Green House Think Tank

Today I came across the Green House Think Tank, a Green Party-associated UK-based organisation with some very good people involved in it. It looks to be quite new so I would keep an eye on their homepage for upcoming events etc:

http://www.greenhousethinktank.org/page.php?pageid=home

Along with some nice essays and reports, they also suggest a great reading list:

http://www.greenhousethinktank.org/files/greenhouse/admin/Reading_List.pdf

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UN Human Development Index

Here’s a link to the recently published 2014 UN Human Development Index, a consistent reminder of how much work is yet to be done to on global inequality. I also think it’s interesting to look at the HDI in the context of the figure below, which illustrates the oil-rich countries of the world. Consider the role of oil companies in oil-rich but low HDI countries like Angola or Nigeria – someone is making money here and it’s not the citizens.

http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/table-1-human-development-index-and-its-components

The world’s richest countries by oil and gas reserves

Universities and Critical Thinking

Great article in today’s Observer about funding cuts to the Humanities in UK universities. I always feel that the debate about critical thinking v. practical skills is particularly important for business/management schools:

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/mar/29/war-against-humanities-at-britains-universities

I also came across this 2009 article which has some strong words to say about the demise of the Humanities in Irish Universities:

http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/grey-philistines-taking-over-our-universities-1.659661

Finally, with management students in mind, a basic guide to critical thinking…

http://lifehacker.com/how-to-train-your-mind-to-think-critically-and-form-you-1516998286

Meat-free Week and Sustainable Agriculture

This week is “Meat Free Week” in the UK and Australia, an initiative started by an Australian charity a couple of years ago. The aim is to “get you thinking” about the amount of meat we eat and the impact of meat production on “health, animals and the environment”:

https://uk.meatfreeweek.org/home

As a counterpoint, check out this article in the Guardian which question the efficacy of Meat Free Week and in the process makes some interesting points on why people make more sustainable/less unsustainable lifestyle choices. There’s also a link at the bottom to the Guardian’s “Sustainable Blog of the Week” series:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2015/mar/24/why-meat-free-week-wont-work

Meat Free Week also got me thinking about agriculture in Ireland, our largest indigenous industry. It’s a classic sustainability trade-off – long-term environmental impact versus short-term economic impact. Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, is tackling the issue through carbon audits of farms around the country. Here’s a link to their sustainability policy, Origin Green, with some interesting stuff under the “Farms” and “Dairy” headings:

http://www.origingreen.ie/

Starbucks and “Conscious Capitalism”

Interesting article in the Observer today about Starbucks’ new initiative inviting customers and staff to start conversations about race. The article expands into an analysis of Starbucks’ recent attempts to “redefine the role and responsibility of a public company”. I like the balance of this piece – it outline what the company is doing and then gives us some positive and negative perspectives thereon.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/mar/21/starbucks-face-conscious-capitalism

International Day of Happiness

Spring Lamb

The UN has designated today, March 20th, its International Day of Happiness. According to Ban Ki-Moon recently, happiness is defined as…sustainable development!

http://www.un.org/en/events/happinessday/

Talk of “global happiness” always reminds me of the work of the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and in particular their Happy Planet Index:

http://www.happyplanetindex.org/

Also the excellent work of Tim Jackson in his 2009 work Prosperity Without Growth, where he discusses “redefining prosperity” intelligently:

http://www.ipu.org/splz-e/unga13/prosperity.pdf

Finally, when it comes to boosting our own personal happiness, here’s a nice website that might help:

http://www.actionforhappiness.org/

PS the pic is not Connemara lamb, I robbed it from an article in the Guardian!

Worldwatch – State of the World 2014

This is an interesting little piece plugging Worldwatch’s latest “State of the World” report. The author of the chapter of the report profiled here is Lou Pingeot, who considers the role of the UN in making corporations more transparent and accountable:

http://blogs.worldwatch.org/green-or-greedy-corporations-role-in-global-sustainable-development/

The State of the World report looks worth reading and the Worldwatch Institute’s blog always has interesting stuff on it:

http://blogs.worldwatch.org/

“Global Sustainability Initiative” to be based in Mayo

Announcement a couple of days ago that Irish organisation OpenSparkz is to open a “Global Sustainability Centre” in Castlebar in Mayo. The aim of the organisation is to provide social entrepreneurs in Africa with capital and support, and the Centre in Castlebar will be a “hub” hosting about ten companies. Here’s the announcement and, below, a link to the organisation’s website:

http://www.rte.ie/news/2015/0316/687518-jobs-mayo/

http://www.impactinnovationcentre.com/#!about-opensparkz/c1pb1