Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Copenhagen must learn from history

Too often there is a tendency to forget history when the speed and complexity of the negotiations increase. But many of us have been in the same situation before, The Climate meeting in Kyoto 1997, the WTO meeting in Seattle 1999, World Summit on Sustainable development 2002, etc. Now Copenhagen. We can go back even further and it is time for the rich countries to see how they have failed to live up to their promises. Instead of keeping the key issue in focus (the need for transformative reductions that result in minimum 40% reductions by 2020 and carbon free by 2050) they get lost in details.

This is one of the key messages I have been trying to highlight during the Copenhagen summit. Unfortunately it looks like history will repeat itself. Rich countries will desperately trying to portray vague targets and the fact that US is far behind as a victory. Hopefully developing countries will be constructive and commit to different measures that open up for transformative reductions, BUT, and this is important, the developing countries must at all costs make sure that it is clear in the final agreement that the rich countries that must take the lead (US must accept that). Right now it looks like US, but also EU, want to create a situation where they will use, what they will define as, a lack of action among developing countries for not taking real domestic action.

Hopefully cities and business can embark on an innovation based development path where a low carbon future is a driver for innovation and profit.

Below are some input that I provided to China Daily today

"Swedish environmentalist Dennis Pamlin has been digging through history: the Stockholm Conference of 1972, the Rio Summit of 1992, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

In each summit, he found that rich, developed countries promised to support poor countries though money, better trade rules and transfer of technology.

"But again and again, rich countries have failed to live up to these promises," Pamlin told China Daily. "There are many reasons for the failures and it doesn't mean anything to blame anyone, especially since very few at the conference in Copenhagen were part of these historic summits."
However, when leaders such as United States President Barack Obama step into the Bella conference centre in Copenhagen, they should keep in mind the gap between promises and delivery, he said.

"This is my message to the leaders from rich countries," said Pamlin.

He added that developed countries, which have emitted so much during their developments, should make the first move.

"We have seen very little of this and we need to see not only targets, but also measures that ensure delivery," Pamlin said. "Developing countries have already begun measures to reduce emissions and these measures will increase."

He noted that where the per capita emissions are the highest, living standards are also the highest"

New project for transformative change with ICT:

The 21st Century Office project was presented ”live” during the B4E dinner dialogue. Already some though leaders have submitted their interest for a first VIP trial of the app that will be launched next year.

The 21st-Century-Office project explores new Web 2.0 tools for mobile devices and how they can be used (crowdsourcing, Wiki-approaches, etc) in order to deliver transformative change, not just incremental.

It asks the question: Is it possible that 50 percent of all major companies on the planet will define their office as a 21st Century office within two years? It might be difficult, but the technology exists and the need for a transformative shift is now accepted. If we are to reach the reductions needed to avoid dangerous climate change and conflicts of natural resources we need more than incremental improvements.

Saturday, 12 December 2009


My first project as Senior Advisor, B4E, Global Initiatives. I look forward to a process with concrete deliverables and a statement explaining the process and the deliverables by the 15th

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

ETNO's "Cool Connections" in Brussels

Participated in a panel at ETNO's "Cool Connections" event. I was surprised by the lack of links between the project presented and the actual policy agenda, it really felt old and not really up to standard compared to what ETNO done so far. ETNO is an organisation that was way ahead of most in Brussels. Back in 2004-2005 (before most people who talk about smart ICT had woken up) they supported the joint ETNO-WWF project “Saving the Climate @ the Speed of Light”.

I suggested two project that I hope to be able to develop further with ETNO to deliver real results in a time when people write reports and arrange seminars in order to understand what happens. I will develop them and send them to Michael Bartholomew who has been a strong supporter of a solution agenda with a strong innovation focus all the time. Below is the outline for the ideas and we’ll see if it will be some exciting things coming out of Brussels in 2010.

A two prong strategy for ETNO in moving the smart telecom agenda to the next level.
1. Implementation: Smart buildings and transport in reality
> Webinars/round-tables and interviews Best practice and ways to accelerate uptake of smart solutions in the building and transport area. Focus on how existing barriers can be overcome and creation of new constellations. It will build on existing work that has demonstrated that the solutions are possible. Now the focus in on actual implementation and how investments and revenue streams start to move in a low carbon direction.

Investment: €150 000 (including project leadership, design and printing of report + dedicated web-page + seminar in Brussels and selected member states)

2. Continued thought-leadership
> The development is fast in the ICT sector and the opportunities to use tools that did not exist a year ago is often ignored by slow institutions. In the same way that ETNO was ahead with low carbon, it can set the agenda for new ways to deliver transformative change, in a way that also engage people. The project would explore transformative changes in new IT enabled areas. Especially the following three: Connectivity of things, Miniaturisation/ubiquitous computing and augmented reality

Investment: €75 000 (including writing, proof reading, input from thought leaders, design and printing of report)

The panel at the event:
> Jo Leinen, Member of the European Parliament, Chairman of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
> Fabio Colasanti, European Commission Director General for Information Society and Media
> Colum Joyce, Director, IMR World. Mr Joyce is an expert in e-business strategies.
> Danilo Riva, Telecom Italia, Chairman of ETNO Sustainability Working Group

Op-ed China Daily: Low-carbon innovation versus trade war

This is my op-ed, "Low-carbon innovation versus trade war", from todays China Daily (link to the article here) . It was great timing as documents about Border Tax Adjustment (BTA) started to float around in Copenhagen yesterday and today. While this issue might sound boring it is one of the biggest challenges ahead. WTO and the global climate work will collide when serious work to reduce emissions begin unless we create a framework for cooperation. The op-ed here is an attempt to explore ways to collaborate instead of fight in old ways.

If you are interested in Chinas emerging role, please read this article in todays China Daily link here, where I bring up the need for transparency and engagement with civil society both within and outside China.

The UN General Assembly and the G20 in Pittsburgh marked a new era. At both meetings, President Hu Jintao presented China's climate policy and put it in a global context with a clear and much-needed message that global collaboration is necessary.

Over the last weeks trade has emerged as a major challenge in global climate negotiations. Countries like the US and France have started discussing ways to impose tax on imported products that have been made using a lot of CO2. Even though not explicit, it shows that China is one of their main targets.

This trend is dangerous and can easily result in protectionism and trade wars. It is therefore important to explore possible ways forward that link trade and reduced CO2 emissions in a way that they support each other. China has a great opportunity to turn this potential conflict into increased cooperation. Building on the collaboration message, China has an opportunity to present concrete suggestions for low-carbon development.

The biggest problem with the current discussion is probably not the possibility of a trade war in itself, even if that would be a serious problem, it is the fact that the current discussions have focused on conflicts and problems. What is needed instead is collaboration and focus on solutions.

The current approach of countries such as the US and France is based on two assumptions. First, that the focus should be on reducing emissions from the big polluting companies that are creating the problem. Second, that countries should try to reduce their own emissions as little as possible and get others to reduce as much as possible without collaboration. Both should be challenged, and the government and companies in China can play an important role here.

The problem approach with focus on the big emitters has dominated global climate negotiations since the Kyoto Protocol. It is time to move away from a situation where all counties are trying to protect their dirty industries.

China could help to shift the focus from big emitters to also include the new solutions providers. With companies such as Suntech, Himin Group, China Mobile and Broad, China is well positioned to make the case for policies that support solutions, not just try to reduce the problems. Instead of a focus on how to deal with carbon intensive trade we could have a discussion on how export of low-carbon solutions should be encouraged.

A solution initiative could include incentives to support global trade that would enable the world's cities to build buildings that are net producers of renewable energy, and support an accelerated uptake of electric cars that in turn are supported by renewable energy and other solutions, which help reduce the need for fossil fuels. A special focus should be given to transformative solutions that can help reduce emissions by 90 percent or more, such as teleworking, smart grids, smart buildings and e-paper.

China could propose initiatives to encourage trade and investment in low-carbon solutions. China could also suggest that a system is created where solutions-providing companies can report their contribution to reduced emission through their products and services. Today, the focus is on how much polluting companies are emitting, but in the future the focus should shift to how much the solutions-providing companies are helping reduce emissions.

The second assumption is that negotiations should continue to only focus on individual countries and how they can reduce their emissions. This approach is problematic from two perspectives. First, because it undermines smart collaboration and second because it ignores the fact that the most important question is how we can provide low-carbon lifestyles. The solutions that are needed must be developed through international collaboration, and countries, companies, universities and cities must come together to solve the climate crisis.
It is important to remember that the main problem is the high-carbon lifestyles in Western counties. What the world needs is solutions that can provide a high quality of life with low emissions. Instead of focusing on where the emissions happen today, China can help shift the focus to the need for low-carbon lifestyles.

China could initiate key collaborations in areas such as the creation of a global virtual meeting infrastructure, an initiative for buildings that are net producers of renewable energy, and software for smart city planning. China could collect a number of such ideas and present a global low-carbon city development initiative. This would focus on collaboration between countries and cities around the world and allow solutions-based companies to implement their best ideas.

The world really needs China to step forward and turn the current problem into an opportunity and the emerging conflict into increased collaboration. By putting forward solutions- and collaboration-based proposals the Chinese government would not only avoid a difficult situation, but also get solutions-providing companies, both in China and abroad, the kind of recognition that they deserve.

The author is adviser to various companies, governments and NGOs.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Our Hopes and Promises: A Communiqué from Chinese Businesses at Copenhagen

Great news today. Congratulation everyone involved for delivering this.
The full document can be downloaded here

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

New report from China/GlobalFOCUS: Low carbon opportunities in China: Report of Transformative Climate Youth Leadership Project

I have not read the whole report (and have not seen any draft), but I’m happy that the GlobalFOCUS team in China deliver results. Unfortunately it looks like there are no transformative solution companies in the report, instead there are chapters about the big emitters and the supply side companies for renewable energy (some of the companies on the renewable side have some interesting projects. Maybe the real report will be published after this traditional report?

Regardless, it will hopefully contribute to the discussion about transformative companies in China. The full report (88pages and 4.5 meg) can be downloaded here.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

4th Sustainability Summit: Asia 2009 “Winning Strategies for a Sustainable World”, 25 – 26 November 2009: India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

Sema Arora and the rest of the team at CII did a great job putting together the agenda for the 4th Sustainability Summit: Asia 2009 “Winning Strategies for a Sustainable World”, 25 – 26 November 2009: India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

I participated in two panels. The first day in the ”Generation Next ICT” together with:
> Mr. Som Mittal, President, NASSCOM
> Mr. Stephen Harper, Director, Environment & Energy Policy, Intel
> Mr. B Sumant, Managing Director, ITC Infotech Ltd.
> Mr. Rakesh Khanna, Founding Director & CEO, TARAhaat
> Mr. Swapan Johri, Sr. Vice President & Worldwide Head of System Integration & Technology Services, HCLT ISD

The second day in the panel “Climate Change: The Defining Challenge”:
> Dr. Prem C Jain, Chairman, Indian Green Building Congress and President & Founder, Spectral Services Consultants
> Mr. Simon C Martin, Head – Group Corporate Sustainability, HSBC Holdings Plc
> Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF India
> Dr. Akhilesh Gupta, Advisor & Coordinator – Climate Change Programme, Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India
> Mr. J M Mauskar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India
> Mr. Bishal Thapa, Managing Director, ICF India

There are so many groundbreaking and world leading projects in India that hardly anyone outside India is aware of (and sometimes not very many people within India). I really hope to spend more time with Indian projects during 2010.

Is Lei Feng (雷锋) Still a Modern Hero?: A Consideration of Heroic Action in the Context of Culture

This is a paper, "Is Lei Feng (雷锋) Still a Modern Hero?: A Consideration of Heroic Action in the Context of Culture", from last year, but I never posted it on the page (on my web page I have not posted any new written material for a year, but most of it is posted here on the blog.). As I see the concept of heroes will become more important for my work during 2010 it feels important to post this paper even if it is very late.

The paper can be downloaded here.

Hopefully I can continue the discussions with Phil Zimbardo to explore heroism in the 21st Century further.

For 2010 I will re-design and update my web page in order to better reflect what I do, the platforms I have and the way I work (not always easy to explain).

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Smart Green Growth in Norway

Abelia arranged a top-level meeting at Soria Moria in Oslo, Norway for low carbon solutions. The meeting was structured as a 24h innovation arena in order to identify and develop (climate) smart solutions.

I did a short presentation and participated in a sparring panel together with Rune Rinnan from Telenor Venture and Christopher Mortensen from Geelmuyden.Kiese that gave feedback on the ideas from the different innovative ideas the groups had. Fantastic energy in the group and I look forward to see the concrete result form the six teams working to develop solutions.

For an overview of the perspective that the top-level was based on please read the inspiring report ”Smart Green Growth – ICT creates possibilities (in Norwegian)”.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Technology quote of the day: solar film and the Bird’s Nest in China

"I would choose to use solar film to power air-conditioners in the Bird's Nest instead of the current ground-source heat pump," said Ding Gao, an engineer of the landmark building.”

The pace of change is now to fast that anyone responsible for buildings need to totally rethink how we see buildings. There is no reason for buildings being built today to not be net producers of electricity. The question that would be interesting to get an answer to is how many of the existing buildings around the world that could become net producers and how fast…

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Give Europe’s entrepreneurs a fair chance: The Future of Europe Summit

Participated at the Future of Europe Summit in Andorra. Some very interesting sessions and good presentations. One of the best short overviews of the dynamics around the financial crisis I have heard was given by Cinzia Alcidi, Research Fellow, Centre for European Policy Studies, CEPS. Frank suggestions for the way forward was given by a number of participants such as Wolfgang Munchau, Associate Editor, Financial Times. Geoffrey Lipman, Special Advisor to the Secretary General, World Tourism Organization, UNWTO put the current challenges for Europe in a global context and had some very interesting ideas for how Tourism could play a key role in the transition toward a sustainable economy (not just a low carbon economy).

The panel I participated in, “Europe towards a lower carbon economy: from rhetoric to realities after Copenhagen”, focused on what is needed to make Europe a leader in the second phase when real reductions must take place. Europe took the lead when incremental reductions were discussed (5-10% reductions under the Kyoto protocol), but as the focus shift towards the reductions that are needed the next decades (40-80% reductions) Europe seems lost and unwilling to support a new generation a fair chance. The big old companies are dominating the agenda and smaller/smarter companies have a difficult time.

Holger Hartmann, CEO, BadenSolar, Germany 
gave a good overview of the kind of companies that are needed (companies that can create tailor-made solutions based on sustainable and decentralized energy sources). Mark Scott, Reporter, BusinessWeek, UK gave an overview of some of the initiatives that exist and Mihela Hladin, Founder, Greennovate, Slovenia and MAGIC, Made Green In China, gave an example of concrete work in China.

The session was moderated by Gert Van Mol, The Wall Street Journal Europe, who concluded that a leading Europe must be a Europe that collaborates with the world, not the least China. The need for en new generation of entrepreneurs was highlighted as well.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Fantastic team with great potential: SEVS –Safe, Electric and Hybrid novel VehicleS

Participated in a really exiting process in Gothenburg (invitation can be downloaded here). This can deliver results in world class and influence how mobility is delivered in the future. I look forward to this and hope to report on amazing results.

From the background in the paper:
”The future demands sustainable mobility solutions for people as well as goods. Sustainability solutions demans no or, low emissions, safety and affordability. In November 2008, the two Centres of Excellence SAFER and the Swedish Hybrid Vehicle Centre (SHC) hosted a very inspiring seminar on these issues, which resulted in a joint application to FFI, Fordonsforskning och Innovation. With an approval from Energimyndigheten and Vinnova, the SEVS project (Safe, Electric and Hybrid novel VehicleS) was initiated in August 2009. The project is a research project with the following partners: SAFER, SHC, AB Volvo, Autoliv, Sicomp/Swerea, SP, Volvo Cars, VTI, Saab Automobile and Scania.”

The seminar happened the same day as China and US signed a “U.S.-China Electric Vehicles Initiative”, see below:

“U.S.-China Electric Vehicles Initiative. The two Presidents announced the launch of the U.S.-China Electric Vehicles Initiative. Building on the first-ever US-China Electric Vehicle Forum in September 2009, the initiative will include joint standards development, demonstration projects in more than a dozen cities, technical roadmapping and public education projects. The two leaders emphasized their countries’ strong shared interest in accelerating the deployment of electric vehicles in order to reduce oil dependence, cut greenhouse gas emissions and promote economic growth.”

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A significant step forward in Visby, but it is time to get concrete with targets and resources (here is a link to the conclusions)...

"The EU must rapidly respond to environmental targets by establishing measurable action plans for greener solutions in the field of ICT as well as in non-ICT areas, supported by ICT policy institutions where relevant. Such measures could include contributions from ICT to develop greener solutions for energy, transports, industry production and process, housing etc."

The next step is Malmö and the Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment. Let's hope that this will include a focus on key clusters (such as those presented here): and with six concrete and measurable targets/goals for low carbon/resource efficient ICT solutions, also included in the same paper.

If the Malmö Declaration manage to include that kind of targets EU will move to the forefront of innovation and smart solutions.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

UNI as a force for transformative change that deliver sustainability

Participated in UNI Europa ICT Forum “Promoting Green ICT to stimulate investment and create jobs” in Helsingör, Denmark.

During my presentation I suggested that UNI should explore the possibilities that three key clusters for transformative change will enable (see paper for RSA for more about these clusters):
1.Connectivity: ensuring a 21st century communication infrastructure
2.Miniaturisation: enabling ubiquitous computing (ubicomp)
3.Integration: facilitating the emergence of augmented reality (AR)

Analyzing these areas would allow UNI to become an agenda-setter instead of an organization that reacts to these clusters as they grow more important.

Three reports could be produced to see how employees can benefit from key sustainability trends:
1.1 Telework (blurry line between work and leisure time)
1.2 Smart buildings (how can EU create new companies)
1.3 Service shift (what will happen in the 21st Century economy)

Three projects could be initiated to explore how sustainable growth of job could be supported in key areas:
2.1 Concrete cases of start-ups (such as Sigarden and Optiguard in Poland)
2.2 The role of new construction companies/collaborations (where are they and what can they do?)
2.3 Service companies (how will they work and what can they deliver)

Keeping my fingers crossed that UNI will take on at least one of the ideas…

Sustainable Innovation in Gdansk during Globe Forum

It was fantastic to see a new generation of entrepreneurs in Gdansk with an energy and quality of work in world class. Two companies where particularly interesting:

1. Optiguard, as they focus on what might be the most important issue today, how to make buildings smart.
2. SiGarden as they provide smart ICT equipment that can be used to deliver important low carbon solutions, including those provided by Optiguard. They target almost all sectors that are important, such as transport and buildings and also target the health care sector where a lot needs to happen.

What I lacked when they (and everyone else) presented their solutions where three things. There three things would have demonstrated the strength of the two companies):
1. How many tonnes of CO2 could be reduced by the solutions in 1, 5 and 10 years under different scenarios (or other quantified positive impacts) in the markets they target?
2. How big is the market and what share could be the company’s in 1, 3 and 10 years?
3. What other positive impact could happen if the solution was implanted, and what potential negative impacts. (e.g. smart IT solutions from SiGarden will help reduce the emissions from IT itself, but that is most certainly the smaller part of the contribution as the smarter houses and transport systems will result in significant reductions. In the same way solutions for waste might lock society in a dependence on waste that is encourage a general wasteful society. Especially in a situation where companies must move beyond a situation where waste is created and move towards closed loop system with a cradle to cradle perspective).

It would be really interesting to use these entrepreneurs as indicators for how Europe is dealing with the kind of solutions that are needed and that has been identified as important.

Picture of the team from SiGarden and their stand in Gdansk.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Article with a low carbon innovation government policy for ICT: The Day Technology Saved the Planet -Transformative Solutions in a Time of Crisis

As a part of RSA’s project “Technology in a Cold Climate: Sustainable Technology” (their blog) I wrote a paper “The Day Technology Saved the Planet - Transformative Solutions in a Time of Crisis” (download here). The article helped me develop a few thoughts and hopefully can trigger a discussion about the structure of a transformative agenda for sustainable ICT.

Will be interesting to see if UK is willing to take the lead or if another government is ready to take the next step?

I want to thank Jamie Young at RSA for helpful feedback as well as editing. Garry Miller from BT and Emma Fryer from Intellect also provided feedback that was very helpful.

The discussion during the conference was moderated by Richard Miller from the Technology Strategy Board and gave me quite a few new ideas.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Climate Positive is moving forward at BSR

Just back from a small workshop during BSR about Climate Positive one year after the first one in New York. It was interesting, if nothing else just to reflect over what has happened in the last 12 months. Things are really moving fast in many directions. The discussion at the Climate Positive event was really interesting and covered many of the challenges and opportunities today in supporting a proactive agenda.

The document I used to discuss the issue with key stakeholders here at BSR. can be downloaded.

I have to say that the Climate Positive event was quite different from many of the other sessions at BSR, where it actually felt like moving back in time. If policy makers are doing a poor job in the climate negotiations most of this years sessions ay BSR was a clear indication that there is not much of a leadership in business (or they got the wrong people leading the sessions). B4E provided some really good leadership early this year, then the World Business summit on Climate change moved slightly backwards and with BSR here in San Francisco it really feels as if (at least parts of) business is moving quite fast backwards when they should be moving forward. Is that because those doing interesting things are getting tired of classical conferences, let’s hope so as this would mean that we could expect some surprises quite soon.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

One year later (it is actually not even a year ago) and a process with transformative results the report, "Industrial biotechnology -More than green fuel in a dirty economy?"done as part of the collaboration between WWF and Novozymes is public. It has already begun to change the way decision makers approach biotech. Download the report here [6.4 Meg].

Now it must, together with other projects and reports with focus on solutions, ensure a transformative solution approach, in Copenhagen and beyond.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Well done Apple... still not there, but getting closer

Apple still focus on the 2% (IT's own emissions) and not the 98% (The reductions that IT can help contribute to through smart use, e.g. teleworking, smart buildings, dematerialization).... The day Apple wake up to the 98% opportunity things might really change.

That Apple dare to go against the US Chamber of Commerce when it comes to climate change is however great and an indication that Apple is really taking a low carbon development serious. [read Reuters]. With this direction Apple will have active work in the 98% area within one year.


Almost five years since the first "21st Century Companies"-report in the BRICS. Here is a summary of those done so far (download the report here 1 meg).... Soon time for an update, this time with more focus on innovation. Maybe Mexico and South Korea would be interesting to include as there is significant innovation taking place there.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Trying something new...

Will explore how equity and environmental sustainability can be linked to the health/lifestyle related tools that are emerging. Consumption and food habits can become more transparent in a way that could help support transformative solutions. The transparency is also interesting in the Nike+ idea itself. How are the people treated that are making the shoes and technology needed?

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Sustainable goods and Services in the 21st century

Below is an extract from the preface from the just published report, "Sustainable goods and Services in the 21st century". In many ways this report summarizes the trade work I did for WWF from 1999 to 2009. It can be downloaded here [0.6 meg].
Amidst the current global economic turmoil and accompanying calls for a new international economic framework, it is important to highlight the fact this report represents one outcome of a body of work that began more than a decade ago, as WWF was preparing to make inputs to the Third Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which took place in Seattle in the USA during November/December 2003.
During these preparations, it became clear that the incremental changes to the international trade regime being discussed in the WTO were inadequate to effectively address global environmental challenges such as climate change, unsustainable economic development and rapid natural resource depletion. New measures were therefore required, both to resolve these issues and to capture the exciting opportunities that were beginning to emerge in the field of environmental goods and services as well as in innovative technologies and solutions that promoted environmental sustainability and decreased resource consumption.

Instead of focusing on the shortcomings of WTO, at that time a relatively newly created body (only four years old), and the short-term agendas promoted by governments and companies in developed economies that dominated discussion within the Organisation at the time, WWF took the decision to invest in the promotion of a far more proactive agenda, with a focus on emerging economies, and on the international trade and investment regimes required to deliver products, services and solutions that promote environmental sustainability.

The WWF Trade and Investment Programme (TIP) was accordingly created, with capacity located in and importantly, coordinated from emerging economies, in order to ensure that WWF was in a position to support the development of new ideas and the creation of new opportunities in those countries that will be amongst the most important of the 21st century.

WWF’s collaboration with key stakeholders in the BRICS countries has intensified over a period of several years, and this paper can be considered as one result of the organisation’s efforts to support a transformative agenda that delivers concrete result from this next generation of economic superpowers. The paper is authored by Sanjay Kumar, a highly knowledgeable and experienced official of the Government of India, and during his tenure in the country’s trade delegation to the WTO, one of the driving forces behind the project-based, demand-driven approach to trade liberalisation in the area of EGS.

At a time when many developed country governments continue to utilise the demand for increased environmental sustainability of products and services as a means to increase export opportunities for their companies, this project-based approach seeks to place the environmental and social requirements of the world as a whole, and of developing nations in particular, above narrow economic self-interest as a driver for liberalisation in this area.

We trust that this report will inspire not only new initiatives in the field of trade and investment that support the innovation and dissemination of sustainable goods and services, but also the consideration of options that promote such initiatives beyond the constraints of the current institutional environment.

Dennis Pamlin, Global Policy Advisor, and
Alistair Schorn, Head, WWF Trade and Investment Programme

Low Carbon Solutions: Moving from a 20th century high carbon infrastructure to a 21st century low carbon infrastructure

This is a tool that I really like and that was developed as part of the collaboration between WWF-Sweden and Ericsson. Download flash versions for PC and MAC that can be used to illustrate the impact of different ways of providing services. Download MAC here [12 meg] and PC here [4 meg]

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Future of Sustainable Products and Services, September 28-29, 2009 in Essen, Germany

Notes during The Future of Sustainable Products and Services:
Creating groups for transformative change around demonstration projects that involve media and academia. Guided by a council of elders advised by a group of young people.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Five years ago there was the “First European Conference on Telecommunications and Sustainability”. There I met Katalin Szomolányi and we begun our collaboration. One of the most well-known outcomes from this collaboration is the roadmap “Saving the climate @ the speed of light”.

Now I was in Budapest again for Sustainability day 2009.

Things have really changed over these five years and one of the things I saw was Ericsson with the material that was just was released 9th of September (see picture with Anita Veszeli from Ericsson).

I hope some of the participants was inspired by the day and that they will start projects that will contribute to a new generation of solutions. Maybe I will be back in Budapest in 2014 to see how far these ideas have developed in five years…

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

New paper: A five-step-plan for a low carbon urban development

A new material: A five-step-plan for a low carbon urban development - Understanding and implementing low carbon ICT/telecom solutions that help economic development while reducing carbon emissions is now out.

This is the first material from the WWF Sweden-Ericsson collaboration and was ready for the Broadband World Forum. I presented some of the key findings from the material during a panel chaired by Elaine Weidman from Ericsson. The material can be downloaded here (6 MB).

There were two interesting presentations from operators with concrete examples and calculations. First from Marc Fossier, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Orange and second from Mike Wright, Executive Director, Wireless, Telstra. Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum, also did a presentation about the new infrastructure that broadband presents.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

New paper: From ”Green IT” to ”Greening with IT” in 2009 A white paper on the financial crisis as an opportunity to ensure accelerated CO2 reductions

From ”Green IT” to ”Greening with IT” in 2009
-A white paper on the financial crisis as an opportunity to ensure accelerated CO2 reductions with low carbon it solutions (download here)

The “From 'Green IT' to 'Greening with IT' in 2009” is the last paper from the joint WWF and HP project: “first billion tonnes CO2 reduction with smart ICT”. It was a great project and I think it is fair to say that it contributed to putting low carbon ICT on the global agenda.

It is a great paper to end the WWF-HP project with as the focus is how the current economic and financial crisis can be turned into an opportunity. It is also a great support for the interesting work that is emerging in emerging countries like China, Mexico and India. It can hopefully also support the follow-up from the OECD declaration on green growth 24-25 June 2009 where ICT was mentioned a number of times (download here with ICT highlighted, with the help of OECD). It is great that OECD also managed to get low-carbon infrastructure in the declaration and if low carbon infrastructure become a key focus for Copenhagen that would be a significant step forward.

Op-ed China Daily:End of fossil fuel and fueling of innovations

This is my op-ed article about end of oil, I have been working around the clock to get everything done that I need to get done before I leave WWF Sweden end of September so I missed that it was published last week (here is the link to China Daily) and now understand the reason for all the emails about oil... When the IEA study will be public I think we will see beginning of a very tense time in the energy sector. The end of oil will no longer be academic, it will become a key economic and security policy issue. As I argue in the article this will be one of the most important battles in the early 21st Century. I think the chances that China will make wise choses are better then most western countries where powerful power companies are integrated in the governments in a way that make rational and innovative decision close to impossible.

We really need new companies moving into the mainstream discussion. As long as the old energy companies are the advisors we will continue to see most of the investment going into the supply side and most of it in extraction/refining related solutions, as this is where the business models are. An index/measure to assess where companies are investing their money is moving up my priority list.

End of fossil fuel and fueling of innovations
The most authoritative energy organization just indicated that the end of oil is much nearer than expected. The day we will see the end of the oil era can best be described as an oil-bomb implosion -more powerful than anything humanity has seen.

In a unique initiative the International Energy Agency in Paris has conducted its first study to assess the future oil supplies. The decision to survey supply - instead of just demand, as in the past - reflects an increasing fear among world leaders that oil reserves may dry up much sooner than expected.

Very soon the day will come when humanity will see the end of oil. If the response is strategic from Chinese companies and policymakers it could boost a shift from high-carbon goods "made in China" to smart 21st century solutions "innovated in China" that could help the world into a global circular economy.

At first thought the end of cheap oil may look like a good thing for the environment because much of the carbon emission that causes global warming comes from oil. The problem is that most of the international companies responsible for providing energy have shown they are not that interested in a sustainable future with renewable energy and energy efficiency. When oil prices were close to $150 a barrel last year we could see increased investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, but the real investments were in more and dirtier fossil fuels.

Three areas received a lot of attention and investments from the fossil fuel industry last year: Tar sand, coal to liquid and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Tar sand is dirty oil that requires a lot of energy to be extracted so it emits much more carbon than traditional oil. Coal to liquid is a method of extracting liquid fuel from coal, which again causes much higher emissions than traditional oil because it is a very energy intensive process. And CCS is an "end-of-pipe" technology where the problem is made marginally less destructive.

From an economic and innovative perspective these investments make no sense. Their ways of providing energy are dirtier and more expensive, and they don't drive innovation or create any significant job opportunities compared with most other options.

Energy efficient buildings, or even carbon-positive buildings, new smart IT solutions that allow teleworking and smart public transport system can be built around renewable energy at the same or cheaper cost.

Why then big investments were not made in smart and renewable energy solutions? The reason is simple and important both. It is about business ideas and the will to keep on using an infrastructure that we sooner or later must leave behind.

The world, especially the industrial world, has such a strong addiction to oil that we will probably see wars over oil and more investments in climate destructive technologies if we don't start investing for a world beyond oil.

Since oil consumption in China is expected to increase by about 60 percent by 2020, according to studies conducted by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, it can turn the crisis into an opportunity.

The country has the chance of shifting from a society built on oil and look at development beyond the "age of oil". Its focus should shift from increased oil exploration and more fossil technologies toward new smart technologies that also can be exported.

Smart public transport, teleworking and smart buildings can become the three pillars of an oil-free future for China and the rest of the world. But for that to happen we need new initiatives.

First and most important is to ensure that companies engaged in extracting, refining and supplying fossil fuel are not in charge of the development agenda. Many western governments have such companies as their main advisors on climate policy.

It's natural that these companies would want to protect their business model and sell as much energy as possible instead of helping people get the service they need in the most climate-efficient way. The companies want to protect the investments in the infrastructure they have built, too. That means they would use more fuel for their refineries, pipelines and power stations.

It is almost impossible for them to give up the use of fossil fuel both as a raw material and finished product because their knowledge and innovative power is almost totally limited to fossil solutions.

Second, no company should be supported or given permission to operate unless it demonstrates a plan for a fossil-free future by 2020. This would prepare society for the day oil prices shoot out of the roof or the existing distribution system collapses.

Third, China can lead the way in making other oil producing countries invest all the revenue earned by their companies after oil prices cross $70 a barrel in non-fossil-fuel solutions, with a strong focus on energy efficiency and system solutions.

It doesn't make any sense to allow companies to make record profits from our dependence on oil and use it to make us more wretched slaves of fossil fuel.

Fourth, China can take up the global challenge of building oil-free cities employing the best tools and practices from around the world, and then sharing the experience with other countries.

The end of oil can lead to harmonious innovation or more aggressive investments in fossil fuel. The development road China chooses - sustainable or destructive - will not only shape the 21st century's industrial development, but also humanity's future.

The author is adviser to various companies, governments and NGOs.

The world’s first global market survey on low carbon IT -100 cities and 100 companies’ expectations from IT in relation to a low carbon future

The main conclusions from the new report are pasted in below and the whole report "The world’s first global market survey on low carbon IT -100 cities and 100 companies’ expectations from IT in relation to a low carbon future" can be downloaded (here).

This is a study that was really interesting to do . It is the world’s first global survey regarding low carbon ICT solutions. Thanks to the support of HP (they supported this work and it is linked to the ”one billion tonnes work” with WWF) we now have a better understanding about the real situation. Thanks also to Dan Gabaldon and his team at Booz & co. how did the heavy job of collecting and analyzing the data.

The uptake of low-carbon ICT is mixed across sectors and geographies. The most significant barriers include a lack of awareness of the systemic carbon and energy saving potential of ICTs, and a lack of tools and methodologies to quantify these benefits. Removing these barriers would help better leverage the financial drivers for low-carbon ICTs adoption as carbon pricing becomes more prevalent, accelerating the use of ICTs as a solution for a low-carbon economy.

1. Key Conclusions
➢ The financial crisis provides a unique opportunity to establish ICT as a key provider of low carbon solutions
o Most low carbon ICT solutions do not add costs like many other “green” activities. So far these solutions have been implemented because they help business and cities to increase productivity and save costs. If awareness of this win-win opportunity (economy and climate) spread, an accelerated uptake could be expected.
o There is no existing method to measure the low carbon contributions from ICT solutions, but the interest for such a tool is significant. A tool that would help ICT users and cities to calculate the carbon savings from using ICT solutions would increase the interest and demand in such solutions.
o IT users, especially high-emitting industries, are starting to use low carbon IT solutions for transformative change. It is necessary to collect and disseminate best practices where ICT’s role in transformative change, as well as incremental, is described .

➢ A shift in perspective from risk to profit in relation to climate change is needed for ICT to become visible as a key provider of low carbon solutions
o The green stimulus packages seem to have resulted in a situation where companies in emerging markets will increase their investments in low carbon solutions. To link ICT investments to strategic parts of stimulus packages, such as those promoting infrastructure, is important for low carbon infrastructure development.
o The areas seen as most important for investments to reduce a company’s own carbon emissions over the next five years are smart buildings and use of renewable energy, both requiring significant investment in ICT if done properly. Examples of how ICT help with smart buildings and increased use of renewable energy in different markets should be provided.

➢ Opportunities with a low carbon infrastructure must be understood
o The combined pressure from the financial and climate crises has put focus on the infrastructure . ICT solutions can be part of a low carbon infrastructure that must provide many of the services that have so far been provided by a high carbon Infrastructure. The benefits of a low carbon infrastructure need to be better understood and tools to help decision makers should be developed.
o Asia appears to be a potential leader in the area of smart buildings. With so many new buildings being built, this is a historic opportunity where buildings can turn from the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases to become a net provider of sustainable energy. ICTs role in providing the world with passive, and net producing, buildings should be documented and guidelines provided.
o Many low carbon ICT solutions are already in use by both cities and companies, but their contribution to reducing emissions is often not understood. Handbooks for cities and companies should be developed in order to explain what contributions smart ICT solutions can play.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Op-ed China Daily: Smart cities needed to save our planet 外籍专家:希望中国成为发展低碳城市的坚强践行者

This is my op-ed article about cities in today's China Daily. [Updated 090824 with link to a Chinese version, also pasted in below the English version]. The role of cities will be key in the coming years. I hope that the negotiations in Copenhagen and the implementation of the stimulus packages (China is very interesting with respect to low carbon stimulus) will focus more on concrete action where cities - and companies - that see opportunities with a low carbon development are supported.

Dongmei Chen from WWF China has been a great inspiration for the ideas - and concrete work - with Low Carbon Cities in China. She is a real low carbon hero. I look forward to work more intensively with her, and other "low carbon city leaders" all around the world. Interesting things are in the pipeline...

Smart cities needed to save our planet
By Dennis Pamlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-08-06 07:48

So far most of the focus in the climate discussions has been on big polluting industries. The reason for that is we have approached climate change as a problem. This perspective is leading us toward trade conflicts with entities with unsustainable consumption levels and blaming those with high greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting industries. This could be avoided if we shift to a solution perspective and focus on the opportunities for cities.

Last year was the first time in human history when more than half of the world's population was living in urban, not rural, areas. This trend will continue and in 40 years 70 percent of the world's population will be living in cities. China will lead this development in many ways, with 70 percent of its population living in cities in about 30 years.

Cities are the main destination for investments and centers of innovations. And whether we will destroy or save the planet depends on toward where those investments and innovations are directed: high- or low- carbon development.

To turn cities into solution providers we must move beyond the simplified perspective that have dominated the climate change debate so far, especially in the West. The focus on problems has resulted in a situation where almost all of the work is invested in house-keeping measures to reduce direct GHG emissions in cities. This is not unimportant; it is just one part of a much bigger picture.

A strategy to support low-carbon city development must include at least four factors. We need cities that can do all things well, but right now we also need cities that focus on one of the factors and become world leaders in it.

The most obvious area, and where almost all focus is today, is direct emissions from cities. Cleaning your house is always a good thing. Cities should develop strategies to reduce direct emissions from buildings and transport and all other significant sources. What is important is setting targets and formulating strategies that actually reduce GHG emissions and not just move them to another place.

Ensuring continued focus on energy efficiency and new smart system solutions instead of only looking at decreased use of coal and oil is important. Projects like Shanghai's initiative of building smart buildings is very interesting and would help create a low-carbon 21st century infrastructure based on broadband communications instead of roads and airports.

The second area that must be addressed to ensure that GHG emission problems are not just moved from one place to another is "embedded emissions".

Embedded emissions are those that have been released in order to produce something. If a city is moving a steel plant because it emits huge volumes of carbon but keeps on using as much steel as before then the problem has not been solved; it has only been moved.

Many cities in the rich world that talk about low-carbon development ignore the goods with significant amounts of embedded carbon they import. Research shows emissions a country like Sweden is responsible for would be double if its imports are included. The reason is that Sweden, like other Western countries, exports less-carbon intensive goods than it imports.

The Chinese government has issued regulations to discourage export of energy intensive products and support a low-carbon lifestyle, offering a unique opportunity for its cities to review their imports and exports from a climate perspective.

A very important but still not very well known climate aspect in cities is export of low-carbon solutions. A city is an active part of the global economy, and since there is an urgent need for low-carbon solutions it must support companies that export them.

An export perspective allows cities to focus on companies providing low-carbon solutions and how promoting a low-carbon development can create jobs. Obviously there is a link between direct GHG emissions and the export of low-carbon solutions. If a market is created for new smart solutions in a city, the companies that provide them can first grow in the domestic market and then become important exporters of low-carbon solutions.

If cities become providers of low-carbon solutions they can become "climate positive". Such cities would contribute to more emission reductions from the use of the solutions they export than the GHG they emit. In the future, climate-positive cities could become the most important solution providers on the planet.

Baoding in Hebei province may be well known for its potential to become the world's leading climate-positive city, but it is not the only Chinese city that holds such a promise. Dezhou in Shandong province is one. Products made in these cities are supplied to the domestic as well as the international markets.

Finally, it is important for cities to have a strategy that support multifunctional solutions. While climate change is important, it is not the only challenge we face.

Our efforts to reduce GHG emissions should also help solve other problems.

Solar solutions, for example, can help provide solutions for desalination plants and farming. Some interesting projects are in progress in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, and Suntech is developing integrated solutions that allow desalination and cleaning of water at the same time as providing clean and renewable energy. These solutions would be good not just for the climate, but also increase food production, reduce poverty and help avoid conflicts.

Let's hope Chinese cities become a strong voice for a solution agenda. A lot is already going on in China, but these initiatives still need a stronger international voice.

The author is adviser to various companies, governments and NGOs.












我们希望中国能够成为发展低碳城市的强力支持者和践行者。尽管中国已经在这一领域做了相当多的工作,但这些做法和计划依然需要更好地向国际社会进行传播和推广,让所有国家都充分意识到低碳型发展的重要意义。(作者为世界自然基金会顾问 Dennis Pamlin 编辑 裴培 张峰)

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Senior Associate at CASS (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)

From 1st of August 2009 to the 1st of August 2010 I will be a senior associate at CASS (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences). I really look forward to this

The research will focus on how a transition to a resource efficient society can create opportunities, especially for China and Chinese companies. Urban areas are a key focus and particularly how investments can transform the existing carbon/natural resource intensive 20th century infrastructure to a low carbon/resource efficient 21st century infrastructure. How to measure savings and reductions from different policies and technologies is a theme that runs through all the work. Converging trends and converging solutions/technologies are the two starting points for the research. The set of ideas that will be explored are all collected under the heading “21st Century Frontiers” to symbolize that the research areas are exploring opportunities that are just emerging or soon will emerge, rather that existing challenges and opportunities.

The work will focus on the following areas:

- Transformative changes in society
How significant changes in society can be calculated and assessed. Most of the methodologies today focus on incremental changes where the rest if society remains the same. This work will develop models that also include the underlying infrastructure and how different choices affect this underlying infrastructure through dynamic effects.

- Emerging technologies
How it is possible to calculate and assess the impact of threshold events, especially those resulting of convergence of different technologies (such as IT, Nanotechnology and Biotechnology). Of particular interest are methodologies that allow for assessment of “high impact/low probability” events.

- Low carbon/resource efficient lifestyles
How different choices of individuals, companies and governments can be assessed in relation to a sustainable lifestyle (i.e. a lifestyle that is possible for nine billion people to live). How information can be presented in a way that allow it to be used for decision making also under time pressure is of particular interest. What values that support a low carbon lifestyle is particularly important for this work.

- International economic architecture
How different initiatives can be developed in order for an international economic architecture to support a low carbon and resource efficient economy.

- Business models for a harmonious future
How business can develop tools and standards that allow them to assess their positive contribution to a low carbon/ resource efficient development. Instead of only focusing on companies as problems that should reduce their emissions this research focus on developing tools that allow companies to report the emissions reductions they

- Low carbon city development
How cities development can be measured, not just the direct emissions, but also aspects such as embedded carbon and consequences for export (e.g. so that a city can account for export of sustainable solutions).

The research will both support ongoing work in CASS as well as explore future opportunities for research. Strengthening the international profile and credibility of CASS is important and will be part of the assessment when the projects are evaluated.

Article in SEED: It Is the IP Culture, Not the Law, That is the Problem

Here is an article about IP from the web version of SEED

It Is the IP Culture, Not the Law, That is the Problem

The question of intellectual property has become key in discussions about climate change and new technologies. In the short term, the IP discussion is about existing solutions or solutions that could be implemented quickly. It’s evident that current IP protection could help companies invest in solutions for reducing emissions. And overall, it is reasonable to assume that continued IP protection would support investments that deliver incremental improvements.

The challenge, however, is that we need more than incremental improvements. Anyone attending a symposium/conference/workshop about innovation will see that very few of the ideas developed by entrepreneurs have anything to do with the challenges we face. This fact has very little to do directly with the IP system itself and more about the culture surrounding the system.

As we move ahead, three areas need to be included in the IP discussion:

First, how we can distinguish between sustainable solutions and unsustainable solutions? Today no such system exists, and there’s no way to know which solutions deserve our attention on the IP level. The system doesn’t need to be perfect—just being able to do a rough categorization would help us understand what kind of solutions are being developed. Then we could investigate a framework to disseminate those solutions.

Second, and perhaps most important, is to create a culture where individuals and companies are inspired to find solutions to the challenges. If innovators and investors could assess how many people are helped with different solutions, we wouldn’t have to rely on short-term economic gains and pure curiosity to guide technological development. Using increased connectivity to provide real-time information about the situation around the world could encourage people to spend more time trying to solve the food and climate crisis and less time developing iFart applications.

Third, we need to improve the transparency around the financial rewards for different kinds of innovations. It would become obvious that we are spending incredible amounts of money on things like incremental improvements in coal and fossil fuel cars when much better solutions exist. This in turn would expose the fact that many companies are encouraging innovation based on their current business model, rather than the best way to provide different services for people. Protecting IP rights for solutions that destroy the planet, when parts of these solutions could be used in another context to help the planet, does not make much sense at all.

Dennis Pamlin is a senior associate at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and global policy adviser at WWF. The opinions in this text are those of the author, not the organizations for which he works.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Low Carbon Business Innovation Forum in Beijing

WWF China together with China Entrepreneur Club hosted a Low Carbon Business Innovation Forum (Draft agenda here). I presented some of the major trends on the international scene and participated in a very interesting panel with Huang Ming, CEO of Himin Group and Li Yue, Vice President of China Mobile that was moderated by Zeng Zimo, Hostess from Phoenix TV.

It if fantastic to see how the WWF China team, and in this case particularly Ping Zheng (on the picture), are taking a leading role to support the emergence of a new generation of solution based companies. Before and after I spent time working with a team from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications – Service Science Research Institute, Marco Buttazzoni and Suzanne Pahlman to calculate savings from low carbon IT solutions. Some really interesting numbers are coming up and I really look forward to the final results.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Everyone who interested in information technology and its relation to society should pick up a copy of the Daemon by Daniel Suarez. There are so many aspects in the book that it is impossible to mention all of them all.

Depending on your ideology it could be seen as:
1. A call to arms for the 21st century working class, the computer/network expert and gamer, if we look through the eyes of Karl Marx.
2. Or we can see these a new emerging “religion” applying a new ethics with the help of Max Weber.
3. A challenge to a new generation to develop an ideology/theory that can make sense of the world that is emerging in front of our eyes. A ideology/theory that can guide us through the convulsions when our old industrial society leave way for something new.

The pages are filled with reflections about every thing from gaming culture, virus/parasite analogies, the role of major corporations, globalisation to the impact of technology and asymmetric warfare, etc. It is hard not to smile as you reed as it is obvious that Daniel enjoyed writing this book.

The three only really week spots that I had difficulties with (and I feel almost bad writing about them as the book itself covers dozens more themes that are written in a way that is both entertaining and thought provoking. But when something is close to perfect the small imperfections become all the more obvious.

1. My first complain is that too much of the technology parts are written like a ”Data communication for dummies”. Having someone talking about hacking in a way that feels as if they have opened up their laptop for the first time just don’t feel right. The old trick of keeping the “education” for conversations between someone who knows and someone who does not know might have helped, but I would have preferred it to be written in a style where some knowledge could be taken for granted…
2. The technology used is not very interesting (except the sixth sense). I don’t understand why the technology is so boring. It is almost as if it is written with the idea of product placement in a future movie. The boring product placement of Nokia phones in some Bond movies springs to mind. The next book can hopefully bring out some exciting IT, biotech and nanotechnology from the labs.
3. The worst for me however is that the book compromises and too often turns into an old fashion action/agent plot with car chase and traditional murders. I’m sure that Daniel could have written a book that really used the Daemons power over the virtual world as the plot. With the connectivity today almost all of the traditional physical actions could have been avoided. I’m not sure if it is Daniel, the editor or someone that think that a future movie would require some traditional action scenes. Without these physical elements the book would have been amazing (and I think it would been a much more interesting movie as well).

Still the book is really well written and I also like the references at the end of the book to books about themes discussed in the book. I would like to see that in more books.
A theme that I think is particularly interesting and not discussed often enough is the role of democracy in a high-tech society. Our current nation state based democracy model is not well equipped to deal with the rapid changes/challenges that rapid technology result in, especially when this technology is linking the world in a way that make national boarders less important.

When we talk about the limits of democracy we should put things in perspective. Peter Jones (“Vote for Caesar: How the Ancient Greeks and Romans Solved the Problems of Today)
 has reminded us that we have an elective oligarchy, not a democracy. Others would say that we are living in a spectacle. Regardless the role of technology in shaping society, not just on the margin, is something that should be discussed more.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Coalitions that can deliver: meeting at Centro Mario Molina in Mexico City

During two intensive days in Mexico City I had a number of interesting meetings. One of the most inspiring was with Mario Molina and Carlos Mena from Centro Mario Molina together with colleagues from WWF. If things move the right way 2009 will see Mexico emerge as one of the most important countries on the international climate scene. With the Mexican government already getting both a domestic (e.g. the special plan for climate change) and international agenda (e.g. the Green Fund) in place a framework already exists. With businessmen such as Carlos Slim, now a climate advisor to Ban Ki-moon, and independent research/policy institutions such as the Centro Mario Molina collaborating with organizations like WWF we could see some really interesting initiatives in the near future. The team at WWF Mexico with people like Omar Vidal, Jorge Rickards and Liliana Davila is amazing and is already playing a key role in the network that move things forward in Mexico. I have drafted some ideas and keep my fingers crossed that we will see progress soon.

Friday, 17 July 2009

The life you can save by Peter Singer

The life you can save by Peter Singer is interesting because it is so boring and feels like it was written 20 years ago.

This is a person that has helped move the animal rights agenda into mainstream. He did that using ethical arguments and demonstrating that we are not acting in a coherent or ethical way in relation to (other) animals. So he has been a thought leader that challenges systems even though it looks impossible.

When it comes to how we should look at the poor people of our own species he adopt a much more narrow perspective and by trying to be “pragmatic” he ends up writing a book that probably is meant to get him and others invited to rich people that want to provide philanthropic contributions to poverty.

Parts of the book are downright counterproductive. One example is his discussion about our unfair trade and agricultural system. These areas he rightfully describe as much more influential than aid, but then goes on saying that it is not likely that these system will change so we should focus on increased philanthropic aid. First of all we must do both, and a discussion about the balance would be interesting. Second, with this approach we would still have slavery, women would not be able to vote, etc. These where things that most people saw as given, but people kept on fighting and managed to change the system. A fair trade regime and a more sensible agricultural policy seems a lot easier to achieve than earlier breakthroughs.
Personally I also feel that the whole philanthropic approach feels a bit outdated. It is nice with philanthropy, but the big question today is how we can get business people using their core skills and delivering solutions that helps the poor. Even if not everyone can be Muhammad Yunus all companies should look how they can assess their contribution to poverty reduction (I wrote an article in China Daily about this two weeks ago).

For the next book it would be good if he spend more time with the philosophy. The arguments in this book are very sloppy and there are references to "human nature" and what's "natural" (e.g caring about family and friends) that feels more like a 19th Century conservative politician than a philosopher.

There are obviously also a number of positive things in the book, but anyone interesting in Peter Singer is better off reading his earlier books and for poverty and ethics there are many books that can be read. An end to poverty by Gareth Stedman-Jones and Kicking away the ladder by Ha-Joon Chang are two books that I hope that Peter Singer will read is he will continue engaging in the poverty debate.

If nothing else this can hopefully inspire a new generation of philosopher as we this year will have more than a billion hungry people on the planet for the first time in human history and we need innovation also in the field of philosophy [see earlier blog].

A World Without Bees by Alison Benjamin & Brian McCallum

This is a book I can really recommend [and it has a blog]. The book captures so many different aspects. More than anything else the book is an example of what happens if you are driven by passion. Two people with an interest in bees discover the world through their passion. The way it is written is something I don’t think we see enough of. They are not journalists that focus on language, sound bites and a simple story, they are two people that want to tell us something they feel is important.

The story in the book is a scary, but important, illustration of how vulnerable our ecosystem is and how we must rethink our approach to nature (it is not a machine). They way they look for different explanations to why bees are dying is told as if you had a great dinner conversation.

How the authors are describing the mystery that bees are dyeing is also something that should be seen as an example for people writing books about the state of the world. They don’t push one idea and try to make things simple by pointing at one aspect the way media and many policy makers tend to approach big challenges. Instead they look that the mix of many different drivers such as short term perspective from chemical companies pushing out toxic substances, increased use of GM crops, increased demand for profit, monocultures, increased resistance towards chemicals from the varroa mite parasite, etc.

The one small issue where I think we need to be careful is not to only look at resilience, but broader at sustainable development with cultural and ethical aspects. Resilience has become very popular lately and can provide some guidance, but it is dangerously close to payment for environmental services and other concepts that try to move nature towards the kind of economic system that we have seen destroying the planet. Rather than resilience we could look at some of the many Chinese concepts that capture the need for balance e.g. 无以人灭天 /Do not let the artificial to obliterate the natural.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Op-ed China Daily: Two questions for those earning over 70 yuan a day

Below is my article from today's China Daily. It was inspired by all the "innovation" events that I have been attending lately and was triggered by the news from FAO the 19th of June that 2009 will be the first year in human history when more than one billion people will go hungry. An alternative heading could be "A billion reasons to innovate".

China Daily is allowing a lot of space to 21st Century thinking and todays reader could also read the following article from Noleen Heyzer called "Riding high on low-carbon economy"

Two questions for those earning over 70 yuan a day
By Dennis Pamlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-06-30 07:55

The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization issued a press release recently saying this year will be the first time when more than 1 billion people face undernourishment, that is, 1 billion people won't get enough to eat. We share the same vulnerable planet and, because of globalization, we are closer neighbors than ever before. Hence, we should not allow any neighbor to starve without doing everything we can to help.

Poverty is a complex issue, and the current situation can be explained by a number of factors, ranging from structural global issues such as unfair trade rules to capital flight from poor to rich countries because of non-transparent tax havens. There are no simple ways to address these challenges, but we must keep looking for solutions.

Over the past few weeks, I have attended a number of conferences on how innovative individuals and companies develop new products. After listening to participants, it has become obvious that almost the entire focus is on the small minority of rich people.

The innovations include things like tracking devices for pets, automatic watering gadgets for flowers and plants, games on mobile phones and dull nail polish. None of this is necessarily bad, but in times of such a huge crisis we should take a step backward and rethink our priorities.

We should ask ourselves how much time we spend on addressing the basic needs of those that need help the most compared with that spent on trying to give those who already lead a good life an even better life, or even create needs where there might be none.

The focus on people with more money is not surprising because all companies look for possible ways to increase their revenues and know the poor have weak purchasing power. But it is time we discussed how poverty can become a driver for innovation.

Alleviating poverty is not about charity, it is about justice and about the kind of people we want to look at when we see ourselves in the mirror. It is also about the kind of companies we have and what they do.

It is time to act and take some small steps to tap into the resources and creativity that exists in all companies. The CEOs of all companies with creative staff should gather their employees and ask two questions: "How can positive contributions be reported, and can the things we produce meet the needs of 9 billion people?"

Many companies are already helping the poor, some knowingly and others unwittingly. If we make the positive contributions of such companies well known, it will increase their prestige in society. On the other hand, it can raise questions over the companies that make a lot of money but do not contribute anything in the fight against poverty.

Companies could start formulating "planet and people positive target" plans. The existing system of companies reporting non-economic issues, for example, social and environmental issues, focus on how companies can reduce their negative impacts. This is of course important, but it is equally important that companies contribute positively and report these in a credible way.

If companies had to write in their quarterly and annual reports how they helped alleviate poverty it would help employees, clients and policymakers to better understand their contribution to society. Discussions on "the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid" have shown there are many opportunities out there.

As far as the second question is concerned, to eradicate poverty we have to think in the long term on how we can create a more resource-efficient society.

In just a few decades, there will be 9 billion people on the planet. If we are serious about alleviating poverty we have to accept the fact that much of what we are producing now can fulfill the need of only a small group of people. The simple reason is that our planet does not have enough resources to fulfill human need if everyone starts copying the wasteful lifestyle of the rich.

The Hummer car is probably one of the best examples of a wasteful lifestyle. Even if one out of every 10 or 20 people were to buy a Hummer car each it would cause an environmental catastrophe. We need to ask ourselves whether such products should be allowed to be used at all, and what kind of PR campaigns companies should be allowed to run to try to convince us to buy things that are quite unnecessary and use huge amounts of natural resources.

On the other hand, most smart IT solutions, which make use of laptops and mobile devices, are examples of products that could be used by 9 billion people. Solutions like e-education and teleworking should be supported increasingly because they can be used by everyone and help build 21st century's real infrastructure. This infrastructure is already in a position today to help the poor by creating channels like mobile micro-lending and those that give information on agricultural products' prices.

The government can help unleash a wave of poverty alleviation programs by supporting companies that want to use their innovation to help. It can, for example, ask for transparency when it comes to the positive impacts of companies. More involved companies will help address some of the more complex and structural issues, too, because those working to alleviate poverty would see the need for more fair trade rules, and pricing and other mechanisms.

We are the first generation in history to face mass poverty, hence this is a historical time for companies and politicians to take innovative steps, and those doing so will be remembered forever.

The author is adviser to various companies, governments and NGOs.