Every cup of tea you drink should help better the lives of the people who produce it, improve the environment where it is grown, and contribute to a thriving global industry, according to a new report from some of sector’s biggest players, launched today by global sustainability nonprofit Forum for the Future.
Unilever, Yorkshire Tea, Tata Global Beverages and James Finlay are among members of the Tea 2030 partnership calling for the sector to find legal ways to collaborate — whilst continuing to compete vigorously — to turn tea from a standard commodity into a “hero crop,“ which benefits the millions who work in all parts of the industry as well as the wider environment and economy.
The Tea 2030 partners will now focus their collaboration on three key areas:
I very much welcome this model, although it isn't entirely new of course. When talk of offsetting first kicked off, organisations such as WWF always used to talk about "offsetting done well", by which they meant a social element being built into the approach. There has always been a sense that purely getting the tonnes of CO2 sorted was never good enough.
One of the challenges with this though is that there's sometimes a mismatch in the way companies manage environmental and social issues. Those that see offsetting as a legitimate, strategic part of their total carbon management are much more likely to join the dots between the two than those who adopt a fairly superficial approach.
For any company looking to develop an approach like this, we'd always suggest that they go through a credible third-party offset provider. I know it looks easy to find the right projects, but in reality it's quite hard.
Before Christmas I took part in a frank and illuminating discussion with Jonathon Porritt on the need for #theBIGshift in our approach to the sustainability challenges facing us, in front of a knowledgeable and engaged audience drawn from Forum for the Future's Network.
We face big challenges. Two billion peoplelive in extreme poverty. One billion people go to bed hungry; and 200 million are unemployed – 73 million of them young people under 24.
We are rapidly approaching, if not breaching, environmental limits – not least on climate. The IPCC warns us we have spent over half of the carbon budget that gives us less than 66% chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees.
Giles Bristow of Forum for the Future welcomes the launch of the UK's Community Energy Strategy, but he says it is crucial that there is long-term commitment to developing and delivering the strategy.
Allowing farmers to use renewable energy technology on their land will help the nation meet its future food and energy needs, experts suggest.
By generating on-farm electricity, farmers would be able to cut their costs of producing food and more likely to remain in business, they added.
Analysis suggested farmers could earn up to £50,000 a year from generating electricity from wind energy.
Agricultural land accounts for almost 75% of the UK's land cover.
"There are about 300,000 farms in the UK so if you are going to have renewable energy generation at any level of scale, farmers have the land and the capacity to install those renewable energy schemes," explained Nicky Conway, principal sustainability adviser for Forum for the Future and one of the speakers at the Great British Wind Meal event.
Most of us know about the huge environmental gains to be had from being a more sustainable business, but there is also an increasingly watertight business case. Take M&S. From an initial £40m per annum investment in 2007 at the start of Plan A came a total business benefit of £185m in year five. A cool 193% return on investment.
Then there are studies such as the one by Harvard Business School which found low sustainability companies (those with no obvious sustainability policies) were consistently outperformed by high sustainability companies in the same sectors.
So, as 2014 kicks off, what New Year's resolutions can your business make — and keep — to ensure long-term success?
If you were going to pick a name for one of the most ecologically progressive hotel chains in the southern hemisphere, you'd hardly plump for 'Jetwing'.
It might smack of a tacky 1960s love affair with the glamour of air travel but this family-owned Sri Lankan business is quietly transforming itself into something of a green pioneer.
Not that you'd notice. Most of Jetwing's hotels hardly ooze greenery. There's none of the wood-and-thatch, earthy adobe ambience of your typical eco-retreat. Some of the chain's latest hotels, are exercises in defiant modernism. The new Jetwing resort in the Yala National Park looks more like a bold new art complex in Berlin that has been parachuted onto the Indian Ocean shoreline than a sensitive development on a world heritage site.
The green stuff – solar panels, biomass boilers, bottling plants which avoid the use of plastic bottles – are tucked away out of sight. It's all rather coy. But that could be about to change.