Venture capital is looking more into your company’s sustainability performance

Impact investing: money with purpose

Sustainability in general, and The UN Sustainable Development Goals in particular, make for good business. And some investors have recognized that for quite some time – since 2004, to be precise. When the UN started conversations with a number of global stock exchange operators, corporate social responsibility hit the radars of listed corporations. In 2012, Nasdaq (USA), B3 (Brazil), Johannesburg Stock Exchange (South Africa), Borsa Istanbul (Turkey) and The Egyptian Exchange made a public commitment to advance sustainability in their markets. It was the first step in the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative (SSE), a UN-led global movement which now counts more than 80 members from all continents.

In the past few years, the SDGs have boosted the discussion on corporate sustainability and the role of companies in building a better business culture with a stronger positive impact on society. More importantly, the SDGs were eventually adopted by many companies to be an integral part of their sustainability plans as a major performance target. Since then, a number of studies have related SDGs to business performance, proving that gender equality, investments on education and fair wages lead to a more competitive society and, thus, to more sustainable businesses.

More recently, venture capitalists have been looking more closely into sustainability practices before deciding which companies to invest in. With the help of UN agencies, Social venture funds and social impact-driven investors networks were set up to prompt companies into improving their CSR practices while pursuing their profit-making operations. The recently launched UNDP SDG Impact program is a good example of how to channel private investment and capital to meet the SDGs, via providing funders with roadmaps and data on the best investment plans.

Initiatives like HoryouToken are also a worthwhile alternative for all investors to consider, from big corporations to private investors, owing to its Blockchain technology which provides transparency and traceability with proof of impact, resonating with the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainability is now. It’s profitable, it can help change the world and build better times for all.

Artificial Intelligence means new perspectives for governments and corporations… and everybody else

Technology has answered many humanitarian challenges, trying to foster inclusion at a pace that was unimaginable only a few decades back

After years of covering some of the most important technology events in the world, I was happy to witness the rising of AI for Good. While 2018 saw a burgeoning approach to Artificial Intelligence as it became the central theme of a few panels in major global forums and conferences or a key resource in innovative projects developed by a still modest yet resilient number of blue chip corporations, 2019 has obviously given the subject its momentum. AI is a market expected to grow from USD 21.46 Billion in 2018 to USD 190.61 Billion by 2025, and AI for good seems to be the new frontier to explore, according to a McKinsey studyFrom startups to established tech operators and from governments to social entrepreneurs, it suddenly seemed like the whole tech industry was finally on the right launch pad to propose devices and services that improve both our lives and natural or manmade environments and, ultimately, preserve the planet.

Education is one of the industries that have been positively impacted by AI and has potential to grow 38% per year, reaching an approximate market value of 2 billion USD by 2023. Gamification, along with assessment and tutoring programs are being widely implemented by corporations and governments to boost learning ratios, even in remote impoverished or isolated communities while reducing costs and, eventually, helping attain the related UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4). Now quality education seems indeed a reachable objective where it is most needed. Robots are taking center stage in educational projects, whether to teach students about coding and AI or to coach them, thus improving their level of interest in technology-related topics.

For governments, AI has proven effective in security projects, helping cities to secure big events through improved surveillance, using connected devices including drones, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices to better control road traffic or the air quality. Cities like Barcelona and São Paulo have been forerunners in that regard, while making sure their policies meet the aims of the related UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG11), specifically recommending the implementation of smart city policies.

Another major concern relating to sustainable development being population welfare, especially regarding food security, smart farming strategies are at the center of many country agricultural sustainable improved productivity programs, one of the biggest concerns of our times. AI for farming, include IoT, is a promising market and, only in the US, is adopted by 250,000 farmers, who are collectively spending almost 1 billion USD. And that’s in line with the UN SDG2. Producing food for an ever-increasing population in times of dramatically severe climate change certainly is the ultimate challenge of our society – and AI is indeed offering a highly estimated contribution. Companies that monitor crops and livestock, and those that are in the business of optimizing the efficiency of health plans, are part of the same trend, which otherwise rely on complex microclimate predicting algorithms and communication tools reaching out to farmers, providing them with more accurate information.

In a nutshell, AI for Good is good. In times when competitiveness, productivity and transparency are inevitably defined in terms of sustainability, they have no other option but to be intrinsically connected to smart, clean and socially impactful devices and services. Technology has answered many humanitarian challenges, trying to foster inclusion at a pace that was unimaginable only a few decades back. It is now the appropriate time to look at AI, as well as at its developers, and consider them as allies in the process of shaping a better world.

Join us! If you want to showcase your product, service or project in AI for Good, apply to speak at SIGEF 2019.

Launched in 2010, the GGEI measures the green performance of nations and their commitment to environmental issues. Horyou blog interviewed its developer and founder, Jeremy Tamanini, who talked about the importance of measuring sustainable development performance and about the countries that are setting an example.

Jeremy Tamanini

What does GGEI stand for?

The GGEI stands for the Global Green Economy Index, the largest integrated measure of national green performance and how experts assess it. The word “integrated” is important as the GGEI takes a multi-dimensional view of these economies, showing how climate change performance, sector decarbonization, green markets and the environment interact. This approach is critical today because we can no longer look at growth through traditional metrics like GDP. Rather, we need to develop new approaches that begin to explain how growth is tied to carbon emissions, how clean (or dirty) sectors are, capital flows and limited and fragile environmental resources.

How did the GGEI evolve since its launching in 2010? Also looking at this 9-year series of data, what is the level of improvement among countries when it comes to sustainable development?

A lot has changed in 8 years in terms of data availability and the sophistication through which frameworks like the GGEI can be calculated. This includes the GGEI framework and methodology, which have also evolved during this period. That said, some trends exist: the Nordics have the best overall green performance; most African countries have relatively low carbon footprints but poor environmental performance; few countries exhibiting unusually high GDP growth do so with parallel improvements in their green economy; and “developed” countries are generally reducing emissions, but not fast enough to reach targets set through international agreements.

Which one of the dimensions of the GGEI is the most challenging? Why?

In terms of calculation, the Leadership & Climate Change dimension is the most challenging, mostly due to the qualitative indicators within in. These qualitative indicators include heads of state, media and international forums and the extent to which countries show commitments to green economic growth. Measuring these topics depends on “unstructured” datasets derived from text analysis of reporting or other information that we believe best gives a proxy measure of the topic at hand. In terms of performance improvement, I believe that the Environment dimension is the most challenging for countries, particularly in the “developing world” where large segments of the population depend directly on these environmental resources for their economic livelihoods.

What countries are best-positioned at the GGEI? Why?

Sweden (consistent green leadership, relatively carbon-efficient economy, strong green innovation and environmental stewardship); Costa Rica (consistent green leadership, high level of renewable energy integration to the economy, strong environmental stewardship); Taiwan (strength around renewable energy, clean transport and green innovation) and Colombia (strength around renewable energy and corporate sustainability).

How can AI help countries develop a greener economy?

This is a question we are beginning to explore. In the realm of the GGEI, it is possible that AI could sharpen the insights from unstructured datasets like the ones described as part of the Leadership & Climate Change dimension. Or, it may be able to process real-time data linked to topics like air quality more rapidly. Out in the green economy overall, there are already many fascinating applications in new companies and initiatives, ranging from analyzing and interpreting unstructured ESG datasets (TruValue Labs); mapping global biodiversity through networks of citizen scientists (iNaturalist); electrical grid optimization (Agder Energi); and automatic weed removal in agriculture (Blue River).

6 histoires inspirantes sur l’entrepreneuriat, la liberté et le génie au féminin pour ponctuer le mois de la femme

‘L’Audace du Choix’ a été organisée par l’Union pour la Méditerranée, en partenariat avec le ministère français de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères et l’Institut français de Barcelone

Ce sont des histoires de défi ; des histoires de six femmes de familles, origines, études et histoires complètement distinctes mais qui ont une chose en commun – l’audace de bousculer les préjugés et les stéréotypes courants sur leur rôle dans la société.

Durant le mois de la femme, six personnalités féminines ont partagé leurs expériences avec le public, dans une conférence organisée par l’Union pour la Méditerranée, en partenariat avec le ministère français de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères et l’Institut français de Barcelone. Voici leurs histoires:

Linda Bortoletto, aventurière et auteure, France

Linda est née avec un rêve : être libre. Aimant l’aventure et l’action, elle débute sa carrière comme officier de l’Armée de l’air. Lorsque pour raisons médicales, son projet d’être pilote de chasse se brise, elle rejoint la Gendarmerie nationale. Était-elle libre? Non. Heureuse? Non plus. Elle décide donc de prendre le temps de chercher sa vraie vocation en travaillant comme haut fonctionnaire au ministère des Finances. La mort de son père va tout changer. Après une période de deuil, elle tournbe le dos à sa vie confortable et son mariage pour construire des projets que lui donnent une raison de vivre. Elle part dans une expédition en solitaire à la rencontre des peuples nomades de Sibérie, traverse seule l’Alaska à vélo et vit avec des nonnes bouddhistes au fin fond de l’Himalaya. « Aventurière et auteure, j’ai enfin trouvé la liberté et l’action que j’ai cherchées durant toute ma vie. »

Sonia Terrab, écrivaine, Maroc

Diplomée en sciences politiques et communication, Sonia a travaillé pour les magazines les plus prestigieux du Maroc. Menant une vie confortable – un bel appartement, un job de rêve -, elle ne comprenait pourtant pas pourquoi elle pleurait tous les soirs. Un jour, indignée par les contradictions de la jeunesse de son pays, elle se lance dans l’écriture. Son premier roman, Shamablanca (2011), devient la voix de sa génération. Après un deuxième roman et un documentaire, elle prépare une série web qui donne la parole à des femmes pour parler des tabous de la société marocaine. « Je me suis réconciliée avec mon pays et ma génération ».

Linda, Mihaela, Isabel, Sonia, Samira et Khedija avec les modératrices

Samira Negm, PDG et entrepreneure, Égypte

Samira a grandit en Arabie Saoudite et garde un beau souvenir de son enfance. « J’avais beaucoup de temps libre et j’aimais les puzzles ». Son talent pour résoudre des problèmes la conduit vers une carrière en ingénierie informatique. Lauréate du titre de 2ème meilleure start-up mobile du monde lors du Mobile World Congress 2016, elle travaille dans l’industrie du logiciel en Allemagne et en Égypte. Mais comme elle continuait d’aimer les puzzles, elle décide de passer à l’entrepreneuriat social pour résoudre un problème endémique de la vie quotidienne : la congestion du trafic routier qui force les travailleurs du Caire à gaspiller environ 5 heures quotidiennes. Elle lance Raye7, une application de covoiturage culturellement sensible qui offre un moyen de transport efficace, sûr et abordable, en particulier pour les femmes.

Mihaela Ganea, directrice artistique, Roumanie

« La musique m’a fait faire le tour du monde », dit Mihaela, une pianiste et professeure de piano. Diplomée de Bucarest, elle travaille dans plusieurs pays – Venezuela, Afrique du Sud, Nouvelle Zélande et Belgique –, en promouvant la culture roumaine. Durant plusiers années, elle organise des festivals de culture et de musique et, en 2018, elle est nommée une des 100 personnalités roumaines qui ont contribué à promouvoir la culture de la Roumanie dans le monde.

Isabel Castro Martinez, conseillère de l’European Women’s Audiovisual Network, Espagne

« Il n’y a pas assez d’espace pour les réalisatrices et productrices. En regardant les chiffres, on réalise qu’un problème existe ». Après toute une carrière comme juriste et experte-comptable, Isabel assume en 2006 la gestion administrative d’Eurimages, le fonds de soutien culturel du Conseil de l’Europe. Elle dirige alors le groupe de réflexion ‘Parité de genre’ et met en place un système de collecte de données de genre et élabore la Stratégie d’Eurimages pour l’égalité des genres dans l’industrie cinématographique européenne. Grâce a son travail, les fonds d’Eurimages ont doublé les chiffres de soutien aux oeuvres artistiques dirigées par des femmes.

Khedija Lemkecher, réalisatrice, Tunisie

Après des études de cinéma à Paris, Khedija entame une carrière d’assistante réalisatrice avec plusieurs réalisateurs étrangers et tunisiens. Elle fonde une société de production audiovisuelle et dévient la plus jeune productrice de long-métrage de son pays avec la production du film « Bab El fella – Le cinémonde ». Militante de la cause des femmes et de l’image des femmes dans le cinéma, elle est invitée par l’ONU pour faire son plaidoyer. Ses derniers films sont sélectionnés dans plusieurs festivals internationaux. Actuellement, elle prépare un nouveau film tout en travaillant sur deux autres projets sur les libertés individuelles en Tunisie.

Tokyo will host the next SIGEF as it plans to become an example of sustainability by 2020

Tokyo is the host city of the 6th edition of SIGEF

Tokyo wants to set a good example for the world. As it braces to host the 2019’s edition of SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, the city is aiming to reach the highest standards of sustainability by 2020, when it will also host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. With its ‘Be Better Together – For the Planet and For the People’ slogan, Tokyo is indeed committed to develop sustainable solutions and showcase them to the world.

The Olympics are not the only reason the city is heavily investing in sustainability. 2020 is indeed the final date for a 7-year plan whereby the Japanese government aims to make Tokyo the ‘world’s most environmentally-friendly low-carbon city’. Part of the transformation includes the revitalization of the urban area while surrounding the city with water and greenery.

The initiatives are broad and they resonate with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to promoting ideas like zero waste and reducing carbon consumption, the city shall otherwise rely on technology to make the 2020 Games a landmark in sustainable management. One of the projects includes fuel cell vehicles and renewable energy (see image). The city wants to equalize the greenhouse gas emissions by stimulating public transportation, reusing water and recycling not only waste but also buildings – the plan includes using existing venues and avoiding building new ones.

These are some of 2020 Tokyo Olympics goals

The 2020 plan also includes:

– Creating more than 500 hectares of new green space in the city

– Ending free distribution of plastic shopping bags

– Equipping metro facilities with 100% LED lighting

– Using recycled metal for the production of all the medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo Medal Project)

– Equipping the Olympic stadium with solar-power and a rainwater retention system.

In order to promote so many changes in such a short time, the Japanese government is seeking partnerships with other countries, especially regarding public transportation, air pollution and waste management. Last year, the city hosted the Tokyo Forum for Clean City and Clean Air, gathering representatives from 22 cities around the world which shared their experiences in smart and sustainable management. Next September, Tokyo will host the 6th edition of SIGEF, the most important Social Innovation and Global Ethics forum in the world, organized by Horyou and covering the following topics:

  • Artificial Intelligence for Positive Change
  • Fintech and Blockchain
  • Sustainable Lifestyles
  • Technology and Life Extension
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Renewable and Future Energy

Over the next few weeks, Horyou blog will showcase all the initiatives that are being developed by the Japanese government to transform its capital – and the whole country – into an innovative, sustainable and peaceful society, inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

While many companies are still pursuing blind profits, these businesses are following the path of circular economy, transparency and technology for good

Doing Good, Doing Well is Horyou’s Media Partner

Do you know what your clothes are made of? Maybe of cotton obtained from monoculture fields, full of pesticides, or of organic hemp or cotton more environmentally friendly? You would probably know if it’s the latter – companies that walk the ‘green’ walk are making an effort to communicate to customers about their sustainable practices.

Companies like Patagonia, the apparel industry that, for decades, has invested in fair trade, sustainable supply chain and recycling projects, are examples of a growing business trend where transparency and commitment to the planet are the rules, while good revenues are a natural consequence. Ryan Gellert, general manager of Patagonia for Europe, was one of the executives invited to share his experience during the Doing Good, Doing Well (DGDW) conference, Europe’s biggest event on responsible businesses. Organized by MBA students of IESE Business School, the event took place in Barcelona, Spain, on 4-5 March.

Gellert’s keynote about Climate Crisis and the Role of Businesses went about the importance of being socially responsible not only as a business but about providing good quality jobs for employees and vendors, promoting thoughtful consumption among clients and pursuing carbon neutrality. It also went as a committed promoter of change. Besides the main apparel business, Patagonia has invested in documentaries about nature, has set a venture capital to support green businesses and has a project for grassroots environmental activists, among other social good actions. Gellert stressed the importance of consumers, employees and civil society to make changes through decisions like purchasing a product or applying for a job. “Individuals need to act and not only be someone who just falls into a path that was designed for them”, he said.

Another company that has shown its commitment to the future was Schneider Electric, represented by its Chief Strategy Officer, Emmanuel Lagarrigue. The company has developed many clean energy projects throughout the years, providing green, affordable solutions to big cities big or small communities in rural Africa or the Amazon rainforest. In his presentation “Better Businesses for a Better Planet”, he stated that the world has no space for greenwashing, or companies faking sustainable practices. “There are many recent examples of businesses lying about their commitment to the planet. At the age of digitization and transparency, it’s not allowed anymore. People are becoming more conscious and companies with these fake practices will be short-lived”, said Mr. Lagarrigue.

Isabel Garro, Special Adviser for the Agenda 2030, Spanish High Commission, gave an inspirational talk about how businesses should keep reinventing the future of our planet. “Every entrepreneur is a superhero because they work with purpose and passion. We have no right to be pessimistic”, she said.

The DGDW, a Horyou media partner, covers a range of topics like Future of Work. Feeding a 10 Billion World, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Follow DGDW and keep informed about their activities, and about Horyou’s coverage of the conference on Twitter.

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Venture capital is looking more into your company’s sustainability performance Sustainability in general, and The UN Sustainable Development Goals in particular, make for good business....