Category Archives: Development Sector

237 companies worth $6.3 trillion in market cap now backing climate-risk disclosures

Thanks;Ciara Linnane

Published: Dec 12, 2017 3:22 p.m. ET

Task force seeking voluntary climate disclosure has more than doubled its support base since June

The Atlantic hurricane season broke records in 2017.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) now has 237 companies with a combined market capitalization of more than $6.3 trillion that have publicly committed to its goals, according to its head, Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and entrepreneur.

The TCFD was established by the group of global regulators known as the Financial Stability Board, chaired by Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney, and published its recommendations in June with the aim of encouraging companies to help investors understand the risks to their investments from temperature change, rising sea levels and natural disasters.

The companies that have signed up include more than 150 financial firms with assets of more than $81.7 trillion, the TCFD said in a statement released at the One Planet Summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron. The summit marks the two-year anniversary of the Paris Climate agreement, which seeks to limit the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius by reducing greenhouse emissions. President Donald Trump has pledged to pull the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, dismaying climate activists but spurring a greater effort from the private sector to push through its goals without government help. Insurers have said anything higher than a 2 degree-temperature increase would make the world uninsurable.

In case you missed it: U.S. health insurers are in a state of denial about climate change

The companies span a broad range of industries and sectors, from construction to consumer goods, energy, metals and mining, as well as the full capital and investment chain, from companies that issue debt and equity to the largest credit rating agencies and stock exchanges. The list includes Bank of America Corp. BAC, +1.31% , BlackRock Inc. BLK, +1.09% , Citigroup Inc. C, +0.40% JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, +1.16% , Morgan Stanley MS, +2.05% and investors including the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, among others.

http://www.marketwatch.com/video/series/moving-upstream/carbon-from-pollutant-to-product-moving-upstream/5C40BD50-48B0-4401-A2EB-408133634887

“Climate change poses both economic risks and opportunities,” said Bloomberg. “But right now, companies don’t have the data they need to accurately measure the risks and evaluate the opportunities. That prevents them from taking protective measures and identifying sustainable investments that could have strong returns.”

Read now: In Trump era it’s up to companies to push climate agenda, advocates say

The movement won a victory late Monday, when energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp.XOM, -0.33% said it would disclose details on how climate change may affect its business, bowing to pressure from shareholders who voted 62% in favor of a resolution on climate change at its annual shareholder meeting this year.

Companies are expected to start making the first disclosures in the coming year and the TCFD will report on their progress this time next year at the G-20 summit in Argentina, said Carney.

The task force is also planning to launch a web-based platform to further support companies that are interested in implementing its recommendations. The TCFD Knowledge Hub will go live in the first quarter and be available via 222.tcfdhub.org.

The S&P 500 SPX, +0.15% has gained 19% in 2017, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.49% has gained 24%.

Read now: Axa to spend €1.2 billion to fight climate change

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China releases guideline for industrial Internet development

Thanks;Xinhua|

Published;2017-11-27 22:57:30|

Picture ;Building a Continuous Integration & Deployment Solution for the IoT.

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BEIJING, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) — China’s cabinet has unveiled a guideline for developing the “industrial Internet,” integration of industry and the Internet.

By 2025, industrial Internet infrastructure covering all regions and sectors should be basically complete, according to the State Council guideline.

By 2035, China will lead the world in key sectors of the industrial Internet.

By the middle of the century, China should be among the top countries in terms of the overall strength of its industrial Internet.

The development of industrial Internet is a must for China’s manufacturing sector amid international competition, said Chen Zhaoxiong, vice minister of industry and information technology.

The guideline listed major tasks and projects, including increasing the Internet speed and reducing costs, setting industrial Internet standards, establishing innovation centers and improving network security.

Equal market access will be expanded, fiscal support will be strengthened and direct financing will be increased, the guideline said.

Priority will be given to the development of advanced manufacturing that is smart and green, according to the guideline.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has selected 206 pilot projects for smart manufacturing, of which 28 are related to industrial Internet innovation, said Xie Shaofeng, an official with the ministry.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said Monday more energy will be channeled into a range of advanced manufacturing sectors including rail transit, automobiles and agricultural machinery during the next three years.

Core competitiveness in chosen sectors will be substantially improved, the NDRC said, stressing combined development of the real economy and the Internet.

Other sectors included high-end medical apparatus and medicine, new materials and robotics.

As its advantage in cheap labor fades, China has encouraged domestic manufacturers to move up global value chain. The “Made in China 2025” strategy, equivalent to Germany’s Industry 4.0, was announced in 2015.

Top 100 City Destinations Ranking: WTM London 2017 Edition

Thanks;Wouter Geerts

Published;NOVEMBER 7TH, 2017

Euromonitor International is pleased to release its annual Top City Destinations Ranking, covering 100 of the world’s leading cities in terms of international tourist arrivals. For the first time, the Top 100 City Destinations Ranking 2017 Edition was unveiled at World Travel Market (WTM) London, the leading travel and tourism event worldwide. This year’s report includes forecast data up to 2025 and incorporates future travel trends to give further insight on how travel trends are borne out of the opportunities and challenges that cities face.

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According to the report, Hong Kong was the most visited city in the world, benefiting from its strategic location and relationship with China, followed by Bangkok, which has overtaken London in 2015. Asian cities dominate the global destination rankings thanks to the inexorable rise of Chinese outbound tourism. In 2010, 34 cities from Asia Pacific were present in Euromonitor International’s ranking. This jumped to 41 cities in 2017 and is expected to grow to 47 cities in 2025. Asia Pacific is the standout region that has driven change in the travel landscape and is expected to continue doing so in the coming decade with Singapore overtaking London as the third most visited city in the world by 2025 making the podium fully Asian.

On the contrary, the performance of European cities has been hampered by several events in recent years, including the Eurozone and migrants crisis, as well as Brexit and terrorist attacks. Despite the uncertainty, some European destinations, in particular Greece, Italy and Spain have profited from unrest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as they offer a similar climate to countries affected by unrest such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia.

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Performance in the MENA region has fluctuated greatly in recent years, however Euromonitor forecast data show a recovery for the region in 2017 and beyond. Most noteworthy, it is expected that Egypt will register growth in 2017, after a strong decline in 2016. While the Middle East and North Africa’s main challenges are wars and border disputes, Africa is looking to do the reverse: opening borders and enhancing collaboration with the African Union’s plans towards seamless border. African leaders are seeing travel and tourism as a way to boost the economic prosperity of the continent.

In stark contrast to Africa, the plans towards stronger border controls might weight heavily on America’s performance. Although seeing positive growth, US arrivals witnessed a slowdown in 2016 due to a strong dollar and political uncertainty surrounding the US elections. According to Euromonitor International’s Travel Forecast Model, if the US drops out the NAFTA and imposes a 35 percent tariff on Mexican imports, followed by Mexican retaliation, the impact on inter-regional travel would be considerable. New York, the most visited city in America and the only US city in the top ten most visited city ranking, has revised its 2017 forecast expecting a potential fall of 300,000 visitors, as a worst case scenario.

 

The top ten most visited cities are:

1. HONG KONG: 26.6 MILLION VISITORS

2. BANGKOK: 21.2 MILLION VISITORS

3. LONDON: 19.2 MILLION VISITORS

4. SINGAPORE: 16.6 MILLION VISITORS

5. MACAU: 15.4 MILLION VISITORS

6. DUBAI: 14.9 MILLION VISITORS

7. PARIS: 14.4 MILLION VISITORS

8. NEW YORK: 12.7 MILLION VISITORS

9. SHENZHEN: 12.6 MILLION VISITORS

10. KUALA LUMPUR: 12.3 MILLION VISITORS

Source: Euromonitor International

 

Euromonitor International’s report drills down into the detail of the figures to highlight why some cities are performing better than others and how emerging trends are going to re-shape the travel industry and disrupt the ranking up to 2025.

Some of the key emerging travel trends identified by the report are:

Asia – Cashless Asia

Cities as Digital Investments

To ensure continued arrivals growth and sustainable expansion, Asia cities are streaming ahead with initiatives to become smart cities. A big step towards as “smarter” society and economy is the growth of digital payment facilities. Cryptocurrencies are here to stay. The impact on the travel industry could be immense, not only in the way people travel, but also by simplifying smart contracts.

Europe – Angels and EU-nicorns

Cities as a Start-Up

While overcrowding represents a key issue in many European cities, there is a growing drive amongst start-ups in Europe to address other pain points in travel. Some of the largest start-ups in travel originate from the US. However, the US is increasingly competing with European hubs for start-up talents and investment.

UK – Rail Revolution

Cities as connectors

Over half of the international travelers coming to the UK visit London. There is a major gap between London and the second city, Edinburgh, which has less than 10% of London’s arrivals. Making the rest of the UK more accessible is an important focus of the UK’s strategy with rail a key focus to achieve a better connectivity and movement of international visitors.

Americas – Recognize that face?

Cities as hubs of innovation

As part of his policy to tighten border control, US President Donald Trump has ordered increased speed in implementing biometric scanners at airports. The travel industry is not only looking at the face to merely identify a traveler, but also to tell travel players what it wants, through speech and emotion. Voice is widely lauded as the latest frontier, which would have big implications for travel.

MEA – Looking beyond borders

Cities as entry points

Performance in the Middle East and Africa has fluctuated greatly due to unrest in many countries. However, 2017 is expected to be a good year across the board. Dubai seems insulated from all the turmoil that is going on around it. The city’s tourism industry is booking and is adopting new technologies at rapid pace. Johannesburg is the only Sub-Saharan Africa city in the ranking. However, tourism is considered a pillar of its economic growth strategy and the city is investing heavily in technology.

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There are no Muslim or Christian terrorists: Dalai Lama

Thanks;IANS in India

Published;Oct,19

There are no Muslim or Christian terrorists because terrorists are no more religious once they embrace terror, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said on Wednesday.

“People cease to be Muslim, Christian or any group the moment they became terrorists,” the Dalai Lama said at a public reception here on the second day of a three-day visit to Manipur.

The Tibetan leader also said that he does not like the “America first” slogan of US President Donald Trump.

A strong votary of non-violence, the Nobel Prize winner said violence does not solve any problem.

“India, which has a tradition of 1,000 years of non-violence, could ensure world peace by reviving the ancient knowledge.”

According to him, almost all the problems people face today were “our own creation”.

He underlined the need to control emotions. Anger weakens people’s immune system and as such was bad for health, he warned.

“Out of seven billion people on earth, six billion are children of god while one billion are non-believers.”

Problems around the world can be solved through dialogue, said the Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959 and who is hated by the Chinese Communist regime.

India with her ancient knowledge and education could ensure world peace, he said. “China has also potentialities except for the Communist ideology.”

The spiritual leader said that the widening gap between the rich and poor was morally wrong. “This gap is visible in India and Manipur also.”

In his speech, the Dalai Lama recalled how he came to India as a refugee 58 years ago. India is also home to some 100,000 Tibetans.

Nobel Prize goes to behavioral economics pioneer Richard Thaler

Thanks;Barbara Kollmeyer

Published: Oct 9, 2017 6:09 am ET

Richard Thaler, professor of behavioral science and economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, has won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for 2017. “In total, Richard Thaler’s contributions have built a bridge between the economic and psychological analyses of individual decision-making,” said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in handing out the prize, according to a press release on Monday. See also Richard Thaler: Here’s the best investing strategy. Thaler is considered one of the founding fathers of behavioral economics. See six books recommended by Thaler.

 

***Behavioral economics, along with the related sub-field behavioral finance, studies the effects of psychological, social, cognitive, and emotional factors on theeconomic decisions of individuals and institutions and the consequences for market prices, returns, and resource allocation, although not always that narrowly, …

These 6 books can make you a better college student

Thanks;Drew Housman

Published;Aug 27, 2017 8:18 a.m. ET

Understand statistics, gain financial literacy and get out of your comfort zone

I did very little reading the summer before I started college. I was focused on figuring out which roommate was going to bring the mini-fridge to the dorm, what posters to hang and what classes to take.

I wish I would have realized how many engaging, well-written, informative books there are that could have helped me get more out of my college experience. While none of them would teach me the finer points of suppressing the need to burp while chugging beer out of a funnel, they certainly would have helped me avoid some of the typical college pitfalls.

If had a time machine, I’d go back and have 18-year-old Drew put down the PlayStation controller and read the following six books.

“How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrell Huff”

This book is a fun romp through what I found, in high school, to be an interminably boring subject — statistics. I can feel my eyes glazing over just thinking about Mrs. Camacho, my junior year teacher, saying the words “standard deviation.”

Yet once I was in college, I was kicking myself for not having a better grasp of statistics. In almost all of my classes, I was faced with a dizzying array of studies to interpret, and I had no rules of thumb for figuring out what was good science and what wasn’t. Reading Huff’s book would have made me feel much more comfortable reading through all kinds of studies.

Huff excels at using real-world anecdotes to explain how stats can be manipulated, twisted and spun in order to influence or even trick the average person. A great example is when he takes on something as seemingly obvious as the word “average.” He details how, with a loose enough interpretation of that word, you can do some nefarious things.

For instance, a Realtor might sell you on the benefits of a particular neighborhood by proclaiming that the average income of the residents is $100,000 per year. But, unless you know whether she’s talking about the mean, median, or mode, you don’t know what to make of that seemingly impressive statement. As Huff puts it, using the word average to mean any number of things is “a trick commonly used, sometimes in innocence but often in guilt, by fellows wishing to influence public opinion or sell advertising space.”

Even though it’s over 60 years old, the book feels as relevant as ever. In a world where “fake news” is the phrase du jour, it’s critical to have an understanding of statistics. People from all sides of the political spectrum are going to try to spin jobs reports in their favor. Food companies are going to present nutrition studies so as to make their product look like the best choice. Your future boss might even try to skew your performance history so as to deny you a promotion. If you aren’t confident enough to form your own opinions that are rooted in a basic understanding of statistics, you’re going to be buffeted about by the winds of those who might see you as a sucker.

Furthermore, I think there’s a great benefit in reading books that make complex topics accessible by showing how your budding knowledge can be applied in the real world. When you have a broader understanding of why you’re doing what you’re doing, it’s easier to get through the boring parts.

“Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport”

“Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport

Cal Newport is a tenured professor and a best-selling author who churns out books at an impressive pace. How does he do it? By making room, every day, for what he terms “deep work.” These are chunks of time where he is singularly focused on one aspect of one project. He sits in a quiet room, sets a timer, and zeroes in on the task at hand.

The book is part an exploration of famous folks throughout history who embodied the “deep work” lifestyle, and part helpful tips on how to organize your life to make deep work more accessible.

It sounds simple, and it is. But that’s what’s so great about it. We are surrounded by tools, tech and apps that are all built to supposedly make life more efficient. Newport looks at things holistically, and understands that more important than any new app is developing the ability to sit down in a quiet room and just work.

Back when I started college, I was plenty distracted by my school email, my personal email, Facebook and my PlayStation 2. Now, that looks quaint. College freshmen have smartphones, Instagram, Snapchat, and a bevy of other time killers that are just a click away. If you can’t learn to harness the impulse to go down a YouTube rabbit hole, you’ll never be able to keep up with a full college workload.

My first semester of college was a whirlwind. It felt like every class was assigning an unsustainable amount of homework. And when faced with the siren call of emails and texts, it never seemed like I was making consistent headway on my tasks. Had I been better versed in the idea of deep work, I would have made it a priority to set aside a certain amount of time every day to do distraction-free work.

Cal Newport would have made me a firm proponent of living a life that minimizes the distractions that come from modern “conveniences.” I would be more likely to purposely limit my cellphone usage, eschew Flappy Bird for internal reflection while riding the bus to class, and to check my email only once per day. In a world where we check our phones upward of 46 times per day, staying on task while limiting access to technology is as important as ever.

Related: Deep Work and Deep Learning for Your Career and Your Life

“Early Retirement Extreme” by Jacob Lund Fisker”

My 18 year-old-self would have scoffed at reading a book with such a gimmicky title. But, I now know that this book is not espousing a lifestyle of Top Ramen noodles and living with roommates your whole life. It’s a philosophical treatise on the hows and whys of living a happy, sustainable life.

The author is a former physicist who left academia and retired in his early 30s. His book details how he was able to retire early even though he never earned more money than the average tollbooth worker, and he never inherited a windfall. This aspect of the book is particularly inspiring. Many luminaries in the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) world just happen to have tech jobs that pay them six-figure salaries, plus bonuses. It’s intimidating to try to follow in their footsteps. When someone shows you a path to financial freedom while earning $40,000 a year, it feels more accessible.

The book makes a point of convincing the reader that, with a little effort, they can become a “renaissance man” — the type of person who can insource a lot of tasks that we now reflexively pay others to do for us. We can save a lot of money by cleaning our own homes, doing our own taxes, cooking our own food and properly maintaining our clothing. Such tasks must be undertaken with the understanding that it’s inherently rewarding to be self-sufficient. Frugality does not have to mean sacrificing your happiness.

The book also serves as a way to gain basic financial literacy, an area where our K-12 educational system consistently lets us down. I entered college with no idea how to build credit, how to invest or how to balance a budget. “Early Retirement Extreme” covers all of that without dumbing anything down, and it also goes over everything from calculating the true cost of home ownership to the importance of using your savings rate as a way to monitor your financial health.

The book really shines in the way it addresses things through the lens of building robust systems and encouraging the reader to think outside the box. Had I read this before college, I may have been more inclined to try to start side hustles and think about ways I could build a wide range of skills so I’d never be jobless in a recession.

At my college, it often felt like success was defined by the number of zeros in your bank account, or whether you had lined up a prestigious job after graduation. It doesn’t have to be like that. It’s up to you to decide what path you want to take. Just because your parents and grandparents worked a 9-5 job until they were 65 doesn’t mean you have to. “Early Retirement Extreme” can help young people think about their career trajectories, and their lives, in a whole new way.

“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand”

Eighteen-year-olds, my younger self included, can be a bit dramatic. A bad grade, or a fight with your roommate, can feel like the end of the world. But, obstacles like that will inevitably arise, and how you deal with them will be a major determinant in how much you get out of the college experience.

Reading a book like “Unbroken” can help you keep your problems in perspective. It tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a World War II veteran who faced being stranded at sea for a record period of time, only to be “rescued” and put into a Japanese prisoner of war camp. He faced conditions that would have made me think twice before complaining about how unfair it was that I got put in a dorm without central air conditioning.

Hillenbrand tells the story masterfully, with rich details and perfect pacing. You feel like you’re right alongside Zamperini as he battles through one hardship after another. I have always been a sucker for underdogs and come-from-behind stories, and this book is near the pinnacle of that genre.

Zamperini’s resilience, determination, and stoicism are constant reminders that I need to appreciate the simple things in life that are so easy to take for granted. Sure, your dorm food might not be great. But once you’ve seen the world through the eyes of someone like Zamperini, you eat it with a smile, happy to live in a world full of freedom and opportunity.

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie”

Again, my younger self would have been turned off from this book by the title alone. It sounds like a get-rich-quick manual for con artists. Plus, I had tons of friends — what use would I have with this weird book by a circus promoter?

But, had I taken the time to read it, I would have learned that it’s the ultimate guide to networking. I didn’t think I needed help with networking at the time, but I did.

I had a great crew of friends in high school, but I was never able to replicate that in college. This was partly because I was scared of the unknown. The unfamiliar people, the foreign landscape, the intimidating “career fairs” — I quickly found that I was much more comfortable staying away from all that. The world outside my dorm could be full of rejection and awkwardness.

Yet, once you read “How to Win,” you are better able to see those potentially scary events as opportunities. The book provides simple, easy-to-implement advice that can improve your confidence in social situations. The mere fact that it’s still being widely read, so many years later, should speak to its effectiveness.

If you can get out of your comfort zone and effectively network while in college, you’ll set yourself up to have better relationships and more lucrative career opportunities. It doesn’t have to be smarmy, and you don’t need to print business cards. You just have to realize the simple power of things like being a good listener, remembering people’s names, and avoiding arguments. If you develop a wide array of rich relationships while in school, you’re taking a tremendous step toward improving the quality of the rest of your life.

Related: How to Be More Likable, and Why That’s Financially Valuable

“Reading with purpose”

Not only do I wish I’d read all of the above before college, but I wish I’d digested them. I tend to read very fast. It’s a skill that serves me well, but also hindered me in ways. I was great at technically completing my college reading assignments, not so great at actually absorbing anything. I was much more focused on getting reading done just to say I did it. After all, there were videogames to be played!

So, that’s why I also wish I’d read “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles van Doren. It’s a bit pedantic, but on the whole it offers good tips on how to get more out of the texts you read. It extols the virtues of slowing down, taking notes, and rereading passages to make sure you understand them.

If you’re an avid speed reader, using the methods from this book will be laborious at first, like trying to run underwater. But, with time, you’ll realize that reading in a more focused, deliberate manner will improve your ability to get concepts to stick in your brain. As with Aesop’s famous tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race.

“Summing up”

If I had taken the time to slowly and methodically read the above books, I’m confident I would have had a better college experience. I could have made this list a hundred books long, but I think these six provide a nice base for those college students who want to be inspired while broadening their understanding of both themselves and the world.

Is the open office layout dead?

Thanks;April Kilcrease

Published;August 10, 2017

The open office layout is meant to foster an egalitarian work environment that inspires creativity and spontaneous collaboration among colleagues. Nearly 60 years since their invention, an increasing body of research is beginning to show what many employees already know—open offices often fall short of that ideal.

How we got here

A pair of German brothers developed the original open office in 1958. Gone were managers’ private offices and underlings’ rows of desks. Instead, the new design featured clusters of desks based on departments. By removing physical barriers, the designers were convinced that communication and ideas would flow freely.

Less than a decade later, Herman Miller chief executive Robert Propst invented the cubicle and the walls returned. Propst criticized the open office as a wasteland that “saps vitality, blocks talent, frustrates accomplishment.” He envisioned his cubicles as a way to liberate workers by providing them with privacy and personal space.

Unfortunately, most businesses downgraded his roomy, flexible designs to the depressing, but less expensive, warren of beige cubicles that we all know now. (In a 1998 interview, Propst himself accused companies of manipulating his original idea into “hellholes.”)

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Today, the open office layout is back with a vengeance. In a 2013 survey by CoreNet Global, an association for corporate real estate managers, more than 80% of respondents said their company had moved toward an open space floor plan. And once again, the backlash has begun. In the last five years, a slew of articles with alarmist titles like “Death To The Open Office Floor Plan!” and “Open-plan offices were devised by Satan in the deepest caverns of hell” have assailed the supposedly progressive design.

So what exactly is wrong with the modern open office layout and how can we create spaces that fulfill the promise of a happy and collaborative workplace?

What isn’t working

By design, colleagues are more accessible in an open office layout. The minute a question pops into your head, you can easily hop over to a co-worker’s desk, or simply swivel your chair to face them. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned intrusions can lead to real problems.

First among those is reduced productivity. According to a study on the cost of interrupted work, a typical office worker is interrupted every 11 minutes. Even worse, people often take up to 25 minutes to refocus on the original task.

And without physical barriers to block it out, noise may be the number one problem with open office plans. Together, loud phone talkers, gossipy co-workers, and that guy chomping on an apple every afternoon can frazzle your auditory system. Researchers have found that the loss of productivity due to noise distraction doubles in open office layouts compared to private offices, and open office noise reduces the ability to recall information, and even to do basic arithmetic.

As anyone who’s had to call their doctor from their desk knows, one of the worst parts of open office layouts is that you can’t control who you hear—or who hears you. In a 2013 study about the privacy-communication trade-off in open offices, 60% of cubicle workers and half of all employees in partitionless offices said the lack of sound privacy was a significant problem.

Along with these frustrations, open offices are actually making people sick. A study on the association between sick days and open office plans found that people working in open offices took 62% more sick days than those in private offices. And remember all those interruptions that workers experience in open offices? In a survey in the International Journal of Stress Management, employees who were frequently interrupted reported 9% higher rates of exhaustion.

The office of the future is here

Clearly, open office layouts aren’t the hotbeds of creativity designers originally hoped they would be. And with office space at a premium, private offices for everyone isn’t a realistic alternative, nor is it ideal. The ebb and flow of effective collaboration requires several types of spaces. As workplace experts outlined in the Harvard Business Review, employees tend to generate ideas and process information alone or in pairs, then come together in a larger group to build on those ideas, and then disperse again to take the next steps.

Luckily, the solution is fairly simple—design offices with a variety of areas to suit different kinds of work, including communal hubs and meeting rooms for group work, and smaller private spaces, where people can put their heads down and concentrate. Then give employees the freedom to choose between these places throughout the day.

The best place to start? Talk to your people. When companies understand what types of environments their employees need to do their best work, they can design better offices to meet these needs. Engineers who spend hours brainstorming in small groups don’t always need the same sorts of dedicated spaces for focused concentration as copy editors or financial analysts. Here are three of the more progressive ways to make your space suit your employees:

Privacy pods. Perhaps the most powerful and popular trend in the move away from open offices is an increased number of small private spaces. These include soundproof glass rooms, which provide quiet refuges, while keeping the airy feel of an open office layout, as well as so-called “phone booths,” closet-sized spaces for focused solo work and confidential meetings between two people.

Zoning. Along with building more private nooks, companies are now replacing traditional conference rooms with a greater range of meeting spaces. These include alcoves where groups of three to four co-workers can gather for a meeting on the fly, and team meeting spaces for five to eight people that can be booked in advance or saved for groups that meet frequently. Businesses can also cut down on unwanted distractions by dividing floor plans into neighborhoods based on expected noise levels and locating chattier departments, such as sales and operations, far away from quieter teams. Using desks, shelving, and large plants to create more labyrinthian configurations reduces auditory and visual distractions as well.

No designated desks. Today’s mobile communication tools allow people to work from anywhere, opening up the entire building as a potential workplace. You may want the buzz of energy that a cafe or atrium can provide. Other times, you may find that setting up shop in the fresh air can lead to fresh perspectives.

Moreover, according to the architecture and design firm Gensler, “employers who offer choice in when and where to work have workers who are 12% more satisfied with their jobs and report higher effectiveness scores.”

These kinds of setups—where people have the autonomy to work in the areas that best suit their tasks and temperaments at any given moment—may just be what offices need. With them, companies can finally achieve the freedom and exchange of ideas promised by the original open office of the 1950s. And that can give us something we can all agree on: workplaces that work for all employees.

Governments commit to promote a more resource efficient and pollution free Asia-Pacific

Thanks;Kavita Sukanandan

PUBLISHED;8 Sep 2017

Issued:

8 Sep 2017
News Number:

G/36/2017
Location:

Bangkok
World.Flags.png

Environment ministers and high-level officials from over 30 countries in Asia-Pacific have committed to move towards a clean and green Asia-Pacific, one that is more resource efficient and pollution free at the first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment that concluded today in Bangkok. This will advance global agendas like the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, the UN Environment Assembly resolutions and other global commitments.

The Summit culminated in a call for collaborative action to ensure that environment and development is approached in an integrated way, from promoting the sustainable management of natural resources, urban planning and spatial development, to fostering sustainable agriculture practices and advancing the green economy to reduce waste and pollution.

Participants at the Summit, jointly organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Environment also highlighted the urgency of addressing environmental health risks associated with pollution, promoting resource efficiency measures and practices, and protecting natural capital and ecosystem integrity including wildlife, biodiversity and oceans.

United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar said, “This is an important cornerstone of regional collaboration on sustainable management of natural resources in Asia and the Pacific. It underpins the agreement already reached in the regional roadmap for sustainable development and provides us with the vision of our member States on future cooperation.”

“There is a clear resolve to bring about a pollution free Asia Pacific. Political leadership, private sector engagement and citizen action is essential to ensure that people’s basic needs like access to healthcare, water and proper sanitation are met. At the same time, it is imperative that we step up efforts to reduce plastic waste and marine litter,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

Other issues addressed at the periphery of the Summit include gender and environment, oceans governance, climate geoengineering, investments in water infrastructure and the Astana Green Bridge Initiative.

Robotics in Rural Lithuania

Thanks:Nikolaj Ambrusevic

Published;AUGUST 31ST, 2017

One of our charity partners in Lithuania, Robotikos Mokykla (Robotic School), recently invited us to participate in a workshop in the tiny village of Karvys, 30km north of Vilnius. Robotic School is a charity working primarily with young people to foster an interest in STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) through engaging and practical workshops. The project also aims to create a safe space for young people and help develop social and other skills.

The main idea of this session was to reach out to young people who cannot go to organised classes and who have little access to the internet at home. Robotic School’s enthusiasts Jonas and Evaldas told us not to expect much from the workshop as the majority of rural children are busy helping their parents with agricultural and other duties, so computers and other devices are mainly used just for entertainment.

Robotik-5.jpg

During the workshop, tools based on simple programming for creating animation and games were introduced to two groups of young people from 5-12 years, and 16-18 years. While the younger group were creating their very first cartoon, the teenagers had a chance to get familiar with micro bit programming. Although the majority of participants had little knowledge of computer technologies, they showed a huge interest in programming and shared positive feedback afterwards. It was good to observe how small achievements in a new digital environment changed their attitude, making them more focused and persistent.

The social workers of the club were amazed by the overall impact of our visit and were keen to run similar activities again in the future. I was so glad to be a part of it and am proud that Euromonitor is supporting Robotic School through our CSR programme.

 

Interview Series: Q&A with Dominika Minarovic and Elsie Rutterford, Founders of Clean Beauty Co

THANKS; Pia Ostermann

Published;August 17th, 2017

Euromonitor International is pleased to present an interview with Dominika Minarovic and Elsie Rutterford, Founders of Clean Beauty Co.

Clean Beauty Co started with a shared love for health and wellness. It began with a natural beauty blog, workshops, and a beauty recipe book, which quickly transformed into the launch of beauty products under the brand BYBI, which stands for ‘By Beauty Insiders’, in March 2017.

What made you decide to start Clean Beauty Co?

We saw there was a disconnect between people scrutinising labels and being picky about what they eat, but not applying the same rules to their use of cosmetics. This disconnect made us question the labels of our favourite products, and what we found propelled us to become more educated consumers. We documented this journey across our blog and social media, and Clean Beauty Co was born.

We started sharing beauty product recipes on the Clean Beauty Co platform, which quickly developed into a series of DIY workshops. These workshops started in 2016, and gave us a few hours with our audience to understand their concerns, what they’re thinking about the market, while they are walking away with knowledge and beauty products. We also published our book “Clean Beauty” in January 2017. From then we started seeing revenue coming in even without launching any products. Next came our product range, and we launched Babe Balm and Prime Time in March and May 2017, and we have plans to extend the range this year.

Transparency and integrity are the fundamental pillars of the Clean Beauty Co, which is split across the content and BYBI Beauty, the product arm of the business.

When you talk about the Clean Beauty Company, what does ‘Clean’ mean?

Clean beauty is for us, about stripping away the fluff and pointless fillers found in mainstream beauty products, and formulating with purpose. Every ingredient used has holistic as well as functional benefits, and we find that this philosophy is best aligned with natural formulation, so we don’t include synthetic ingredients in our products.

How important is the online channel to communicate with the consumer?

Online for us is a huge platform to be able to communicate with customers and get them to try our products. People feel much more comfortable buying beauty products online these days. And while there is the element of wanting to touch and smell the product, it is easier, particularly when it is a repeat purchase, to sell online. And this takes us back to our community and how we started, by being content driven. Because when someone learns with us online, and sees that we are not just trying to sell the product but share recipes, content, events and a book with them, they connect with the brand emotionally. I think across the board consumers are moving away from mass production. People are thriving for that connection with the brand, whether it’s researching them or communicating with them, but even knowing that they are produced locally, they have good ethics behind the brand.

Do you think that the demonisation of “unnatural” ingredients could be of detriment to the beauty industry?

Fundamentally, the shift that we’re seeing in the beauty industry as a whole is the demand for transparency. Brands are responding to this by not necessarily re-formulating and making their products more natural, it’s about them being more open about how they produce things. And I think that this demand will mean that brands will have to shift the way that they market and produce their products. But I don’t necessarily think that would turn people off buying beauty products.

Do you think the clean beauty recipe book could encourage cannibalisation of sales of your products?

It probably seems like it doesn’t make a lot of sense commercially that we give away recipes and then try to sell products. We think what worked in our favour, which are two things: firstly, not everyone is going to make their own beauty products; they don’t have time or can’t be bothered. Secondly, what separates us are the two brands with the two offerings which is for one, the book, workshops and Clean Beauty contents that is about very simple recipes that we share and people can make themselves, such as face masks and body scrubs. While the other is the brand product side of it, where we offer products which are not as easy to make, which for us is about driving innovation, by saying natural doesn’t have to be five ingredients or less, natural can be as scientific as mainstream beauty. It can be really unique ingredients and can be about high performance skin care, and feels luxurious.

Have you come across any difficulty in, for instance, legislation?

The issue around legislation is that there isn’t any when it comes to the terms of natural, organic, clean, and green. So it leaves the door wide open for us and what we call ‘green washing’; often bigger brands take advantage of packaging something as natural or organic, when actually it is not and nobody can actually call them out on it. The issue we have is that at the moment there isn’t really in the UK a certification for ‘natural’, but that is about to change. There is an organic certificate from the Soil Association, which is very well respected and has a very rigorous progress.

What are your plans for the future?

We’re focused on skincare, but if anything we will move into colour but that would be hybrid as we would never launch a mascara, for example, rather a tinted version of Babe Balm, or something similar.

That bespoke element is a very nice part of making your own beauty products. The way that we are incorporating this into the BYBI brand is around customising through different products. For example, you may mix the Babe Balm with our Detox Dust, which is going to make a moisturising mask for dryer skin types. As far as the brand’s next few months, we will launch a booster set, little droppers that you can drop into your existing skin care, which will be based on the customer’s skin type, environment, and night and day use.