Archive for the ‘Express 189’ Category

Singapore Hosts “Creating Climate Wealth” & “Clean & Green Hackathon”

Posted by Ken on April 17, 2013
Posted under Express 189

Sir Richard Branson is confirmed for the Creating Climate Wealth workshops in Singapore, 13-14 May. The global convening mechanism is designed for entrepreneurs, innovators, capital providers, industry leaders and experts in order to identify profitable opportunities that climate change offers across diverse industry sectors. And Singapore is taking the Hackathon movement to a new level with the National Environment Agency (NEA) getting in on the act by holding its own “clean and green hackathon” from April 26 to 28. Read More

‘Hackathon’ to help keep Singapore clean and green

NEA brainstorming session to seek ideas from wide range of people

By David Ee in Straits Times (13 April 2013):

THEY are normally the preserve of computer programmers and Mark Zuckerberg geek-types, who gather en masse to create exciting new software.

But now the National Environment Agency (NEA) is getting in on the act by holding its own “hackathon” from April 26 to 28.

Its brainstorming session, dubbed The Clean and Green Hackathon, will involve participants trying to come up with environmental solutions for Singapore – rather than having them come directly from the authorities.

They will pitch their ideas and form teams, before hunkering down for up to 12 hours each day over the weekend. Winners will be announced on the final day of the event.

Billed by the NEA as “a celebration of collaboration and innovation”, the free event at the National University of Singapore aims to attract not only scientists and environmentalists, but also architects, web developers, programmers and other citizens.

An NEA spokesman said that the agency intends to “solicit good ideas for apps that can help track, monitor and protect the environment” through the event.

It already utilises them, such as its myENV app, which gives real-time information on rainfall and air quality.

The Government appears to be recognising the benefit that such consultations can bring to policymaking.

Last June, the Economic Development Board supported a hackathon that explored ideas ranging from how to save water to how to reduce stress.

Some 250 people attended.

Earlier this month, the Environment and Water Resources Ministry organised a Partners’ Forum to hear views on issues from saving the hawker trade to how to curb dengue.

Clean & Green participants will be asked to consider whether technologies such as mobile apps, social media and smart devices can help people change their mindsets and embrace greener living.

And if they cannot, how else Singaporeans can be inspired to “commit to better (green) habits”.

Other topics include urban issues such as waste management, energy usage and air quality. The NEA will provide participants with data on each of these.

Information architect Debbie Ding, 28, who has attended hackathons before, said that for them to be effective, they have to have focused themes, detailed data and the “right mix” of people interested in sharing ideas.

“A hackathon is limited by the datasets it receives,” she said.

Sustainability consultant Eugene Tay, 35, said that putting programmers and environmentalists in the same room could help lead to new mobile apps, for example, one to help people locate recycling bins in malls and along shopping streets.

He expressed doubts whether people would give up their weekend to take part but said that the Government should continue its recent trend of discussing policymaking with citizens.

Said bookstore owner Kenny Leck, 35: “It has to be an ongoing conversation, part and parcel of what they do, 365 days a year.”

Source: and


Announcement from Carbon War Room and Global Initiatives:

Sir Richard Branson Confirmed for Creating Climate Wealth Singapore May 13

Creating Climate Wealth Workshops, Singapore, 13-14 May is a global convening mechanism designed for entrepreneurs, innovators, capital providers, industry leaders and experts in order to identify profitable opportunities that climate change offers across diverse industry sectors. Whereas other green conferences and events have typically initiated ‘calls to action’ and white papers, our end goal at Carbon War Room is to elevate theory into practice.

CCW Workshop Summits: Are Carbon War Room’s global flagship events. Each Summit is a standalone two-day workshop with 5-8 different industry tracks, and a unique mix of 250-300 select delegates. The inclusive format is designed to ensure that your voice is heard and solutions are found.

What do I get?

At CCW Singapore, participants identify and analyze the most pressing barriers to green market growth in their industries, and develop solutions for overcoming these barriers. Although CCWs consider complex issues, the resolutions they generate are concrete, actionable and ultimately capable of accelerating, deploying and exploiting clean technology.

Day One:

• Groups will be asked to identify the challenges facing their individual industries

• Ideas for overcoming problems are brainstormed.

Day Two:

• Groups take their most robust ideas and pitch them – Dragon’s Den style – to our exclusive panel of industry experts and innovators.

• Approved ideas are taken forward and developed into actionable solutions published after the event.

Beyond the Event:

• Actionable solutions are taken forward either autonomously by companies or with the Carbon War Room, depending the potential scale of impact of the solution


- Maritime Shipping

- Energy Efficiency in the built Environment

- Machine to Machine Technologies

- Waste

- Cement


Currently, the world has the technology and policy in place to tackle 50% of the climate challenge: The job at hand now is how to shift existing capital to all entrepreneurial solutions that are profitable today. To do this, we must remove the market barriers that are currently stopping the successful scaling of these technologies globally.

Carbon War Room takes a global, sector-based approach. We are dedicated to breaking down industry market barriers, and get money flowing towards low-carbon opportunities. The aim is to complement your organization’s existing efforts, by leveraging our power to attract all key industry players to the table and help create new market demand.


The Carbon War Room divides the climate change challenge into 7 sectors and 17 sub-sectors – each containing the potential for massive C02 reductions, which are achievable via profitable business opportunities. Across these sectors, the War Room’s current Operations include: Maritime Shipping Efficiency, Green Capital, Renewable Jet Fuels, Smart Island Economies, and Trucking Efficiency.


Global Initiatives promotes partnership solutions to global challenges through film, international events and media projects. By sharing knowledge and best practices, and calling on all stakeholders to take action, we address some of the greatest challenges facing the world. Our initiatives are about partnership, inspiration and creating a better future.

Established in Singapore in 2005 (incorporated under Global Strategic Events Pte Ltd since 2007), Global Initiatives produces international events and television programming in more than 30 countries worldwide. Our producers, writers, designers and directors are based in Singapore, London, Hong Kong and Jakarta.

Source: and

Branding Business with Sustainability & Ethics in Mind

Posted by Ken on April 17, 2013
Posted under Express 189

Doing right, for a company, now goes beyond earning shareholders a fat dividend. Increasing scrutiny is now being cast on the ethical practices of businesses, with drastic results on their image and reputation – and long-term profitability. Environmental sustainability forms a component of business ethics, and its advocacy has received significant investments – though without much payback, according to a report by Verdantix. Businesses will have to incorporate sustainability as part of their branding, an approach that will lead to revenue growth. Read more

The role of ethics in everyday business

Why does it matter? What effect does it have on business success/reputation? What can businesses do to be more ethical?

By Rebecca Doodson in The Economic Voice (12 April 2013):

Ethics is fast becoming an essential aspect of business in the modern world. We see ethical practices promoted in advertising, and the lack of ethical behaviour condemned in the media. From scandals focused on The BBC to Barclays and Tesco Beef Lasagnes; business ethics are being increasingly scrutinized.

But why does this matter? Ethical scandals in the food, health, journalism and banking sectors have made the (already discerning) public more aware of these issues of ethics and, as consumers, we consider ethics when choosing a brand, supplier or service. Having a good ethical reputation can be what sets a business apart, and when it comes to ethics, reputation is everything.

If asked to think about companies that have lost public trust, what names would spring to mind? Amazon? Starbucks? Both have been the focus of media scrutiny following revelations of tax avoidance. But the interesting thing is tax avoidance is not illegal; instead the public were outraged at the departure from ethical standards. And it doesn’t stop there – ‘tax shaming’ is increasingly becoming an outlet for public anger at tax avoidance practices. Both Vodafone and  Barclays have been victims of protest against tax avoidance and, more recently, protestors have utilised social media ‘trending’ the hashtag #boycottstarbucks.

Whilst some do boycott brands, the impact this has is relatively low. It is difficult to measure the direct impact of public anger on profits of companies but branding experts agree the reputational repercussions are key.

The 13th Annual Edelman Trust Barometer clearly demonstrates the impact financial scandals have had on public trust. When asked about the banking industry, the UK scored just 29% in overall trust – a number considerably lower than the US, Canada, China and Australia.

Once a company’s brand is damaged by ethical scandals, it can be very difficult to re-build the trust of existing consumers and even more challenging to attract new ones. Additionally, a lapse in reputation can leave a business open to attack from competition.

So what can businesses do to be more ethical? Implementing a code of ethics is a good start. A recent survey conducted by IBE revealed 73% of UK employees say their organisation provides written standards of ethical business conduct. However, only half said they would report misconduct if they saw it occur. Employees are at the ‘front line’ of customer service and often have the most influence over the customer’s perception of the business. Training and development is therefore essential. This can be done internally or through workshops by ethics training providers. Some companies also offer free updates and information, such as AAT’s ethics microsite which has interactive dilemmas, case studies and articles about the most recent ethics news.

The many scandals that have affected businesses, companies and entire industries are cautionary tales with the moral being that the role of ethics in business must take centre stage.


Rebecca Doodson has been Senior Conduct and Compliance Officer at AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) since January 2011. She is responsible for content on AAT’s ethics microsite, and gives ethical advice to AAT members. Rebecca has worked at AAT for four years, managing disciplinary cases of non-compliance with the Regulations.

Read more:


Environmental  Leader (11 April 2013):

Link Sustainability to Corporate Branding, Verdantix Says

The bulk of companies that invest in sustainability communications are unable to drive revenue growth or reap any business benefits from their efforts because they fail integrate them into the corporate brand, according to a report from independent analyst firm Verdantix.

Rethinking Sustainability: Brand Risks and Opportunities is based on an analysis of how 80 firms link sustainability with corporate branding. Verdantix identifies five communications strategies companies typically take: purists, explorers, advocates, reactionists and nothingists.

The majority of firms are categorized as advocates, a strategy where companies actively communicate on sustainability issues, but keep these separate from the corporate brand and push them out to a limited audience. Advocates target their communications to employees and sustainability opinion leaders and use the company’s sustainability report as a central tool.

Despite pressure to do more, Verdantix found spending for sustainability communications is typically flat.

The number of companies managing and reporting performance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues is on the rise, more than doubling from 2010 to 2011, according to an analysis by Governance & Accountability Institute.

However, companies are often stuck on using traditional CSR communication strategies focused on reports, ratings and not-for-profits, Verdantix says. Chief marketing officers can add strategic value by integrating the company’s sustainability ethic and messages into the corporate brand, an approach that will lead to revenue growth.

CMOs need to take charge of sustainability communications in order to reap brand benefits. Once CMOs assess their current sustainability communications strategy and determine what their company spends in this area, they should benchmark their approach versus industry leaders, Verdantix says.

The firm also says CMOs should collaborate closely with management responsible for sustainability within the company to devise a strategic approach and then craft future-looking messaging to avoid greenwash accusations.

Source:  and

Last Word from Ken Hickson: Serendipity or Waking Up to Reality?

Posted by Ken on April 17, 2013
Posted under Express 189

Call it serendipity or what you will, but I feel compelled to tell a tale which has some very interesting, fortuitous and coincidental consequences.

It also illustrates the clear advantage of keeping an open mind, meeting interesting people and engaging in some of the age-old practices of picking up and reading a “real book” and not being so over-dependent on what I must call – for want of a better description – “digital engagement”.

My serendipitous encounter involved real people, a bit of history, and two books. And, as you would expect, a clean energy message with a clean energy pioneer, William Armstrong, at left.  Read More

Last Word: Serendipity or Waking Up to Reality?

Call it serendipity or what you will, but I feel compelled to tell a tale or two which have some very interesting, fortuitous and coincidental consequences.

It also illustrates the clear advantage of keeping an open mind, meeting interesting people and engaging in some of the age-old practices of picking up and reading a “real book” and not be so over-dependent on what I must call – for want of a better description – “digital engagement”.

My serendipitous encounter involved real people, a bit of history, and two books.

You wouldn’t imagine there would be any commonality between Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” (first published in 1719) and a book by Henrietta Heald about William Armstrong “Magician of the North” who lived (1859 – 1900). Armstrong was a real living man and Crusoe a figment of Defoe’s vivid imagination.

But both had something in common. They utilised clean energy powered by water for very useful purposes. To survive on his island, Crusoe  invented a process to mill corn using the energy from a flowing river.  I read about this not in the original story by Defoe but in a fascinating book on literary heroes (and other fictional characters) in “Sebastion Faulks on Fiction”.

Being a great admirer of the writing skills of Mr Faulks – Birdsong, Charlotte Gray and even a James Bond book (as invited by the Ian Fleming trust) called Devil May Care – I was so pleased to pick it up in a Singapore Change Alley bookstore called Precious Words (a bookstore with a difference, as they offer books for lease as well as sale!)

And here’s where the serendipitous bit comes in. I was on my way to meet a client, Andrew Affleck of Armstrong Asset Management. Yes, you guessed it. Named after the same Armstrong – William – and subject of the book, which I found lined up in the bookcase in Andrew’s conference room.

I had certainly heard about Armstrong from Andrew before as to why he had chosen the name for his company. The Englishman was a great admirer of the very inventive, industrious William Armstrong. And as I flicked through the book, waiting for the meeting to start, I came across the reference to Armstrong’s invention of hydro-electricity.

Tapping the energy of a river on his Newcastle on Tyne property in 1880 to produce the power to light his house, history records that his was “the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity”.

At the time he was recognised as highly as the Stephenson’s – Robert and George, locomotives and railway line; Michael Faraday with his electromagnetism discoveries;  as Brunel, with his railway and bridge engineering, and Charles Darwin, with his Origin of the Species and others. But history has ‘shamefully neglected’ Armstrong, according to the novelist and thriller writer Len Deighton, an expert in military history, who welcomes the publication of the first comprehensive biography of this remarkable man.

Armstrong went on to be associated with ship building, armaments, cars and aircraft, but it was his first pioneering work in clean energy that I was most interested in. Water power to electrify lights.

So imagine my surprise – yes, obviously I had  not religiously read Robinson Crusoe so well as a boy – to discover that Mr Defoe had his hero use the energy from a flowing river to work its magic and drive a mill to grind his grain to help feed him in this remote place. The author didn’t have to invent this out of his creative mind, as using water to drive a mill had been around the for centuries.

But for me, reading – all within an hour or so – about the fictional hero of water energy on a remote island and the historic figure of the English early industrial age with his hydro-electrical powered lights made me think.

How sad it is that when the world had access to clean energy  it turned to fossil fuels to drive its industrial age and in the process severely damaged not only the environment on earth but produced excessive amounts of Carbon dioxide – and many other nasty greenhouse gases – which we are now doing our best to reduce, and eliminate if possible, to save the planet.

It was another historic figure – a contemporary of Armstrong’s – the Swedish Nobel prize winner in chemistry in 1903, one Svante Arrhenius, who released his landmark work in 1895. He talked about the “greenhouse effect” and what would happen if industrial emissions grew enough to double the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. He predicted a warming of about 5 degrees Celsius.

But he was wrong in that he predicted it would take 2000 years for that to happen. Latest predictions by climate scientists are that the earth is on track to reach that landmark 5 degrees C warming by 2050. Arrhenius should have said 200 not 2000 years. But he had no way of knowing the extent to which industrialisation, along with the digging up and burning coal, exploitation of oil and gas, would do so much damage.

And I doubt if his contemporary William Armstrong – the magician of the north (England) – really foresaw what would happen to hydro-generation, which has become a major source of energy for any countries, lighting for homes, streets and buildings, or his other clean and not so clean inventions.

But we can but take hope from the fact that these men – Armstrong  in particular – is now the inspiration for a movement to fund clean energy production and distribution on South East Asia.

Hydroelectricity might well figure among some of the to-be-funded projects. But more likely is solar, which is not only taking the world by storm – in the nicest possible way – but based on forecasts will be responsible for by far the majority of all the world’s energy well before the end of this century. Shell’s latest forecast is that by 2070, solar photovoltaic panels become the world’s largest primary source of energy.

Solar, by way of photo-voltaic on roofs of buildings everywhere,  as well as solar thermal by way of large arrays of mirrors to reflect the heat of the sun onto  towers to heat salt to produce steam to drive turbines to produce electricity 24 hours a day. This is happening in Spain and California now and plans are for massive use of solar thermal in Australia and the Sahara.

Advance in solar technology are considerable. Thinner and more effective solar cells.The work of the SERIS centre in Singapore to utilise solar cells in the windows and facades of buildings. Or the work of special glass now installed in the Empire State Building. Or the work of companies like Phoenix Solar – in Singapore and around the world – to install solar panels on many buildings as an alternative to fossil fuel power.

Interesting to note that the first solar power plants in the world were in France. We noted in an article a few months ago after friends reported on visiting the world’s first modern solar furnace – and the world’s largest – at Mont Louis, near Odeillo. It is believed to have been built in France in 1949 by Professor Félix Trombe. The Pyrenees were chosen as the site because the area experiences clear skies up to 300 days a year.

France has been doing other work on solar thermal – the THEMIS solar power tower is a research and development centre focused on solar energy and is located near the village of Targassonne, in the department of Pyrénées-Orientales, 3 kilometres from the world’s solar furnace in Odeillo.

We must not ignore one of the latest advances in solar from the UK.  Eight19, which takes its name from the time it takes sunlight to reach the earth – 8 minutes and 19 seconds – is a developer and manufacturer of third generation solar cells based on printed plastic.

Originating from technology initially developed at Cambridge University in the UK, these flexible, robust, lightweight solar modules benefit from high-speed manufacturing and low fabrication costs.  With a fraction of the embedded energy of conventional solar modules, printed plastic solar modules are particularly well suited to consumer and off-grid applications.

What is the world coming to? Printed plastic solar modules. Solar cells incorporated in glass windows.

And we end with the work of another genius – Sir Harry Kroto, of Cambridge, another Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, for his work with C60 – the wonder carbon.

Could this open the door to genuinely cheap, clean, low carbon energy?

Could this be the 21st century  equivalent to Armstrong’s innovations, and that of his fellow Victorian inventors?

Keep your eyes and ears open. Read and meet real people. Recognise serendipity when it hits you!

Note: The first noted use of “serendipity” in the English language was by Horace Walpole (1717–1797). In a letter to Horace Mann (dated 28 January 1754) he said he formed it from the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, whose heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of”. The name stems from Serendip, an old name for Sri Lanka (aka Ceylon).


1. “Faulks on Fiction”, by Sebastian Faulks, BBC Books, 2011

2. “William Armstrong: Magician of the North”, by Henrietta Heald, McNidder & Grace, 2012

3. Armstrong Asset Management, Singapore

4. Solar Energy Research Institute Singapore,

5. Phoenix Solar, Singapore,

6. Eight 19,