Archive for the ‘Express 209’ Category

Declare “War on Waste: by Managing Big Events Sustainably

Posted by Ken on February 18, 2015
Posted under Express 209

Declare “War on Waste: by Managing Big Events Sustainably

As Singapore – with its super-clean image – is struggling to minimise and manage waste at major events, without engaging an army of cleaners, we look at two examples, one from Canada and one from Australia where waste is being managed at sporting events in a sustainable fashion. Ken Hickson recalls the wise words from the founder of CleanEvent Australia, Craig Lovett, who’s managed Formula One and Olympic events, that the best thing you can do is manage what’s taken on the site – by caterers and spectators – to reduce what has to be cleaned up and collected. Read More

BUSINESS WIRE (20 January 2015):

–Waste Management Announces Second Annual Sustainability Challenge Winner

RBC Canadian Open Ranks Highest in Overall Sustainability among Participating PGA TOUR Golf Tournaments

Waste Management (NYSE: WM) announced today that the RBC Canadian Open was named the winner of the second annual Sustainability Challenge, a contest sponsored by Waste Management to encourage all PGA TOUR tournaments to engage in and advance sustainable practices at their respective events. With this distinction, the RBC Canadian Open joins the ranks of the Sustainability Challenge inaugural winner, the Shell Houston Open and the Waste Management Phoenix Open as PGA TOUR tournaments that demonstrate the value of responsible sustainability practices.

The RBC Canadian Open received the highest cumulative score for Materials Management, Natural Resources Tracking and Conservation, Economic Impact and Overall Sustainability. Waste Management sustainability experts scored participating tournaments’ submissions and were pleased to note that ninety-one percent of the 22 PGA TOUR tournaments that submitted applications have a recycling program in place and track their diversion of waste from landfills. As the winner, RBC Canadian Open leadership will attend the upcoming Waste Management Phoenix Open and Waste Management’s fifth annual Executive Sustainability Forum.

RBC Canadian Open employs numerous sustainable practices at the carbon-neutral tournament including: reducing waste by diverting it from landfills and into recycling and organics facilities; providing sorting stations where spectators bring their waste and volunteers place it in proper recycling or composting receptacles; donating unused food to local food banks; offering sustainable transportation options and more. The Royal Montreal Golf Club, home of the 2014 RBC Canadian Open, is also certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary golf course, a designation earned for its certification in six categories: Environmental Planning, Chemical Use Reduction & Safety, Water Conservation, Water Quality Management, Wildlife & Habitat Management, and Outreach & Education.

“We are committed to making the RBC Canadian Open a green event,” said Bill Paul, chief championship officer and tournament director of the RBC Canadian Open. “We are proud to work with RBC and all of our partners to ensure our tournament continues to be a positive example of best practices to reduce the event’s environmental impact within the markets we conduct the championship.”

“As a zero waste event, the award-winning Waste Management Phoenix Open has set the ‘green’ standard for sustainability in sports,” said Jim Trevathan, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Waste Management. “The Sustainability Challenge provides Waste Management the opportunity to recognize the successes of a growing number of PGA TOUR tournaments like the RBC Canadian Open that are expanding their green initiatives so that others will continue to be encouraged to ‘green’ the game of golf.”

As Waste Management Phoenix Open title sponsor, Waste Management continues to advance innovative programs that dramatically increase environmental and social responsibility at the tournament. The Waste Management Phoenix Open, a zero waste event also known as the “Greenest Show on Grass,” has become a major platform for highlighting Waste Management’s sustainability initiatives, including the four Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle and recover.

Through the tournament’s “Zero Waste Challenge,” Waste Management successfully diverted 100 percent of waste away from landfills in 2013 and 2014. This year, Waste Management continues its Zero Waste Challenge as part of its company-wide effort to manage 20 million tons of recyclable materials annually by the year 2020 and extract more value from all of the materials the company manages.


Waste Management, based in Houston, Texas, is the leading provider of comprehensive waste management services in North America. Through its subsidiaries, the company provides collection, transfer, recycling and resource recovery, and disposal services. It is also a leading developer, operator and owner of landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States. The company’s customers include residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal customers throughout North America. To learn more information about Waste Management, visit or




Music festivals go cleaner, greener

Melinda Ham for Sydney Morning Herald (17 February 2015):

Event organisers co-opt fans and artists to make open-air gigs more sustainable.

Every summer, tens of thousands of people across Australia revel in live outdoor music, staying for a day or pitching their tents for a weekend. When the music dies, however, what’s left may be less appealing – a churned-up landscape with tonnes of food and drink packaging, a sea of discarded possessions and overflowing portable toilets.

Environmental researcher Laura Wynne is an avid festival-goer and enjoyed the Falls Festival at Lorne, in Victoria, over New Year. An earlier Falls Festival, in Tasmania a couple of years ago, was not such a good experience.

“As we left the festival on New Year’s Day, the scene was almost apocalyptic. The beautiful hills of Marion Bay were covered in debris – everything from beer cans and chip packets to abandoned camp chairs, tarpaulins and tents,” she says.

“Seeing this fallout first-hand really brought home the need for action to improve the music industry’s impact.”

While there is no strong data to measure the carbon footprint of festival audiences in Australia, Wynne expects it would be similar in Britain, where a not-for-profit group has found festivals generate 43 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions for the entire music industry.

There is hope for change though, says Wynne, a research consultant for the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).

Wynne has completed a report on the barriers and opportunities for a greener music scene, and says “audiences and artists both care a lot about the environment and want to take action”.

There are several real and perceived barriers to greening the industry, she says. “There is a perception that taking action on environmental issues is complicated, expensive and time consuming. This is not necessarily true.”

But Wynne concedes that changing business practices is likely to be a challenge for the industry. Some initiatives may deliver a long-term return on investment but upfront costs could be a barrier to action in an industry where many are barely turning a profit.

However, she says many organisers are already taking practical steps to make their events more sustainable.

Environmental scientist Mat Morris is general manager of North Byron Parklands, a 270-hectare property that is home to the Falls Festival each summer and Splendour in the Grass, Australia’s largest winter music festival, which attracts 30,000 visitors each July.

“One of the things we do is offer a carbon offset ticket to patrons, to pay a bit extra to invest in climate-friendly options to offset their travel to the event,” Morris says. “We also get patrons to plant trees. They love it.”

Morris says more than 2000 trees were planted at the Splendour in the Grass festival last year and more than 1000 at the Falls Festival.

Other measures include 246 dry-composting toilets; 192 gas-fired, low-flow showers and treating all grey water and waste onsite. Festival-goers can also refill their containers from rainwater collected from the roofs of the ablution blocks.

Morris’s team also provides green tent options including Camp Little-Foot Print, where patrons sign a pledge to have as little environmental impact as possible in return for the best camping spots, closest to the music.

Simon Luke, co-ordinator of the Festival of the Sun, held in Port Macquarie in December, has adopted some measures used by Splendour in the Grass.

“It’s really put my faith back in the customers,” he says. “I’d underestimated how willing they were to recycle, remove their own waste and keep their campsites clean.”

To encourage festival-goers to pool their cars, rather than camp near their cars to charge their mobile devices, Luke has introduced portable chargers with lithium batteries.

In her report, Wynne suggests Green Music Australia should take the lead in co-ordinating and supporting organisers such as Luke and provide more green education.

Musician Tim Hollo, chief executive of Green Music Australia, is already heeding Wynne’s advice and working with St Jerome’s Laneway Festivals (which holds events in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the US) to make them more eco-friendly.

Initiatives include encouraging people to cycle to the event, providing a cycle valet service at the festival’s five Australian venues, and supplying free public transport to the event. Most lighting is changing to LED and sponsors will sell reusable water bottles instead of bottled water.

Green Music Australia is also supporting initiatives at other festivals such as the Caloundra Music Festival, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. In December, it became water bottle free. The sale of water bottles was banned on site in favour of town-water hydration stations and reusable containers. “It was a spectacular success and saved 60,000 water bottles from landfill,” Hollo says.

Wynne says more research is needed to minimise the wider environmental footprint of the industry.

As recorded music moves rapidly away from CDs (with many in recycled cardboard sleeves rather than plastic) and into downloading and digitisation, there is a need to quantify the impact of this transition, says Wynne.


Special Report: Resilience for Vulnerable Cities & Islands

Posted by Ken on February 18, 2015
Posted under Express 209

Special Report: Resilience for Vulnerable Cities & Islands

“There is a need to do things differently; to be prepared; to innovate; to constantly learn and adapt; and to enact the full spectrum of resilience actions, including disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery, for current and projected risks”, report the mayors and municipal leaders in the “Bangkok Call for Action Towards Urban Resilience in the Asia Pacific” at a landmark event in the Thai capital 11-13 February. Read More.

Resilient Cities Asia Pacific congress calls for action on urban resilience

“People should be at the core of building urban resilience”

Report from Bangkok (13 February 2015):

Mayors and municipal leaders from the Asia Pacific region have called for a more concerted and coordinated action to build resilience and adapt to the intensifying impacts of climate change.

“There is a need to do things differently; to be prepared; to innovate; to constantly learn and adapt; and to enact the full spectrum of resilience actions, including disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery, for current and projected risks”, state the mayors and municipal leaders in the “Bangkok Call for Action Towards Urban Resilience in the Asia Pacific”.

The Bangkok Call for Action was agreed today at the closing of the inaugural Resilient Cities Asia Pacific congress.  The congress brought together over 300 city leaders and experts to exchange tried and tested solutions on managing risk and building resilience in Asian cities.

The population of Asian cities is expected to reach 1.8 billion in 2030.  According to UN estimates, 8 out of 12 disasters that happened between 2000 and 2010 happened in the region.

The triple whammy effects of urbanization, climate change and globalization prompted cities to work together with national governments and the global community to:

1.     Focus on innovative systems based approaches

2.     Promote concerted and coordinated urban resilience action through community engagement

3.     Increase multi-level and multi-sectorial partnerships

4.     Ensure that risk assessments provide quantifiable evidence and are mainstreamed into urban planning

5.     Develop and benefit from new financial mechanisms

6.     Build capacities of local governments in risk assessments

7.     Ensure that the measures for building resilience is equitable

8.     Connect urban risk reduction planning and implementation with existing global initiatives

One such initiative is the Durban Adaptation Charter, a pioneering global agreement among cities to mainstream climate adaptation.  Coinciding with the adoption of the Bangkok Call for Action, the Charter welcomed its first signatories from the Pacific region today with sixteen Mayors and city officials signing on to the Charter and committing to collaborative climate action.

“The most cost-effective climate adaptation actions are to collaborate with like-minded mayors and stakeholders and to integrate our efforts. These actions are in fact very simple to do and I strongly advise everyone to do these,” remarked Mayor Arlene Arcillas of Santa Rosa City, Philippines. Santa Rosa is part of the pilot coalition of local governments in the Philippines that aims  to jointly address the issue of financing for urban resilience.

“Together, we can make more resilient cities”, said Pasadee Thamthai, the Vice Governor of Bangkok, Thailand. She also vowed to create Bangkok a safe and resilient city starting with the individuals and communities from various sectors. Bangkok has recently developed cycling pathways and improved their waste management facilities. “Resilience starts with people. There can be no resilient cities without resilient people”.

“Resilience should be integrated, inclusive and pro-poor”, said Kinlay Dorjee of Thimphu, Bhutan. The city has been involving the youth, women and communities in recycling projects, mobility programs and generating green jobs.

“Putting people at the core of every resilience building effort was an overarching theme of the Resilient Cities Asia Pacific congress.  The usually forgotten social aspects of planning for urban resilience – collaboration, awareness and capacity building, gender integration and financing programs – were highlighted more prominently in addition to infrastructure development and urban risk assessments,“ noted Emani Kumar, Deputy Secretary General of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. ICLEI is the convener of the Resilient Cities congress series.

Kumar added: “The Bangkok Call for Action captures the outcomes of the congress and provides recommendations for cities and nations in moving towards a climate-resilient world”.

The Bangkok Call for Action will be delivered at the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan where nations will decide on the disaster risk reduction framework for the next 10 years. It will also feed into the ongoing processes of finalizing the post-2015 development agenda, specifically the Sustainable Development Goals on cities and human settlements, the UN Climate Conference in Paris and the Habitat III in 2016.

The full text of the Bangkok Call for Action can be downloaded here:

Mercy Corps, Rockefeller Foundation Launch Asia Regional Network To Build City Resilience To Climate Change

Will Bugler from ACCCRN:

Climate policy and systems resilience

At the first Asia-Pacific Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation this week in Bangkok, the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) will launch a member-based regional network headed by global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps. As a result of ACCCRN’s expanding footprint, Mercy Corps will build a larger coalition of national, regional and local practitioners and institutions committed to helping cities withstand and recover from the projected impacts of climate change. Today more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and this number will increase along with vulnerability to erratic and severe weather patterns.

“Increasing frequency and intensity of storms, unpredictable growing seasons, floods and drought are becoming a day-to-day climate reality in many parts of the world,” says Jim Jarvie of Mercy Corps and ACCCRN Network Director. “When coupled with the pace of urbanization, poor and migrant populations in urban areas are especially vulnerable. To save lives and protect homes and livelihoods, it’s important to invest in approaches to urban challenges embedded in governance to reduce vulnerabilities and make communities resilient.”

Since 2009, Mercy Corps has led ACCCRN in Indonesia in Bandar Lampung and Semarang, two cities prone to flooding and other environmental challenges, bringing together government and community leaders to strengthen emergency preparedness and plan coordinated responses to flooding, landslides and other disasters, as well as slower onset stresses from climate change.

“The launch of the ACCCRN Network could not have come at a better time,” says Ashvin Dayal, Associate Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation. “There is an increasing need to put resilience principles into practice, as the confluence of urbanization, climate change and vulnerability becomes more palpable. The regional network will enable practitioners to connect, share experience and advance urban climate change resilience agendas together. This will help cities address day-to-day challenges, while also preparing them for whatever shocks may come their way, making them able to realize a resilience dividend.”

Launched in 2008 as an initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation, ACCCRN strengthens capacity of rapidly growing cities in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to better prepare for devastating shock events and more gradual changes. Since its founding, more than 50 cities have joined ACCCRN.

The expanded ACCCRN network is a membership-based platform, open to all concerned with building urban climate change resilience. Practitioners and institutions can join the new ACCCRN network at


Last Word: Artists get it, don’t they?

Posted by Ken on February 18, 2015
Posted under Express 209

Last Word: Artists get it, don’t they?

All the world a stage. Shakespeare put those words in the mouth of Jaques in “As you like it”. And I like it a lot.  Maybe it is because I mix with creative people a lot – writers, artists, designers, architects, actor, musicians – that I have the distinct impression they get it. They understand that the world is on a collision course with a changing climate and that the very humans who set fire to our earth and atmosphere, have it in their power to fix it. Sense and sustainability.  So here’s a scientist who been drawn to the arts.  Switching disciplines to undertake what’s now called the Crossroads Project. Music to my ears. And if “music be the food of love, play on”. Read more

Climate Scientist Tries Arts To Stir Hearts Regarding Earth’s Fate

Joe Palca for NPR (16 February 2015):

A decade ago, physicist Robert Davies wasn’t all that interested in Earth’s climate. His field was quantum optics. But while he was working at the University of Oxford in England, he became intrigued by what was going on at Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, just down the road from his lab.

Davies started going to seminars at the Institute, and was taken aback, he says, by “the broad gap between what science understands about climate change, and what the public understands.”

He assumed it was simply a problem of science communication. So, to help remedy the situation, he began giving public lectures on the looming dangers of climate change, and what it could mean for the sustainability of life on this planet. The results weren’t what he expected.

“The audiences would understand it on an intellectual level,” says Davies. “The science is pretty self-explanatory and very compelling.” But they didn’t seem to personally connect with the information. They understood it, but they weren’t feeling it, he says — and weren’t taking any action.

It was as if he were informing people about the dangers of smoking, and then watching them go out afterward and light up cigarettes.

Davies became passionately interested in finding ways to change people’s behavior when it comes to climate change.

But how?

He left Oxford, England and quantum optics for Logan, Utah and a job at the Utah State University Climate Center.

One day it occurred to him that maybe music was the answer. His idea was a hybrid event: one that sort of combined a lecture on climate with a musical performance — performance art and performance science.

“We have this amazing professional string quartet — the Fry Street Quartet — as artists in residence at the Caine College of the Arts here,” Davies says. “So I approached them to see if they would be interested in participating in this experiment. And they really jumped at it. And so, together, we developed this performance.”

They called their production the Crossroads Project; it premiered in Utah in the fall of 2012 and has been performed many times since (including internationally), with more to come.

The team commissioned the composer Laura Kaminsky to write music for the project. It also includes evocative images taken by nature photographer Garth Lenz, and projections of paintings (inspired by nature) by Rebecca Allen, displayed behind the musicians.

“I was just thrilled at the thought of being able to use my art form — the medium of the string quartet — in some way that was relevant to this topic that I was so concerned about,” says violinist Rebecca McFaul.

In fact, McFaul was so thrilled with Davies’ ideas that she wound up marrying him.

The music is intended to make people think about things like water and glaciers and warming temperatures. But, like all art, it’s open to interpretation.

“It can take on so many different meanings for the listener,” says McFaul. “There’s no right or wrong answers for it. And the idea is just to live through it, and sit with it, and contemplate it.”

The project isn’t meant to convert skeptics, Davies says. “It’s about convincing people who already believe we have these problems to start behaving like it.”

There’s good reason to think that people will be affected by the Crossroads project: Psychologists know that adding emotion to a message makes that message more memorable.

Whether it will have the impact on behavior that Davies is hoping for is another question.

Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics — everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He is currently focused on the eponymous series, “Joe’s Big Idea.” Stories in the series explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. Palca began his journalism career in television in 1982, working as a health producer for the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC. In 1986, he left television for a seven-year stint as a print journalist, first as the Washington news editor for Nature, and then as a senior correspondent forScience Magazine.