Make a positive impact, big or small — from ‘Hopenhagen’, Denmark to the forests of Orissa, India
Source: Microsoft Office Clip Art
The signs are all around us that climate change is a reality we can no longer ignore. There are several ways people are choosing to face the facts and respond. Whether taking action through movements like Hopenhagen (see From Hopenhagen to Copenhagen), spreading the word about company-led green initiatives, such as the example provided by Richard Blumberg about Fisker Automotive, in response to What gives you hope? Hopenhagen.org! by Bob LoBue, or even fueling environmentally-driven change within our own organizations – we all have the opportunity (if not the moral responsibility) to make a positive impact that can help sustain our fundamental quality of life.
It’s great to see news such as the example mentioned about Fisker Automotive and its plans to refurbish and retool a former Wilmington, Delaware-based GM factory in the process of building plug-in hybrid cars. It is certainly encouraging to have these kind of initiatives get publicity and recognition as we wade through the hard issues like climate change, pollution, and natural resource consumption. The story’s message reinforces a newfound spirit of ingenuity, embraced by many organizations as they tackle environmental and business challenges.
Another unique first-hand experience and example that comes to mind is centered around forest conservation (which is of course tied to addressing climate change) and happened in the state of Orissa, in India. In my view, it epitomizes how organizations can approach sustainability by implementing innovative ideas, technology, and partnership with local communities.
Source: Microsoft Office Clip Art
JK Paper Ltd. — a major paper manufacturing industry based in Rayagada, Orissa — evolved from being despised by the local community for its exploitation of land and resources to actually being revered and supported locally for its innovative, technology-based approach to forest development. This is not a story that could be easily found online (at least not in any commonly understood language such as English). The fact that I am even aware of this company’s groundbreaking developments is because my uncle was the company’s General Manager for a number of years and was the one who initiated the transformation of JK Paper’s raw material cultivation process and its partnership with local farmers.
When local tribal communities’ habitats and overall quality of life were being threatened by JK Paper’s continuous land acquisition and de-forestation, the industry’s management team came up with an ingenious initiative to earn local support and benefit the company in the process. Through advanced agricultural methods, JK Paper’s scientists were able to clone plant graphs of eucalyptus branches, creating a limitless supply of biologically superior plantlings to grow independently from one another. Then the company sold or gave away the plantlings to local farmers for cultivation on their own land. Once the plants had matured into full grown trees, JK Paper bought them back from the farmers to serve as raw material for sustaining their business needs. I had seen for myself how villages’ economic conditions were literally transformed from being nearly impoverished into being prosperous, how farmers (and their children) became proud owners of new eucalyptus trees to nurture and also benefit from. I also saw JK Paper’s efforts being acknowledged locally while its business thrived — all as a result of some forward thinking actions and contributions to the community.
The main take-away from this example is simply how organizations such as this can turn a local or even regional situation around with some proactive research, planning, and execution. Fortunately, we are seeing more and more organizations think green as they contribute to sustaining the environment, their business, and the economy in general. Surely there are many stories cropping up here and there which have had similar effects to what emerged for the small interior villages of Orissa and their surrounding habitat.
Do you have a story to share about any company’s innovative business and/or IT endeavors which are addressing environmental issues? If so, I encourage you to make it more public — promote it by writing and talking about it or perhaps even seeing it first-hand. I believe that through recognition and positive publicity, more businesses will find new ways to confront major hurdles like climate change, pollution, and natural resource conservation. Promoting the progressive steps taken by companies like JK Paper and Fisker Automotive could also prove to be more effective than implementing a taxing scheme as a way to control emissions and other waste production (positive reinforcement tends to yield better results in the long run).
Finally, coming back to the Hopenhagen Campaign (in which SAP is an active partner by the way). We all have the ‘ability to sustain’, even by taking a simple but important step to sign the online petition supporting the agenda for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, starting on Dec 7, 09. Get involved in the dialogue, share your stories of companies getting wise to the situation, and make a positive impact. By highlighting the sustainable actions of others, we can fuel the collective movement to reverse climate change (no CO2 emissions involved…).
Also, be sure to check out the Sustainability page as part of the BPX Community site for more on the Green Theme.