Category: Business (Page 1 of 5)

The best Black Friday bargain? Not buying into it!

Today on Black Friday 2021, we would like to highlight a blog post written in 2016 by Sustainability Officer Maria Rabanser. It seems that Black Friday has not changed much in the past five years – let’s hope that in another five years our approach to overconsumption will have shifted.


In the US, Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – has been regarded as one of the biggest shopping days of the year since 1932, with news reports and viral videos of fights breaking out at large stores being a regular fixture. Some retailers such as Amazon and Asda started bringing Black Friday to the UK in the 2000s, and more stores joined in 2014. This year in 2021, shoppers are expected to spend almost £9.2bn over the weekend.

This surge in sales, particularly in electronics, can have huge environmental impacts. Their production is often resource-intensive, while lifespans are short, and disposal is often problematic. According to the UN’s Global E-Waste Monitor, only 17.4% of the document global e-waste was collected and properly recycled in 2020.

Source: Hubbub Foundation

Source: Hubbub Foundation

Clothes can be a problem too, with large amounts being thrown away every day. And many of us seem to not enjoy Black Friday as much as retailers are trying to tell us: Polls by the charity Hubbub suggest that 2 in 3 people say they do not enjoy Black Friday, and 6 in 10 said they bought things they never used.

So what are the alternatives?

More businesses and charities are now promoting the idea of either using Black Friday as an opportunity to only buy something they were planning to buy anyway, or to stay away from shops (and online stores!) entirely, and spend the day in a different way.

This movement against impulsive purchasing behaviour has grown into Green Friday. IKEA, for example, has started a sell-back program where you can sell your preloved IKEA products back to them for a store credit or hand in your used home furnishing and electronics in return for a coupon. Ketonico will donate 30% of all purchases to the Spanish Food Bank Foundation, an organisation that responds to the food demand of socially vulnerable communities and individuals.

If you do want to make the most of Black Friday discounts, WRAP recommended SMART shopping in 2016:

Shortlist – Research products you want to buy in advance.
Make a decision – Choose the product you want to go for before you go out.
Act! – Don’t impulse buy, stick to your plan and the products you researched.
Register – For appliances, register your new purchase online as a safety precaution, and you might be entitled to an extended warranty by the manufacturer.
Trade-in – Trade your old products to save money on your new purchases. If something is broken, make sure you recycle it. RecycleNow have a handy guide to find your nearest recycling point!

With Christmas, and the high levels of waste and packaging that come with it, around the corner, opting out of excessive shopping on Black Friday is the first step towards a more sustainable festive season. Adopting a more sustainable approach to consumption will also contribute to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production. How will you be spending the day?


Having a wardrobe clearout inspired by the Trade-in element of SMART?

Then check out Smart Works. This charity helps women to regain the confidence they need to return to employment and transform their lives by providing them with quality clothing and job interview coaching. Drop off points for Elevate’s clothes donation campaign for Smart Works are now open until Friday 17 December, with locations across our campuses.

Doughnut Economics: Amsterdam’s response to the lack of sustainability in cities

This guest blog comes from Lou Lefort, a third-year student of BA Social Sciences in the Education, Communication and Society Department (Faculty of Social Sciences and Public Policy).


In 2018, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the worst impacts of climate change could be irreversible by 2030. In 2021, the COP26 was designated as “the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control”. A strengthening of the global response to the climate threat is urgently needed, by way of combined efforts towards sustainable development.

It is in this spirit that, in April 2020, the College of Mayor and Alderpersons approved the Amsterdam Circular 2020-2025 strategy. Despite the already steep fall of the world’s economies due to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the City Council saw the situation as an opportunity for a more sustainable start.

The Amsterdam City Portrait

Towards a sustainable city

Today, the world’s urban population is estimated to be around 4.4 billion people (International Institute for Environment and Development, 2020), and is expected to keep increasing over the years. However, cities are not sustainable. As hubs of consumption, they are connected to supply chains all around the world and their food, transport and energy networks induce a massive ecological footprint.

It is through a circular economy strategy that Amsterdam strives to become sustainable and maintain an ecological balance. Circular economies seek high rates of recycling, refurbishment and reuse in order to reduce the use of new raw materials and avoid waste. The Amsterdam Circular Strategy was approved with the objective of halving its use of new raw materials by 2030 and achieving a fully circular city by 2050. Rather than an obstacle, the slowdown of all activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing a brief thrive in nature, was considered as an exceptional opportunity to introduce new politics. Working with the Dutch government and the European Union, the City of Amsterdam selected Kate Raworth’s Doughnuts Economics to implement and satisfy the demands of climate change and sustainability.

The Doughnut Economics

Firstly published in 2012, Doughnut Economics thrive for “meeting the means of all people within the means of the planet” (Raworth, 2012). The doughnut represents the “safe and just space for humanity” (Figure 1.). The inner ring is the social foundation, standing for life’s essentials that no one should fall short of, such as food, health, education or peace. The outer ring is the ecological ceiling of the planet. It constitutes the planetary boundaries not to overshoot to remain sustainable, such as air pollution, ocean acidification or ozone layer depletion.

A visual representation of the doughnut by Kate Raworth. It shows the social foundation (e.g. energy, water, food) and the ecological ceiling (e.g. ozone layer depletion, climate change). In between these two, there is "the safe and just space for humanity".

Figure 1

The economist Kate Raworth vouches for a thriving economy, dismissing the contemporary imperative for endless growth. She rejects Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth as a measure of economic success and instead, advocates for this dashboard of indicators based on objective values and grounded in human and ecological flourishing. In practice, the Doughnut must be transformative to shift the long-term dominance of capitalist growth, through the enacting of new regulations and institutions embedded in nature. In addition, it must be regenerative by design. Biological materials need to be regenerated and technical materials restored, in order to close the cycles of use and avoid waste. Finally, the Doughnut in practice must also be distributive. Wealth, education and empowerment should be equally accessible to all and circulated by a bottom-up and peer-to-peer pooling of knowledge. The objective is to redistribute resources, power and control to decentralised networks in ways that address inequality while supporting innovation and representation in the fight against climate change.

In order to satisfy these demands in the context of Amsterdam, the Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL) created the Amsterdam City Portrait, in collaboration with Biomimicry 3.8, Circle Economy, and C40. Analysing the city life and its impact through four lenses – social, ecological, local and global – the portrait presents what it would mean for Amsterdam to thrive as a city. It essentially asks a 21st-century key question:

“How can Amsterdam be a home to thriving people, in a thriving place, while respecting the wellbeing of all people, and the health of the whole planet?”
(Amsterdam City Portrait, 2020, p.3)

The analysis is made through recent and relevant data from official sources to give a holistic snapshot of the current status of the city. The portrait is a result of a cross-departmental collaboration within the city, between its municipality, businesses and residents. It also required input from internal and external stakeholders, such as private and non-profit organisations. The application of Doughnut Economics relies on technological solutions to manage environmental risk, focusing on biomimicry in cities. The plan is to use scientific and technological knowledge to ‘work like nature’ and reproduce healthy local ecosystems. From the use of ‘bee-hotel bricks’ to the incorporation of green roofs, the City Doughnut provides a smoother and achievable transition from the capitalist economy while benefiting the planet, by scaling down ecologically destructive and unnecessary industries.

In order to keep track of the progress and determine the social and ecological impact of the transition, Amsterdam developed a monitor. It will identify the areas which need more work to reach their targets in time and ensure the city keeps its promise to become fully circular by 2050.

Application and challenges

The Doughnut Economics’ motto aiming to “meet the means of all people within the means of the planet” (Raworth, 2012) is an ambitious vision that cannot be fulfilled without active participation across the whole community. The DEAL and its collaborators stressed the importance of bringing together the city stakeholders to bring about change in a thriving manner. To ensure the participation of every willing Amsterdammer, they held workshops in seven diverse neighbourhoods to hear their vision and priorities concerning the city. Everyone is invited to participate and share their ideas, as the emphasis is put on the citizen-led aspect of the city’s transformation. The aim is to empower and connect the citizens while giving greater recognition to the existing community networks. Such collaboration between the residents, the businesses and the municipality enables the identification of common goals, making them co-authors of the Doughnut strategy. One of the Doughnut’s principles is to “nurture human nature” (Amsterdam City Portrait, 2020, p.18) by promoting diversity, collaboration and reciprocity. Such a mindset strengthens community networks and trust, helping to create social and ecological benefits. It can encourage citizens to consume locally, to exchange services, but also to respect each other, and hence, each other’s environment. As a result, the City Portrait was created by and for the people of Amsterdam, including them in each step of the process from decision-making to the sharing of tasks via community-based projects.

However, practical challenges can impede these ideas. Despite the City Doughnut aiming to always engage critically with power relations, the distribution of power can be limited. It is important to acknowledge who came to the Doughnut workshops, but also who did not, and why. Some citizens might not have been able to attend the workshops or to voice their concerns. Different actors present different types of knowledge, and some types of knowledge may be favoured. As a transformative practice, Doughnut Economics seek to enact new laws and regulations, and will consequently work more closely with the political actors. It is vital to keep the citizens in the loop and maintain the idea of distributive responsibility in the context of policymaking. For this purpose, it is crucial that the sources and methodologies to extract data on the city and its ecological footprint remain transparent and critical.

As a developed European capital, another practical challenge will concern Amsterdam’s choice of investment and imports, which can both hinder the social foundations as well as the planetary boundaries imposed by the Doughnut. The port was identified as a major practical issue, being the 4th busiest in Europe and the world’s single largest importer of cocoa beans (ibid. p.12). The labour conditions of cocoa workers are often exploitative, undermining their rights and well-being. The portrait remains optimistic and presents the many innovative companies that have been developed as alternatives, or the civic organisations committed to the defence of human rights.

 

To conclude, Amsterdam’s response to becoming more sustainable relies on Doughnut Economics which can be summarised as striving to ensure life’s essentials for all people, within the planetary boundaries. Following a transformative, redistributive and regenerative design, the city’s circular transformation seeks to be citizen-led, allowing Amsterdammers to be at the core of the process, from the decision-making to the implementation. Nonetheless, some practical issues remain and must be carefully monitored.
Overall, the adaptation of Doughnut Economics in Amsterdam represents real and hopeful progress for the development of sustainable cities and the fight against climate change.


References

C40 Knowledge Community. (2020). Amsterdam’s City Doughnut as a tool for meeting circular ambitions following COVID-19. [online] Available at: https://www.c40knowledgehub.org/s/article/Amsterdam-s-City-Doughnut-as-a-tool-for-meeting-circular-ambitions-following-COVID-19?language=en_US

Doughnut Economics Action Lab, Circle Economy, Biomimicry 3.8 and C40 Cities (2020). The Amsterdam City Doughnut. [online] Available at: https://www.kateraworth.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20200406-AMS-portrait-EN-Single-page-web-420x210mm.pdf.

Gemeente Amsterdam (2015). Policy: Circular economy. [online] English site. Available at: https://www.amsterdam.nl/en/policy/sustainability/circular-economy/.

International Institute for Environment and Development. (2020). An urbanising world. [online] Available at: https://www.iied.org/urbanising-world#:~:text=The%20world’s%20urban%20population%20today,1900%20and%2034%25%20in%201960.

Raworth, K. (2012). A safe and just space for humanity. [online] Oxfam Discussion Paper. Available at: https://www-cdn.oxfam.org/s3fs-public/file_attachments/dp-a-safe-and-just-space-for-humanity-130212-en_5.pdf.

Raworth, K. (2018). Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st-century economist. London: Random House Business Books.

THE ALTERNATIVE UK. (2018). Are there holes in “doughnut economics”? Kate Raworth takes on a major critic. [online] Available at: https://www.thealternative.org.uk/dailyalternative/2018/6/28/raworth-doughnuts-critics.

United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2018). Summary for Policymakers — Global Warming of 1.5 oC. [online] Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/

Sustainability Month – February 2021

King’s Sustainability Month (February 2021)

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Energy at King’s

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Rebecca Lindsay, BA Philosophy and Spanish student, who are both volunteering as Sustainability Champion Assistants (SCA’s), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

Introduction to King’s Energy

Welcome to King’s Energy Department! We’re excited to be working alongside the Sustainability Team to make King’s a more environmentally-friendly place. We have so many projects in the works – and much more to come – so keep your eyes peeled for updates.

Who are we?

Julie Allen is King’s Energy Manager. She manages the utilities budgets and contracts, and leads on delivering, updating and monitoring the University’s Carbon Management Plan. Julie’s been here since 2019, and previously worked as the energy manager at Nando’s. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a Nando’s Black Card (yet).

Angeliki Karydi is the Energy Management Coordinator at King’s. She joined in December 2019 after completing her MA in Corporate Sustainability in Radboud University. She supports Julie as part of the energy team and is responsible for energy data analysis and reporting.

My name is Mason and I’m an MA Politics and Contemporary History student at King’s. I want my time here to be progressive and that’s why I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to be a Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA) and help King’s to achieve its energy goals.

I am Rebecca, I’m a 2nd year student here at King’s and I study BA Philosophy and Spanish. I’m very passionate about combating the climate crisis, so I’m very excited to join the energy team as an SCA this semester.

What do we do?

It’s really important to us that King’s students are aware of the steps we’re taking to reach our carbon goals, as well as how they can make changes in their own lives to reduce their carbon footprint.

Rest assured we’re leading by example. Here are some of our recent achievements:

  • 100% of directly purchased electricity at King’s comes from renewable sources.
  • King’s surpassed the Higher Education Funding Council target of reducing emissions by 43% by 2020, instead reaching a 49% reduction.
  • We’ve been awarded £1.8 million by The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to further fund efficient energy.
  • In 2019, the King’s Energy Cooperative won the KCLSU Environmental Impact Award for engaging students with sustainability and energy.
  • King’s aims to be net-zero carbon by 2025.

And much, much more. Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting lots of information on our various projects, and ways in which you can positively impact the planet.

How can I get involved?

We’d love to hear from you! Please email us at energy@kcl.ac.uk with suggestions or inquiries. Otherwise, be sure to subscribe to the King’s sustainability newsletter and follow them on Instagram – that’s where we’ll be!

COVID & the environment

This blog comes from Nicola Hogan, Sustainability Manager at King’s.

In all likelihood, the majority of people across the globehappily waved goodbye to 2020.  

It was the start of a new decade that filled us with excitement and anticipation as we, yet again, committed to a series of new year’s resolutions that would result in better versions of ourselves. 

We could never have anticipated that within 3 months we’d have succumbed to a global pandemic. Akin to a sci-fi storylinethe Covid-19 pandemic ended up being responsible for the deaths of over 2 million people worldwide. The spread of the virus was reported hourly across various news channels with updates from world leaders on their decisions as to how best to mitigate its spread. Face masks were mandatory inside of public spaces and people were asked to stay at home, only travelling if absolutely necessary. Social distancing became the norm.  

When it was reported that the source of this pandemic likely originated from the wet markets of China, exposing the capture and export of exotic animals for human consumption, we were horrified. Seeing animals that have no place in western society, let alone as a food source, being taken from their habitats, our commitment to stop the trafficking of exotic animals and the destruction of their ecosystems seemed to galvanise. Images of caged pangolins and bats made us more aware of the urgency of protecting exotic wildlife and of their natural habitats. 

But was this enough to make us boycott these industries? Did the cause of the pandemic make us think about what and how we are consuming

Not being able to shop on the high street simply made us switch to shopping online. Amazon and eBay  reported an increase of sales by an average of 33 % since March 2020 – as everything from face masks to hand sanitiser was sold by the billions. But it wasn’t just COVID related products that were being bought online. Wcompensated and comforted ourselves during these strange times by purchasing non-essential everyday items too. 

Bath salts and board games topped the list as did puzzles and Nintendo switches as we entertain ourselves while also indulging in much needed self-care – but are we conveniently forgetting to care for the planet at the same time? 

year later there is light at the end of the tunnel. A vaccine has been found and its rollout across the world has started 

So what will life, post pandemic, look like? Are we likely to revert to our prelockdown consumer habits as the message from mother nature is forgotten? Or will we, after having been forced into new ways of livingno longer take for granted our basic freedoms? 

Zoom meetings have replaced travelling for work but experts in the travel and hospitality industry have predicted that more personal trips will be taken in 2021/22 to make up for the cancelled holidays of 2020. 

It is at this pointthe first month of a new year that we should ask ourselves the following questions. 

(iHow did we get to this point in the first place and (ii) how do we make sure never return to it? 

(iii) What promises to live more sustainably did we make at the start of the lockdown and did we      
       keep them?   

(iv) Are our 2021 resolutions pandemic inspired or will it all depend on what the year brings? 

It is reported that the yearlong lockdown made us more reflective of our lives and what is important to us. For most people that came back to spending quality time with loved ones and asking ourselves what do we really want from our life’? For me, a fairer and more ethical world should be part of that ‘want’ – a planet whose climate isn’t changing because its being choked by CO2or who can no longer support its sea-life because it’s filled with pollutants. 

2020 will hopefully serve as a reminder for generations to come of what can happen when excessive pilfering of the natural environment is allowed to continue unchecked. Sustainability is a daily commitment to ourselves firstly and then to the planet. It’s a resolution worth keeping and a mindset worth nurturing.

References:

https://amp-theguardian-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/25/coronavirus-nature-is-sending-us-a-message-says-un-environment-chief 

https://www.earthday.org/6-lessons-coronavirus-can-teach-us-about-climate-change/ 

https://www.edie.net/news/7/In-charts–How-coronvirus-has-impacted-sustainability-professionals/ 

https://time.com/5808809/coronavirus-climate-action/ 

Environmental Management Systems (EMS) at King’s

King’s Environmental Management System (EMS): ISO14001.

In April 2020, King’s was successfully re-accredited with the Environmental Management System (EMS) ISO14001. If you’re wondering what that is exactly, it’s an internationally recognised accreditation scheme that acknowledges how efficiently and sustainably an organisation is managed.

The organisation in this instance is King’s College London and the efficient and sustainable management is managed by the Sustainability Team with actions carried out by the wider Estates and Facilities team.

The EMS works on the principal of ‘taking concerted action for continual improvement’ – so similar to making improvements with anything in life – King’s will gather baseline data of its operations, identify where improvements can be made and then take action to continually improve those operations.

Evidence of good environmental performance is documented for both hard services (maintenance of electrics, plumbing, HVAC, etc) and soft services (cleaning, catering, security etc). The EMS also looks at existing operational procedures, ensuring actions are carried out safely and efficiently, thereby avoiding any negative environmental impacts. Examples include the correct procedure for composting of cut grass and tree trimmings from the sports fields, a procedure for storing fuels (oils, diesel and petrol) and for monitoring their use and the storage and use of chemicals etc.

An EMS also looks at how we communicate with stakeholders, examines our plans and policies for leadership, planning, staff training and ensures King’s are at all times legally compliant with environmental legislation.

If you’re wondering how you can support King’s ongoing ISO14001 accreditation, becoming a Sustainability Champion is a great start! Being an active Sustainability Champion who contributes to existing sustainability projects will ensure the College is continually improving. The engagement hours of staff and student activities are reported in a bi-annual EMS review meeting, and quiet often, Sustainability Champion projects overlap with operational activities for clean air, carbon and energy reduction and community engagement. This is an ideal opportunity for student sustainability champions to get some ‘real world experience’ which of course can be added to their C.V.

Outside of being a Sustainability Champion, the most effective way of supporting King’s EMS is simply for individuals to live more sustainably. Every individual act of sustainability on campus has a direct impact on operations – particularly those associated with energy and waste. As energy consumption and waste remain the College’s top environmental negative aspects, all efforts made to reduce both will help King’s reach our target of being Net Zero Carbon by 2025.

Below are tips on how to live more sustainably.

  1. Become a Sustainability Champion.
  2. Reduce your intake of meat consumption – consider having it only once a week. Even better consider going vegan.
  3. Walk, Cycle safety where possible and of course, weather permitting.
  4. Dress for the weather; wear warmer layers during winter and cooler clothing during the summer.
  5. Switch off electrical devices when not in use and plug out chargers when not charging a device.
  6. Dispose of waste in the correct bin – either the food bin, recycling bin or general waste.
  7. Use reusable coffee cups when ordering coffee to go – it’s cheaper too and perfectly safe!
  8. Grow a plant(s) in your room /office/home.
  9. Join any of the various King’s sustainable societies – plenty of sustainability actions can be done online and outdoors obeying the ‘space and face rules’
  10. Shop sustainably – either from a charity shop or from an accredited ethical and sustainable company. Preferably a local one too.

 

Sustainability Awards & Launch 2020

Sustainability at King’s over the last year has seen major progress, and on the 13 October, we celebrated the efforts and achievements of everyone who has been actively involved in helping to make King’s a more sustainable university this past year.

This year, the annual ceremony took place on via a Microsoft Live Event. We celebrated the commitment and passion of the 527 Sustainability Champions.

70 Sustainability Champions Teams were awarded:

  • 21 Bronze
  • 11 Silver
  • 4 Working Towards Gold
  • 34 Gold

Office Teams:

  • The Policy Institute (Bronze)
  • Department of Geography (Gold)
  • International Development (Bronze)
  • School of Global Affairs (Silver)
  • King’s Business School (Bronze)
  • Entrepreneurship Institute (Bronze)
  • Literature & Languages (Silver)
  • Arts Cluster (Culture, media & Creative Industries, Digital Humanities, Film, Music, Liberal Arts), (Bronze)
  • Science Gallery London (Bronze)
  • Arts & Humanities Research Institute (Bronze)
  • The Dickson Poon School of Law (Gold)
  • Fundraising & Supporter Development (Gold)
  • Melbourne House (Bronze)
  • Guys & Waterloo Chaplaincies (Bronze)
  • Deans Office (Bronze)
  • Research Management & Innovation Directorate (RMID), (Bronze)
  • Kings College Students Union (KCLSU), (Gold)
  • Admissions & Student Funding (Silver)
  • King’s Worldwide (Bronze)
  • Library Services, Waterloo (Gold)
  • Library Services, Strand (Gold)
  • Library Services, Guys and St Thomas’ (Gold)
  • Library Services, Denmark Hill (Gold)
  • Social Mobility & Student Success (Gold)
  • King’s Food & Venues (Working Towards Gold)
  • King’s Sport Health & Fitness (Gold)
  • Lavington Street, Estates & Facilities (Gold)
  • Guys Operations & Hard Assett Management (Gold)
  • Strand Operations, Estates & Facilities (Gold)
  • Centre for Inflammation Biology & Cancer Immunology (CIBCI), (Bronze)
  • Division of Women & Children’s Health (Gold)
  • Department of Twin Research & Genetic Epidemiology (Gold)
  • JBC offices (Bronze)
  • IoPPN Main Building Offices (Gold)

Residence Teams:

  • Champion Hill (Silver)
  • Stamford Street Apartments (Gold)
  • Wolfson House (Silver)
  • Great Dover Street Apartments (Gold)

Labs Teams:

  • Department of Geography (Gold)
  • Chemistry Research labs, Britannia House (Gold)
  • Cardiology Labs, JBC (Gold)
  • Giacca Lab (Gold)
  • Nikon Imaging Centre (Gold)
  • Cardiovascular Research, The Rayne Institute, St Thomas’ (Working Towards Gold)
  • Division of Women & Children’s Health (Gold)
  • The Rayne Institute, Denmark Hill (Bronze)
  • Department of Twin Research & Genetic Epidemiology (Silver)
  • Department of Analytical Environmental & Forensic Sciences – DNA labs (Gold)
  • Department of Analytical Environmental & Forensic Sciences – Drug Control Centre (Gold)
  • Department of Analytical Environmental & Forensic Sciences –3.123 (Gold)
  • Department of Analytical Environmental & Forensic Sciences –4.132 (Gold)
  • Department of Analytical Environmental & Forensic Sciences –4.134 (Gold)
  • Department of Analytical Environmental & Forensic Sciences –4.182 (Gold)
  • Nutrition Sciences (Silver)
  • Transplantation & Mucosal Biology (Lord Labs), (Gold)
  • Centre for Inflammation Biology & Cancer Immunology (CIBCI), (Silver)
  • Chantler Sail Centre (Bronze)
  • Guys Multi-Disciplinary Labs (Silver)
  • Diabetes Research Group (Bronze)
  • Dermatology Labs (Silver)
  • Medical & Molecular Genetics (Bronze)
  • Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine (Bronze)
  • Randall Centre for Cell & Molecular Biology (Bronze)
  • Dissecting Room (Working Towards Gold)
  • Innovation Hub, Guys Cancer Centre (Silver)
  • Centre for Host-Microbiome & Host Interactions (CHMI), Hodgkin Labs (Bronze)
  • Social Genetic & Development Psychiatry labs (Gold)
  • Wolfson CARD (Gold)
  • Basic & Clinical Neuroscience labs (Working Towards Gold)

We also celebrated specific individuals or teams in the Special Awards category, who have achieved particular success in embedding sustainability across operations, teaching and the wider King’s community.

Special Awards:

  • Oliver Austen
  • Fatima Wang
  • Richard Burgess
  • Dr Emma Tebbs, Dr Helen Adams and George Warren,
  • King’s Procurement Team
  • Beth Fuller
  • Katherine Horsham

THANK YOU!

Thank you again to everyone who has helped us make a difference here at King’s this year. The efforts of all those involved really do add up and help to achieve our university sustainability targets.

Achievements this year include:

  • 42% carbon reduction achieved (by July 2020), keeping us on track to achieve the 43% carbon reduction goal by the end of 2020.
  • Improving waste recycling rates to an overall recycling rate of 69%.
  • 53 students trained and got involved in the Sustainability Champions programme – as both Sustainability Champion Assistants (SCA’s) to staff teams and/or as IEMA Sustainability Auditors.
  • 22 events held in Sustainability Week (Feb 2020). Staff and student champions attended these events, helped to promote and event put on their own events and campaigns in this week.
  • Established the King’s Climate Action Network – a network to bring staff and students together to help shape the net-zero carbon strategy for King’s, to be achieved by 2025.
  • The third King’s Sustainability Report (2018/19) published this Summer.
  • King’s awarded 9th in the world for Social Impact in the THE Rankings.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a Sustainability Champion contact the Sustainability Team at sustainability@kcl.ac.uk.

SDG 9: Progress for better or worse?

This guest blog comes seventh in a series of blogs on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) courtesy of Onna Malou van den Broek, second year doctorate student at King’s in the European & International Studies Department. Onna’s doctorate project titled: ‘The Political Payoff of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): CSR as a Determinant for Lobbying Success’,  which looks at the relationship between corporate sustainability and lobbying, holding a special focus on the SDGs. 

“We need to help these poor countries develop, to create industries that are able to compete globally, and better their lives” – as spoken by a British diplomat at a conference I recently attended. Without going into the problematic post-colonial mindset, it also raises a fundamental economic question (1). Underdeveloped countries need to develop. However, the so-called developed states are destroying our world. What will happen if all countries reach this level of industrialization?

SDG 9: Innovation, industrialization and infrastructure

The starting point of this goal, just as we’ve discussed with goal 8, is that industries are the core drivers of the global development agenda (2). Reliable infrastructures and technological innovations are necessary to deliver the other goals, such as health care, sanitation and access to education. Some goals, for example, can be delivered through internet services. However, around 3.8 billion people, mainly from the least developed countries, still lack internet access. The growth of industries is closely tied to the global political economy. As a result of increased trade barriers and tariffs in 2018, global manufacturing and associated employment slowed down.

The Targets: Manufactory, mobility and research

This goal includes three broad issue areas which is reflected in the wide variety of indicators (3). Three indicators directly target the development of industries, aiming to stimulate inclusive industrialization; to provide access to financial credit for small and medium enterprises; and to make existing industries more sustainable in terms of clean and efficient resource-use. In addition, industry developments are heavily dependent upon innovation and, as such, the indicators aim to encourage industrial research and development through policies. Lastly, to include everyone in the process of industrialization, the indicators underline the importance of broad access to reliable infrastructure, such as all-season roads, energy-transmission or internet. Developed countries can support developing countries by providing access to novel information, finances and technology.

World’s system theory (Wallerstein)

The central role of global political economy and trade has led to many critical scholars arguing the link between inequality and industrialization. One of the most influential is the world system theory, developed by the socialist Wallerstein in the late 20th century. This theory is influenced by the dependency theory and zooms in on the terms of trade (4). The main argument is that cheap labour and raw materials flow from low-income countries to high-income countries, who in turn, use these raw materials to manufacture goods which they sell for a much higher price back to low-income countries. This exploitative structure of trade and capitalism makes it difficult for low-income countries to escape.

The Entrepreneurial State

Given that this is a government-led development Agenda, it is interesting that innovation is part of this goal. Some people have argued that innovation should be left to the dynamic entrepreneurs of the private sector instead of bureaucratic governments. In her book ‘the entrepreneurial state, Mariana Mazzucato refutes this argument and aims to debunk the public versus private sector myths. In her study, she finds that the private sector only finds the courage to invest after an entrepreneurial state has made the high-risk investments. For example, every technology that makes the iPhone so ‘smart’ was government funded. She criticises economic growth by showing a dysfunctional economic dynamic where the public sector socializes risks, while private sectors gets the rewards.

Resource-efficient infrastructures

Infrastructure developments, such as roads, buildings, energy and water infrastructure, are really resource intensive. They account for almost half of the global footprint. As such, resource efficiency of infrastructure can be a major driver of the transition to sustainable development. The UN Environment recently published a policy brief (6) in which they argue that our current project-by-project approach to infrastructure planning results in inefficient service delivery. System-level approaches, on the other hand, can increase the efficiency as they are better able to respond to user needs and capture positive industry spill-overs. This type of approach considers the economic, social and environmental impact of infrastructure systems, sectors, their location and relevant governance framework throughout the entire lifecycle, enabling industrial symbiosis and product circularity.

What can you do?

  • Since this goal takes place on a systems-level, your first step is to inform yourself about issues such as global trade, international power imbalances and the grow-degrowth debate. There are plenty of resources. Books that I found useful are: ‘degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era’ and ‘a splendid exchange: how trade shaped the world’.
  • Use your dissertation to contribute to knowledge around these topics. Talk to lectures about what research question might fit your specific programme and use your outcomes to start dialogues with different groups of people, such as policymakers, NGOs or firms.
  • Due to the high level of abstractness, it is especially important to put pressure on your local, regional, national and international political representatives by tweeting, writing, voting, etc. to make sure they implement good policies.

References

(1) For a more elaborated discussion about economic growth, you can read the blog on SDG8 I wrote last month.

(2) Read more about why this goal matters: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/9.pdf

(3) Specific indicators, targets and progress can be found here: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg9

(4) An easy and fun way of learning more about the system theory is through this video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRLd7xJNn14

(5) Buy the book at your local bookshop or watch the four things you need to know in 60 seconds: https://marianamazzucato.com/entrepreneurial-state/

(6) The UN policy brief can be found here: https://www.greengrowthknowledge.org/sites/default/files/downloads/resource/Policy%20Brief%20-%20Making%20Infrastructure%20Resource%20Efficient.pdf

My Internship in the King’s Sustainability Department #3

This guest blog comes courtesy of Isabella Trujillo-Cortes, 3rd year Biomedical Engineering student at King’s who participated in the three-week micro-internship opportunity (organised by King’s Careers) with the King’s Sustainability Team in April 2019.  This blog comes last in a series of three blog posts from Isabella. 

Sustainability in Estates & Facilities

Student Accommodation / Residences

King’s Food

King’s Sport

King’s Venues

Fit for King’s

Asset Improvement & Space planning

Evaluation

  • The United Nations state that good health is essential to sustainable development, and thus, King’s highly encourages healthy living and well-being. SDG 3 is the most popular within the department and maps across almost every division. 
  • SDG 8 focuses on energy productivity. Given the number of computers, projectors and TVs across the university campuses it is vital that the Estates & Facilities department minimises the amount of energy consumed. 
  • Income equality affects staff and students as it may prevent them from pursuing opportunities. SDG 10 states empowering lower income earners is vital, and Kings are taking many approaches to work on this. In some areas, for example, the Estates & Facilities department gives discounted rates to those with lower income. 
  • An SDG also commonly shared across the department is SDG 11. To face the rapid growth of cities and increasing rural to urban migration, it is vital to focus on sustainable development. As Estates and Facilities manage the venues, residences and space planning in the university this SDG addresses this department most than the others at King’s. 
  • SDG 12 is also implemented in almost every division. Aside from meeting the social responsibility and service targets, King’s also focuses on environmental aspects. It is important that we reduce our ecological footprint by adjusting our consumption and production methods. This goal is being achieved in the way King’s manages the world’s shared natural resources and disposes of toxic waste and pollutants.
    SDG 13 is also quite similar to 12. In managing our consumption and production methods, the human impact on climate change is reduced. 
  • King’s is ranked as the world’s 14th most international university with over 40% of students being from outside the UK. The university focuses on establishing an inclusive community where students from abroad feel they are welcomed. This maps out SDG 16 which encourages peace and unity. 
  • SDG 17 explains that the SDGs can only be realized with strong partnership and cooperation. To achieve this on a global scale we must begin locally. The Estates & Facilities department does so by raising awareness of sustainability and service to staff and students.

SDG 8: Economic Growth or Degrowth?

This guest blog comes sixth in a series of blogs on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) courtesy of Onna Malou van den Broek, second year doctorate student at King’s in the European & International Studies Department. Onna’s doctorate project titled: ‘The Political Payoff of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): CSR as a Determinant for Lobbying Success’,  which looks at the relationship between corporate sustainability and lobbying, holding a special focus on the SDGs. 

The SDGs as a framework are contested. The main criticism is that the goals are contradictory. In particular, SDG 8 has been accused of violating all other SDG objectives. Whereas the SDGs call to protect the planet, this goal aims for economic growth. A recent study showed that if global growth continues to rise with three percent per year, we will not be able to reduce CO2 emissions rapidly enough to keep temperature increases below 2 Celsius [1].

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

The core idea behind this goal is that all must share in global progress. Decent employment opportunities create fair globalization and has the potential to reduce poverty. It can also provide legitimacy for our ‘social contract democracy’ and function as a pillar for peace and stability. In 2017, 5.6 per cent of the global population was unemployed. Moreover, to keep up with the growing number of people that fall within the ‘working age’, we need to create around 30 million additional jobs per year [2]. A job, however, does not always suffice; 783 million people that do have a job, still don’t earn enough to supply for their families.

The Targets: Growth, Employment and Working Conditions

This goal has three main elements: increase economic productivity, create jobs and improve working environments [3]. Economic growth trajectories vary per country. The least developed countries should increase their annual GDP by 7 percent through diversification, technological upgrading, innovation, tourism and access to banking. Increasing GDPs are expected to create more jobs, which should come with safe and secure working environments and provide equal pay for work of equal value. The most contested target is around ‘decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation’, in which green consumption should ensure that growth can happen within planetary boundaries.

Business Power and Sustainability

In his new book, professor Ponte [4] criticizes ‘green capitalism’ based on this decoupling. His arguments underline what many critics say: sustainable growth doesn’t tackle the main issues of production and consumption. Although the ecological impact per product might decrease, continuous expansion of production and consumption lead to a limited overall impact. In other

words, we cannot just buy our way out of the environmental crisis as consumption is at the heart of the problem. He suggests that to respect our planetary boundaries, we need to think about alternative ways of making the economy work, ranging from prosperity without growth to degrowth and eco-socialism.

Modern Slavery UK

Although contested, SDG 8 also touches upon important labour issues, such as modern slavery. Slavery is often associated with the past or far away countries. This is wrong because slavery is, unfortunately, thriving in the UK. In 2019, the English and Welsh police recorded 5,059 cases modern slavery. This is just a tip of the ice-berg; the real number of victims is approximately between 10,000 and 13,000 [5]. Someone is considered a slave if they are forced to work by threat, owned by an employer, treated as a commodity and limited in their freedom. Most people are trafficked into the UK from overseas and forced into jobs within the agriculture, construction, hospitality, manufacturing and car washes industries or sold as sex or domestic slaves. Unseen is an UK NGO fighting to eliminate slavery [6].

Gig Economy

Labour offences also happen is more subtle ways. Over time concerns have been mounting around the ‘gig economy’, which is characterized by a workforce that is based on short-term contracts or freelance work. Think for example about delivery couriers, Uber drivers and Task Rabbits. Many student jobs with zero-hour contracts also fall within this category. The main concern is around unfair pay and lack of workers protection and rights, such as sick pay, minimum income or insurance for work related accidents. An interesting recent counter movement are ‘worker-owned apps’ aiming to create network of cooperative alternatives of decent work [7].

What can you do?

· Purchasing Power: Over-consumption is a big part of our current ecological crisis. Think twice before you buy something new. If you do need to buy something, think about where

you buy your products. Try to buy from local and small companies and check how the product is made (supply chain).

· Political Power: Voting and political participation matters! Use your political power to demand governments to put necessary regulation in place. Public policies required to reach SDG 8 include mandatory corporate due diligence, stimulating the low carbon economy and applying minimum wages throughout the value chain [8].

· Witness Power: Keep your eyes open for cases of modern slavery and report to your local authorities if you see a suspicious situation. In the UK, you can do this by calling the modern slavery helpline at 08000 121 700.

References:

[1] Hickel, J. (2019). The contradiction of the sustainable development goals: Growth versus ecology on a finite planet. Sustainable Development.

[2] As always, read more on why the UN thinks this goal matters here: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Goal-8.pdf

[3] More on the goal, targets, indicators and their progress can be found here: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg8

[4] Especially the conclusion of professor Ponte’s new book on business power in sustainability through global value chains holds some strong arguments.

[5] Read the government’s report on modern slavery here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/840059/Modern_Slavery_Report_2019.pdf

[6] If you do one thing after reading this blog, then look at the TED talk of Kate Garbers, founder and director of Unseen, a NGO fighting modern slavery: https://www.unseenuk.org/modern-slavery/unseen-ted-talk

[7] This article of VICE tells more about how worker-owned apps provide a solution: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pa75a8/worker-owned-apps-are-trying-to-fix-the-gig-economys-exploitation?utm_campaign=sharebutton

[8] A few suggestions of the type of policies that we need can be found in this chapter: https://www.2030spotlight.org/en/book/1730/chapter/sdg-8-what-policies-are-needed-achieve-goal-8

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