Canadian Universities to Educate Business About Climate Change

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A select group of universities across Canada have signed up to be part of a a new initiative to get long-term investors to care about climate change. The universities have endowment and pension funds that need to guarantee returns for decades (if not centuries) and thus have an obligation to plan ahead. That initiative is the new University Network for Investor Engagement (UNIE), and was founded with SHARE, an organization with a good track record of getting financial change. A world without catastrophic climate change is an easier one to make plans for, so let’s hope that UNIE helps decarbonize our economy by encouraging companies to care about the climate.

“These universities are showing leadership in addressing the climate crisis. Acting as investors, Canadian university pension plans and endowments can have a powerful influence on corporate behavior. Working together in one program amplifies each institution’s voice and leverages their power to bring about change,” said Kevin Thomas, Chief Executive Officer at SHARE.  

The UNIE initiative is focused both on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy. 

“The actions taken by institutional investors today will play a crucial role in determining how society fares in the face of climate change,” said Thomas.

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Looking at Canadian Companies in Connection to Indigenous Issues

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SHARE Canada just released a report on how Canadian companies are engaging issues impacting reconciliation efforts in the country. A few years ago the Canadian government released recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada which provided suggestions to help heal the damage done from years of colonial practices. Of course, government agencies and NGOs have already started in their reconciliation processes (to varying degrees). What SHARE wanted to find out was if the corporate sector is doing their part. A few companies are making an effort, but more should be outlining what they are doing and how.

“Industry and business play an extremely significant role in how the economic, social, and cultural aspects of reconciliation are addressed, including the extent to which opportunities and benefits are truly shared with Indigenous peoples,” the report said.

Greig said she hopes her findings will be the first step toward creating a transparent, measurable benchmark to assess a company’s treatment of Indigenous people.

“Inevitably, we’ll get there. But it’s a rocky road.”

Read more.
Full report (PDF).

Bike Share Parking More Efficient Than Car Parking

Bike share programs have taken the world by storm, more cities than ever before are using bike sharing systems as part of their transit solutions. Bike sharing allows for a mixture of bicycle rides mixed with mass transit. The popularity of bike sharing amongst commuters is also on the rise, to capture how popular the system is one enterprising individual set up a camera right beside a bike sharing station in New York. Notice how many people are utilizing the bike share parking versus the cars that stay stationary.

Luke Ohlson recently recorded the mad rush in time lapse at 5 p.m. on a weekday to make a point about transit in New York. “Parking takes up 150,000 acres of New York City street space, yet a majority of New Yorkers do not drive or use cars,” says Ohlson, a senior organizer at Transportation Alternatives, an activist group that promotes biking, walking, and public transit. “If we use some of the public space that is currently allocated to parking differently, the whole neighborhood can benefit.”

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How a Better World Can Come from Supply Chain Management

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The Canadian organization Shareholder Association for Research & Education (SHARE) just released a report on how supply chain management can help promote and enforce human rights. Some countries legally require companies to report the status of human rights and any liabilities that may stem from neglect or worse. Canada, however, does not. SHARE has looked at other parts of the world to inform how the Canadian government and companies can better the world while reducing risk for investors.

The report, “The Rise of Supply Chain Transparency Legislation” (PDF link), reviews a range of supply chain transparency legislation from the U.S. and across Europe, including the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act 2010 and the UK Modern Slavery Act, to understand its form and impact and to learn from best practices already adopted in other jurisdictions.

SHARE’s report examines best practices in supply chain reporting from other jurisdictions and makes recommendations for Canada, including that a reporting regime should be consistent, but flexible; that it should be publicly accessible; updated annually and certified by top management; and that there should be mechanisms to ensure compliance.

“A regulatory framework for supply chain transparency reporting ensures consistency and comparability between the information provided by each company in a sector,” says Delaney Greig, an analyst with SHARE and co-author of the report, in a statement. “Reporting requirements should help companies to approach supply chain due diligence in a way that ensures efforts are effective and transparent while allowing companies flexibility to do what is best for their situation.”

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The Types of Cyclist Change Thanks to Bike Sharing

Bixi is a bike sharing program that started in Montreal but the concept exists in cities around the world. In Montreal where there are more bicycle commuters every year,researchers at McGill University surveyed cyclists before and after Bixi began. They were able to identify the types of cyclists that ride and their commitment to commuting via bicycle.

The study found that cycling demographics are changing rapidly. In a 2008 Montreal study, conducted before Bixi and the growth of bike paths, 65 percent were men and 35 percent women. But in 2013, the study included 60 percent men and 40 percent women.

The age of cyclists also is dropping. The average age of the 2013 cyclists was 37.3 years old, compared with 42 years old in a 2008 study. But the study also showed cyclists’ income skews high. In 2008, 13 percent of cyclists had a household income of $100,000 or more. In the 2013, one-quarter of the respondents’ household income was above $100,000.

Based on the results, the researchers said a one-size-fits-all approach might not be the right way to encourage more cycling. Emphasizing health benefits, for instance, works best with first-time and returning cyclists, but doesn’t affect the most committed cyclists who ride for different reasons.

Read more at Forbes.

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