsidised rates, while demand from the private sector is expected to boom once companies are forced to buy green energy.

Those set to benefit include equipment suppliers in developed markets, such as Japan’s Sharp and America’s First Solar, as well as emerging market companies such as India’s Reliance Infra and China’s Trina Solar, a manufacturer of solar panels.

Early figures are encouraging. Indian investment in the solar energy sector rose to $4.2bn last year from almost nothing in 2010, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This has spurred the generation of just less than 1,000MW in less than two years.

Developers will be under pressure to keep rates low, however, as India’s auction system – under which companies must bid to offer solar energy as cheaply as possible – forces energy providers to compete on prices.

In the second national auction last December the average tariff for a kilowatt-hour was Rs8.78 (17 US cents), about 30 per cent lower than the average tariff at the first auction two years earlier.

Although solar power is far from being on cost parity with more traditional sources of energy, the gap is shrinking rapidly. For example, imported coal sells at about Rs5 a KW-hour. Analysts believe that within five years the costs of solar could also be bought down to about Rs5.

Nevertheless, the sector still faces challenges. New Delhi has introduced barriers to the entry of foreign modules and cells used to produce panels as it seeks to nurture a domestic manufacturing sector that it hopes can compete with China. Developers say these obstacles could hurt investment and set back efforts to boost production of cheap and domestically generated power.

The central government’s sourcing rules are prompting many developers to set up shop in Gujarat, which has its own solar energy policy and has made a strategic decision not to impose any barriers on equipment origin.

“We think it’s better to leave the sector open,” says DJ Pandian, Gujarat’s energy policy chief. “That way it can develop faster … [and] at a later stage manufacturing will also emerge. We don’t want to scare developers.”