Ceres: a business orientated attempt to rescue our global environment?

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Ceres is a non-profit sustainability advocacy organization based in BostonMassachusetts. Founded in 1989, Ceres’ mission is to “mobilize investor and business leadership to build a thriving, sustainable global economy”. Ceres brings together disparate stakeholders – investors, companies and public interest groups – to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. In 2007, Ceres was named one of the 100 most influential players in corporate governance by Directorship magazine. 

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First published in the fall of 1989, the Ceres Principles are a 10-point code of corporate environmental ideals to be publicly endorsed by companies as an environmental mission statement or ethic. 

The 10 Ceres Principles are:

  • Protection of the biosphere
  • Sustainable use of natural resources
  • Reduction and disposal of wastes
  • Energy conservation
  • Risk reduction
  • Safe products and services
  • Environmental restoration
  • Informing the public
  • Management commitment
  • Audits and reports

Polar Bear by Carla Lombardo Ehrlich

Ceres major achievements include the following:

  • Launched the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), now the de facto international standard used by over 1,200 companies for corporate reporting on environmental, social and economic performance.[8]
  • Founded and directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a group of 100 leading institutional investors with collective assets of more than US$10 trillion. Its members include Deutsche Asset Management, State Street Global Advisors, and TIAA-CREF, as well as the pension funds of California, Florida, and New York.[9]
  • Coordinates the bi-annual United Nations Investor Summit on Climate Risk, which brings together hundreds of investor, financial and corporate leaders to address financial risks and opportunities posed by climate change. In 2008, nearly 50 leading U.S. and European institutional investors managing over US$1.75 trillion in assets released a 9-point climate change action plan that will increase investments in energy efficiency and clean energy technologies and require tougher scrutiny of carbon-intensive investments that may pose long-term financial risks.[10]
  • Publishes a series of reports each year geared toward helping investors, companies and others understand the economic, environmental and social implications of climate change, water scarcity and other sustainability issues.

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Here’s what Ceres, a successful not-for-profit sustainability advocacy business, has had to say about the scarcity of the world’s water resources, drought and fracking,

The Ceres Coalition is a group of more than 130 institutional and socially responsible investors, environmental and social advocacy groups, and other public interest organizations. The Coalition works to promote sustainability by pushing companies, policymakers and other market players to incorporate environmental and social challenges into their decision-making and improve corporate sustainability practices. Coalition members engage directly with companies in the Ceres network on key environmental and social challenges through the stakeholder dialogues that we organize and lead.

global-warming

Climate change is the greatest social, environmental and economic challenge facing our world today. Slowing carbon pollution and global temperature increases requires exponentially more investment in clean energy. In fact according to the International Energy Agency, the world must invest an additional $1 trillion per year. Ceres is calling this the clean trillion and though this may sound daunting there is good news as well. Companies, investors and policy makers are making progress towards this goal.

However, water scarcity is another urgent problem. In many parts of the world including the United States, freshwater resources are in jeopardy- creating profound long term risks for businesses and communities. The little known truth is that whilst freshwater is a finite and precious resource, our economic systems treat it as limitless and of little value. At Ceres we’re trying to shift such thinking so that smart water management is a business fundamental and water stewardship an economic imperative.

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If you’re wondering if water scarcity is becoming a big global problem, look no farther than California, where a half-million acres of farmland were left uncultivated last year due to a devastating drought and declining groundwater supplies. Or look to the parched state of Texas, which is scrambling to quench the growing water demands of more people and higher water demands for the tens of thousands of wells hydraulically fractured annually.
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Water makes life possible. It makes economies function. But, in many parts of the United States and the rest of the world, freshwater resources are in jeopardy, creating profound long-term risks for businesses and communities. Our freshwater supplies are under severe strain due to growing demand, pollution and climate change. Rethinking
how we value water is a critical first step in reducing these strains and safeguarding future freshwater supplies. Ceres is committed to building a global economy that values every precious drop.
The Democratic Party can't decide what it cares about most: its liberal base, which cares about the environment, or its campaign coffers, which receive major donations by energy companies.

The Democratic Party can’t decide what it cares about most: its liberal base, which cares about the environment, or its campaign coffers, which receive major donations by energy companies.

It’s no secret that “fracking” for oil and gas has grown exponentially in recent years in the United States of America, but a lesser-known and alarming fact is that the industry is using significant amounts of water in parched states like Texas and Colorado. Ceres set out to examine this troubling trend, collecting water-use data from nearly 40,000 fracked wells. The resulting report, “Hydraulic Fracturing & Water Stress,” showed that over 55 percent of the wells were in regions experiencing drought and 36 percent were in regions with significant groundwater depletion. Water-use impacts were especially significant at local levels, sometimes
exceeding the water used by all residents in some water-parched counties in the southwestern United States.
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Armed with this data, Ceres has helped local communities and policymakers look more closely at the industry’s water-sourcing impacts and the urgency for reducing them. Texas, for example, is examining current groundwater permitting loopholes, which allow
companies to use as much water as they want for fracking. By reshaping how key economic actors value water, we can turn smart water management into a business fundamental, and water stewardship into an economic imperative.
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To speak the language of business & commerce, yet still have a palpable impact on company thinking and practice, quite impressive really…..
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