29 August 2007

The Other Africa: TED Conference on Ideas

What's the image of Africa in the west? If you are an optimist you might think about beautiful nature and animals but most likely many images might be negative such as poverty, famine and HIV/AIDS.

Africa has an image problem and therefore I was positively surprised to see these videos from the TED Conference on ideas which was held for the first time in Africa.

See inspiring videos which bring light to Africa showing for example how the investment climate and inflation rates have improved. It's very refreshing to see Africans themselves talking about their continent! See more at TED.

via iPienso.

28 August 2007

Do you like Flying? If you also like the Environment then offset your Carbon Emissions

Are you a carbon balanced flyer? Probably not and I haven't known what this means until lately (not to mention how to become one ;) .

TerraPass is a prime example for a "Business4Good" and can help you to offset the carbon emissions we are responsible for through flying. This is a smart business approach to the problem that flying contributes to green house gases which I lamented on in an earlier post.

Becoming carbon neutral might be cheaper than you think. I just invested 36.95$ for an intercontinental flight from Europe to Australia. The money will go into into green energy such as from wind. You can calculate you emission here, check it out.

Just a disclaimer, no this alone won't be the solution for climate change but it's a part of it. What do you think?

24 August 2007

Outcomes of UN Global Compact's Leaders Summit

This week the preliminary outcomes of the Global Compacts Leaders Summit from July in Geneva got released. I am thankful for it because way too much happened there for me to sum up myself :) Overall, it was very inspiring to have been there because you can see that business is taking global issues serious and the Global Compact is a facilitator in this change but as well as changing the UN itself by facilitating business-UN partnerships.

Highlights from my perspective were:
  • Largest high-level event on of corporate responsibility ever: bringing together more than 1,100 leaders and representatives from business, government, civil society, labour, academia and the United Nations means this is important!
  • Deepened commitment for universal principles: Through advancing responsible business practices a more sustainable and inclusive global economy can be realized. The Global Compact principles are the leading compass for this.
  • Diversity of participants from 90 countries: Where else do you bring together CEOs (incl. many from China) that talk business with critical voices from nearly 200 representatives from civil society, labour and academia?
  • Reports confirming that responsible business perform better: Goldman Sachs found that companies considered leaders in implementing ESG policies have outperformed the general stock market by 25 percent since August 2005. In addition, 72 percent of these companies have outperformed their peers over the same period.
  • Responsible investments take off: More than 200 institutional investors representing over US $9 trillion in assets signed onto the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in just over one year.
  • Action platforms, i.e. walking the talk: Of course such an event is a lot about dialogue but I am glad to see that there is follow through. For example through action platforms on: Climate, Water and Responsible Management Education.
As you see, a lot has happened there and is underway. You can read the complete preliminary results.

16 August 2007

Support Make Poverty History

Make Poverty History is a great campaign I have been supporting since a couple of years. With white bands as its major symbol millions of people around the world are campaigning for the Millennium Development Goals. These where signed in 2000 to eradicate extreme poverty by 2015.
"Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made, and can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings."
- Nelson Mandela
070707 was 'half time' on the way to landmark 2015 and reports show that in some countries great has been achieved and in many others a lot more is necessary. Around the world this has been reason for another push to campaign for the universal goals against poverty. In Australia the campaign even lit up the Opera House!

Support the campaign to Make Poverty History in your country: www.makepovertyhistory.org

11 August 2007

The Mali Project: How it all began - the first school

Two weeks ago I was writing on the development situation and some background of Mali. Now I'd like to dive deeper into the Mali Project. Before we come to the concept and current projects, read how the whole project began:

Paul Currie (Co-founder of Reach and film director) met Youchaou Traore whilst in Mali filming a documentary on child trafficking. Paul was inspired by the strength, vision and dedication of Youchaou - at this time translator next to being a teacher - in wanting to help his community. Youchaou had grown up an orphan, on the streets, so he understood the hardships his community faced and how precious it was to get an education. Paul could see that a little bit would go a long way and he committed to making Youchaou’s dream of a school a reality. He returned to Australia and inspired the Reach Crew to help.

The Australian young people lead by Elise Klein emailed this man, Youchaou Traore and told him they wanted to help. This was the start of a three year long relationship built only through emails where the young people set out to raise the money needed for the primary school. AUD$50 000 later, the school was completed. 130 students were enrolled in the first year. It has been labelled one the best schools in Mali and is available to the poorest of the poor.

On a self-funded trip, a small team of Reach Crew with the support of a Reach staff member and corporate supporter, visited the Kalabankoro community in late 2005 to gain first hand experience of the situation and to meet the community they had raised money to help.

In 2006, the Australian young people raised over AUD$70 000 to get the school to its final phase of a secondary school to accommodate students completing their secondary studies. 2006 also saw the creation of a micro finance organisation for Kalabankoro women to help generate economic development in the area. Again in late 2006 a self funded trip was organised to visit Kalabankoro community. In 2007 a community health centre was started in temporary rented premises.

See this inpiring video from a visit at the Mali Project from an earlier post. More about our plans on scaling up this great project soon...

03 August 2007

Flying for half the price than train - kerosene's subsidy is a loose hot air balloon fueled by tax money

How to waste tax money, distort market competition and kill the climate at the same time? What sounds like an absurd question is reality every day: tax subsidy (or more correctly put exemption) of flights' fuel does the trick!

Take for example: Recently, I wanted to get from Munich, Germany to Geneva, Switzerland. Distance around 600km which you could perfectly do by car, train or flying. Train ticket is around 200€ return. Guess how much flying is? 90€!

I couldn't believe that environmental dubious - but undoubtedly more comfortable - flying is less than half the price if trains, not to mention the cost of a car. So why do we need kerosene's subsidy when it obviously distorts the competition and sets the completely wrong signal in environmental protection and sustainability. Shouldn't have taxes the function of setting the right incentives? Also the money on taxing flights could will be used for development assistance as unitaid does.

Where are the EU, Germany and the US here? Don't you need some $$$ to save the climate or to decrease your debt mountains? That would be real sustainability. And don't tell me that a moderate percentage on these super cheap flights would stop business people flying business class when there companies pay or would harm the economy on a big scale. Maybe it's the power of lobbies? But I can't imagine that the airways industry (kerosene untaxed) is more powerful than the car industry (car fuel heavily taxed). So why is the right thing not happening?

Don't get e wrong here, I am certainly not against flying per se and am a frequent flyer myself. But we just need to show responsibility for our consumption and behavior. Until we get this dangerous tax hole fixed setting off our carbon emission ourselves by initiatives such as Terrapass is a start!