Posts Tagged ‘environmental impact’

Not Just a “Pick-Up” Line

posted by Andrew Cuneo

I think many of us who listen to the evening news broadcasts expect to hear a lot of the same thing: Fighting here, budget cuts there, unemployment is “XX” high. But every so often, you come across a story that makes you feel good about where the human race is going. And this happened to me Wednesday evening. As my daughter and I sat on the couch watching NBC Nightly News, a story at the end of the telecast came on that both made us stop and listen.

A young group of individuals called “Pick up America” is driving across the country picking up roadside trash. Traveling in an old school bus running on recycled vegetable oil, the youth group started in March 2010 in Maryland and have since traveled 2/3rds of the way across our nation picking up close to 140,000 lbs of litter left by careless motorists. They get local volunteers involved, bring a sense of accomplishment to those who participate and leave lessons for future generations to live by. Why do it? Member Jeff Chen says: “We’re young people and need to take a hold of our future.”

It’s time we all shared the enthusiasm these “pick up artists” are exhibiting. Though too young to understand, my daughter watched. It’s a lesson I hope she (and for that matter we) learn – from activities in everyday life to what you do in the office.

What do you do to help the environment?

A CSR tale of two mines: when the path chosen makes all the difference

posted by Tara Knight

In November of 2010, the Canadian government rejected an $800 million copper-gold project of Taseko Mines, called “Prosperity” in my home province of B.C. Although the federal government ultimately cited environmental concerns in declining the license to operate, relations between the company and the First Nations communities in the areas around the mine really hit rock bottom during a federal environmental review process for the project.

Taseko’s “Prosperity” mine had potential to generate significant economic wealth for the Williams Lake region of BC, an area hard-hit by other economic factors and desperately in need of jobs. However critical stakeholders, such as the First Nations in the area of the proposed mine believed their communities would not benefit from the mine in their territory and actively opposed the project during the environmental review.

Interestingly, on the same day the Canadian government rejected the Taseko Mines Prosperity project, it approved a $915 million copper-gold project (“Mount Milligan”) in a different area of the province. In speaking about its decision, the federal government indicated that the Mount Milligan project (Prosperity mine rejected, Mt. Milligan approved) had designed appropriate mitigation measures and minimized environmental impacts and that as a result, was likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. 

In further contrast to how Taseko Mines managed key stakeholders such as the First Nations communities in the area around their proposed mine, Thompson Creek Metals (Mount Milligan copper-gold project) reached out to First Nations communities in a meaningful way, and adopted Principles for Sustainable Relationships with First Nations, a framework developed by the Association for Mineral Exploration BC.

The Mount Milligan project had First Nations support in the form of a revenue-sharing agreement between the province and the McLeod Lake Indian Band – only the second such deal in the province. Further, Thompson Creek Metals partnered with post-secondary institutions to create an environmental training employment program for First Nations – allowing them to participate in project operations.

Although neither mine is without opposition, nor serious environmental and local concerns, it is an interesting contrast of the employment of two very different stakeholder strategies. It is also a powerful narrative about the power of relationship building for economic prosperity, and recognizing stakeholder dynamics as a critical component in a company’s social license to operate.

What is the cost of developing a solid CSR program that incorporates social and environmental responsibility concerns into the cost of business? In this tale of two mines, the path chosen made all the difference.

Disclosure: Taseko Mines and Thompson Creek Metals are not clients of Hill & Knowlton.

Don’t Bag this Idea

posted by Andrew Cuneo

By Andy Cuneo, senior account executive, Washington, D.C.


For those not living in the immediate DC area, many lunch goers are now forced to pay a $0.05 sales tax should they ask for a plastic or paper bag to carry their lunch. The move signifies a city-wide push towards a cleaner, greener environment. According to, the tax will be used by city officials in an effort to increase revenue to combat pollution in local rivers here in the area.


Other cities are beginning similar programs, such as this one in Seattle. Brownsville, Texas has taken another route.


Though the program in Washington DC was just implemented in the first week of January, many lunch customers around the city have been forgoing the plastic bag in favor of keeping the five cents…and hopefully, the environment in mind as well. In time, with the money headed toward cleaning our rivers and streets, DC will be an even more pleasant place to walk around in.

CSR is for the Birds (and the tigers and the crocodiles…)

posted by Andrew Cuneo

By Chad Tragakis, Senior Vice President in the Corporate Practice, Washington, D.C


“Life on Earth is under serious threat.”  This isn’t the teaser for a new Hollywood blockbuster pitting humans against blood thirsty aliens.  I wish it were.  Instead, it’s a warning from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which recently released a major report describing the world’s ongoing (and so far, losing) battle to save plants, animals, natural habitats and geographic regions around the world.


Biodiversity protection and species conservation are important aspects of corporate responsibility.  In fact, addressing biodiversity has long been one of the Global Reporting Initiative’s core performance indicators, and they now make some excellent resources available to companies who want to learn and do more in this area.  In recent years, some companies have begun to address biodiversity in earnest.  But many more have not.  There is a lot that companies can do in this regard – some more than others, of course, depending on their size, line of business, geographic footprint, and specific environmental impact.  But every company can do something, even if it is simply financial support for organizations working to preserve habitat critical to threatened and endangered species.


Stepping back for a moment, we know that an important benefit of corporate responsibility is that it can enhance and protect a company’s brand.  But what if that brand (or corporate logo) is synonymous with an endangered animal?  In such a case, the value and importance of biodiversity to the company is immediately and significantly elevated.


A recent Washington Post article reminded me of a great partnership that the Global Environmental Facility, the World Bank, the International Union for Nature Conservation and the Endowment Fund for Biodiversity have launched.  The initiative matches companies whose symbols or logos include threatened plants and animals with organizations that direct funding to the conservation of that species.


Ford, a Hill & Knowlton client, has a great program to help save wild mustangs (one of its iconic brands, of course), and Exxon has long championed preservation of the tiger.  Now, through the Save Your Logo program, Lacoste is helping to preserve habitat critical for the real world version of its famous crocodile, and French insurance firm MAAF is funding programs to protect dolphins, its corporate logo for more than 20 years.


Think about how iconic the bald eagle is to the American brand?  Wouldn’t it be shameful if we Americans were to let that beautiful, noble and symbolically important animal disappear?  And while we as a nation would live on were that to happen, something important to our national soul would be lost.  So too would Lacoste, Exxon and the other companies’ whose iconic symbols are animals live on.  But something more than their logos and brands would be diminished were those species to disappear forever.