GCC Think Act Tank cover 2019

CSR Deficit = Modern Day (Corporate) Imperialism?

"Business Team Stacking Hands". Freedigitalphotos.net.
“Business Team Stacking Hands”. Freedigitalphotos.net.

Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom. (Nelson Mandela).

In these days of globalism, a new digital era triggering change in communication and increasing awareness across nations, corporate social responsibility and actions towards improving circumstances and conditions are more actual than ever.

Consumers can no longer be fooled. After a century of industrialization mankind is finally realizing that our past actions have been a foundation for a new sustainability needed to save planet Earth from destruction.

Learning takes time, and requires repetition, but fortunately our globe is inhabited by individuals who have managed to take the necessary steps to progress and take the necessary actions towards creating a completely New Green Economy.

Examining and evaluating the developments of the 20th Century gives us the possibility to build an image about the most significant changes that took place, and how much society has changed since then. One only needs to take a look at significant developments shaping and changing our societies in the past decade, or two decades, only. Things we hardly knew about 20 years ago are today evolving and affecting us all more than we could ever have imagined.

The 21st century will be different. We are in the middle of a transforming global economy, where intelligent and morally aware, responsible individuals will reshape economies in completely new ways, enhancing economic development across our globe, leading to completely new ways of life and increased well-being of all citizens across the world.

New standards and actions will lead to improvements in global businesses operations, and in how states are being led. Individuals and corporations involved in corruption and unethical practices will have to step aside, giving way to conscious leaders both rebuilding and developing businesses and societies in a fresh manner, excluding anything outside generally accepted and legal behavior.

The importance of corporate social responsibility, including ecology, social responsibility, and taxation (including changes in how e.g. thin capitalization and transfer pricing currently used at micro-economic level), can no longer be neglected. Future trends are being created, and the lessons learned from past mistakes are a foundation for wiser actions now, and in future.

Business has a responsibility of giving back to the community.

Today we are making a difference for tomorrow.

Conscious capitalism is mindfully making decisions and staying core to your purpose (Kate Walker, Conscious Capitalism)

We hired a CSR person at Twitter, years before we hired our first sales person, to make sure we had a culture and impact of doing good. (Biz Stone).

Three types of Corporate Social Responsibility:

1. Environmental

2. Philanthropic

3. Ethical

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Thank you for taking time to make it your daily habit to execute social responsibility, be it in your private or business life. Thank you also for reading, liking, commenting, and sharing your experiences about corporate social responsibility. 

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GCC Think Act Tank cover 2019

Why & How to Invest Ethically

"Business Graph". Freedigitalphotos.net.
“Business Graph”. Freedigitalphotos.net.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you´ll do things differently. (Warren Buffet). 

Ethical investing, also known as socially responsible investing (SRI), sustainable, socially conscious, or “green” investing – a dear child has many names according to an old Nordic saying – is a rapidly evolving investment strategy seeking to consider both financial return and social good.

SRI, the origin of which dates back centuries e.g. to Jewish law and Halal or Shariah (religious teachings of Islam), encourages corporate practices that promote environmental stewardship, consumer protection, human rights, and diversity – in short: SOCIAL JUSTICE.

SRI can be characterized as follows:

  • Embraces peace and nonviolence
  • environmental stewardship
  • Protects consumers
  • Respects human rights and diversity
  • Is socially conscious
  • Promotes healthy working conditions!

SRI, including the integration of an evaluation of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) factors in decision-making processes focuses upon improving financial performance without neglecting the well-being of all stakeholders. Furthermore, community investing, a part of SRI, directs capital to people in low-income, at-risk communities through socially conscious investors who seek to support these towards reducing poverty, creating jobs, providing affordable housing, and financing small business development.

Factors influencing growth of Socially Responsible Investing:

  • Increased information and knowledge among investors
  • Environmental issues and sustainability
  • Long-term interest
  • Performance
  • Availability
  • Values and authenticity
  • Corporate scandals
  • Women and female leadership

The UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), encouraging investors to adopting socially responsible investment strategies, were developed by an international group of institutional investors based upon environmental, social, and corporate governance issues, taking into consideration transparency, corruption, board structure, shareholder rights, business ethics, risk management and executive compensation:

These principles are:

PRI 1: Incorporation of ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.

PRI 2: Active ownership and incorporation of ESG issues into ownership policies and practices.

PRI 3: Appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by entities invested in.

PRI 4: Promoting acceptance and implementation of the PRI´s within the investment industry.

PRI 5: Co-operation towards effective implementation of the PRI´s.

PRI 6: Active reporting on activities and progress made in implementing the PRI´s. (United Nations. The Six Principles for Responsible Investment. 2015).

WHY invest ethically?

By investing ethically you directly and indirectly contribute to a better and improved world.

Ethical investing is based upon long-term planning and upon creating lasting value rather than merely reaping the benefits of get-rich-quick schemes and other forms of unethical investing.

Through ethical investing you/your business acts morally correct and you can sleep your nights tightly without a burden on your consciousness.

How to invest ethically?

There are countless ways of investing ethically, depending upon your (financial) resources. Investing is a very broad term including investments in your personal development, education, healthcare (perhaps the most important investments you can ever make in your life), but investments other than those in your personal life include real estate and various kinds of securities.

When investing in real estate and securities on your own, make necessary background checks about your investments, such as:

Get to know the facts such as corporation´s annual reports, including CSR activities, employee retention/turnover figures + other details concerning employee benefits (especially when investing directly in stocks).

If you are a direct investor in small cap businesses, an angel investor etc., make sure you know the details/have enough information about the owners credibility, the businesses plan for the upcoming years. As a startup/angel investor especially, make sure you have the possibility and right to participate in planning the future of the company.  

In fund-investing, make sure you know the fund policy and everything you need to know about the companies + other relevant facts about the fund. 

When trusting a service-provider with your capital by letting them invest on your behalf, make sure to:

Know your service-provider well enough. Check their background, regardless of the size of the service-provider. The size is no guarantee for more reliable/better service. 

Make sure your service-provider has the knowledge, skills, and professionalism needed in order to make wise long-term decisions on your behalf. You can do this by choosing a service-provider who/that has the necessary qualifications/ experience in investing, and by making sure that your service provider supports the rules of ethical investing and UN´s PRI´s + follows the rules of sustainable, long-term investing rather than taking unnecessary risks with your hard-earned/saved capital. 

See and read the terms of agreement provided to you by your service provider. Various service-providers charge different kinds of fees, but the fee(s) are no indicator about investment ethics or performance.

Make sure you understand the investment well enough, and refrain from investing in products that you have no comprehension about. Please let your service-provider explain the investment products to you. Any reliable, professional investment-provider is capable of explaining the investment structure/product to you in a comprehensive manner.  

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This blog post has been written only for informational purposes, and is not an offer to buy or sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security, product, service or investment. The opinions expressed in this post do not constitute investment advice. The information provided herein or in any communication possibly linked to this blog post is not intended for distribution to, or use by, any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to law or regulation. Neither the information, nor any opinion contained in this post constitutes a solicitation or offer by the author to buy or sell any securities, futures, options, shares, funds, or other financial instruments or provide any investment advice or service. 

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Thank you for investing ethically, and for learning more about ethical investing. If you would like a personal consultation with me regarding your investment planning, please contact me directly. 

“Look Before You Leap For As You Sow, Ye Are Like To Reap”

Would you volunteer to jump into a body of water swarming with piranhas? 

I thought so too. 

The same goes for any kind of action regarding decision-making in your life. Think before you act, so that you don´t act before you think. The importance of an analytical thinking process before making a decision of course depends upon the complexity of the decision, the risks included, and the possible final outcome. Over-analyzing simple matters can be as harmful, since it may just lead to procrastination and an inability of decision-making in the first place. But the more complex and responsible the decision, an amount of reflection is beneficial before taking action. When not certain about something, consult someone with more knowledge, and someone you can trust. 
In the world of investing, plenty of choices are at hand. There are many forms of investing too, such as investing in intellectual capital and in increasing personal knowledge, investing in human resources, investing in your children´s futures, investing in real estate or buying a home, investing in your personal health, and so on. Here, I refer to investing in different kinds of securities, such as funds and stocks. There are a number of key ratios that investors commonly get familiar with before investing in a specific security, be it a fund or a stock. These include terms such as P/E, TER, ROCE, ROE, QR, Current Ratio, EBITDA, volatility index, asset class, benchmark, small-cap, large-cap, blue chip, maturity, trustee, and the list goes on. For any investor, it is a good idea to have some kind of understanding about the principles of securities investing. If not, better make sure to choose a service provider who is either willing to explain these to you in a comprehensive way – or, choose a service provider who you are willing to trust enough even without understanding. Either way, as a customer you will need to sign agreements where you approve that you have understood what you are investing in. 

Before investing/signing agreements, there are a couple of other factors to take into consideration: 

– Understanding what the security consists of. I.e. if it is a fund, what is the fund policy? 

– With direct stock investing, having access to the company´s annual report, most preferably including an HR report (with information about staff policies, staff turnover rates etc.), and a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) report.  The CSR report could also be named CSR and Sustainability Report, depending upon the company. 
The CSR Report can include a number of themes, such as the company´s philosophy in and towards sustainable business processes, what kind of actions are being taken at different stages in production with regard upon e.g. environmental and human rights issues, governance and transparency structures, codes of conduct, code of ethics. Progressive companies, and “trend setters”, are aligning their reporting practices with e.g. a Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI) and UN Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI). 

“For those who are skeptical about socially responsible investing and business practices: There are three steps in the revelation of any truth; in the 1st, it is ridiculed; in the 2nd, resisted; in the 3rd, it is considered self-evident”.

(A. Schopenhauer)

This blog post has been written only for informational purposes, and is not an offer to buy or sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security, product, service or investment. The opinions expressed in this post do not constitute investment advice. The information provided herein or in any communication possibly linked to this blog post is not intended for distribution to, or use by, any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to law or regulation. Neither the information, nor any opinion contained in this post constitutes a solicitation or offer by the author to buy or sell any securities, futures, options, shares, funds, or other financial instruments or provide any investment advice or service.

Global Finland – How Can a Global Climate Catastrophe Be Avoided?

Global Finland, communication unit for development of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, arranged a summer school day in Pori on July 16th, 2014. 

Pori Theatre

 

Agenda of the day: 

10-10:15 a.m. Opening

Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto and rap artist Signmark

10:15-11:15 a.m. Can Climate Catastrophe Be Avoided?

Rachel Kyte, The World Bank

Jukka Uosukainen, UNEP

Kaisa Kosunen, Greenpeace

11:20-12:00 Workshops

1) Why is democracy needed? Demo

2) Human rights and taxes in developing countries – The ABC of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). SASK and FinnWatch. 

3) The World Post 2015. UNA of Finland and UN Youth of Finland. 

12:00-13:00 Lunch

13:00-13:25 A World of Conflicts – Is Peace a Utopian Dream?

Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto

13:30-14:45 Workshops

1) Somalia/Finn Church Aid actalliance

2) Syria and exile/Red Cross Finland

3) Middle East/CMI (Crisis Management Initiative/Martti Ahtisaari Centre)

15:00-16:30 New Challenges of Finland´s Foreign Policy

Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja,

Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto, 

Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Leena Toivakka, and 

Researcher Hiski Haukkala. The discussion was lead by Press Counsellor Leena Brandt. 

Can Climate Catastrophe Be Avoided?

Notes taken based upon the discussion: 

– In terms of Climate Technology, a positive signal is that technologies are available, although we are running out of time.

– The public sectors and governments must take the initiative, but of course also the private sector and corporations need to take action.

– A New Green Economy (renewable energy sources) is emerging, and the time of negotiations is hectic at the UNEP which is also serving developing countries, and (thanks to which) whole new bodies have been found in order to accelerate development.

– Implementation must be taken care of quickly, all over the world, since we are running out of time. 

– Climate change has to be fought against in order to assure prosperity for everyone.

– In the past 20 years, remarkable improvements have been made in terms of pollution control (see e.g. OzonAction Programme). 

– Incentives must be taken in the economy, both on macro and micro levels. Currently not even the G20 discuss the topic enough. The IMF and finance ministers of the world do discuss to some extent, although not enough. 

– NGO ́s need to create change and pressure. 

– The coal boom of China is coming to an end faster than thought since people understand their need of clean air.

– The trends of alternative energy sources are amazing, and costs are coming down fast. The amount of wind energy worldwide has tripled in a short period of time, and solar energy is now used tenfold. 

– Paris 2015 deal? => End of fossil fuel era? The breakthrough of renewables is now unstoppable. 

– Consumers can create pressure by expressing their opinions, and providing politicians with constructive feedback. Networks can be helpful when communicating needs. There are many ways of influencing.

– There are many new faces in the climate scene throughout societies. 

– Change can be made visible through education. Long-term decisions need to be made NOW. Children can also teach their parents e.g. in terms of recycling. Students change their own schools and universities through demanding renewables.

– Correct choices must be made in politics, although e.g. in Finland there are not so many environmentalists in the parliament. However, more and more climate groups exist on a national level and people are more busy acting than debating. 

– EU 2030: More radical actions needed. 

– Business coalitions (e.g. Richard Branson ́s coalition of companies). 

Pori, Finland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child Labor, Corruption, and (Ethical) Consumption – How Can You Make a Difference?

Since repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, and so the architect of accomplishment like Zig Ziglar once wisely quoted, let me repeat some of the cruel facts about the state of ethics and moral on planet Earth: 

CHILD LABOR

-The total global number of child labor has decreased in the past decade, but still, an estimation of 168 million children worldwide are forced to work, more than half of whom are involved in hazardous work. 

– The geographical regions where child labor is at its highest: 

  • APAC (Asia and the Pacific) with almost 78 million 
  • Sub-Saharan Africa with 59 million
  • Latin America and the Caribbean with 13 million
  • Middle East and North Africa with around 9 million

The major part of these children work within agriculture (almost 100 million), followed by services (54 million) and industry (12 million). (ILO-IPEC. Making progress against child labor. Global estimates and trends 2000-2012. 2013. Quoted 30.6.2014). 

Read the detailed definitions of child labor in ILO Conventions: 

http://bit.ly/1iS3bq9

Children participating in work not affecting their health, personal development, or interfering with their education is different, but being trapped in other kinds of activities, including the cruelest forms such as slavery in armed conflicts, forced labor, or commercial sexual exploitation, drug trafficking, and organized begging, are ruthless violations of children´s freedom and human rights. (UN. Child Labor. Quoted 30.6.2014).

CORRUPTION

Corruption, literally “utterly broken”, was already used by Aristotle and Cicero, adding the terms bribe and abandonment of good habits. In political terminology, corruption is the illegitimate use of public power to benefit a private interest. Corruption is also an action to secretly provide goods or services to someone in order to influence certain actions benefiting the corrupt, a third-party, or both. The moral dimension of corruption can either refer to a mentality problem, or to external circumstances such as poverty, inadequate remuneration, inappropriate work conditions, weak or very complex procedures demoralizing people thus letting them look for alternative solutions. (Wikipedia. Quoted 30.6.2014). 

Worldwide, there are a number of organizations and national institutions dealing with, and providing information about, corruption, including OECD with its slogan “Better Policies for Better Lives” (OECD. Bribery in International Business. Quoted 30.6.2014), and UNCAC (The United Nations Convention against Corruption), a multilateral convention negotiated by members of the UN. (UNODC. United Nations Convention against Corruption. Quoted 30.6.2014).

Read the complete report of the UN Convention against Corruption:

http://bit.ly/1sQpWyX

Transparency International, a global movement working to end corruption worldwide, publishes a Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) each year, ranking countries and territories based on their level of corruption in the public sector. To see the current results, and to test your knowledge, please visit Transparency International: http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2013/. (Transparency International. Quoted 30.6.2014). 

These are only two major global problems, among many others.

The question is, how can YOU, and your organization, make a difference?

As a private household consumer, it is not always easy to know all the work included in a certain product, unless you have produced it yourself of course. This is why it is so important that organizations operate with a high level of transparency and inform their customers about their level of standards in all of the organization´s business practices. Most progressive organizations, these days, are concerned with how they produce, or at least organizations and corporations should be socially responsible, and so make it easier for consumers to know what they are buying. 

As a consumer it is possible to invest some time in finding out more about the product, its origins, and the kind of work included in the process. If you, as a consumer, are unsure about whether a company is bringing “ethically clean” products to the market, you can always choose to ask the company, and demand supplementary information about a specific product. If it is not available, or given to you, another possibility is to change your consumer behavior and choose products that you know are ethically produced. 

Ethical consumption, first popularized by the UK magazine the Ethical Consumer, favors ethical products, empowering consumers to make ethically informed consumption choices and providing reliable information on corporate behavior. These criteria-based ethical and environmental ratings have become commonplace both in providing consumer information and in B2B, CSR and sustainability ratings. (Wikipedia. Quoted 30.6.2014). 

It may all sound somewhat complex to start with, but don´t we all want to spend our money wisely and ethically?

The next time you go shopping, start by asking yourself, why a certain product is so cheap? The price is not always an indicator of unethical production, but it could be.

 

Paradoxes of Planet Earth

World population is growing exponentially:

1980: 4,4 billion

1990: 5,3 billion

2000: 6,1 billion

2010: 6,9 billion

Today, on the 27th of June 2014, the world population is 7,2 billion. According to estimates/calculations made by the UN, the world population will continue growing as follows:

2020: 7,6 billion

2030: 8,3 billion

2040: 8,8 billion

2050: 9,3 billion

Currently, the top 20 largest countries by population (Worldometers. Quoted 27.6.2014) are:

1. China – 1,3 billion

2. India – 1,2 billion

3. U.S.A. – 322 million

4. Indonesia – 252 million

5. Brazil – 202 million

6. Pakistan – 185 million

7. Nigeria – 178 million

8. Bangladesh – 158 million

9. Russia – 142 million

10. Japan – 127 million

11. Mexico – 123 million

12. Philippines – 100 million

13. Ethiopia – 96 million

14. Vietnam – 92 million

15. Egypt – 83 million

16. Germany – 82 million

17. Iran – 78 million

18. Turkey – 75 million

19. Democratic Republic of the Congo – 69 million

20. Thailand – 67 million

Other hard facts:

– Currently, an estimated amount of 168 million children are forced to work. A child is anyone under the age of 18. Child labor is unacceptable.

– According to estimations of the U.N., two-thirds of total world population will live in water scarcity in 2025. In only 11 years from now. 2/3 of total world population in 2025 means that around  5,3 billion people will live in water scarcity.

To check your personal water footprint, visit the following page and calculator:

http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/YourWaterFootprint

According to the UN Environmental Program, by 2025, agriculture is expected to increase its water requirements by 1,3 times, industry by 1,5 times, and domestic consumption by 1,8 times. (UNEP. Freshwater use by sector at the beginning of the 2000s. Quoted 27.5.2014).

Learn how to decrease water consumption at home:

http://www.savewater.com.au/how-to-save-water/in-the-home

To borrow Dalai Lama:

THE PARADOX OF OUR TIMES

“We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers

Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints

We spend more, but we have less.

We have bigger houses, but smaller families

More conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees, but less sense

More knowledge, but less judgement

More experts, but more problems

More medicines, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often

We have learnt how to make a living, but not a life.

We have added years to life, but not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back

But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.

We have conquered outer space, but not inner space.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted our soul.

We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We’ve higher incomes, but lower morals.

We’ve become long on quantity but short on quality.

These are the times of tall men, and short character;

Steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare,

More leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are the days of two incomes, but more divorces;

Of fancier houses, but broken homes.

It is a time when there is much in the show window, and nothing in the stockroom.

A time when technology can bring this letter to you,

And a time when you can choose,

Either to make a difference …. or just hit, delete”.

UN Millennium Development Goal 8: Global Partnership for Development

What does global partnership signify to you and to your country?

In terms of improving conditions in less developed countries, the UN has set a goal and defines global partnership through following:

– Existence and development of non-discriminatory trading and financial systems with openness, clear rules and predictability

– Focusing on improving conditions in least developed countries while taking into consideration their special needs (also landlocked and small island state developing States)

– Provide access to affordable essential drugs in co-operation with pharmaceutical companies

– Availability to new technologies (information and communications) in co-op with the private sector

(UN MDG´s. Quoted 19.5.2014).

In 2011, the official amount of development aid was 0,31 % of total GDP in developed countries. The percentage is decreasing, despite of the 0,7 % target set by the UN. Debt burden ratios in developing countries, however, have decreased, and products from developing countries now more easily find their way to the Western markets. The usage of mobile phones in developing countries is rapidly increasing, e.g. beneficial in the usage as payment methods with lacking, or danger of, banking systems in certain regions. (UNA of Finland. Printed Material. 2014; Business Insider. Quoted 19.5.2014).

Exactly how useful is it for a state to have increased access to mobile payments if, at the same time, there is lack of sufficient infrastructure to provide all its citizens with nutritious food? Food for thought, certainly. At least to me it seems somewhat contradictory.

In terms of natural resources, and alternative sources of energy, Africa as a continent alone has the potential to provide all of the world´s energy – through solar power. Currently, however, the continent produces only under one per cent of total world energy. (African Union. Quoted 19.5.2014; The Alternative Energy eMagazine. “Africa, the Untapped Potential for Clean Energy”. Quoted 19.5.2014).

Us humans are deeply curious by nature, through evolution, which made us the ultimate “learning machines”. As proof  for this we only need to look back into the history of humanity, our ancestors.

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision”.

(Ayn Rand)

As an example of human curiosity, courage and learning through mistakes, serves the Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus, who in the 15th century accidentally discovered America in his urge to find a seaway to India. His voyages of discovery were a countdown to the European conquest of America, and he is said to be the father of imperialism, a term that today mostly awakens negative thoughts about the nature of humanity.

 
A couple of centuries later, in the 18th to be exact, the Scottish philosopher and economist Adam Smith, presented his ideas in the Wealth of Nations, a classical political economic theory, which still today serves as a foundation for economy. According to Adam Smith´s idea, a state has to secure people´s assets, solve disputes and make sure that rules/laws are being obeyed. In other words: the state needs to take care of things an individual is incapable of alone, or what the individual does without efficiency. In his description of market economy Smith argued that the willingness of an entrepreneur to make progress in his/her private privileges leads to economic advantages and benefits for the whole society. Furthermore, the foundation of the theory is based upon basic economic freedoms for everyone: freedom to choose a line of business, freedom to make decisions, free competition and freedom of trade. (Adam Smith Institute. Quoted 19.5.2014

Further on, international trade, including the terms absolute and comparative advantage, is said to be essential in sustaining friendly relations between different states. The term comparative advantage refers to the ability of producing a specific good or service at a lower cost over another leading to gains in trading between two countries, as long as relative efficiency remains different. In spoken language this means that a country has comparative advantage of another as long as it is able to produce a certain product/service with less total cost than another (cheapest possible production).

But how well does the theory take quality into consideration? Or labor law? There is no discussion at all about these important issues in the theory of comparative advantage. Luckily, many companies in developed countries have today developed business processes which take these important facts into consideration at all stages. Still, many companies necessarily do not.

According to ILO, the International Labor Organization, the amount of child labor worldwide is still as high as 168 million children worldwide. Imagine that! Who is employing all those children? Can we sleep tight at night without certainty about the fact that products/services we consume may actually involve the brutal usage of child labor?

Once again: everyone under the age of 18 is a child, and according to the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, every child has the right to be a child, to attend primary school, and no child should have to work.

Why not turn quality and transparency throughout all business procedures into competitive advantages in any business? With a world-changing rapidly only companies with sustainable business practices are those that will survive in the long run. Consumers´ are increasingly aware and critical when choosing goods/products/services to consume, and no one wants to take the responsibility of consuming products/services that have not taken quality or children´s/human rights into consideration.

“The price of greatness is responsibility”.

(Winston Churchill)

Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision.

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/aynrand147955.html#rvImJ05Omv2MPifq.99

UN Millennium Development Goal 7: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability

“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”

(Ancient Indian Proverb)

The UN target of ensuring environmental sustainability includes:  

– Integration of the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes, as well as reversement of the loss of environmental resources: 

=> Forests continue disappearing at an alarming rate

=> CO2 emissions have increased worldwide by more than 46 % since 1990

=> There has been a reduction of over 98 % in the consumption of ozone-depleting substances in the past three decades

– Reduction of biodiversity loss

=> An increase of 58 % in earth´s protected areas since 1990

=> In 2010, 12,7 % of the world´s land areas were protected, but only 1,6 % of ocean areas

– Halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation 

=> Target has been met five years ahead of schedule

=> More than 40 % of people without improved drinking water live in sub-Saharan Africa

=> Still, 2.5 billion people in developing countries have no access to improved sanitation facilities

– Achieving a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers

=> The target has been met, although the number of slum dwellers has grown

(UN MDG´s. Quoted 16.5.2014). 

Despite of continuous improvements in environmental sustainability, we are facing huge challenges that we are all responsible for, and that we need to respond to NOW: 

– According to forecasts, 2/3 of world population will live with water scarcity in 2025, 11 years from now. In 2025 world population will have grown to more than eight billion, meaning that more than five billion people will live with water scarcity. 

– Today, developed countries (20 % of all countries) use 80 % or more of all natural resources.

In Finland alone: if the total world population would consume as much as people in Finland, we would need three Earth´s instead of the ONE AND ONLY that we live in today. Despite of the excess usage of natural resources in Finland, there are other industrialized countries that are even worse in over-consumption. You can check the current situation in your country´s statistics for consumption, or visit WWF´s website for more information upon the topic.

YOU DON´T HAVE TO DECLARE YOURSELF GREEN TO ACT GREEN! PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT, FLORA AND FAUNA, IS SOMETHING WE ALL ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR. 

NOT KNOWING OR NOT UNDERSTANDING ARE BAD EXCUSES. IF ONE DOES NOT HAVE ENOUGH KNOWLEDGE OR UNDERSTANDING, IT IS IN ONE´S RESPONSIBILITY TO EDUCATE ONESELF IN THESE MATTERS, AND TAKING ACTION!

UN Millennium Development Goal 6: Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Malaria, a mosquito-born disease caused by a parasite, is a silent catastrophe. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people die because of malaria. In 2010, 660.000 people worldwide lost their lives due to malaria infections, mainly in Africa, which was home to more than 90 % of the deaths. The same year, the total number of malaria cases rose up to 219 million on a global level. Every 45 seconds one child dies because of malaria. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, quoted 14.5.2014; UNA of Finland. Printed material. 2014).

One of the UN Millennium Development Goals is to combat malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, and other severe diseases. Still today, despite of the progress made, more than one million people worldwide die because of tuberculosis. However, in 1990, the amount of deaths caused by tuberculosis was twice as high as today. Malaria deaths decreased with about 25 per cent between the years 2000 and 2010. Even the amount of HIV infections decreases each year, although still 2,5 million people get infected with HIV every year. (UN Millennium Development Goals, quoted 14.5.2014; UNA of Finland, Printed Material. 2014).

In 2011, the amount of HIV positive people worldwide was 34 million. In the combat against HIV, knowledge and education is of out most importance, as well as using condoms during sexual intercourse.

HIV infections can occur:

– During unprotected sexual intercourse (of all kinds, even oral)

– Sharing syringes/needles (e.g. drug injections)

– In blood contact, e.g. through blood transfusions or through other blood products

– From a mother to a child during pregnancy or labor

– In breastfeeding

(Red Cross Finland. Quoted 14.5.2014).

Poliomyelitis, which was almost abolished, is again a threat in certain countries including Pakistan, Cameron, Syria, and a number of other countries. Civil wars are a huge threat in spreading the disease, whereas healthcare workers vaccinating against polio have even been killed by extremists and political radicals. (Helsingin Sanomat. 5.5.2014. Quoted 14.5.2014; WHO. Quoted 14.5.2014).

In the worldwide combat against these diseases following actions are of out most importance:

– Spreading knowledge and educating people in high-risk regions of the importance of good hygiene and the use of protection during sexual intercourse of any kind

– Efficient vaccination programs

– Malaria nets for people living in malaria regions

There are numerous organizations working towards abolishing severe diseases. As an example: NetsForLife – A partnership for Malaria prevention in Africa. (NetsForLife. Quoted 14.5.2014).

Can we work together towards a world without diseases?

  • suojaamattomassa yhdynnässä, myös suuseksissä
  • yhteisten neulojen, ruiskujen tai muiden ruiskeen antamiseen liittyvien välineiden käytössä
  • verikontaktissa, kuten virusta sisältävän veren siirron tai muun verituotteen kautta (nykyään kehittyneen terveydenhoidon maissa kaikki verituotteet testataan)
  • äidistä lapseen raskauden tai synnytyksen aikana
  • rintaruokinnassa.

– See more at: http://www.punainenristi.fi/node/3203#sthash.jsRus27S.dpuf

  • suojaamattomassa yhdynnässä, myös suuseksissä
  • yhteisten neulojen, ruiskujen tai muiden ruiskeen antamiseen liittyvien välineiden käytössä
  • verikontaktissa, kuten virusta sisältävän veren siirron tai muun verituotteen kautta (nykyään kehittyneen terveydenhoidon maissa kaikki verituotteet testataan)
  • äidistä lapseen raskauden tai synnytyksen aikana
  • rintaruokinnassa.

– See more at: http://www.punainenristi.fi/node/3203#sthash.jsRus27S.dpuf

UN Millennium Development Goal 5: Improvement of Maternal Health

Mother´s usually do a lot for their families, which is a very good reason to take care well of all mothers. 

“The goal of the UN is to decrease maternal mortality by 75 % by year 2015”. 

Facts about mothers worldwide: 

– Improvements in accessibility to maternal healthcare all over the world. 

– Healthcare and sufficient nutrition of significant value in preventing birth-related deaths. 

– Compared to mothers in Nordic countries, the risk of mothers dying during pregnancies and during childbirth is 500 times larger in development countries. 

– Every year almost 300.000 women die due to complications during pregnancies or when giving birth. 

– 99 % of all maternal deaths occur in development countries. 

– Despite of major improvements all over the world in the reduction of maternal mortality, there is still a lot to do before the goal has been reached. 

– In East Asia, North Africa and South Asia maternal mortality has decreased up to 2/3 in comparison to the situation in 1990. 

– In 2011, midwives/educated labor personnel was at hand only in 53 % of all child births in development countries. The percentage was 84 in urban areas. 

– Only half of all pregnant women in development countries have access to proper healthcare

(UNA of Finland. Printed Material. 2014).   

According to Save the Children´s “Surviving the first day – State of the World´s Mothers 2013” report, Finland is the best country in the world for mothers. Nice news for all mothers in Finland, especially with the upcoming Mother´s Day, celebrated on the second Sunday in May every year. Every child has the right to a mother, and every child needs a mother, is not that correct?

The same report indicates that the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa is the roughest state to be a mother. Save the Children´s report classifies 176 countries in terms of how these have succeeded and failed in supporting mothers. The index estimates mother´s welfare using measures such as a girl´s or woman´s risk of dying during pregnancy or during labor, children under the age of five mortality rates, the educational levels of children, national income levels, and the political status of women. Link to Save the Children´s “Surviving the first day – State of the World´s Mothers 2013” report: 

http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.9126825/k.3E86/Download_the_2014_SOWM_Report.htm

According to Save the Children, the high number of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa can be explained through the fact that mothers are often very young, and their bodies are not yet ready to give birth to children. Other reasons include the low amount of contraception, insufficient healthcare during childbirth and a huge lack of healthcare employees. (Save the Children Finland. Quoted 9.5.2014). 

With these words I want to wish my mother, and all other mothers, a happy Mother´s Day on Sunday, May 11th 2014. You rock.