Archive for the ‘Express 185’ Category

Cruising on the High Seas to a Sustainability Award

Posted by Ken on February 19, 2013
Posted under Express 185

Sustainability meets the high seas with the award of the first-ever Gold-level Eco-Certification for cruise line Royal Caribbean International by Sustainable Travel International, for its operations at the island CocoCay in the Bahamas. This award recognises the efforts that cruise lines have put in to engage in responsible travel practices that focus on economic, socio-cultural and environmental sustainability. Read more

Cruise Line Takes Sustainability From Sea To Shore, Wins Award

By Chris Owen (9 February 2013):

Sustainable Travel International (STI) is a global non-profit charged to help destinations, businesses and travelers protect the environment, adapt to climate change, preserve cultural heritage and more. This week, STI awarded their first-ever, Gold-Level Eco-Certification to a cruise line, honoring Royal Caribbean International for attractions and tour operations at their island in the Bahamas, CocoCay.

Encouraging green travel, STI awards certification for businesses that are engaged in responsible travel practices that focus on economic, socio-cultural and environmental sustainability.

CocoCay is the first operation of its kind to receive the certification, which rates on-island tours, island operations, workplace practices, guest communications and environmental management policies. Rated by an expert third-party, independent of Sustainable Travel International and Royal Caribbean, the CocoCay operation demonstrated an ability to successfully apply its at-sea sustainability initiatives to its on-shore operations. But Royal Caribbean did not just get lucky. Winning the award took a global focus, much like we saw when sailing to their private destination of Labadee in Haiti, just after the major earthquake of a few years ago. Then, Royal Caribbean was self-charged to deliver thousands of pounds of food and supplies to the devastated island, which was also home to resident Royal Caribbean employees who work at Labadee when ships come calling.

“Royal Caribbean developed a very thorough, attainable action plan, designed to implement higher levels of sustainability over time,” said Robert Chappell, Sustainable Travel International’s Senior Director of Standards and Certification in a press release.

Will more cruise lines follow Royal Caribbean and work to get their own private islands certified green and sustainable? Probably. Other cruise lines as well have been working to make a green impact. By recycling cooking oil used on ships as fuel for vehicles on Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line is making a difference.

Princess Cruises shore power program made history debuting in environmentally sensitive Juneau, Alaska, in 2001, expanding to Seattle in 2005, and then to Vancouver in 2009. Currently nine of the line’s ships have the capability to “plug in” to a shore-side power source, representing an investment for Princess of nearly $7 million in equipment.

“I’m excited to see them expand their action plan while developing innovative new solutions that are leading the way in the cruise industry,” added Chappell.

STEP is among the first global standards to be formally recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay is the first cruise line private island to receive the certification.

Rotary, Microcredit and an Indonesian Fishy Story

Posted by Ken on February 19, 2013
Posted under Express 185

The adage of teaching a man to fish to enable a lifetime of self-sufficiency certainly holds true in sustainable development in rural communities. Beyond just providing cash hand outs, an important factor in creating sustainability for developmental projects is the ability to listen to the real needs of the people and enabling them to help themselves. By enabling self-sufficiency, communities can then create solutions that are right for them. Read more

Author and microcredit expert shares lessons in sustainability

By Arnold R. Grahl in Rotary News (8 February 2013):

Years ago, Marilyn Fitzgerald learned valuable lessons about sustainability from an impoverished rice farmer in Indonesia.

Fitzgerald, a past-president of the Rotary Club of Traverse City, Michigan, USA, was visiting a community to which her club was sending money to enable the children to attend school. But the farmer she encountered didn’t want money; he wanted a water buffalo.

The events that followed became the subject of her recently published book, “If I Had a Water Buffalo,” and have shaped her thinking about sustainability, a key principle of The Rotary Foundation’s new grant model. Fitzgerald now shares those lessons with Rotary clubs she visits, which recently included the Rotary Club of Evanston Lighthouse, in Illinois, USA.

Water buffalo, piglets, and hens

Fitzgerald relates how she persuaded her family to give her money as a Christmas gift so she could buy the farmer a water buffalo. The result was that he was able to triple his crop yield, increase his income, and therefore send his children to school.

The next year, women in the village wanted 20 piglets to raise, breed, and sell. Then the children wanted hens so they could make and sell an egg snack popular in the area. Eventually, many community members increased their self-sufficiency.

“For less than US$1,200, they were [able to send] their own children to school,” Fitzgerald says. By contrast, “I was up to a $72,000 budget on the school project. I had never even asked them what they wanted.”

The most important thing any Rotarian can do to make a project sustainable, she says, is to listen. The local community has to be involved in all stages of a project, from identifying a need to coming up with a solution to implementing that solution.

“At the end of the day, they have to feel good about themselves,” Fitzgerald says. “They need to feel so good about themselves that they can go on with the effort themselves.”

She defines sustainability as the ability of a project to continue once the donations end.

“A lot of people tell me a project is sustainable because they have long-term donors or they have all these clubs involved,” she says. “But that’s not true. If the donors walk away, what happens to the project?”

Fitzgerald, a clinical psychologist, is a board member of the Rotary Action Group for Microcredit and serves as microcredit adviser and economic and community development coordinator for District 6290. She says she likes microfinance projects because a well-run program lets the beneficiaries come up with their own business plan, while Rotarians provide the capital and act as mentors.

What they really wanted was cell phones

During her Evanston appearance, Fitzgerald relayed another story, about visiting a village to pursue a sanitation project for her club, only to discover that the villagers really wanted cell phones.

“I thought, no way is my club going to go for cell phones.” But when she probed further, she discovered that the villagers wanted the phones so they could relay business decisions – such as what color fabric is really selling well – to their markets more than a day’s journey from the village.

“If we provide cell phones and [villagers] increase their income, then they can buy these other things,” says Fitzgerald. “We absolutely have to talk to our beneficiaries and ask them what they want. We need to educate them about the possibilities, then let them determine the solution that’s right for them.”

She says she used to believe that any charity was better than none, but she no longer feels that way.

“I believe we can cause great harm when we build programs that people become dependent on,” she says. “Charity robs people of choice, voice, and dignity.”


Last Word: Megatrends: More than Zero Sum Games

Posted by Ken on February 19, 2013
Posted under Express 185

The world is set to be a faster, smarter and better connected place. These are some of the megatrends being observed today that are expected to change the way we live, play and work. These megatrends provide indicators the direction the world is moving towards, and enables businesses and societies to pursue strategies that will best serve their long term development and sustainability. Sarwant Singh has the last word. Read more

Viewpoint: Megatrends that will change everyone’s lives

By Sarwant Singh in BBC (11 February 2013):

Imagine a future where concerns about sustainability and the environment have given way to worries about individual health and wellbeing.

Investors would shy away from “green” solution to instead focus on so-called “smart” products and technologies, such as digital assistants – ranging from portable screens to vehicles or robots – that help individuals in their everyday lives.

These “smart” technologies can help business too, of course, as they help cement a community of four or five billion people who will be connected to each other via the internet, each and every one of them a potential customer.

As such, a technological revolution is under way, where gadgets, large and small, are changing society. And this stuff is not make-believe any more. In a decade or so, much of this will have become reality.

But how will we get there? How will society change along the way, whether at the local or the global level?

Many companies are still trying to work out how they should respond to global trends, such as the dramatic rise of China’s economic and political power, or even to the need for strategic takes on issues such as e-commerce or the rise of social media.

Organisations are also responding to the emergence of a reverse brain drain that is increasingly forcing educated Westerners to look for skilled work in Asia, or with Asian companies in their home countries.

But while some react, others are taking the lead. To name but a few:

Facebook has emerged to both shape and take advantage of online social networking trends

IBM has transformed its computer hardware business to become a solution provider

Amazon has carved out a dominant position in online retailing, then moved into hardware with its Kindle and into services with its cloud data-storage solutions

All three, and many others with them, have one thing in common. They have all been among the first to spot and adapt to major societal and transformative forces, or so-called megatrends, such as these:

Health and wellbeing

Public health is becoming unaffordable. In the Western world, healthcare costs are set to account for a fifth of total government spending by 2020. In the US, it already does so – almost.

Consequently, the age-old model of treating symptoms will give way to more holistic solutions that involve early diagnosis of disease, methods that can predict future ailments, efforts to prevent disease in the first place and ongoing monitoring of patients to ensure medical intervention takes place at an early stage when it is generally cheaper to do so.

Private health insurance schemes will change to reward individuals who stay healthy, and the private sector will increasingly sell gadgets, drugs and services that help them do so.

Smart is the new green

If “green” was the last decade’s megatrend, the latest buzzword is “smart”, a suitably vague term that starts in the home.

The idea is that technology will transform your ordinary home into a “smart home”, where entry will be controlled by retina scanners, digital assistants will greet occupants, detect their mood and respond intelligently by controlling the ambiance with mood lighting, scents, sound and vision.

Meals will be planned with options displayed on the touch-screen kitchen table top and mirrors will offer fashion advice. The phone or tablet will become a caretaker that monitors energy usage during peak and off-peak periods.

The fridge will obviously restock itself, placing automatic orders for jam and ketchup whenever it is running low.

Outside the home “smart cars” will offer hands-free driving as they move autonomously through modern cities. “Smart initiatives” are set to emerge throughout modern society, reshaping the way we interact with homes and cities, buildings and cars, as well as with factories and utility companies. Big data will create new corporate ecosystems.

Innovating to zero

Another buzzword is “zero”, which centres around the idea that with the help of innovation, we can remove what we do not want – that we can create foolproof systems that ensures there are “zero breaches of security”, products with “zero defects”, cars that result in “zero accidents”, or clever models that result in “zero fatalities” in, say, construction or mineral exploration industries.

Concepts such as “zero emails” will gain popularity in our workplace as there will be a shift towards more informal collaboration and as increasingly versatile social media tools replace the inbox.

And then, of course, there are the so-called “zero emission cars”.

Electric mobility

By 2020, more than 45 million electric bicycles, cars, buses and trucks are expected to be sold annually.

True, sales of such vehicles remain weak and will probably remain so for a couple of years longer, but during the second half of the decade we will see sales take off, creating new markets for batteries, charging stations and wireless charging solutions, as well as electric motors for cars.

It will pave the way for new business models, such as pay-by-the-mile motoring.

Cities as customers

Across the world, the pace of urbanisation is picking up. Core city centres are seamlessly merging with suburbs and “daughter” cities. City limits are expanding and so-called “mega-cities” are emerging, along with “mega-regions” and “mega-corridors”.

Each of these “mega-districts” – which will often be deemed “smart” or sustainable – will be so large that companies are beginning to consider them as autonomous hubs of customers, investment, wealth creation and economic growth.

As such, many of the companies will increasingly reorganise to focus their sales and marketing efforts and other business strategies on individual cities, as opposed to on countries or states as most of them currently do.

From planes to trains

Some 200 years after the railway was invented, we are about to see dramatic change. The next decade or two will see the creation of a global high speed rail network that will connect not only cities, states or countries, but even continents.

Some of the world’s largest infrastructure projects will come together to make seamless rail travel between the United Kingdom and China, say, or between Moscow and the Middle East possible in the next 15 to 20 years.

Even the rail laggard USA will get in on the act as rail increasingly becomes a driver of economic growth.

Value for many

The emergence of a global middle class, which is interconnected via the internet and set to number some five billion people by 2020, is resulting in the creation of new “value for many” (VFM) business models that will help drive economic growth in the coming decade.

Examples that exist already include Groupon’s collaborative business model, which uses the internet to connect buyers and buys goods en masse to get the discounts. Car sharing schemes or the free Metro newspaper are also “value for many” business models, which by definition can only make money if they have a large number of members.

The most interesting feature of the VFM business model is that it drives innovation across a whole spectrum of industries, from low-cost flights to low-cost affordable healthcare products for the masses.

Connectivity and convergence

By 2020, the world will see 80 billion connected devices, nine billion mobile phones and five billion internet users, 50% of whom connect through handheld devices.

This creates an invisible network that amounts to a world without borders, where tasks can be completed at the blink of an eye and the touch of a finger, and where online video, social media and digital imagery create an era of connectivity and convergence that will change future human interaction in every aspect of life.

New battlefields

Cyber-wars fought by cyber-soldiers might sound like science fiction, but military forces around the world have come to accept it as a fifth battle front, alongside sea, air, land and space.

Much of it will centre around the control of information, and in turn around the control of the more than 1,200 satellites that are expected to be launched into space in the next decade, alongside myriad rockets carrying space tourists.

Population and internet growth will result in a twentyfold increase in the number of hackers around the world, each of them trying to wrestle control from companies or governments in order to make money or cause disruption.

Social trends

Age and sex matters. Our private lives will change as a direct consequence of the population make-up in our home country. Or perhaps in our home mega-city.

In India, some 60% of the population will soon be aged below 34. Consequently, a new generation of political leaders below the age of 45 is waiting in the wings.

China has already seen a political generational change and the “younger” Chinese government is expected to bring new social changes such as the abolition or relaxation of the hukou system, which restricts people migrating within the country, and the single-child policy.

The abolition of the single-child policy will reduce China’s dependence on the relatively few “little emperors” supporting their parents and grandparents. It will also increase the women-to-men ratio.

Increasingly, female empowerment, which will see women play an increasingly active role in the world of politics and business, will result in fewer children being born, often later in their mothers’ lives.

Sarwant Singh is the author of New Mega Trends and a partner with the consultants Frost & Sullivan.