Tag Archives: sustainability

A Serious Idea the G20 Should Consider: A Sustainable World Commission to Achieve the 17 SDGs

It took me weeks to develop the idea and many, many discussions with friends willing to listen to me and read all my various drafts. Here is the result, just published on Impakter:

A (Non) Modest Proposal for the G20: A Sustainable World Commission to Achieve the SDGs 

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

The next G20 Summit Meeting of heads of state will be held in Rome on Oct. 30 and 31, 2021, under the Italian G20 Presidency. The agenda, with the title “People, Planet, Prosperity”, addresses major obstacles to achieving a sustainable world; a series of lower-level “working” meetings prepares the Summit, including, most recently: G20 Empower to identify measures to accelerate women’s empowerment; the Youth 20 Inception Meeting to open a two-month (virtual) dialogue for young delegates (between 20 and 30 years of age) to discuss global challenges; the G20 TechSprint Initiative under the sponsorship of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub and the Bank of Italy focusing on the most pressing challenges in green and sustainable finance.

With “People, Planet, and Prosperity” focused on achieving a sustainable world, the G-20 agenda is fully in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that covers the whole gamut of sustainability issues from environment/climate change to social justice issues and economic development. The hope is that this G20 meeting will be powerful enough to move us toward a more sustainable world as defined by the SDGs – something we all seek, including advanced industrialized countries, according to the latest OECD paper calling for a “Green Transition”.

But how to get there? The time has come to decide not what should be done – the UN 2030 Agenda tells us that – but how to do it.

No doubt, there are many possible solutions, but here, I offer a (non) modest proposal. Not modest because it is very ambitious. But it has the advantage of being practical. And it is addressed to the G20 and everyone involved in the run-up to the upcoming Summit. 

Why the G20? Because today this is the one international organism most representative of the world’s geopolitical composition, as it includes both the most important leaders and the largest economies. 

The idea is simple and could be summarized in five points:

  • The goal of a sustainable world has been clearly spelled out in the UN 2030 Agenda and the 17 SDGs but the implementation – how to get there – has been left in the hands of national governments: 
  • No international organization as presently organized is equipped to carry through the necessary coordination to achieve the 17 SDGs; the UN cannot deliver, it has no coercive authority over its member states and in the hands of geopolitical powers;
  • A new governance system needs to be set up to achieve the 17 SDGs, an international institution able to coordinate national governments in a way that the United Nations system cannot: Strong, independent, and innovative, it could be modeled after a successful government agency such as NASA was after it was tasked by President Kennedy to take a man to the moon ;
  • Call it the Commission for a Sustainable World (CSW); while it could follow the NASA model, it would be mandated to achieve a far bigger task – namely, to make the world sustainable for eight billion people – and therefore require adequate funding and regulatory powers;  
  • The CSW must be independent like the European Commission is in its relations with EU member states; it would report on progress to the UN General Assembly and the G20, subject to review, say every 3-5 years, and limited in duration by a “sunset clause” to ensure that once the SDGs are achieved, the CSW would be terminated.

The key idea here is that the CSW is a hybrid institution, modeled after the European Commission but anchored in the UN systemyet much stronger than the UN. 

But it should not become a permanent new international organization or replace the UN.

Also, the CSW would pose no threat to national sovereignty as it would only operate in the areas agreed to by the UN General Assembly: UN 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. That means only two broad areas: The environment (which includes Climate Change) and social justice. And the CSW would regularly report to the UN and the G20 (should the G20 take it upon itself to promote and fund it) and be subject to review to ensure that management flexibility does not cause it to sink into corruption and that it remains within its mandate.

A note of caution: Some flexibility will be needed as the SDGs’ general timeframe is 2030 except for SDG13 (Climate Action) that includes the Paris Climate Agreement’s target to achieve zero-net emissions set at 2050. Also, problems evolve and unexpected events occur – for example, the COVID pandemic was barely mentioned under SDG#3. It would seem wise therefore to have the Commission established for at least 10-15 years. By going for even 10 years you have it running beyond the 2030 Agenda’s current life.

The goal is to give the new governance system a chance to show its worth and, if need be, adapt it to new circumstances. Here is what it would take to create such an institution. And it starts with our changing view of the role of government.

Sounds like a good idea? Interested in finding out more about the Sustainable World Commission? Click here to read the rest.


Comments Off on A Serious Idea the G20 Should Consider: A Sustainable World Commission to Achieve the 17 SDGs

Filed under climate change, Economics, Environment, European Union, politics, Uncategorized

They are ALL lying to you: The world’s top brands are NOT going green

 This is one major article, published on Impakter, that I don’t want you, my dear readers, to miss:

For the World’s Top 100 Brands, Sustainability Is Elusive Despite Claims

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

For the 2020 Top 100 Global Brands, a list derived from Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands, the goal of sustainability continues to be out of reach, despite their many claims to the contrary. This is what the findings of a three-month analysis carried out by the Impakter Index team has just revealed (results published on 18 December 2020). 

The conclusion is clear: Most companies have a long way to go before they achieve full sustainability in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and targets pertaining to their area of activity – if ever. 

A high level of “greenwashing” is still prevalent among major household names. Some of them haven’t even started on the road to sustainability, others can never make it because of the very nature of their activities (based on/using fossil fuels or dangerous chemicals). Most are doing an average job though they claim otherwise, and none is one-hundred-percent sustainable. Not one. 

I know that many of my readers who’ve read my article when the Index was launched this summer (31 July), or saw Common Place editor, Quincy Childs’ endorsement, will want to go directly to the Impakter Index and check out their favorite brand (go to the Impakter home page or click here to see). You may well be surprised (or perhaps not) to find that in most cases, there is a stunning gap between what companies claim and what they actually deliver in terms of sustainability and social responsibility. 

Look at the findings, the table provides a summary view of the ratings obtained by the top 100 brands:

To find out how they are rated by the Impakter Index, go to my article, click here.

I promise you, you’ll be surprised (I know I was)!

Comments Off on They are ALL lying to you: The world’s top brands are NOT going green

Filed under Business, climate change, Economics, Environment, politics, Sociology

Bezos and Amazon: Going Really Green or Pretending?

 My latest article, just published on Impakter Magazine:

Bezos and Amazon: Going Really Green or Pretending?

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

Stuck at home because of Covid-induced lockdowns, we all love to shop on Amazon. We love to order online and get our favorite products without having to brave Covid-infested shops. We might also hear negative stories about Amazon mistreating its employees, but we tend to dismiss them. Instead, we listen to Bezos announcing a slew of green policies. And the latest news that Amazon is the biggest corporate buyer of clean energy tends to confirm that good impression. So we ignore the complaints from Amazon workers and feel good about buying from Amazon.  But are we right? Is Amazon really as green as it claims to be? 

The Impakter Index has just given Amazon a C rating. That means Amazon is “mediocre” on the front of sustainability. Why? How did that happen?

It’s a complicated story and it’s worth telling. Because the “green” claims are strong and yet the gap with reality is a chasm.

First the facts. As a result of the pandemic, Amazon, like all online marketplaces and cloud businesses, has grown exponentially in 2020. For now, Amazon enjoys an extraordinary moment of unalloyed success with the public. As Wired recently noted in an article exploring Amazon, both consumers and employees think of Amazon highly: Forbes rated Amazon the second-best employer in the world and YouGov placed Amazon fifth among the top ten brands according to consumers:

Read the rest on Impakter, click here.

And do let me know what you think!

Comments Off on Bezos and Amazon: Going Really Green or Pretending?

Filed under Uncategorized

The IMPAKTER INDEX: A New Tool to Empower a More Sustainable Lifestyle

 Here’s the headline of my latest article on Impakter Magazine:


How to Empower People to Vote for Sustainability: the IMPAKTER INDEX

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

I’m really excited about this!

I worked on the Index for two years – yes, it all began in early 2018 with a request from the founder of Impakter Magazine to create a new tool for rating “green” products and companies that are engaged in CSR policies. Of course, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index exists, and many others, not to mention sustainability certificates and labels. So many of them that for most consumers and investors, it’s a veritable jungle. You can get lost among all the claims for sustainability! Which one is credible? Reliable? Trustworthy? Who knows…

Well, now, thanks to the Impakter Index, you will know – you’ll know as a consumer when you purchase a so-called “green” product and you’ll know as an investor when you engage in “impact investing” and sustain CSR in businesses. Yes, if we are to contain climate change and arrest environmental degradation, we need to “vote with our wallets” for socially-responsible and eco-friendly companies.

We must stop purchasing from businesses that damage the environment and hurt people. And we can do that thanks to the easy-to-use Impakter Index. Now online with the first 100 companies that we have ranked at Impakter (with a team of 37 experts) using a reliable system (based on meta-analysis techniques) to identify the sustainability certification systems that are credible and discarding those that are not. 

More to come by September, until all relevant companies are covered by the Impakter Index. Take a look, click here: https://index.impakter.com/

Here’s the opening of my article: 

Few would disagree that we need a more sustainable world, where climate change is finally under control and the degradation of the environment is stopped. But as consumers, we feel helpless, caught in the vortex of endless consumerism. As investors, it is hard to discern the real deal among all the so-called “impact” investment opportunities. We all are unwilling contributors to the general disaster. This is where the just-launched Impakter Index can make a difference: It is the first sustainability index that empowers people, consumers and investors alike, to vote for sustainability.

At the launch (July 31, 2020), the Impakter Index found immediate endorsement in Common Place, a publication of the Knowledge Futures Group (founded as a partnership between the MIT Press and MIT Media Lab). As noted in the foreword by the Common Place editor, Quincy Childs, she “reached out to Impakter earlier this week about the necessity of sustainability badging, not realizing they were in the process of finalizing a sustainability index that has been two years in the making”. And, in just a few words,  she summarized why the index is important: it “empowers the public to use their purchasing power for planetary and social benefit.” 

The Impakter Index empowers the public because it is intuitively simple and easy to use, with a five-letter system that ranks business sustainability.  Companies classified A are “great” in terms of their carbon footprint and social responsibility, those ranked F “fail”. You type in the name of a company – for example, Danone as you stand in front of the yogurt section in a supermarket – and you instantly get a reliable indicator of where this company stands on its way to sustainability:

Arguably, many sustainability indices and certificates claim to do this, and to some extent, they do so. It is well-known that indices like the Dow Jones Sustainability World or Dow Jones Sustainability EuropeFTSE4GoodSTOXX ESG, and many others, are designed to help investors. 

Likewise, the certification of products in the consumer goods market, with a wide range of catchy labels and badges, is intended to help the consumer to extricate herself from the avalanche of organic products and fair trade that vie for her attention.

But the Impakter Index is different. It builds on the work of other certification systems, picking out the best and weeding out the less reliable systems. In other words, in constructing the Impakter index, no certification system was accepted at face value, no matter how popular: Each certificate and index was independently reviewed and assessed by the Impakter team before it was used. That approach follows the concept of mega-evaluation (evaluation of evaluations), aka meta-analysis, widely used, particularly in medical research, to quantitatively combine and pull together the findings of a wide range of studies that are often at varying levels of quality.

Why was meta-analysis deemed necessary in constructing the Impakter Index? 

To find out why read the rest of the article here: https://impakter.com/empower-people-sustainability-impakter-index/


Filed under Uncategorized