America, Are you Ready?

President Obama understands the importance of Asian market. It’s about dealing with the sustainability of our economy within the global market. Asia, is home of 3 of the 5 largest economies in the world. China, India and Indonesia have more than one-third of the world’s population. It is a huge market.

The question is: are we ready?

From the President op-ed, via NYT.

The great challenge of our time is to make sure that America is ready to compete for the jobs and industries of the future. It can be tempting, in times of economic difficulty, to turn inward, away from trade and commerce with other nations. But in our interconnected world, that is not a path to growth, and that is not a path to jobs. We cannot be shut out of these markets. Our government, together with American businesses and workers, must take steps to promote and sell our goods and services abroad — particularly in Asia. That’s how we’ll create jobs, prosperity and an economy that’s built on a stronger foundation. 

 emphasis added.

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What ‘Buying Local’ Means?

I participate in a study about our towns and cities, looking at the year 2050 when population growth suppose to hit 9 billion people. How does it impact our towns, cities and communities. What can we do about it? So we have all kinds of discussion going, which among others, at one time there was discussion surrounding how do we support local businesses. Is buying local the right thing to do? 

Still remember the conversation we had, when a participant said that sometime there’s this question, even though – yes! he knows that buying local is good for the local economy, tax dollars are collected, support local jobs, etc. – but often times he had to go against his own beliefs because of price. Price is still a driver for some people. Unless they figure it out the cost/ benefit analysis.

Interestingly, this morning I came across this article on Marketing Daily about the very same thing that we’ve talked about in our meetings. Communispace did a study collected from 1,000 consumers across 10 different countries on how consumers view buy local. Buying local is a big business. McDonalds’ in it. Triscuit riding on the wave also. 

What does buy local mean?

Based on the survey, when it comes to purchasing decision “buying local is not a top priority for most consumers”. Instead, buying local falls close to the bottom, below the traditional attributes like safety, quality, dependability and price. However, buying local does become attractive when it provides additional value. When consumers buy local across product categories, they do it because of personal and contextual choice. Buying local gives consumers a sense of pride and civic responsibility in addition to the traditional attributes such as trustworthy vendors, quality and safety.

Despite differences in geographical location, people are using the same language, making the same connections.

Here are the four buying local themes:

#1. The definition of ‘Local’ is personal, contextual.

The first word that come to people’s mind when asked what buy local means: FOOD. It’s associated with fresh, produce, vegetables. Fresh is the main selling point for food. If you go to your local grocery, sometimes they do have food comes with that label “home grown locally.” But local here doesn’t mean it is close to your location. Instead it can be geographically close. Sweet potato sold in our local Harris Teeter have that label, but the potatoes come from somewhere in North Carolina, yeah neighboring state.. some 326 (something) miles away. Not that close, close!

#2. Consumers are increasingly tuned-in to ‘Global Concerns.’

Consumers are concerned about the social, economical and political factors. This have impacted their buying decision. When they do buy local, some of the added benefits of buying local comes weigh into the equation, i.e. great customer service, a transparent experience, and superior quality. So when they don’t buy local, it is an informed and intentional decision. 

Continue reading “What ‘Buying Local’ Means?”

Rainforests are an Important Prop to Continental Water-Cycles

The Economist’s last week issue had an in-depth look into “The World’s Lung,” that is our forests. How deforestation in one country like Brazil could have an impact across the Americas.

A must read.

In most rich countries the pressure on forests has eased; but in many tropical ones—home to around half the remaining forest, including the planet’s green rainforest girdle—the demand for land is increasing as populations rise. In Congo, which has more rainforest than any country except Brazil, the clearance is mostly driven by smallholders, whose number is about to double. Rising global demand for food and biofuels adds even more to the heat. So will climate change. That may already be happening in Canada, where recent warm winters have unleashed a plague of bark beetles, and in Australia, whose forests have been devastated by drought and forest fires.

Clearing forests may enrich those who are doing it, but over the long run it impoverishes the planet as a whole. Rainforests are an important prop to continental water-cycles. Losing the Amazon rainforest could reduce rainfall across the Americas, with potentially dire consequences for farmers as far away as Texas. By regulating run-off, trees help guarantee water-supplies and prevent natural disasters, like landslides and floods. Losing the rainforest would mean losing millions of species; forests contain 80% of terrestrial biodiversity. And for those concerned about the probable effects of climate change, forests contain twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, in plant-matter and the soils they cover, and when they are razed and their soils disturbed most is emitted. If the Amazon went up in smoke—a scenario which a bit more clearance and a bit more warming makes conceivable—it would spew out more than a decade’s worth of fossil-fuel emissions.

via the Economist

 

The Facts on Water

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Did you know that?

  • Water covers about 70% of the Earth’s surface.
  • Most of this water is undrinkable because 97% is salt water. 
  • Only 1% of water is found in rivers and streams.
  • Approximately 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.
  • About 6,000 children die every day from diseases.
  • Most of the cities where large numbers of people live without taps and toilets have plentiful water supplies.
  • Freshwater fish and other aquatic animals are considerably more imperiled than those that live on land or in the oceans.
  • It takes 1,000 times more water to grow food for an individual than to meet that person’s need for drinking.
  • Irrigation increases yield for most crops by 100 to 400%.
  • About 70% of freshwater withdrawals are used for irrigation. 
  • Water withdrawals for agriculture, assuming no gains in efficiency of use, are expected to increase by 45% by 2030.
  • The earth’s water is finite, but it is infinitely renewable

From Product Water Footprint Assessments [pdf], a report by The Nature Conservancy and Coca Cola

How 50 Sustainability Leaders Outperform their Peers, Financially

Accenture, did a study recently on how sustainability leaders are doing to generate shareholders’ value in their report ‘Driving Value from Integrated Sustainability.’ They looked at the business performance and sustainability performance of 275 of Fortune 1,000 global companies, which has previously identified by the co. in their previous study.

Basically, the study confirmed what sustainability geeks already know. That when sustainability is integrated (or embedded) to business strategy, it pays off.

For those companies “sustainability at a minimum has no negative impact on a company’s financial performance.” In fact, the companies that are performing better on sustainability tend to perform better in shareholder returns.

Take a look at how the sustainable companies perform, especially the top 50 sustainability leaders.

3_to_5_years_shareholders_return_by_sustainability_leadership

  • The top 50 – outperformed the bottom 50 companies in three-year total return to shareholders by 16 percentage points. They outperformed the middle group of 50 average sustainability peers by 6 percentage points. It is important to point out that all companies experienced a significant decline in shareholders return during the past 3 years. However, the declines in returns for the sustainability leaders were markedly less pronounced.
  • Outperformed their bottom and middle 50 peers in five-year shareholder returns by an even impressive margin – 38 and 21 percentage points, respectively.

           [via Accenture]

Continue reading “How 50 Sustainability Leaders Outperform their Peers, Financially”

18 of the World’s Largest Ports, Not in the U.S.

THE world is changing. There is a shift in balance of distribution and cargo-handling capabilities of the world’s biggest container ports. The chart below from the Economist shows how the world is changing.

Twenty years ago in 1989, the US had 5 world’s biggest ports: Los Angeles, New York/NJ, Long Beach, Oakland and Seatle. Fast forward to 2009, Los Angeles and Long Beach are the remaining ports in the US that still maintain the container volumes – from the top 20.

The biggest shift: fourteen of the 20 world’s largest is now in Asia, with eight of the ports in China.

This cargo flow shows how connected a country to the world. Singapore, which is a small country by comparison to the U.S., is very connected to the world. And that is a sure-telling sign that requires us to rethink our business strategy differently.

Worlds_largest_container_ports

image: the Economist

Correction: I wrote 14 earlier – actually it should have said “18.”

Green Marketers Nightmare: FTC Green ‘Updated’ Guidelines

Wow, this could have a ripple effect on the market. According to Environmental Leader, FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is on track to release an updated version of their “green guidelines,” which going to make 300 seal of approvals useless.

“Christopher Cole, an advertising-law specialist and partner with law firm Manatt Phelps & Phillips in Washington, told Advertising Age that the guides could make most of the more than 300 environmental seals of approval now in use on packaging and products largely useless and possibly in violation of FTC standards.

They could also influence efforts by retailers such as Walmart to institute a sustainability-rating system for products, he said.

The guides are expected to tighten standards for packaging claims such as “recyclable” or “biodegradable”; regulate how marketers use terms such as “carbon neutral,”  and how close to the source of carbon output “carbon offsets” must be executed, according to the article.

The guidelines may also define other terms such as “sustainability” or address  “greenwashing” controversies such as how far companies can market themselves as green in advertising when they or their products also have a negative impact on the environment.”

[via Enviromental Leader]

Read more details, here and here.