Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Where the future is born – the 12th five year plan/program for China

Poor Li Nan had to fight red tape and spend half of the morning to get a visa to Switzerland , but after that adventure we visited NDRC (Institute of Economic Research and Institute of Social Development) to discuss with the experts that will work on the report we are doing to support our project that focus on the 12th five year plan. For the world to better understand the opportunities and make sure we support targets that are crucial for a peaceful development requires us to think ahead, in this case only a few years ahead. Still maybe one of the most crucial times of our time when it comes to economic development of the world and global resource consumption.

Will post our folder about the project as soon as it is ready, probably in June.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

In love with a stone that can save the world

I spent a good part of the afternoon at the Communication University of China (CUC) with Liu Wanying where we met the teams that have produced the top nine contributions in the “short movie” competition that GlobalFOCUS/WWF here in China has arranged with the aim to provide visions from the future/China related to the challenges that climate change/resource consumption on western levels pose. It is meant to be solution oriented, inspire action and provide a glimpse into how the next generation in China is approaching these issues.

Many of the outlines/sketches/drafts/ideas for the short movies are really good and I think that quite a few could become world class contributions. I just had to post a picture on one
contribution that I must admit that I fell in love with, it has personality and it is a new world that feels familiar. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a fantastic story and that once this figure starts to move it will be even better.

China Mobile gearing up to deliver real CO2 reductions and Sweden as a margin of error

Had great meeting with China Mobile together with Li Nan where we discussed the structure and focus of our joint project that we just started about the role of ICT to reduce CO2 emissions. It is easy to feel that resources spent by most environmental organizations are less than optimal when it comes to result on invested work when you look at the potential and willingness to engage in a serious way. Our work will link to their new Green Action Plan and is part of our joint work with MOFCOM.

Looking at the targets of China Mobile and the opportunities it is easy to be impressed. 6,94 million tonnes of CO2 reductions until 2010 (7 million tonnes today but will grow fast due to expansion plans) from their own operations and a target to “utilize mobile tech to enable the whole society to improve resource efficiency”.

The fact that China Mobile has 369 339 000 customers make’s Sweden’s whole population close
to being within the margin of error, that is food for thought for anyone thinking about outreach and engaging individuals.

I really look forward to develop the detailed work plan.

Monday, 28 April 2008

China's role in Africa: A thought when worlds connect with IT

With Skype strange situations happens. Sitting in Beijing, in Jade Garden Hotel close to the forbidden city, where the increasing food prices are being discussed intensively and so are links to Africa for obvious reasons.

Then talking to Penny Davies who participates in an OECD meeting in Kigali about aid, who is living in Hôtel des Mille Collines, the hotel that became “famous” as the building in which more than a thousand people took refuge during the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.

Only 14 years ago… Beijing was a very different place then… The following was world news April 1994 from China:

"Beijing's first public showroom for imported cars opens this week, an important step in turning the car from a tool of privilege into an ordinary commodity."

Now oil, food and China top news, still few are discussing the links and the history that brought us here.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

World Future/Fossil Power Index 2008: -33

Introducing a “World Future/Fossil Power Index”

After reading Forbes an old idea springs to mind again. I would like to see a global “future/fossil power index” being calculated. This does not have to be very sophisticated to give a sense of direction. It would look at the companies with the world’s top revenues as this indicates where we put the money to provide the services we want (or think we want). It would also indicate the lobbying capacity of the "fossil industry" vs. the "future industry" that in many cases have good reasons to slow down a transition to a low carbon economy.

First outline for the “future/fossil power index” based on Forbes top 50 list over revenues/sales

+100 for companies providing services that are reasonable sustainable and have a track record of supporting low carbon legislation/initiatives (not very many on the top 50 list)

+50 for companies that are doing more good than harm through investments and/or lobbying

0 for companies that are neutral (either with a business that is not really pushing in any direction or a company that do as much good as bad)

-50 for companies that are starting to move in a more low carbon direction and/or doing some lobbying in support of a low carbon development. But where the majority of the business is still in a high carbon area and the majority of investments still go in a direction where they lock us into a structure that making reductions more difficult

-100 for companies that still investing in high carbon solutions and either blocking or in other ways trying to stop rules and regulations that support a low carbon future.

Looking at top 50 I get the following list (based on my knowledge on the companies and rather giving a good score than a bad, so in reality we might be a little worse off, but as the rhetoric is carbon friendly in most cases I think we can get a momentum as soon as the biggest obstacles are out of the way) :

2 Companies +100

2 Companies +50

17 Companies 0

17 Companies -50

11 Companies -100

This would result in a 2008 Future/Fossil Power index of: -33

So we still have a long way to go, and I hope to follow-up this next year. Hopefully with a much better score.

It’s the Climate stupid: Arriving to Beijing with Forbes 2008 Guide to the biggest companies in the world: 2

Looking at the lists in Forbes from a climate perspective is not the happiest reading. It is obvious that some serious strategic action is needed of we are to change direction.

Let’s look at the revenues and profit for the top sectors:

Winners Sales in billion dollars
Oil & Gas 3,761
Banking 3,439
Insurance 2,085
Consumer Durables 2,019
Retailing 1,549

Winners Profit in billion dollars
Banking 398
Oil & gas 386
Insurance 150
Minerals 143
Div. financials 135

These first are the sectors we put most of our money, the second those who without much problem could help us towards a sustainable future. The question is how they are reinvesting their revenues and what they are doing with the profit…

It’s the money stupid: Arriving to Beijing with Forbes 2008 Guide to the biggest companies in the world: 1

On the plane from Tokyo to Beijing I took the time to glance through Forbes “Global 2000” 2008 special issue.

The first thing that could my interest is that the power shift seems to go faster than most people expected. Obviously institutional structures make the shift visible in everyday life as these new comers do not operate in the same way (or in the same regions) as the old ones.

Winners Gain/Loss in companies 2004 vs. 2008
China 45 (60 if Hong Kong is included)
India 21
Brazil 19
Russia 17
Hong Kong 15

Losers Gain/Loss in companies 2004 vs. 2008
US -153
Japan -57
UK -23
Germany -6
Netherlands -5

Market Value

The symbolic shift on the top spot for market value when PetroChina was listed is something that few have missed. The big ExxonMobile on number two “only” has a market value of US$ 465,506 million compared to PetroChina with US$ 546,138 million… a 15% margin or US$ 80,632 million, more than pocket money… Something that I have not seen discussed as much is China Mobile’s 4th position, with only General Electric between it and the two oil companies. With 8,285 in profits they rank 44th on the Global 2000 list over profits. I look forward to my meeting with them this coming week. (They replied to the survey WWF and Gartner did together and provided some very interesting answers making them a company to look out for with regards to leadership in the sustainability field).

Friday, 25 April 2008

Arne Forstenberg: Outstanding leader for the future

A good day yesterday when Arne Forstenberg was awarded “outstanding leader for the future” by JCI Sweden. Good luck to Arne and maybe his trip to India can be linked to the World Economic Forum meeting that also will take place in India in November.

Take it careful on the bike Arne

Japan’s Government takes the global lead in low carbon ICT

Just attended a meeting in Tokyo where the World Economic Forum was partnering with the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to convene a meeting of its IT and Telecoms Strategic & Government Affairs community in Tokyo on Wed 23rd and Thu 24th April. The meeting brought together senior executives from the IT and Telecoms industries and the Japanese Government.

The greatest news was that the government in Japan has taken a global lead and produced a report that, using very conservative estimations, show that Japan can reduce 38 million tonnes CO2. (68 million in savings minus 30 million from the use of ICT). This put Japan at the lead at the exact right time. As Japan will host the G8 summit this summer there is chance that the role of ICT could become part of the international climate agenda. If ICT companies want they could take the lead and show that they can be winners as the world moves toward a low carbon economy.

Winners in GlobalFOCUS essay competition: Round two

It is already the second round of winners from Sweden in the essay competition that GlobalFOCUS started a year ago. Four great winners: Cherie Pik Yee Ho and Liv Eriksson for an essay about Venture Cap and Clean-Tech. Emma Palmgren och Jorge Luis Zapico for an essay about sustainable urban ICT solutions.

As part of the Jury this was our motivation:

1.Closing the Gap”, by Liv Eriksson and Cherie Ho
In a world in urgent need of new business solutions “Closing the Gap”, by Liv Eriksson and Cherie Ho is a welcome and important contribution. With focus on what the planet needs and the market can deliver, given the right framework, the authors use a methodology that focus on practical solutions and possible ways forward for further research in one of the most important issues today: The need for rapid growth of clean-tech companies.

The need to ensure that the definition of "clean-tech" make sense in the countries that will use them is made clear, something that is often forgotten in OECD countries only looking for export opportunities. The global and action oriented perspective, including the needs in the emerging markets, is taken for granted in a way that should be an example for business students all over the world these days.

2. “Multimedia applications for a sustainable urban lifestyle” by Emma Palmgren and Jorge Luis Zapico
With rapid technological development, basically all of the future population growth taking place in cities, and about 70% of the CO2 emissions from urban areas the intersection between these issues needs much more attention in society. “Multimedia applications for a sustainable urban lifestyle” by Emma Palmgren and Jorge Luis Zapico provides a much needed contribution to the discussions about technology, lifestyles and climate change. The authors provide a sober and challenging assessment of the significant potential of information and communication technologies (ICT) based on real needs and existing opportunities.

With inspiring discussions about the potential in Latin America and China the authors have provided an excellent and much needed opportunity for students (but also business and governments), especially in Latin America and China, who want to continue to explore the role of ICT in sustainable urban development.

In a few years maybe we will see these winners delivering results on a global level…

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Retailing and transportation in the 21st century

Working with IKEA and after discussion with a number of leading thinkers in the field we have now developed an approach for how retailers can approach the transport challenge. The approach is divided into three parts:

1. Traditional responsibility
For an estimation of the amount of CO2 the company is responsible for under when we assume a traditional responsibility three things are calculated. First the number of customers, second the kind of transportation mode they have chosen and third the distance they have travelled are added. This estimation provides the company with a rough estimation of how important costumer transportation is compared to other parts of the business by providing a snapshot of the current situation. This methodology is used by most established systems.

2. Shared responsibility
A shared responsibility is based on the assumption that companies should share the responsibility for the CO2 from transportation of customers if they tend to visit more than one store on their trips. This gives a better understanding of what actors that needs to be involved and how costs can be shared.

For an estimation of a shared responsibility for CO2 from customer transportation the amount of CO2 from a normal scenario is divided by the number of stops that a customer makes.

3. Trend setting responsibility
A transport system is nothing that is given once and for all, it is constantly changing depending on investments and transport patterns evolve due to for example the establishment of stores. The trend setting approach is based on the assumption that companies can contribute to different kind of trends.

The emission trends supported over time due to the establishing of stores, or other ways of selling, result in investments in supportive infrastructure, action by other companies, marketing, etc. When these trend setting activities over time result in reduced emissions this is called “low-carbon dynamic feedback” and if it results in increased emissions this is called “high-carbon dynamic feedback”.

We will now develop this approach further and hope to produce a paper that can be circulated in May.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Rice and water with some oil - top economic news

Participated in an event in Barcelona this Thursday arranged by CIES about the use if IT in the food retail sector to support a sustainable development. The possibility for the food industry to take a more proactive role in the climate/energy debate are fantastic and I’m a little more optimistic after the conference than before, but so far no clear entry point for me in the field.

The basic logic is simple, we all need food and instead of pushing unhealthy and low quality products they could focus their energy on transforming the retailing sector into a leading force in the transition towards a low carbon society. If for no other reasons they should explore this as they run the risk of being hit by random policies aiming at energy security and other measures link to issues that that the food retail industry today do not engage in. By engaging in resource efficiency, equity and climate change the sector could bring quality back and be a centre for solution based approaches.

At the same time it is difficult to see how this would be possible as the business is very decentralized compared to many other sectors, but this is a challenge that can be dealt with.

Reading FT on the airport it felt like campaigning material for the food sector to begin their proactive work. Record high rice prices and new all time high for oil (US$112) on the first page and then Barcelona’s water crisis on page three.

Having the three things at the same time, and especially rice, a staple food for about 3 billion people, is so symbolic that it gives me hope that even cynical decision makers will wake up and start thinking about real solutions, not symbolic green washing that only provide incremental changes in a situation where real change is needed. Also it might make people with a simple neoliberal trade agenda, including the World Bank, to be more careful with their recommendations.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Gartner Symposium in Las Vegas

A few months work and we now finally have a working tool and the first round of companies. I look forward to put this together in a report (will happen after the Gartner Symposium in Barcelona mid May)....

I'm leaving on an early flight for Barcelona tomorrow and hope to get some work done.

UPDATE 24 APRIL: Here is a background document based on the presentation in Las Vegas.

Monday, 7 April 2008

The different shades of life and death

I almost always have good and very different conversations in San Francisco. This time I had discussions ranging from a late night conversation with Simon Mulcahy and Joanna Gordon from WEF about practical next steps in the global ICT work the optimal structure for a Nanotech project with Eric Drexler and Rosa Wang (and especially the opportunities for nanotech in China and India).

Also had the time to read Darkness Visible by William Styron. Interesting and very short book about the inner darkness sometime called depression (a word Styron has a lot to say about).

The China-US crossroad

On my way to a meetings with Dan Gabaldon in DC to discuss the start of a joint project about urbanization I came across this sign.

Our meeting took place at an Indian restaurant further down to the left... not sure if that is important...

Irony in Spain - long live Orwell

I like to carry around my camera (Canon PowerShot G9), even if most pictures are not "blog" pictures.

Dali Disappointment

Almost as much as Gaudi impressed me I have to say that Dali disappointed me. Instead of being creative and ground breaking he felt like a child without thoughts or ethics. It felt as he was more a reflection of the time a creator of something new. Especially the way he treated animals made me feel really bad. Of course the phenomena of Dali is still fascinating and many of his paintings thought provoking, but I have carried a feeling that he had an agenda that he wanted to say something.

Gaudi for the 21st Century

Two things happened in Barcelona. I got deeper respect for Gaudi, especially after visiting Casa Batlló. This is an absolute amazing building, finalized 100 years ago (built 1877 and remodelled in the years 1905–1907) it feels more modern than anything today.

The organic shape and reflection on human relation to nature (everything from ventilation to letting in the sun) make me think that this house should be seen as a role model for anyone building a house today. I believe that that the buildings (and especially those we live in) can be turned from the worst threat to the planet to the main driver that can deliver a resource efficient society. The question is where we will find the Gaudi of the 21st Century and those willing to pay for it?

The picture is from within Casa Batlló and shows a window that let sunshine in.

From word to promise and now time to deliver?

It looks as if an increasing number of companies are now moving from just words to actually promise that they can deliver sustainability... 2008-2009 will be crucial as it will be up to us to ensure that we will not only see green washing and PR, but actual results (in money and nature).

How much money will companies earn and how much CO2 will they reduce? We need to start to see numbers very soon...

Behind the Scenes

One thing that I like about my life is that I get to look behind the Scenes. The fascination with the real and the projection is something that I have started to look into and I hope to get together a project about those who shape our reality (not those visible on TV and in media, but those who actually formulate new ideas and those making things happen).

When looking from the world from behind the scene it usually looks very different, and the wizard of Oz is not so impressive.

On the picture are a few of those that made presentations at technology@work look more professional that those on the stage (including me) would manage on their own.


I'm not the best blogger... I have been trying to get some projects off the ground and deliver some results. So here are some reflections and photos since Barcelona (only two weeks ago, but a lot is happening these days).

I'm writing this from the 19th floor at Mandala Bay (where the Gartner Symposium is). Simon Mingay was bumped off his plane as it was full, but just arrived so we will probably go through our presentation tomorrow, "How 'Green' is your technology or service provider?". Until then I'll post a few reflections and pictures from the last two weeks. Maybe the search for something "real" gets more important in a place like Las Vegas.

Even if everything is big here, and the Aquarium in the basement of this hotel is the biggest I've ever seen (I almost did not feel sick for all the animals captured), it feels as if it is hard to breath. Maybe it is a lack of oxygen?