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Global unemployment tops 200m 

Global unemployment figures keep creeping up, hitting a new high of 201m last year, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The figure is 30m higher than in 2008, when the financial crisis struck. The contractual nature of work is changing too. Wage and salaried employment accounts for only about half of global employment today. In regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the figure drops to around one fifth. Even those in salaried work are noticing a shift, with more than half on part-time or semi-permanent contracts. Globally, 6.3% of women are unemployed, compared with 5.7% of men. In Africa and the Middle East, the divergence increases to 21.3% against 6.9%.

World Employment and Social Outlook report, ILO

EU’s embedded soya intake

The average EU citizen consumes 61kg of soya every year, a new report from environment group WWF states. The vast majority (93%) of this is embedded as animal feed in animal products. Chicken breast contains the most embedded soya, at 109g of soya per 100g of meat. This is followed by eggs (35g of soya per 55g of egg), salmon steaks (59g per 100g) and pork chops (51g per 100g). According to WWF, the global soybean harvest reached 284m tonnes in the 2013/14 season. Soya production covers around 113m hectares globally, more than 80% of which comes from one of three countries: the US, Brazil and Argentina.

Mapping the Soy Supply Chain in Europe, WWF

Black women’s career ambitions frustrated

Black women are more ambitious in business than white women, according to a controversial survey by the Center for Talent Innovation, a New York-based non-profit group. The survey of 1,144 women found that more than one in five black women aspired to a powerful position with a prestigious title. This compares with fewer than one in ten white women. An executive role holds particular appeal for black women, the research suggests. Black women in non-exec positions are 86% more likely than white equivalents (26% compared with 14%) to perceive an executive role as allowing them to flourish professionally. They are also nearly twice as likely to think that an executive position will enable them to empower others and be empowered themselves. Despite this, 44% of black women feel stalled in their careers, compared with only 30% of white women. Gender and race are both seen as barriers for black women, with 72% of black women believing executive roles at their company are defined as white and male.

“Black Women: Ready to Lead”

Heat stress costs Australia $6.2bn per year

The negative effect of extreme heat on personal productivity costs the Australian economy an estimated $6.2bn per year, equivalent to 0.4% of GDP. The finding is based on a survey of 1,726 working adults by Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia. Such falls in productivity equate to estimated per-person losses of $932 per year. The problem isn’t just lack of productivity at work. So-called “heat stress” also causes people to miss almost one working week (4.4 days) each year.

“Heat stress causes substantial labour productivity loss in Australia”

Institutional Insights

Food waste could feed world’s hungry, UN says

Nearly one third of all the food produced in the world is either lost or wasted, says a report from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. The UN body calculates that the 1.3bn tonnes of wasted food would easily feed the 800m or so people currently suffering from hunger. Without accounting for greenhouse gas emissions from land use change, the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten is estimated to be 3.3bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. If food waste was a country, its carbon output would be the third highest in the world, after China and the US. The total consumption of water used by food that is then wasted, meanwhile, is estimated at 250 cubic kilometres. This is equivalent to three times the volume of Lake Geneva. In land use terms, uneaten food uses up 1.4bn hectares. In rich countries, consumer waste is the primary driver of food loss. In the global south, the main problems relate to post-harvest losses, such as improper storage and poor transportation.

Food Wastage Footprint, FAO

Number of ‘unbanked’ drops to 2bn

The total number of people without bank accounts dropped by one-fifth to 2bn between 2011 and 2014, according to new findings from the World Bank. Technology is credited with much of this growing formalisation. Use of mobile phones to make basic financial transactions is taking off in Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, where more 10% of adults now have so-called “mobile money” accounts. Social and cultural barriers still exist, however. More than half of adults in the poorest 40% of households in developing countries are still without basic bank accounts. Gender marks a barrier too. In total, 65% of men have bank accounts compared with only 58% of women. In south Asia, the figures are 55% for men and on 37% for women.

2014 Global Findex, World Bank

E-waste worth $52bn a year

Only 6.5m tonnes of the 41.8m tonnes of e-waste created last year was recycled, a study by United Nations University finds. The largest dumper is the US, with an e-waste footprint of 7.1m tonnes last year. China is next in line at 6m tonnes, followed Japan, Germany and India. The low level of recycling of e-waste, which is defined as any device with an electric cord or battery, comes despite the “urban mining” of such materials being valued at $52bn. The stockpile of discarded electronic goods in 2014 is estimated to include 16.5m tonnes of iron, 1.9m tonnes of copper and 300 tonnes of gold. Global volumes of e-waste are expected to hit 50m tonnes by 2018, driven by rising sales and shorter lifetimes of electronic equipment, the report concludes.

The Global E-waster Monitor 2014: Quantities, Flows and Resources

Fossil fuel ‘subsidies’ $5,3tn a year

Figures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicate that the oil and gas sector is set to receive $5.3tn in “subsidies” during 2015, outstripping total global public expenditure on health. The vast sum works out at $10m a minute. The figure doesn’t relate to tax breaks, price manipulations or other conventional subsidy mechanisms. Instead it refers to the cost to the public purse of managing the negative “externalities” of the fossil fuel industry, such as flooding and extreme weather events driven by climate change.

Global Energy Subsidies, IMF

Corporate snapshots

Whitbread cuts carbon footprint by one third in five years

British pub, café and hotel owner Whitbread has cut carbon intensity by one third and water consumption by 28% since 2009, exceeding its goal of a 25% reduction by 2017. In addition, the FTSE100 company, which includes Costa and Premier Inn in its portfolio, has invested £20m in energy savings over the past five years. These measures have resulted in reduction of 54m kilowatt-hours in energy, saving the company more than £6m. On the back of this progress, Whitbread has committed to reduce its carbon and water footprints by 15% and 20% respectively by the end of the decade (against a 2014 baseline).

Whitbread 2014 Sustainability Report

Unilever clocks sustainability-related savings

Last year, Unilever saved more than €200m through eco-friendly measures adopted in its manufacturing, logistics and other facilities. This follows savings of €400m that the Anglo-Dutch consumer good giant has achieved through similar measures in its factories since 2008. Both achievements grow out of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan. The company also reports good progress on agricultural procurement, with more than 55% of its raw materials now from sustainable sources (Unilever’s target is 100% by 2020). Its ability to reduce its environmental and social impact, meanwhile, comes despite growth rates in underlying sales of 2.9% in 2014 and 4.3% in 2013. The company’s performance is helped by the fact that its most sustainable brands – such as Dove, Ben & Jerry’s and Lifebuoy, feature among its fastest growing.

Unilever Sustainable Living Plan

VW’s carbon footprint steadily decreasing

Volkswagen has succeeded in reducing its Scope 1 (direct) carbon emissions per vehicle by more than one third since 2010, the German car manufacturer reveals in its latest Sustainability Report. Including Scope 2 (indirect) emissions, the per-vehicle carbon intensity is still almost one quarter lower than the 2010 figure. Because of an increase in vehicles produced, the company’s overall electricity use has jumped by 26% over the past four years. In net terms, however, this equates to a 10% decrease in electricity use per vehicle. Other per-vehicle accomplishments include a 6.8% cut in water use and a 10% drop in waste water volumes. Currently, 3.4% of VW’s fleet has a fuel efficiency rate lower than 95g of CO2 per kilometre, the target for all new cars in the EU by the end of 2020. One tenth of its fleet has a fuel efficiency of below 100g CO2/km, meanwhile. But with one third producing more than 130g CO2/km, VW has plenty of work to do.

Volkswagen Group Sustainability Report 2014

unemployment  CR Cheat Sheet  CSR Cheat Sheet  soya  WWF  Australia  food waste  unbanked  e-waste  fossil fuel  Volkswagen  Unilever  Whitbread 

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