Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Beyond Happiness in advertising: What is a “Happy life”?

I seldom see any ads that I think are good, almost always they are mental pollution that are either sad excuses for increased consumptions or just trying to get people to forget that they can live meaningful lives. On a trip to Denmark I found ads that I would like to include in the book “Beyond Happiness” that I’m writing.

The ads show how Mandela and Gandhi could have led comfortable and “happy” lives if they had not stood up for what they believed in. Too often the easy happy life without challenges, or with simple challenges related to making money, is portrayed as the one we should strive for. Would be interesting to see how many people that would like to have a surfer life, or a quiet life with a nice house, and how many who see the life of Gandhi and Mandela as inspiration for a life they would like to live (if needed). It is an ad campaign that made me think of the movie Rang de Basanti and that should be almost as good as an ad can get. Still it might only be another contribution to the mental pollution.

I have no idea if the Danish paper behind the ad lives up to the ad. One of the challenges until Babelfish really works is that non-English texts are seldom part of the broader discourse.

IT Innovation for the supply chain

An interesting example of how an IT company can look into a traditional problem and turn it into an opportunity is Verizon’s latest tool to improve supply chain management. The application in itself is not that important, but the approach is very encouraging and is a very good example of a service with significant “low carbon feedback” potential (i.e. a service that can trigger further reductions if it is implemented). See “The first global strategy for CO2 reductions with IT: A billion tonnes of CO2 reductions and beyond through transformative change” for more about “low carbon feedback”.

So the interesting thing is that not only do Verizon put a number on the savings, the kind of system that is set up will make it easier to implement further services that increase dematerialization and information that can help more low carbon solutions.

Booz and transformative urbanization

Visited Arlington for my first visit to the Booz & co office. The reason is that the report where we are looking into a service based focus on buildings, transportation and energy transmission for urban investments is starting to take shape and the bottom-up approach where the focus is on actual investments planned by actual companies and governments, rather than macroeconomic assessment of potentials. I think we will be able to establish concepts and approaches that can help move the discussion forward and help guide future investments. The basic assumption is very simple, move the focus from product to service.

The focus is on low carbon IT solutions, but the approach will be possible to use in other areas as well. There are some ground breaking approaches in this report and it will hopefully help to guide concrete actions that need to happen as we move towards a transformative phase.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Investments for a low carbon economy: New WWF report about Sovereign wealth funds (focus on the Norwegian Oil Fund)

Today we released a new report: “Fund Management in the 21st Century: The role of sovereign wealth funds in contributing to a low carbon future”. The report can be downloaded here.

This is the start on a more focused attempt to engage with SWF’s around the world, and with special focus to start with on the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global - the world’s second largest sovereign wealth fund in a proactive and transformative agenda that can deliver concrete results.

The fact that the financial system under significant pressure now will obviously be used as an excuse by some for lack of action, but it should be seen as an opportunity. We need to rethink the criteria for investments and the need for a low carbon economy could help, especially as the climate crisis is even more urgent than the the current crisis in the financial system.

If you are interested in transformative change in companies in order to make money on low carbon solutions (beyond negative screening, reporting, PR and Green washing, the current focus for many companies) please have a look at the model (attached) on page 59.

Below is the press release (and here is a short article in FT):

Sustainable investing can pay off for sovereign wealth funds
Sovereign wealth funds could and should focus more attention on the investment risks as well as opportunities of the carbon-constrained economies of the future, an Innovest report commissioned by WWF-Norway has found.

Fund management in the 21st century was submitted to the Norwegian government as recommendations for future governance of the world’s second largest sovereign wealth fund, the $US 381 billion Norway Global Pension Fund.

“Sovereign wealth funds can incorporate climate risk considerations directly and systematically into their actual stock selection and portfolio construction processes,” the study said.

“It is at this level that investors can send the strongest message to companies, produce significantly changed company behavior, and, most importantly, improve their long-term, risk-adjusted returns.”

The analysis found that funds using socially responsible investment through positive screening strategies and using their influence as large investors to encourage improved company behavior contributes to investor returns, risk management and reputation.

Report lead-author Karina Wong, senior consultant at Innovest, said “Socially responsible investment can no longer be seen as a purely ethical exercise that reduces profit while doing good.

“Rather, in an increasingly resource restricted world sustainable business models are a crucial indicator for long-term profitability and risk reduction.”

In particular, Innovest’s analysis showed that better company management of carbon issues translates into better investment performance globally (more than 3 per cent greater return annually).

This relationship was even more pronounced for Scandinavian companies, which are seen as leaders in dealing with carbon issues, where the difference in investment performance between leading and lagging companies was more than 11 per cent annually.

The report found that sovereign wealth funds including Norway’s Global Pension Fund lagged behind public pension funds such as ABP in the Netherlands and CalPERS in the United States, primarily because they do not apply best practices for positive screening and pursue targeted environmental investments.

“Loaded with petroleum cash, Norway has a special responsibility to invest in low carbon development and help mitigate impacts from global warming on hundreds of millions of the world’s poor,” said Rasmus Hansson, CEO of WWF-Norway

“The Norwegian Government is currently revising the ethical guidelines for the fund and now has a unique opportunity to introduce more progressive instruments for sustainable investment, such as positive screening and a climate technology investment fund.”

Dennis Pamlin, global policy advisor in WWF, said “Institutional asset managers today control more than 80% of investments in the world and must play a proactive role in supporting companies that can become winners in a low-carbon economy, not just disinvesting from those that are unsustainable.”

But he said there were promising signs, for instance with China’s sovereign wealth fund CIC’s recently announcment that it will invest in environment-friendly technologies.

“WWF will now explore the possibilities for the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund’s, Norway, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Kuwait and China, to take a lead in implementing and developing further the investment practices and tools needed for low carbon development in the 21st Century.”

Contact persons below:
• Karina Wong, lead-author and senior consultant Innovest,
• Dag Tore Seierstad, deputy secretary general WWF-Norway,
• Dennis Pamlin, co-author and global policy advisor WWF-Sweden

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

SEED and the world we live in

Had a very inspiring meeting/lunch at SEED: Science is culture with Adam Bly, Laura McNeil and Don Hoyt Gorman in their office in New York. They have some really interesting projects in the pipeline so keep an eye on their webpage (and subscribe to their magazine). The magazine is one of the best around and keeps reminding me of some of the big questions in a way that inspire.

During my trips to China and India I felt that it would be interesting if I magazine like SEED could look into China and India and ask the same fundamental questions that they usually do. After the meeting in New York I got a few more ideas, here they are:

1. The 21st century from the labs/universities in China
What new solutions and approaches do we see in China and India, how will the 21st century look like if they will shape the development of our societies?

2. Tomorrow’s world today
Voices from scientists in China and India. Could be simple interviews with a selected number of thinkers.

3. Answers to the challenges in the 21st Century
What are the main challenges that humanity must face and what solutions are emerging in China and India?

4. Global Research Index for tomorrow’s solutions
The centre of gravity in a number of areas are moving “east”. Still much of the world leading research happens in the “old institutions”. But what are the directions that the new centers of excellence are moving? Instead of just the current state this index would capture speed and direction. Could be a very interesting graphic.
5. The science of cities
With 2008 as the year when we for the first time in history have more people in urban than rural areas we need to understand the “anatomy of cities”. The understanding of cities is really low and I keep getting surprised regarding the lack of basic knowledge even when it comes to fundamental facts. How much cities import and export that contribute to climate change is one area that should be a top priority, but also what kind of cities that encourage people to connect with the world around and that base their decisions on facts, not fiction.

6. The moving axis of assumptions for research
The creation and development of “science” is based on worldviews that are changing and basic assumptions that also change. What are the problems and opportunities that guide scientists around the world? What new challenges (climate change, WMD, aging populations, lack of privacy, etc) and what new opportunities (nanotech, biotech, robotics, internet, access to information, respect for basic human rights, etc) are the most important today.

Six is a good number in China, almost as good as eight, so I’ll stop here and keep two slots for new ideas when I go to China in October.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Ashridge Sustainable Innovation Award in association with the European Academy of Business in Society and supported by HP and WWF

The Ashridge Sustainable Innovation Award that was launched today is something I really look forward to. It is another sign that leading companies and organizations shift towards an opportunity approach when it comes to climate change.

The jury is interesting as I think I’m the only one representing an organization that traditionally have focused on environmental issues, that is exactly what I believe is right. Ensuring that the leaders of tomorrow think about reduced CO2 emissions as a business opportunity is a must if we are serious about reducing CO2 emissions.

Let’s hope that there are MBA students that are willing to pick up the challenge and submit proposals that will change the future.

Later this fall I will visit a few MBA courses in EU, the Middle East and Africa. If all goes well I might put together a short paper based on that tour: “the state of the MBA world and innovative climate solutions”.

Below is the pressrelease:

11 September 2008

Ashridge launches Sustainable Innovation Award

Ashridge Business School, in partnership with the European Academy of Business in Society (EABIS) and supported by HP and WWF, has launched the Ashridge Sustainable Innovation Award 2008/2009.

The award is designed to generate the best ideas from MBA and other post-graduate students on how organisations can create value from the shift to a low carbon economy.

The winning entrant will receive a cash prize of €7,000, a six month mentorship with HP and career advice from Spencer Stuart, the executive search firm. The second and third prizes are €5,000 and €3,000 respectively, also including career advice.

The award is open to full or part-time students studying on any MBA programme being taught in Europe, the Middle East or Africa (EMEA) during the 2008/2009 academic year. Additionally, the award is open to full or part-time MBA students at one of EABIS’ non-EMEA member schools and students on MBA or Masters level postgraduate programmes at HP linked universities.

“We are exited to bring our existing work with WWF on climate change to the academic world,” said Gabriele Zedlmayer, vice president Corporate Marketing and Global Citizenship, HP EMEA. “To transition to a climate-smart economy, a shift in management thinking and decision-making is required. By supporting this award, we want to help tomorrow’s talent become successful players in a changing economy.”

The award will be judged by a distinguished panel including:
- Sir Paul Judge, Benefactor of the Judge Institute, Cambridge University
- Eric Cornuel, Director General, EFMD
- Jeanette Purcell, Chief Executive, Association of MBAs
- Gabriele Zedlmayer, Vice President Corporate Marketing and Global Citizenship, HP EMEA
- Dennis Pamlin, Global Policy Advisor, WWF
- Kai Peters, CEO, Ashridge
- Della Bradshaw, Executive Education Editor, Financial Times
- Tom Dodd, CSR Policy Advisor, DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission
- Anthony J Vardy, Senior Director, Spencer Stuart & Associates
- Rachel Jackson, Head of Social and Environmental Issues, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
- Viscount Etienne Davignon, Chair, European Academy of Business in Society and Vice-Chair, Suez-Tractebel

The closing date for entries is 2 March 2009. The award will be accompanied by presentations from WWF at select universities over the next few months. For further information, please visit:

Information on the award can also be found on Facebook at

Monday, 8 September 2008

World Economic Forum Innovation 100 meeting in Palo Alto

Two inspiring days in Stanford at the World Economic Forum meeting about innovations left me with a few questions.

1. Is it possible to find a way to differentiate between innovations that need to happen to ensure a sustainable future and those that are “just fun”. I have to admit that I feel a little tired when people use the iPhone as an example of an innovation. With as planet on the brink of a climate catastrophe and about three billion people under a dollar a day is seems as if it could be other things that we focus on.

2. Is it different drivers for people that deliver innovations like the iPhone and those delivering not only real technology solutions like new solar panels, but social and economic innovations that make a difference?

3. Where in the chain from ideas to implementation is it best to implement incentives that can accelerate sustainable innovations and the implementations of these?

4. Is it possible to measure the degree of sustainable innovation in companies in some way and learn from companies that are pushing for sustainable innovations?

5. How can we move away from a western based focus in key fora and ensure that people that think more than they talk is also provided space?

As always at events with a lot of brain power there are quite a few interesting facts that are presented. One detail about a favorite issue of mine, demographics, became quite personal as I was told that 2050 there will be 380 million people older than 80 years. That is more than the whole population of US today so I will probably not feel alone. I also got some new ideas regarding innovation clusters and hope to be able to use that to support places like Baoding (where I think real innovation is taking place, and where they want more innovation that can help save the planet).

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Zeros are for zeros

“ZfZ” was just a thought that I got in a conversation about companies and consultants supporting carbon neutral. We need transformative action and the hunt for zero as we see among most proponents for “carbon neutral” is a combination of two ideas.

First the reactive discourse longing for a golden age that never existed and that see change as something dangerous. For these companies are a threat and innovation dangerous. Second the consulting approach that tries to give companies a way to feel good without doing very much. They often tap into people who usually want to do something good, but give them a dead end that defuse a will to do something by using a very old idea in a new shape. In a state of crises the idea of carbon neutral is best described as providing green letters of indulgence.

So maybe the people defusing energy for change and turning this into profit while providing a dead end are not zeros, they are the modern Loke. "contriver of all fraud". As Zero is such a sophisticated concept it feels as if these people don’t really deserve it.

Beside the ideas provided in Buddhism and other philosophies there is a very good book that I can recommend. A book that will make you feel that there is hope for humanity: Brian Rotman’s Signifying Nothing The Semiotics of Zero

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Copenhagen Declaration for a Low Carbon City Development Index

The Copenmind Mindflow session that focused on creating a “low carbon city index” was a really dynamic and rewarding exercise. During two days a small group of people came together to get this “low carbon city” project off the ground. The focus was on China and India with key experts participating.

The fact that the meeting took place in Bella Center, the place where the big climate meeting will take place in 2009 I think added to the energy and focus of the work.

We now have a way forward and it will build on the declaration below, separate blog for the Chinese version. Updates will be posted soon.


Copenhagen Declaration for a Low Carbon City Development Index

For the first time in human history more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. This has amongst other things created a strong demand for sustainable urban development across the globe. It has become evident that this need can not be met through traditional development as there is growing evidence of the adverse effects caused by the emission of greenhouse gases and intensive use of natural recourses to provide a high quality of life.

Therefore the cities of tomorrow must be fundamentally different than the cities of today in order to ensure sustainability. In this transition it is important to focus on service needed, not the ways they have been provided previously. For example, instead of only improving cars and roads the service of mobility and transportation should be in focus encourage smart solutions and IT-solutions that reduce the need of energy consuming trips and thereby also buildings.

This service perspective is especially important when we look at cities in regions like China and India where more than half of the world’s building will be build over the coming years and where more than 10 million people are moving into cities every year in China alone.

In order to ensure that economic development, a low carbon economy and a resource efficient development go hand in hand we should approach this transition as an opportunity.

A global approach to cities
As all cities are integrated parts of national, regional and global economies it is important not to view the transition to a low carbon city in isolation. Cities should be seen as living entities that through import and export interact with the rest of the world. No city can be seen as sustainable without considering the consequences of the import and export. With the need for low carbon solutions cities that provide these solutions are particularly important and sustainable import should be encouraged where possible.

A low carbon city development index
“What you can’t measure you can’t manage” is an old truth that also applies to cities. A low carbon index for cities would make it possible to measure the progress towards a low carbon society and support three important aspects of low carbon development
• Development of a low carbon city development policies, capturing the global impacts of the city
• Dialogue and exchange of best practice between cities around the world
• Comparison of various cities development paths and how far they are in the transformation from a carbon intensive city to a low carbon city

In order to achieve this, a commonly accepted global index that in a meaningful way can measure a city’s progress towards a low carbon future is needed. Several indices attempt to do this at the national level but no index exists at the global level, and none of the existing indices so far include import and export as relevant factors. The new “low carbon city development index” will address this gap through the development of a global index for low carbon cities and by identifying policy measures that efficiently foster and facilitate the above mentioned transition.

The index will be based on the concept of a carbon budget, accounting for equity a the ecological limits for the global CO2 emissions in order to avoid dangerous climate change, and will be divided into three different parts covering the effects from direct measures as well as measures related to export and import:

1. Indicators assessing the direct carbon emissions in the city
To which degree does the city directly contribute to increased or decreased carbon emissions and impact the environment?

2. Indicators assessing the carbon footprint from export
To which degree do products and services originating from the city result in increased or decreased carbon emissions and impact the environment impacts at place of consumption?

3. Indicators assessing the carbon footprint from import
To which degree do the city sources, materials and services contribute to increased or decreased carbon emissions and impact the environment at place of origin?

We, the undersigned, support the development of a low carbon city development index and will pay extra attention to the needs in emerging countries such as China and India. We will encourage all relevant stakeholders to support this effort.

John Kornerup Bang
Head of Globalization Programme, WWF Denmark

Tom Carnac
Programme Manager, Public Sector, Carbon Disclosure Project, UK

Rajendra Kumar
Senior District Collector, Tiruvallur District, India

Mr. Lei Hongpeng
Programme Officer, Climate Change and Energy Programme, WWF China

Christine Loh
Founder and CEO, Civic-Exchange, HongKong, China

Mr. Ma XueLu
Former Director General, Administration of Baoding National New and Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone

Jorgen Lund Madsen
Development Manager, Technical and Environmental Committee, Copenhagen City, Denmark

Dennis Pamlin
Global Policy Advisor, WWF Sweden

Mr. Pan Haixiao
Director, Transportation Planning Program Department of Urban Planning, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University

Mr. Pan Jiahua
Executive Director, Research Centre for Urban Development and Environment (RCUDE), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences(CASS)

Peter Rathje
Managing Director, Project Zero, Denmark

Kaarin Taipale
Urban researcher and Chair, Marrakech Task Force for Sustainable Buildings and Construction, Helsinki School of Economics, Finland

UPDATE 19 September: Added picture from the Panel and this link to Environmental Finance:
Global Index







“你无法管理你无法衡量的东西” 是一个古老的真理,也同样适用于城市管理。城市的低碳指标能够测量向低碳型社会发展的整个进程,还能够为低碳城市发展的三个重要方面提供支持:
• 促进低碳城市发展政策的制定,聚焦城市的全球影响力
• 在世界范围内城市间关于最佳实践方法的对话与交流
• 各种城市发展途径的比较,以及在从高碳性城市向低碳城市转变过程的进程情况


1. 评估城市中直接碳排放的指标
2. 从输出方面评估碳足迹的指标
3. 从输入方面评估碳足迹的指标