Why I am closing down TheEnvironmentSite.org & key learnings

Today I wanted to let you know that I will be closing down TheEnvironmentSite.org come the 17th of this month. With all my other work commitments and challenges I simply do not find the time to bring the site to the next level in terms of engagement, moderation and promotion. It is the same story as with SustainabilityForum.com which I closed down last year unfortunately.

There are limits to how much I can take on and 2012 has been the year in which I really had to learn this fact. As a learning I have made significant changes to my work routine and how much time I spending each day blogging and tweeting. It seems to me that I am now were I want to be with the daily blogging and tweeting to be in touch with the global online Sustainability / CSR community. Harnessing an online community on a daily basis is to much work at the moment.

It not all doom and gloom and I have had interesting learnings for me over the past 2 years running TheEnvironmentSite.org.

The four most important learnings:

  • The environmental community is struggling to find one voice and it sometimes seems to be fighting against itself rather than bundling on the combined strengths to create change.
  • Most frustratingly of all has been the way people go about discussing climate change topics. It seems to me that this debate has gotten completely out of hand across the globe and that individual attitudes and personas dictate how Climate Change topics are being discussed. The two climate change camps are fighting a war of words and there is no end in sight!
  • Most members of online communities want to be a part of something bigger and better. But it seems that all to often a few individuals can ruin the whole experience. What a community needs to succeed is strong and just leadership. Something you can only provide if this is your full-time job or as an independent charity.
  • You need to be a technology expert and be able to write HTML and PHP to properly manage and develop a site like this. Off-the-shelf software will not be enough to get people to want to be part of your site. If anyone tells you that this is not the case they are wrong.

I have also decided against selling the site to an individual or a business. I feel that environmental communities are not there to be used as marketing tools and profited from. There was only one organisation I would have sold the site to but this option unfortunately did not materialise. This therefore only left me with the choice to close the site down before I have to renew the (quite expensive) annual hosting contract. Decisions have to be made, even if they are tough decisions.

Important paper by the FAO ahead of Rio+20

Rio+20 is approaching fast and interesting new research/papers is being published on a daily basis. Today I wanted to point you to a paper called End hunger and make the transition to sustainable agricultural and food systems by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Here are the key points: 

The three messages by FAO for the Rio+20 summit:

  1. The Rio vision of sustainable development cannot be realized unless hunger and malnutrition are eradicated.
  2. The Rio vision requires that both food consumption and production systems achieve more with less.
  3. The transition to a sustainable future requires fundamental changes in the governance of food and agriculture and an equitable distribution of the transition costs and benefits.

National governments and other stakeholders need to:

  1. Establish and protect rights to resources, especially for the most vulnerable;
  2. Incorporate incentives for sustainable consumption and production into food systems;
  3. Promote fair and well-functioning agricultural and food markets;
  4. Reduce risk and increase the resilience of the most vulnerable; and
  5. Invest public resources in essential public goods, including innovation and infrastructure.

FAO calls on the Rio+20 participants to make the following six commitments:

  1. Accelerate the pace of reducing hunger and malnutrition with a view to eradicating these in the near future.
  2. Use the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security as the overarching frameworks for achieving food security and equitable sustainable development.
  3. Support the efforts of all stakeholders working in food and agriculture, especially in developing and least-developed countries, to implement technical and policy approaches to agricultural development that integrate food security and environmental objectives.
  4. Ensure an equitable distribution of costs and benefits from the transition to sustainable agricultural consumption and production, and that people’s livelihoods and access to resources are protected.
  5. Adopt integrated approaches to managing multiple objectives and linking financing sources for achieving sustainable agricultural and food systems.
  6. Implement governance reforms based on the principles of transparency, participation and accountability to ensure policies are carried out and commitments are fulfilled. The Committee on World Food Security can serve as a model for these reforms.

This is the direct link to the full PDF document: Full PDF

Highlight of the week: The Sustainable Brands Conference

This week my Sustainability / CSR highlight has to be the Sustainable Brands Conference. The numbers surely are pretty impressive: Over 1500 attendees, 90 Sessions and 180+ speakers from across the globe and a pretty good livestream.

Here are all the necessary things you need to know to not miss any of the action other than physically not being in California of course!

That should be all you need to not miss the interesting parts of the conference.

Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with the conference. I just found it useful to collate the important communication bits.

The 2011 most influential corporate governance tweeters

When I woke up this morning I noticed that Estelle Metayer had conducted another analysis of the most influencial experts on Twitter discussing corporate governance as she did last year. This is the link to the full blog post and the list: Who is the most influential corporate governance tweeter in 2011? I would like to recommend anyone interested in corporate governance topics, to take a closer look at this list.

The future of rankings for practitioners

But there is another interesting point I want to make today. The methodology makes a lot of sense to me and draws on Social Media tools such as Peerindex and Klout. In my view this approach gives us an interesting look into how key players across different topical areas can easily be identified like never before. Obviously only people willing to use Social Media channels would be included using these Social Media tools but with the combination of other methodological aspects which are not Social Media based the rankings can really be drawn together quite quickly, with limited effort and for not much money at all.

Thank you Estelle for your hard work on this and maybe we could work together on a future list for the CSR / Sustainability practitioners on Twitter and Google+. A ranking by practitioners for practitioners. Sounds excellent in view.

Video: A reality check on our renewable energy future

This is an interesting talk from David MacKay, professor of Natural Philosophy in the Physics department at the University of Cambridge and chief scientific adviser to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change. He uses hard math to calculate and evaluate our options for our renewable energy future. If you are interested in renewable energy, this is a talk you need to listen to.