Headline, May04, 2014



CALL IT an act of selfish environmentalism: In 1980,  the Italian luxury fashion company   Loro Piana  wanted  to offer its customers:

The finest animal fiber in the world: the hair of the  vicuna   -a small llama creature native to the high plains of the Peruvian Andes.  But there was one problem:

The animal was listed as endangered, its fleece subject to  international embargo.

In 1994 the Italian firm became the majority partner in a consortium, the first organization since the ban to be allowed to buy, export and market the luxury fiber.

Today, the company runs a  2,000  hectare reserve dedicated to the preservation and study of the vicuna.

Loro Piana isn't the only company that has turned green in service of its bottom line. Executives around the world are becoming aware that ecological degradation has the potential to put their businesses at risk.

''A lot of companies start out with the environment as a way to look good,'' says Radford, executive director of Greenpeace USA. ''Then they find out there are both reputational and financial gains.'' 

FOR COCA-COLA,  that realization came in the mid-2000s, when the global beverage giant became entangled in a controversy:

Over its water use at a bottling plant in India. Nearby villagers held the company responsible for a dramatic drop in the level of the region's groundwater.

Their demonstrations caught the attention of environmental activists, and the resulting negative publicity sparked protests and boycotts at college campuses across the U.S. and Europe.

Coming as it did at a time when the company was expanding its pure-water products  like mineral water, the unrest rang as a warning. In the future, Coca-Cola's fortunes would be tied to those of the environment.

Today, Coca-Cola maintains a  database  combing water-flow data with predictions for population growth, economic development and climate change, giving it an idea of the challenges its various plants can expect to face in the coming century.

It has asked all its facilities to map out a water plan, to understand where their supply comes from and what they can do to protect it. ''Because we operate in all but three countries, we're somewhat a canary in a coal mine,'' said Greg Koch, director of the company's global water stewardship program: 

''We're seeing water stress manifest itself in all types of places and in all type of ways.''

In some places, like California, the focus is on water conservation. In others, like Ireland, the company has worked to help upgrade the infrastructure. In India it is teaching farmers about drip irrigation. In Vietnam and Thailand, it has teamed up with WWF to help preserve the entire Mekong River Basin.

''These efforts are not a separate thing   -from the company's core business-  like, here's what the environment guys are doing,'' said Koch:

''Yes, there's some altruism involved  and wanting to do the right thing, but the single biggest reason is our business,''

What Coke realized is that environmental risk is by its nature tied up with political and reputational risk. ''Our water use is highly visible,'' says Joe Rozza, a global water-resource sustainability manager at the company. And we can use it for cleaning, heating and cooling.''

In many cases, to be sure, Coke's buying power would allow it to continue to operate even in areas where water had become polluted or scare. But while watching the taps run dry would be bad enough, the graver threat, as the company learned in India, is being blamed for the shortage.''

''Water is a part of our social, political and economic fabric of the society.'' says Rozza. ''It touches everybody's life every day. It's really redefining the risk landscape of the future.''

Still, there's no question that environmentalism in pursuit of profit has its limits. It works only as long as it serves the bottom line and doesn't undermine the company's core business.''

''McDonald's is another great example,'' says Radford of Greenpeace, which has worked with the fastfood  giant in efforts to reduce tropical deforestation. The company's environmental efforts are commendable, he says,-

''But the world simply can't sustain that much meat. So that one company that's hard to imagine being truly green.''

So, at the very heart of all the future challenges is the question, ''How can government policies and private sector action be most complimentary?''

With respectful dedication to the Corporate World the World over. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Best In Show '''

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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