Reeve ‘Out and About’: The Sustainable Sport and Event Toolkit Workshop

Reeve participated this past Sunday, March 29th, in the Sustainable Sport and Event Toolkit (SSET) Workshop organized by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC) and the International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS) as a pre-conference activity to the 8th World Conference on Sport and the Environment in Vancouver.

As a legacy of the 2010 Games, VANOC has been working with AISTS, the International Olympic Committee and other global sport organizations to create an easy-to-use web-based toolkit designed to help sport event organizers manage their footprint. This workshop was organized to provide understanding of the toolkit’s resources and website, and listen to first-hand stories from athletes and sport organizations currently involved in testing the toolkit.

The toolkit has eight chapters that will guide the user in creating sustainable sport and event strategies.  Chapter 5 focuses on how to involve the community and engage in Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing to support sustainable sport event commitments.  An innovative feature of the toolkit is the web-based SSET Wiki, which is an interactive platform that allows users of the toolkit to login and share best practices, ideas, statistics, stories and general comments and feedback.  The SSET Wiki also provides resources and tools that are linked directly to goals and objectives in the toolkit.

The workshop presented a wealth of information on how Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing can be leveraged by sports organizations to meet their overall sustainability commitments.  For example, VANOC shared some success stories of their Buy Smart Program, which was designed, with support from Reeve Consulting, to ensure that sustainability, ethical choices and Aboriginal participation are taken into account within procurement and licensing activities.  London 2012, Speed Skating Canada, and the International Cycling Union also recognized the role of Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing in achieving sustainability objectives of sporting events.

Reeve sees the SSET as an important step in ensuring the sustainability of future large-scale games and is excited to support the enhancement of this tool through the interactive wiki web platform.  The SSET will help to embed Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing in future games and Reeve Consulting looks forward to participating in the application of this innovative toolkit.

Reeve ‘Out and About’: Bridging The Gap with Engineers Without Borders

Reeve Consulting participated in two panel discussions this past weekend as part of this year’s Bridging The Gap conference presented by Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

Held March 14th at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver, ‘Bridging The Gap’ explored how the collaborative actions of individuals, corporations, NGOs, and government can impact extreme poverty. With the theme “Collaborating for Human Development – the hidden power of our choices,” professional and student delegates examined the influence of their actions at home, on the development field, in parliament and in boardrooms.

The day was full of discussion, debate, collaboration, and learning. Workshops and sessions were led by an engaging line-up of speakers such as Parker Mitchell, co-founder of EWB and Dr. James Orbinski, president of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and Nobel Laureate. Kevin McCarty, who joined Reeve Consulting in October 2009, participated in the following panel discussions:

Fair Trade: The Story, presented the history and key principles of Fair Trade, as well as the unique firsthand Fair Trade experiences of the panellists. Kevin shared his experience working in Bolivia with two micro-finance organizations, where he examined the Fair Trade certification process from the producer’s perspective. He was accompanied by fellow panellists Lloyd Bernhardt of Ethical Bean and Karla Bloomfield, Fair Trade Textile Market Researcher and Capacity Builder.

The Power of Purchase: Ethical Decision Making by Consumers Like You, illustrated the common consumer’s ability to create equality and promote human development through purchasing decisions. Kevin, who was accompanied by Mel Phadtare of Junxion Strategy Inc., presented the difference between ethical, fair trade, social and green purchasing and demonstrated how ethical purchasing, in particular, helps to ensure human rights are respected throughout the supply chain.

Reeve Consulting would like to thank EWB for inviting Kevin to participate in this year’s Bridging The Gap conference and would like to recognize all the hard work that the EWB team of volunteers put into this year’s event. It was a great success, keep up the good work!

Associations Attempt to Address Suppliers’ “Audit Fatigue”

When social compliance standards vary from organisation to organisation, many suppliers can experience what is known as “audit fatigue”.  As the expression suggests, it is common for suppliers to have several social compliance audits a year.  Furthermore, different auditing standards may require different corrective action plans (CAPs).  As a result, factory owners spend time and money endeavouring to meet all manner of standards, which can sap production resources and drive up costs.

A recent article in the Vancouver Sun on VANOC’s Buy Smart program illustrates the issue of audit fatigue and how it can impact the flow of business.  The article cites that one licensee factory refused to be audited as it had already endured five time-consuming audits previously and could not afford any further interruptions.  Obviously this factory does not meet VANOC’s minimum standards but it may in fact be compliant with The Code.

Two issues emerge as a result of this scenario.  One, it speaks to the lack of consistent social compliance auditing standards.  Two, it demonstrates that auditing can be duplicative, and therefore inefficient.  It is not uncommon for three or four competitive brands to have their products made in the same location and thus, having three or four individual audits seems unnecessary and wasteful.

Creating consistent auditing standards is not a new issue and so initiatives exist, already.  As an example, the Sweat Free Consortium hopes to bring both municipal and State governments in the U.S. under the same set of standards.  Groups such as the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) or the Fair Labour Association (FLA) also advocate for consistency in Code of Conduct standards.  This issue will certainly receive more attention as more organisations incorporate social compliance programs and we’ll likely be writing about it more so stay tuned!

For the latter issue of duplicating efforts, companies such as Fair Factories Clearing House (FFC) and the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX) provide opportunities for companies to eliminate these inefficiencies through sharing information.  Using custom web-based platforms, member firms are able to share information about workplace conditions in manufacturing facilities around the world on an optional basis.  FFC and SEDEX differ from ETI and FLA in that they don’t endorse one Code nor do they assign pass or failing grade to factories.  These systems simply allow aggregate audit information to be shared.  The aggregation of data addresses those issues related to antitrust or risks to a supplier’s competitive advantage.

If social compliance auditing is becoming a big part of your operation, using systems such as the FFC or SEDEX may not only allow you to store and organise your audits on a secure database, but it also could bring cost savings and increased efficiency to your program.

Here is a recent press release from FFC announcing Levi Strauss & Co., Nike Inc., Nordstrom, and Abercrombie & Fitch as its first “sharing members” for its new platform that was launched April 2, 2008.

http://www.fairfactories.org/press/Sharing%20Platform%20I%20launch%20press%20release.doc

Article in Vancouver Sun can be accessed at:

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=b325f36b-97aa-4aec-8fea-3477d8a32cb9&k=68387

Stakeholders Key to Ethical Purchasing Policy for Global Games

The recent negative publicity around Beijing 2008’s licensed merchandise is evidence that issues of Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing is on the rise as a key strategic issue in the Olympic movement.  Organising and bid committees are waking up to this reality and, as a result, are making strong commitments to ethical and sustainable purchasing. 

 Setting goals related to sustainability is an increasing norm among Organising and Bid Committees.  Procurement is seen as a leverage point through which such goals can be realized, and damaging PR issues can be avoided.  The wider Olympic family, such as Olympic sponsors as well as both the International and National Olympic Committees, are also seeing the importance of sustainable procurement to their strategy and PR programs.   

Vancouver 2010’s has made and continues to make considerable efforts through setting a new benchmark in ethical and sustainable purchasing within the Olympic movement.  London 2012 is monitoring these initiatives and also intending to meet its sustainability goals, in part, through procurement.  A recent article in the Financial Times cites Mayor Ken Livingstone as committing to hold its Olympic suppliers to ethical criteria.  The Tokyo 2016 Bid Committee has also included a commitment to sustainable procurement in its bid. 

Another positive trend that is emerging is organising committees and their stakeholders are taking a collaborative approach to these initiatives.  This is evidenced through the increased dialogue between NGO stakeholders and the various committees.   VANOC has engaged its stakeholders throughout the development of its Buy Smart program.  London is continually engaged with its stakeholders on everything from developing its sustainability plan to venue construction to procurement.  

The Olympic movement is moving into new territory as it strives to align with the greater community’s expectations around and commitment to sustainability and ethical and sustainable procurement will serve to raise the level of play.  Furthermore, those efforts that are based on collaborative approaches and stakeholder engagement will only ensure greater success.  

For more information on VANOC’s sustainability initiatives, please go to: http://www.vancouver2010.com/en/Sustainability 

For more information on London 2012, please go to: http://www.london2012.com/plans/sustainability/index.php 

The recent article in the Financial Times can be found at: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bb32aa56-d82d-11dc-98f7-0000779fd2ac.html

Do You Really Know What You Are Buying? The Perils of GreenWashing…

Although many organisations recognize ethical and sustainable purchasing as a key strategic issue, barriers to action still exist.  One example is a lack of awareness or understanding what constitutes an ethically or environmentally preferable product or ‘green’ product.  Many products can claim to be “all natural”, “environmentally friendly” or even “fair trade”, but without certification to back these claims, it is difficult to know what, exactly, you are buying.  A recent report from Terra Choice Marketing, “The Six Sins of Greenwashing” highlight six specific, and not so uncommon practices, of companies providing misleading product information: 

1)       The Sin of the Hidden Trade-off

This sin is characterised by using one environmental attribute to suggest that a product is “green”.  The report cites that often claims are made based on a narrow set of green criteria and do not necessarily take into account a complete environmental analysis that looks at a product’s full lifecycle.   A case in point is a recent article (see below) from Queens Journal on a “carbon-positive” wine company.  Plantatree wine promises to plant a conifer sapling for every bottle sold in an attempt to offset the CO2 emitted from an average Canadian.  While a laudable initiative, the article points out that it may be more beneficial to offset the emissions caused from the production process for making the wine itself.   

2)       The Sin of No Proof

Pretty self-explanatory, ‘the sin of no proof’ occurs when product make unsubstantiated claims about their green attributes.  Products sometimes make claims to be energy-efficient or not tested on animals, to name a few examples, but provide no backup information or certification as proof. 

3)       Sin of Irrelevance

Products will sometimes promote themselves as being distinctively green when in reality, they are acting in compliance with local laws and regulations.  Terra Choice uses “CFCs” as an example.  These substances have been legally banned for 30 years, therefore all products are CFC-free.  Those touting themselves as such are misleading the public into believing they are in some way more progressive than they really are. 

4)       Sin of Vagueness

The sin of vagueness is characterized by claims that are ambiguous or meaningless.  One common example is products that print the Mobius loop (recycling symbol) without a qualifying statement that tells consumer exactly what, and how much, of the product is made from recycled content. 

5)       Sin of Lesser of Two Evils

Organic cigarettes or environmentally preferable herbicides are examples of products guilty of ‘the sin of lesser of two evils’.  Although such products may indeed offer favourable environmental attributes, the products, themselves, pose greater negative impact to the environment and human health. 

6)       Sin of Fibbing

Again, this is pretty self-explanatory.  Simply put, some products will lie outright about their environmental qualifications.  Although this is least common among the sins, it can occur. How do you avoid these sinful products?  The recommended approach is to first look for eco certifications standardized by bodies that issue guidelines for making environmental claims.  As an example, ISO 14024 sets guidelines or standards for third party Eco-labelling organizations to follow and ensures that environmental information is presented accurately.  Furthermore, the report suggests that consumers remain aware of the six sins and attempt to evaluate products accordingly. 

Although this report focused on greenwashing, the same may occur with ethical claims as well.  Therefore, look for fair trade certifications for added assurance these products meet the standards you expect.

Look for the Logo.  (Examples of product certifications)

Ecologo   Fair Trade Certified

More information on product certifications bodies:

www.ecologo.org

www.transfair.ca

For a copy of the TerraChoice report, please go to: http://www.terrachoice.com/Home/Greenwashing/The%20Six%20Sins 

Queen’s journal article on Green Wine: http://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2008-01-15/news/tapping-sustainable-wine/ 

For more information on ISO 14024, please go to: http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=23145