Category: Environment

Bard to Host First Asia Forum on Waters, Forests, Communities

While I’ll miss this event myself (due to my own trip to Asia to speak at the AIDF-Asia Pacific Forum–see my post of Jan. 13) I recommend that anyone who can, join my colleagues at Bard College, from Jan. 31-Feb. 2, for this exciting three-day conference to explore opportunities to link the study of Asia with its natural environment.  For more information and to register:  http://www.bard.edu/news/conferences/asia2013/

Improving Communications in Environmental Disasters: A conversation with the UN’s Margareta Wahlstrom

margareta_wahlstrom© 2013 Ann Goodman

At the National Council for Science and the Environment’s timely conference on Disasters and Environment, focusing on science, preparedness and resilience, in Washington, D.C. in mid-January, one of the most seasoned and sensible, yet cautionary voices was keynote speaker Margareta Wahlstrom, of the UN Office of Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva.

One warning: Functional communications will be key to resilience in disasters, likely to accelerate in the future.

With the population growing two to three times more in most vulnerable areas of the world, largely coastal, we should now know, with the wealth of scientific and other data available, how to plan for the future, she said.

In planning for future resilience, she named three challenges:

1.Planning and developing resilience, especially for agricultural and urban issues.

2. Governance

3.Communications. “Research is rich, and the volume of information enormous–so it’s not as accessible to decision makers as it should be.”

After her keynote, Ms. Wahlstrom sat down with me to elaborate on her ideas, based on wide experience, on improving communications during environmental disasters, especially in an age of amplifying communications through electronic and wide-spreading social networking tools… Continue reading “Improving Communications in Environmental Disasters: A conversation with the UN’s Margareta Wahlstrom”

Ann to Speak at First AIDF-Asia Pacific Forum in Bangkok, Jan. 30-31

Following her recent cutting-edge remarks on the nexus of sustainability and social media in France, LA and NYC, Dr. Goodman will speak in Bangkok, Thailand on “The Role of Social Media in Development” at the first Asia-Pacific Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF),  one of the world’s leading forums for the humanitarian aid, relief and development sectors on January 30 and 31.

She will also moderate the panel on “Empowering Women as a Development Tool.”

The event will bring together practitioners and policy leaders from governments, the UN, NGOs and private organizations, to highlight the challenges faced by the aid and development sector and to share innovative ideas. As a center of  operational activity and international support for both the humanitarian relief and development sectors, Bangkok is the ideal place for the first Asia Forum.

aidf-ap-08-594x300

In addition to Ann, the panel on Social Media will feature… Continue reading “Ann to Speak at First AIDF-Asia Pacific Forum in Bangkok, Jan. 30-31”

Ann’s ‘6 biggest trends’ is 2nd most read story on Greenbiz.com, 2012

As the New Year opens, I’m happy to share with the sustainability community that my story on Ernst & Young’s research, entitled ‘6 Biggest Trends in Sustainability Reporting,’ published Jan.30, 2012, was the second-most read story (of the 12 most clicked) of this year on Greenbiz.com, the must-go-to sustainability business web site!  (www.Greenbiz.com/bio/ann-goodman: ‘The 12 Most Popular Stories of 2012,’ 12/28/12)

“At the GreenBiz Forum in New York City, E&Y offered a preview of the results of a recent survey of trends in sustainability reporting from 24 different sectors…Read more: (www.Greenbiz.com/bio/ann-goodman: ‘The 6 Biggest Trends in Sustainability Reporting, 1/30/12)

Thanks to my friends at E&Y, especially Chris Walker, Robert Brand, Adam Carrel, and, last, but hardly least, Steve Starbuck–for doing such great research and spending time and energy on adding comment and color to an important story!

Calculating the cost of disaster vs. the price of resilience

 © 2012 Ann GoodmanJohnMutter

By June 2012, many had forgotten the devastation Hurricane Katrina wrought on New Orleans some seven years earlier. Few had the foresight to predict Sandy and the crises it would cause New York City and environs.

In the super-storm’s aftermath, most have been concerned with “getting back to normal.” A few are calling for resilient new ways to handle what’s now being dubbed the “new normal” weather pattern.

And a very few are trying to calculate the real costs of the disaster.

One of those is Prof. John Mutter, the Columbia University scientist and economist, who shared his prescient insights with me on the price of climate related disaster last spring. In the wake of Sandy, which occurred right in Mutter’s backyard (full disclosure: mine, too), he with me shared some more recent lessons learned and potential ways forward.

What is striking about Mutter’s viewpoint is his focus on the longer-term economic and business costs of such climate-related disasters—versus an immediate fix—and his suggestions of opportunities to be reaped. Instead of reconstructing what was lost, he advocates taking a longer view to understand what the often lagging and lasting costs of such disasters are.

That approach often means looking not at current losses and rebuilding what was destroyed, but rather at the costs—over time—to business and society, in the long aftermath of the event, including productivity gains that might have occurred without a disaster.

It also means looking at any current destruction less as loss but rather as opportunity to create something completely different, perhaps elsewhere, with more wisdom, foresight, practical insight and technological know-how.

In short, Mutter’s approach suggests a new and different way of calculating the costs of disaster, pointing out that the biggest loss to the economy—the chain of production, consumption and everything that goes into it—doesn’t happen in the moment of crisis but actually begins afterwards “with losses that go beyond the value of the built structures trashed at the time, beyond the capital asset loss, to a deeper economic loss that happens over time.”

He adds that a climate-related—or other—disaster is a process with three key parts: build-up, event and recovery. The recovery period is where the risk of cost builds most—and where the opportunity for genuine correction also occurs, including boosting economic growth after the initial trauma.

The post-disaster period is when we start to understand the “true impacts,” he says, adding that they will be “highly variable, and the length of time it takes to get back to where you were is uneven” for different businesses. Continue reading “Calculating the cost of disaster vs. the price of resilience”

Can sustainability help JPMorgan Chase bounce back?

 © 2012 Ann Goodman

Even as JPMorgan Chase has incurred billions in losses from botched trading, acknowledged by its CEO Jamie Dimon as an “egregious mistake,” the stalwart bank has been enthusiastically supporting a new environmental strategy that spans all of its businesses.

In a particularly creative move, the bank recently announced it is financing an initiative in New York City to help building owners cover upfront costs of converting old boilers to natural gas. It is also encouraging home owners to make their homes more energy efficient through improvements that may be eligible for tax benefits.

Matthew Arnold, the Head of the Office of Environmental Affairs, sees the move as the sort of innovation he hopes the bank can achieve across businesses to help solve real-world environmental problems.

Appointing Arnold — former leader of PwC’s Sustainable Business Solutions, co-founder of Sustainable Finance Ltd., and COO of World Resources Institute — to the top environmental position a year ago was something of a coup for the bank. In Arnold, JPMorgan Chase has lured not just a daring environmental thought leader, but also a well-known implementer of sustainability projects. Continue reading “Can sustainability help JPMorgan Chase bounce back?”

Ann and Lakis to Speak at Commitforum! in NYC, Oct. 2-3

Commitforum!, October 2-3, NYC

Join Ann Goodman and colleague Lakis Polycarpou at their session “Sustainable Supply Chains in the Age of Natural Disasters”

For 30% discount on entire conference, register at http://www.commitforum.com/ using ID Code GOODMAN30.

In the summer and fall of 2011 a torrent of rain and subsequent flooding washed over Thailand, a major supplier and key link in global supply chains, causing billions in damage and production shutdowns, with global automotive and computer companies among the hardest hit. While the scale of damage was unprecedented, it was only the latest Continue reading “Ann and Lakis to Speak at Commitforum! in NYC, Oct. 2-3”

Environment & Leadership: Tips from a Pro at NAEM Women’s Roundtable

© 2012 Ann Goodman

One of the outstanding presenters at NAEM’s recent roundtable onwomen’s leadership and environment was Susan Eisenhower, president of the Eisenhower Group Inc. and appointed member of the DEC’s commission
on America’s Nuclear Future (tasked with safely developing long-term solutions for the nuclear fuel cycle), and granddaughter of President “Ike” Eisenhower.
Her career has been one marked by progressive inquiry, critical thought and independent judgment.
She had some particularly wise words to impart to on leadership and environment to an audience of women environmental professionals in the corporate, policy and nonprofit sectors. Here are a few of her tips:

On Leadership: Continue reading “Environment & Leadership: Tips from a Pro at NAEM Women’s Roundtable”