Category: Sustainability

So You Want to Raise a Series A? Here’s What You Need to Know

Read the full story from the Clean Energy Trust.

The discussion below focuses on key considerations for a cleantech or clean energy startup preparing for Series A financing. Preparation includes creating a compelling narrative for potential investors, gathering relevant documents and materials, and making a plan for your fundraising process.

2020 Marks the Point When Human-Made Materials Outweigh All the Living Things on Earth, a New Study Finds

Read the full story in Time.

In a startling sign of the impact that humans are having on our planet, a study published Dec. 9 estimates that 2020 marks the point when human-made materials outweigh the total mass of Earth’s living biomass.

Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science found that the total mass of human-made materials—such as concrete, steel and asphalt—has increased rapidly since 1900, when it made up the equivalent of just 3% of the mass of living biomass—plants, animals and microorganisms. As humans have constructed more buildings, roads, structures and objects over the last 120 years, the mass of human-produced materials has grown from less than 0.1 teratonnes to roughly 1 teratonne (1 trillion tonnes), the study, published in the journal Nature estimates.

Doing More with Less – Lessons Learned in 2020

Read the full story at Waste360.

2020 has been a year that feels like a decade, a time of challenge, change and crisis. Our lifestyles have changed over the past nine months as our mobility, social interactions and ability to engage in commerce were curtailed by the reality and restrictions of COVID-19. We’ve been compelled to do more with less.

Here’s the thing, though. That lessening effect has been a net positive for sustainability.

The Power of Data to Advance the SDGs: Mapping research for the Sustainable Development Goals

Download the document.

Our latest report, The Power of Data to Advance the SDGs, shows that over the last five years SDG-related publications have reached a staggering 4.1 million articles. This presents both opportunities and challenges for our communities. We want to help them navigate this body of data so important decisions can be made based on the rich scientific knowledge. The report maps the latest sustainability research and initiatives within each SDG area with unique, easy-to-digest data and expert insights. The full methodology of the SDG search queries used to inform the analyses are freely available on Mendeley Data. We encourage the research community to make use of the datasets and take advantage of the full range of tools on Scopus and SciVal.

Determinants of Different Types of Positive Environmental Behaviors: An Analysis of Public and Private Sphere Actions

Hansmann, R.; Binder, C.R. (2020). “Determinants of Different Types of Positive Environmental Behaviors: An Analysis of Public and Private Sphere Actions.” Sustainability, 12, 8547. [open access]

Abstract: A survey of 1206 participants investigated determinants of positive environmental behaviors (PEBs) in Switzerland. Based on a principle component analysis on data for 23 different PEBs, three behavior types were distinguished: (i) public sphere PEBs with politically mediated impacts; (ii) socially salient private “lighthouse” PEBs that convey a pro-environmental message; and (iii) less socially salient private PEBs. An environmental behavior model identified general environmental knowledge and attitudes as the strongest predictors of PEBs, followed by green self-identity, justifications, assumed consequences, prescriptive social norms, gender, age, and perceived behavioral control (PBC), respectively. To promote sustainability-oriented behaviors and achieve corresponding societal and economic changes, the identified psychological factors need to be promoted by education and communication strategies as well as complementary measures ranging from policy changes to technology development and systems design. Green self-identity turned out to be significantly more influential for private PEBs than for public sphere PEBs, whereas prescriptive social norms and environmental knowledge were more important for public sphere PEBs. These findings indicate that promoting different types of sustainability-oriented behaviors may require distinct strategies. Public sphere PEBs may be enhanced well by conveying social practices and norms, whereas the promotion of a pro-environmental green self-identity may increase private sphere PEBs effectively. View Full-Text

iSEE Fall Lecture Series: Where Stuff Comes From: Earth’s Resources & Sustainability

This fall, iSEE is excited to launch a three-part webinar series entitled “Where Stuff Comes From: Earth’s Resources & Sustainability.” The free, hour-long sessions will be hosted by University of Illinois Prof. Emeritus Stephen Marshakwho served as a faculty member for 35 years in roles including Geology Department Head and Director of the School of Earth, Society & Environment. The topics, dates, and times of each lecture are:

Topic 1 – Building Stuff: Materials From the Earth that Sustain our Built Environment: From Ancient Coral to City Sidewalks
Sept. 29, 2020 | Noon-1 p.m.

Topic 2 – Precious Stuff: The Discovery, Extraction, and Use of Valuable Minerals: From Gems to Smartphones
Oct. 27, 2020 | Noon-1 p.m.

Topic 3 – Burning Stuff: Fossil Fuels: Consuming the Life of the Past to Power Life of the Present
Nov. 17, 2020 | Noon-1 p.m.

Webinar: Who Should Own Your Business?: Employee Ownership, Economic Justice, & Business Effectiveness

Thursday, September 3, 2020, 12:30 pm CDT
Register here.

Employee ownership can be a way for business owners to provide for a sustainable, tax-favored alternative to selling out to private equity firms or large competitors. Or it can just be a way to create a more effective reward system for all employees. This seminar will look at the variety of ways companies share ownership with employees, from Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) to individual equity grants, such as stock options, restricted stock, phantom stock and stock appreciation rights. We will look at the tax benefits, rules, plan design options, and how to decide how much to share with whom.

We will also explore how employee ownership companies share business metrics widely with employees and create high-involvement decision models so that more employees can contribute more ideas about and identify and solve more problems. The data definitively show these companies perform far better than their peers.

Finally, we will look at the impact of employee ownership of wealth insecurity, racial justice, and economic fairness.

Corey Rosen is the founder of the National Center for Employee Ownership, a private, nonprofit membership, information, and research organization in Oakland, CA. The NCEO is widely considered to be the authoritative source on broad-based employee ownership plans. He cofounded the NCEO in 1981 after working five years as a professional staff member in the U.S. Senate, where he helped draft legislation on employee ownership plans. More:

How sustainability professionals can uplift the black community

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Dear Sustainability Community,

I come to you again. It’s been three years since writing my first article for GreenBiz, “Why diversity is the key to unlocking sustainability.” I provided a quick glimpse of the anxiety and pain that the black community feels daily and actionable steps that the sustainability community could take to advocate for diversity and stimulate unprecedented change.

I write to you again today with heavy grief and a set of earnest pleas:

As sustainability professionals, we must lead the cultivation of a more inclusive, equitable and safe world for all. We not only must steward the environment, but also explore ways to meet the needs of the vulnerable and create healthy platforms for people of all backgrounds to embrace commonalities, celebrate differences and heal tensions. If not us, then who?

Call for papers: Sustainability: The Journal of Record Special Issue on Pandemics, Socially Equitable Economic Advancement, and Resilient and Sustainable Systems

  • Abstract Submission Deadline: Aug. 18, 2020
  • Paper Submission Deadline: Oct. 14, 2020

Sustainability: The Journal of Record invites you to contribute to a special issue focused on pandemics, socially equitable economic advancement, and resilient and sustainable systems.

Social Equity
Through the first five months of 2020, the novel coronavirus has claimed more than 100,000 American lives and close to 400,000 lives globally, according to the World Health Organization. The data shows deep inequities by race, most dramatically for Black Americans.1 In the U.S., majority-black counties have experienced nearly six times the rate of deaths as white-majority counties.2 Other vulnerable populations include indigenous people — in the Navajo Nation, cases are reported at more than 5,500, a rate of infection at roughly five times that of the country as a whole.3

Air pollution has been dramatically reduced since governments implemented stay-at-home orders.4 In China, it’s been found that interventions to contain the viral outbreak led to “air quality improvements that brought health benefits which outnumbered the confirmed deaths due to COVID-19.”4 Other environmental and environmental health issues have been highlighted by the pandemic; for example, the importance of access to clean water to prevent the spread of disease.5 Notably, even as attention is singularly focused on the pandemic as well as on the reduction of pollution, the major sustainable development challenges—climate change, biodiversity loss, unsustainable food systems, water quality degradation—remain unresolved.

According to the IMF, the ‘Great Lockdown’ is the worst recession since the Great Depression. Impacts include job and income loss as well as disruption to domestic and global supply chains across many industries. Impacts to food supply and manufactured household goods have the side effect of raising prices and further exacerbate the economic pressures experienced by individuals and households. At the same time, under the assumption that the coronavirus is curtailed in 2020 and that global policy has been effective in staving off widespread bankruptcies and other major job-loss activities, global growth and partial recovery is projected in 2021.6

Restarting the world’s economies may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a green transition. If countries decide to rebuild in a sustainable way, the demand for green skills will increase in the coming years, with education being integral in the transition. Beyond skills training, new educational spaces and opportunities will also be needed for diverse communities of thought to come together and contribute to the framing of new, more sustainable economies centered on well-being.

Considering the above indicators, policymakers and stakeholders at all levels—in education, government, industry, and community groups—have an open opportunity to foster resilient and sustainable systems by way of socially equitable economic development. The crisis response also reminds us of the need for a participatory, whole-of-society response, as opposed to top-down state action only. A massive move towards sustainable development will only be possible if all of society is on board.

In this special issue, we will explore the impacts of the pandemic, how it has revealed injustices across economic advancement and other sustainability measures, and how it may inform risk-based and opportunity-based best practices that move communities toward sustainable prosperity.

Suggested topic areas include, among others:

  • COVID-19 and sustainable development
  • Pandemics and health equity issues
  • UN SDGs7 and post-pandemic communities
  • Socially equitable economic development
  • Building pandemic- and climate-resilient communities
  • Community-driven solutions for resilient and sustainable systems
  • Equitable and economically advanced communities
  • Equitable, resilient, and sustainable infrastructure
  • Relationships among economic and health equity and community resilience

The editors request abstracts to be submitted for review via e-mail by August 18, 2020, and manuscripts should be submitted online by October 14, 2020. All submissions will be subject to a rigorous peer review. We encourage submissions of original research articles, reviews, case studies, and thought pieces and perspectives.

Visit Sustainability: The Journal of Record online to learn more, read past issues, and view author submission guidelines.

I’m a black climate expert. Racism derails our efforts to save the planet.

Read the full commentary in the Washington Post.

The sheer magnitude of transforming our energy, transportation, buildings and food systems within a decade, while striving to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions shortly thereafter, is already overwhelming. And black Americans are disproportionately more likely than whites to be concerned about — and affected by — the climate crisis. But the many manifestations of structural racism, mass incarceration and state violence mean environmental issues are only a few lines on a long tally of threats. How can we expect black Americans to focus on climate when we are so at risk on our streetsin our communities, and even within our own homes? How can people of color effectively lead their communities on climate solutions when faced with pervasive and life-shortening racism?

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