“There are two kinds of people in the world: those who are afraid, and those who are alive.” That’s the wisdom of Diana Mars, a character in Vapor Trails, the new eco-thriller by Roger Saillant about an oil company, carbon capture, and climate change. Sea Change Radio Host Bill Baue has a wide-ranging conversation with Saillant at the Marlboro Sustainability MBA in Vermont, where they both teach. And Tania Haldar Hart delivers this week’s Sea Change News Analysis, which draws on research by Sarah Perry, a student in Saillant’s climate class.
Each generation reinvents the world inherited from the previous generation. A new generation is inheriting a wounded planet and a dysfunctional economy. Youthful energy seeks to heal our world and revitalize our economy using new strategies and adapting existing tools. Today, we focus on new generations in sustainability. First, we hear from Tim Cohen-Mitchell of the Young Entrepreneurs Society in Orange, Massachusetts, from a presentation he made at the recent Pioneer Valley Sustainable Investing Summit that Corporate Watchdog Radio helped organize. Then, CWR co-host Francesca Rheannon speaks with Jeremy Daw about the BioTour, an initiative brainstormed by an enterprising group of 20-somethings at Burning Man, an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. The BioTour is about to embark on a journey across the US in a biofuel bus to raise awareness on sustainability.
Francesca and Bill ain’t exactly spring chickens, but we’ve got a lot of youthful energy, so we’re joining this trend in linking social networking with corporate sustainability by launching CWR pages on Facebook and MySpace this week. Thanks to our new intern, Tom Hartmann-Boyce, an international affairs student at Skidmore, for getting those pages up and running. Check out our website for links to these pages, and join us there as “friends.”
Corporate Watchdog Radio co-hosts Francesca Rheannon and Bill Baue speak with Laura Berry, executive director of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. Founded in 1971, ICCR pioneered the modern practice of shareowner activism by reviving an obscure rule allowing shareowners to file resolutions addressing social and environmental issues at company annual meetings and on their proxies. Now, over three-and-a-half decades later, ICCR is a coalition of about 275 faith-based institutional investors with over $100 billion in assets who filed over 300 resolutions this proxy season.
Berry clarifies common misconceptions about how the ins and outs of shareowner activism. For example, media accounts often report a less-than-majority vote as a “defeat,” when in fact, companies often implement what resolutions request when they receive 20 percent or more support. She also discusses transformations she sees taking place in the corporate social responsibility landscape.
CWR also debuts a new segment with headlines on corporate sustainability developments from the past week, the first in a series of exciting changes to enhance the show.
Vermont State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding delivered the opening address at the launching of the Marlboro College Graduate Center MBA in Managing for Sustainability program in Vermont where CWR co-host Bill Baue teaches. The talk was entitled, “Sustainability and State Finance: Strategic Decision-Making and ‘Win-Win’ Strategies.” Spaulding discussed a number of different ways the state uses its investment assets to leverage corporate sustainability and responsibility, from aggressively voting its proxies to filing shareholder resolutions addressing issues such as Sudan and climate change to participating in the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a group of institutional investors launched by Ceres in 2003 to promote sustainable business practices. He also explains the complexities of implementing green investing through board-run state pension funds.
Mark McElroy, executive director and chief sustainability officer of the Center for Sustainable Innovation in Vermont, discusses whether companies are contributing to a sustainable world and how it can be measured. He also discusses whether companies can be held accountable for the use of their products over the entire lifecycle, or “extended producer responsibility.”