TO GO OR NOT TO GO?

This article looks into a decision which affects many people who are passionate about sustainability and who are thinking about a holiday. The decision of whether to go or not to go affects us all.

Victoria falls

In my previous article about sustainable lifestyles I talked in detail about the key ingredients of a sustainable holiday. You can find a link to this article below.

WHAT MAKES A HOLIDAY A SUSTAINABLE HOLIDAY?

I received a lot of positive feedback to that article, so I am building on that work with my thoughts on how to resolve a to go or not to go decision about holidaying.

Tourism is big business. It is big for jobs but it can also be big for the environmental and social consequences of this choice.

Some of the statistics are eye watering. I picked out the ones listed below from an article in The Conservation.

  • Global international visitor arrivals could reach 1.6 billion by 2020
  • Tourism contributes to 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions
  • Between 50-98% of the impact is associated with the travel component (planes and cars)

What I want the overall message of this article to be is the following. It is important for people to go on holiday to visit wild areas. These funds help to pay for environmental conservation, cultural exchange and economic development in some of the world’s poorest areas. It is important when you visit these places that you pay a decent amount for your experience. Put money into the hands of local people and businesses and buy carbon offsets to cover the emissions of your plane journey.

Without tourism and without funds flowing into these places, many plant and animal species could be lost.

There is no doubt that the worst vulgarities of mass tourism contribute little to either the tourist or to the host country. There is much work to be done to turn this around.

But through sustainability tourism can become a life giving and life sustaining industry. It can protect and enhance biodiversity which is under threat, it can create jobs in remote areas where few jobs exist and it can lead to the raising of funds to help pay for essential local services such as schools and hospitals. Sustainable tourism is a force for good.

Let’s now look at a few examples of this in action.

In terms of gorilla conservation, the International Gorilla Conservation Programme in Rwanda has been enormously successful. This programme works on the basis that it needed to make the gorillas worth more alive than dead. This programme has helped to protect this endangered wildlife species as well as providing enormous value to the tourists who pay handsomely for the opportunity to see the gorillas. The funds have also helped to pay for local social and economic development as well as paying for a wildlife conservation centre.

In terms of national conservation, Namibia has been a leader in this regard. Namibia’s park security guards have done excellently at protecting the wildlife from poachers. Without tourism, there would not be funds to pay for this. Namibia is now a global success story for its anti-poaching activities. Though the protection efforts in these parks are intensely local, the ramifications for securing biodiversity are profoundly global.

Costa Rica is another example of sustainable tourism. Tourism supports over 140,000 jobs and produces 8.4% of the gross domestic product in this country. In order to protect their natural inheritance, the country has 25% of its territory classified under some category of conservation management. These protected areas welcome hundreds of thousands of tourists, who generate millions of dollars in gate admission fees and payment of services to local operators. Tourism when well thought out can be sustainable.

What you need to know

This article looked into the decision of whether to go on holiday or not, which affects many people who care about sustainability.

The focus was primarily on wildlife holidays for which a flight from a developed country would be needed and so significant carbon emissions would be incurred. In this instance, buying carbon offsets to cover the emissions of your plane journey can dramatically increase the sustainability of your holiday.

The key takeaway is that it is important for people to go on holiday to visit these areas. We looked at examples from Rwanda, Namibia and Costa Rica of how tourism provides vital funds and incentives for conservation that would not otherwise exist.

Overall, through sustainability, the face of tourism can be changed from a destructive process focussed on short term profits, to a life giving process that is focussed on the long term protection of animals and plant life.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. What do you think of tourism and its journey towards sustainability?

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SUSTAINABILITY – ARE WE FLYING HIGH ENOUGH?

This article looks into whether we are being ambitious enough with regards to sustainability. Are we setting the right targets, are we flying high enough? This will be looked at through the myth of Icarus and Daedalus.

Icarus best

Icarus was the son of Daedalus who dared to fly too near the sun on wings made of feathers and wax. Daedalus cautioned Icarus that flying too near the sun would cause the wax to melt. Icarus ignored this warning, the feathers came loose and he plunged to his death in the sea. The myth is taught to children to warn them of the dangers of flying too high.

But, in addition to telling Icarus not to fly too high, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too low. Flying too close to the sea would mean that the salty water and updraughts would ruin his wings.

Over time the myth has been altered. All of the focus is placed on the warning of flying too high and little emphasis is placed on the dangers of flying too low.

The question is, for sustainability as a movement, are we settling for too little, are we flying high enough?

It is now that I would like to take the time to pivot to the substantive point that I aim to make with this article. This regards the setting of science based targets.

What is a Science based target?

Targets that companies adopt to to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are considered to be science based if they are set in line with the level of decarbonization required to keep global temperature increases below 2°C compared to preindustrial temperatures.

By setting science based targets businesses stand to gain from a number of advantages. These include increased innovation, pre-empting future policies and regulations, improving competitiveness and improved investor relations.

It is promising that 336 companies have signed up to this initiative thus far. Many of these are major transnational corporations with footprints larger than some countries.

For more information please visit the Science Based Targets Initiative website.

What is the problem?

In corporate sustainability, you have three different types of businesses. Sustainability leaders, sustainability averages and sustainability laggards.

The issue I see, is that science based targets are currently the preserve of sustainability leaders. The real question is, why is this not more mainstream and why are these decisions only being taken now?

Sustainability isn’t a result, it is a journey. But are the targets we are setting ambitious enough, are they meaningful? Is is not possible that we have been flying too low?

The truth is, is that without a majority of businesses having an average, or above average position on sustainability, there can be no real transition towards sustainable development. But despite efforts by governments greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to increase.

The real question is, should companies who adopt a science based approach be lauded as sustainability leaders, or should companies who fail to adopt a science based approach be derided as sustainability laggards?

The science based method guides the way forward, but I think it should be seen as the safe middle, for sustainability averages as opposed to a mark of outstanding leadership.

Myths are powerful. They can change the way we think, the way we act and the way we behave. They can change our ambitious and our dreams for the future. I think we can learn a lot from the myth of Icarus and Daedalus.

We can learn a lot from going back to the original intention of the myth. This was a warning against flying too high and flying too low. They both carry danger.

We need to honour the opportunities which sustainability presents and meet the threats which an unstable climate presents with bold targets and bold actions. We need to avoid selling ourselves too short, by rewarding what is best practice as something that is remarkable. Are we flying high enough?

We have the technology to make sustainability happen. But are businesses really committed?

Too many are resting in their comfort zone. They are flying too low.

We can only hope that the science based targets movement makes a swift transition from niche to mainstream. I think this could happen in a relatively short period of time.

What you need to know

This article looks into whether sustainability has the right ambitions through the myth of Icarus and Daedalus.

We looked at how over time the myth had been edited so as to place less emphasis on the dangers of flying too low.

We pivoted towards an analysis of science based targets, what they are and how they can help businesses.

We then moved on to a discussion of whether science based targets should be the preserve of sustainability leaders or whether companies who do not adopt this approach should be seen as sustainability laggards.

It is my belief that science based targets need to become the new mainstream of greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. I believe sustainability leaders should have to do much more remarkable things to stand out from the crowd.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. What do you think of science based targets and how high will you fly?

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I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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P.S

Inspiration for this book was drawn from the simply phenomenal book The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin. If you haven’t already, buy this book now.

the-icarus-deception-cover

WHAT MAKES A HOLIDAY A SUSTAINABLE HOLIDAY?

This article looks into the key ingredients of what makes a holiday a sustainable holiday. What should you definitely attempt to do and what should you avoid?

mass tourism

Sustainability is often accused of being big and complex, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Hopefully this article makes the big and complex small and easy to understand. Everyone enjoys a holiday and through a few simple steps it is easy to design a holiday that takes less from your host country socially, economically and environmentally.

1.     Environment

Sustainability isn’t only about the environment but it is where this article will begin. There are three things to watch out for here.

  • Energy

In terms of energy, you want to be mindful of what is used to transport you from where you are to where your holiday is based. Flying is an activity which is associated with high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. There is a trend for more and more passengers to take at least one flight every year. This is not sustainable.

I found this IATA article on air passenger numbers truly astonishing. Please read it via the link below.

2036 Forecast Reveals Air Passengers Will Nearly Double to 7.8 Billion

Even with doubtless improvements in fuel efficiency, aeroplanes create more issues than just carbon emissions. They are responsible for releasing nitrogen oxides, which deplete the ozone layer and water vapour from high flying aircraft contributes to the greenhouse effect. Overall, air travel is a difficult to make compatible with the demands of sustainable development.

So often we travel to far off lands, but fail to appreciate wonders closer to home. If you take a holiday closer to where you live and avoid flying that is definitely a key ingredient of a sustainable holiday. A steel wheel on a steel rail is a highly efficient form of propulsion. Holidays by train can be enormously fun and you get to see a great deal whilst you are moving. Bike holidays are another ultra-sustainable choice and can be combined with railways to let you explore further afield.

Overall, prudent use of energy resources is the hallmark of a sustainable holiday. I am not saying that you should never fly, for some faraway destinations it is the only viable option. But making a conscious decision not to fly and to holiday closer to home is a far more sustainable option.

There will also come a point in the not too distant future when developing countries become increasingly if not fully developed. When this happens and air travel comes within reach of these enormous population centres, the pressures on our skies will become even greater than they already are.

  • Water

Water is another key element of the sustainability equation that tourism affects. Prudent use of this precious resource will determine whether your holiday is sustainable or not.

In developed countries water is not considered to be a precious or scarce resource, but in developing countries this is not the case. As more and more people holiday in developing countries, this can place enormous pressures on these countries water systems.

Water is needed for swimming pools, water parks and for the showering and toilet facilities used by the tourists from developed countries. These tourists will have a daily water use many multiples bigger than that of the local people, which leads to bigger pressures building up quicker.

Another insidious impact on water resources caused by tourism comes by the way of dietary choices. Again, meat is considered a staple item in developed countries but in developing countries more often than not it is considered a luxury, particularly beef.

A great resource in this regard is the Water Footprint Network, which hosts information on different items and their water footprint. The average water footprint per calorie for beef is twenty times larger than for cereals and starchy roots. You can find a link to the Water Footprint Network article below.

Water footprint of crop and animal products: a comparison

What this means is, is that developing countries, keen to please international visitors, alter from their traditional cuisine and aim to impress visitors with meat options that would not otherwise be there. But the raising and eventual slaughter of this meat has significant consequences for water levels in these countries and for greenhouse gas emissions globally.

Be smart and aim to eat local cuisine when you are on holiday. If you can, stick to vegan and vegetarian dishes that is even better.

Overall, be conscious of your water consumption when on holiday and look out for hidden water which lies behind products and services that you consume if you want to make your holiday more sustainable.

  • Waste

When you are on holiday, be conscious that you are a guest in another country. Littering and leaving litter behind is a problem, but it is especially problematic when you do it in a country that is not your own. In developing countries with stretched budgets and unmet needs, they can ill afford to clean up after careless visitors.

People are often surprised at the lack of bins and recycling facilities in developing countries. You may have to keep hold of your rubbish for a little longer to put it in its right place, but the effort will be worth it. If your hotel or accommodation manager doesn’t have any recycling facilities, then point out to them why they should. If no one complains, nothing will change.

Try and place less pressure on local waste management facilities by eating in and taking your time. You don’t always have to get everything to takeaway.

Overall, with just a little bit of thought and effort the sustainability of your holiday can be greatly improved as far as waste management is concerned.

2.   Social

Sustainable tourism is also about the social situation that you leave your host country in. When you visit other countries, make the effort to learn about the cultures there and visit their monuments and sites, many of which could be ancient. Try and learn things and take your findings back to your country with you. Make sure that you only take memories and don’t remove any parts of monuments. If millions of people did this, then pretty soon there will be no monument to visit.

This is the toughest one for me and it regards buying gifts from or handing money to child labourers. My position on this is that you should not engage in these activities. These kids should be in school and not walking up and down beaches during the day and into restaurants and bars at night looking for money. If you give them money or buy things from them, you simply encourage their parents to send them out the next day. It may be tough but you are not helping the situation, you are simply perpetuating an endless cycle of low skill, low wage misery.

Just talking to locals and making conversation can do a great deal to help. Some of these people will be trying to sell you products or services, but some will be genuinely interested in you, and in return you should show genuine interest in their life and their situation. Try and leave them in a better place than when you found them.

Overall, be mindful of social problems and different cultures when you are on holiday to make your trip a sustainable trip.

3.   Economic

Sustainable development is as much about economics as it is about society and the environment.

Tourism and especially mass tourism poses a number of challenges for sustainability. One of the worst features of this type of tourism is leakage. This refers to the process by which out of every dollar earned in tourism, a large percentage leaves the country. This can be as high as 80% in some cases. This occurs as a result of package holidays sold in developed countries and as a result of large resorts being part of a consortium with owners based in developed countries. It also occurs as a result of tourists who visit other countries but demand goods that are made abroad or shop in restaurants with foreign ownership.

When you travel, try to avoid packaged tours and large resorts. If you can, try as as hard as possible to put money into the hands of local people and local communities who need it most.  If you do that, your holiday will be far more sustainable.

What you need to know

This article looked into the key ingredients of what makes a holiday a sustainable holiday.

In terms of environmental consequences, you should try to fly less and travel by train or by bike. We are what we eat and you should attempt to eat local and eat vegan and vegetarian to be more sustainable.

Tourism is socially sustainable when monuments and cultures are left intact and not disturbed or exploited. Taking a stand against child labour is also a hallmark of a sustainable holiday.

A holiday is an economically sustainable holiday when you invest in local communities and aim for as lower level of leakage as possible, preferably zero.

Overall, by being considerate of people in different places and in different generations and by taking a few simple steps, you can make holidaying far more sustainable.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. What do you think makes a holiday a sustainable holiday?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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2017 A YEAR IN LITERATURE

This article looks into and provides comment on all of the books I read in 2017. It begins in January and runs chronologically until the end of December 2017.

book pile

1.     Peter Senge – The Necessary Revolution

2017 got off to a great start with this book. I was first nudged towards reading Peter Senge books because of a video series created by Jennifer Woofter, who recommended another Peter Senge book The Fifth Discipline. Peter Senge delivers a brilliantly well written and instructive offering with The Necessary Revolution. Definitely a must read.

2.   David Ogilvy – The Unpublished David Ogilvy

There has been many times in my life where I have picked up and read books purely on the basis of their cover. So I am afraid that I just don’t agree with the saying that you should never judge a book by its cover. In 2016, I picked up and read Ogilvy on Advertising and immediately I was enthralled by David Ogilvy’s wit, charm and business acumen. The Unpublished David Ogilvy is an excellent book and includes lots of notes, memos and letters that shed light on this great man’s life. It is also packed full of life and business advice, so I would recommend buying rather than renting a copy, as if you are like me you will find yourself returning to it frequently.

3.   Joel Raphaelson and Kenneth Roman – Writing That Works

This was a book that I picked up from a David Ogilvy memo titled How To Write. His first point of a 10 point memo was: “Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.” That recommendation was definitely enough to persuade me. There is great advice in here on how to write everything from business letters to memos. This is definitely a useful book to have in your house.

4.   James Lovelock – The Revenge of Gaia

Full disclosure, I am an enormous James Lovelock fan. Unsurprisingly then, I really enjoyed this book. I was particularly moved by the chapter “A personal View of Environmentalism.” James Lovelock’s books should be a staple on anyone who works in sustainability or environmental management’s book shelves.

5.    Tim Marshall – Worth Dying For

Who would have ever though that a book on flags would be interesting? Well Tim Marshall obviously did and the end product is remarkable. I was a huge fan of another Tim Marshall book Prisoners of Geography and I also really enjoyed Worth Dying For. The power and politics which lies behind national flags is exceptionally interesting if at times totally irrational. There is lots of information in here that helps you to understand the modern world.

6.   John Elkington and Jochen Zeitz – The Breakthrough Challenge

I personally found this to be one of the most fist pumpingly excellent books on sustainability that I have ever read. This is part management book, part sustainability treatise and part motivational keynote speech. This book will have you flipping and turning pages until you get to the end. Definitely a must read.

7.    Andy Maslen – The Copywriting Sourcebook

This is another book that I bought in a charity shop based purely off of the title and the cover. This book is a great reference tool for all different types of content writing. There is lots of good advice in here for headlines, emails, articles and websites. You don’t have to read it all in one go, although I prefer to read books that way. But I highly recommend that you source a copy of this book to dip into when you need help getting words down on paper.

8.   John Elkington and Peter Knight -The Green Business Guide

This book provided the biggest surprise of all in 2017. I assumed that a business guide produced in 1992 would be interesting, but that by 2017 lots of the information contained within it would be out of date. I was shocked to find this book pressingly relevant as I read it. This should really not have been any surprise as John Elkington is one of my all-time favourite authors and Peter Knight co-founded the always impressive Context sustainability consultancy. If you can get hold of a copy, I definitely recommend this book.

9.   Robert Cialdini – Pre-Suasion

I bought Pre-Suasion as soon as it came out because I am a huge fan of Cialdini’s other work Influence, which is a classic amongst sales and marketing professionals. I really liked the content of his latest book and I would definitely recommend all of Robert Cialdini’s work to anyone working in sustainability or environmental management. Being able to influence is a skill. This is a particularly important skill in a field like sustainability where you need to effect change in areas where people may feel that change is not needed. Pre-Suasion was very interesting in highlighting why some people are able to persuade where others are not.

10.  Giselle Weybrecht  – The Sustainable MBA

I really enjoyed this book. It is certainly a tour de force coming in at almost 500 pages. The attention to detail is simply phenomenal. Whether you know a lot about sustainability or you would like to know more, this is an excellent guide to help make your organisation more sustainable.

11.  David Holmgren – Future Scenarios

I first became interested in permaculture whilst studying at the University of Leeds and the Permaculture Association national office is also based in Leeds. David Holmgren who is the co-originator of the permaculture concept has written a really approachable guide on how communities can adapt to peak oil and climate change with this offering.

12.  Malcom Gladwell – Outliers

I was introduced to Malcom Gladwell’s work by way of recommendation. It did not disappoint. His writing style and his way of writing non-fiction with such stunning prose was really impressive. I was immediately converted to being a fan of his after reading this classic.

13.  Michael Braungart and William McDonough – Cradle to Cradle

This book contains within it many powerful insights that are necessary in order to build a better world. Even the production value of the book is highlighted as having been undertaken to the highest levels of sustainability possible. It is a regular bugbear of mine when books on sustainability are printed in an ostentatious manner and not on FSC or PEFC certified paper. We need to create a more circular economy and this book contains within it the ideas to make that happen. Definitely a must read.

14.  Paul Hawken – The Ecology Of Commerce

I had heard a great deal about this book before reading it. I had heard it was responsible for converting Ray Anderson of Interface and countless others to join the sustainability cause. The content and the writing style are simply phenomenal. The message is also critically important. Businesses are the only institutions capable of destroying the planet and they are the only institutions capable of preventing that destruction.

 

15.  Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein – Nudge

This was a great book and after reading it, I could see why Richard Thaler would win the Nobel Prize for Economics later in the year. There is a powerful section in the book on how you can nudge people towards more sustainable behaviours which I found very interesting. I definitely think there is a lot that sustainability could learn from the behavioural economics.

16.  Bertrand Russell – The Problems of Philosophy

I found this to be a very interesting if quite challenging read. But I guess that is why I find myself coming back to Bertrand Russell’s huge catalogue time and time again because he challenges you to think differently.

 

17. Andrew Savitz – The Triple Bottom Line

I had a very enjoyable time reading this book. The strapline that accompanies it is: “how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social, and environmental success — and how you can too.” This book does exactly what it sets out to do. It is full of useful and helpful examples of sustainability in action. As a side note, there is always something that I like about books which are written by authors who have spent a long time in consulting. The writing is always crisp and to the point.

18. Tim Smit – Eden

This book was simply phenomenal. I saw Tim deliver a keynote speech in November 2016 and that prompted me to buy his book in 2017. In creating The Eden Project, he has reframed what is possible. The key takeaway from the book is that you only get one life, you only get once chance. Dream big, dream bold and try and make great things happen during your short stay on planet earth. Definitely a must read.

19. Seth Godin – Tribes

I had listened to Seth Godin audiobooks before, but this was the first physical book of his that I read. I thought it was really interesting, I loved the writing style and I was immediately converted to a super fan of his. It crystallised my belief that creating average products for average people is no longer a winning strategy. Rather, because of the internet you can now target far more niche audiences who will love rather than just like your product or service.

20.  John Elkington and Julia Hailes – The Green Consumer Guide

I read the original 1988 version and I thought it was full of useful information to make shopping habits more sustainable. I will look to read the 2007 updated edition in 2018, but even that was released in 2007 so perhaps a second update is required from John Elkington and Julia Hailes.

21. George Marshall – Don’t Even Think About It

This was a book that I picked up because of a recommendation by Tim Smit in his keynote speech that I mentioned about previously.

cover

This book contains within it some powerful insights on why there are many psychological barriers preventing us from tackling climate change appropriately. I was so moved by reading this book that I was motivated to produce my very first book review, which you can find by clicking the link below.

DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT – GEORGE MARSHALL

Overall, this is a fantastic book that sets out information on a key problem and finishes solutions to how we can solve that problem. Definitely a must read.

22. John Elkington – A Year In The Greenhouse

This was another book that I read this year that I did not have the highest expectations of that ended up blowing me away. It was great to be able to spend a year looking over John’s shoulder in 1989, which was a critical year for the environment. I was impressed with the amount of work that John packs into each working day. His work ethic is truly remarkable.

23. Alan Andreasen  – Marketing Social Change

For me, this book provided the biggest disappointment of 2017. I was drawn in by the strapline of: “changing behaviour to promote health, social development, and the environment.” But I thought that the writing style was not particularly captivating and I finished reading it without many key takeaways or principles to keep hold of.

24. Jack Beatty – The World According to Peter Drucker

I love Peter Drucker so I was pleased when I came across this book on him. It did not disappoint at all. Peter Drucker has a great management philosophy that all businesses should use and internalise in order to be successful.

25. Bob Willard – The Sustainability Advantage

This book was another highlight of 2017. I did not have sky high expectations, but I did know that Bob had worked at IBM and was well thought of in the sustainability community. I was seriously impressed by Bob’s ability to quantify the business case for sustainability. You can tell Bob is a numbers guy and the quantitative work that has gone into this was simply incredible. Money talks and if you want to influence influential diction makers it is imperative that you go in armed with facts and figures.

Too often in sustainability we think that doing the right thing will be enough. But Bob has really done a fantastic thing with this book and the accompanying online resources to help organisations quantify the business benefits of sustainability. There is an updated version which I look forward to reading in 2018.

26. Malcom Gladwell – Blink

I bought this because of a keynote speech that I saw delivered online by Patrick Schwerdtfeger. Again, I was amazed by Malcom Gladwell’s writing style and I found the insights and presentation of information in this book really interesting.

27. John Elkington with Tom Burke – The Green Capitalists

This was another exceptionally well written book by John Elkington. For me, the main takeaway was what I learned about the oil and gas supermajors and the environmental experts that they hire to help make their operations more sustainable. That being said, I do still believe there is a flaw in their business model and unless they make a 180 degree turn they still have to be considered as a threat. This book was published in 1987 and the core business operations of these companies are still rooted in the extraction and sale of petroleum products.

28.  David Grayson and Adrian Hodges – Everybody’s Business

This book was one I picked up because of a recommendation that I saw in Steve Hilton’s More Human which is one of my all-time favourites. This is definitely a powerful book on corporate responsibility and how it will shape expectations of businesses in the 21st century.

29.  Judi Marshall, Gill Coleman and Peter Reason – Leadership for Sustainability

This was a book that I picked up from a charity shop based purely off of the title. It provides a very interesting insight into the MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice that they run at the University of Bath. I really enjoyed the chapters that were written by alumni of the course and how they are putting the principles they learned on the course into practice in the real world. More universities should produce books like this.

30.  Steve Keen – Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis

book cover

I really liked Steve Keen’s other work Debunking Economics so I was pleased when I saw that Steve Keen was producing another book for 2017.I was really impressed by this work and for a more thorough review, please click the link below as I produced a full book review with my thoughts.

CAN WE AVOID ANOTHER FINANCIAL CRISIS – STEVE KEEN

31. George Friedman – The Next 100 years

I have been a fan of George Friedman’s political forecasting company Stratfor for some time. They put out a lot of free content in audio, video and written formats and they have a tendency to be right. This was the first George Friedman book that I read and I was really impressed with the writing style. His vision for the future is captivating and it definitely made for an interesting read.

32.  Gary Firth – Salt and Saltaire

sir titus salt mayor of bradford.  nov. 1848 - nov. 1849

I was first introduced to Titus Salt and his utopian model village whilst studying at the University of Leeds. This was a book that I bought at the gift shop at Saltire and that I read whilst preparing for a project that I did on the area. I re-read the book in 2017 as I prepared for an article that I did looking at corporate responsibility through the lens of the life and work of Titus Salt. You can find out more about this article by clicking the link below.

CAPITALISM LIKE YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE

This is a great book and it provides you with everything you need to know about the legend of Titus Salt.

33. Malcom Gladwell – The Tipping Point

Discovering Malcom Gladwell was a big highlight of 2017 for me. I thought the content of this book was really important for sustainability professionals and anyone who wants to make change happen. The writing style is phenomenal as Malcom weaves a story together out of a number of narratives. This is definitely a must read.

34. George Friedman – Flashpoints

This was another George Friedman book that I read because of how much I enjoyed The Next 100 Years. The content of this book is focussed on Europe. I really enjoyed reading the perspectives contained within this book and I would definitely recommend it.

35. Paul Hawken – Drawdown

cover

I was really excited when I saw the news that Paul Hawken was editing a new book on solutions to climate change. I bought this as soon as it came out and it was every bit as impressive as I expected it to be. The detail is incredible and these solutions are important if climate change is going to be tackled sufficiently. I was so impressed that I produced a full book review which you can read by clicking the link below.

DRAWDOWN EDITED BY PAUL HAWKEN

 

36.  Frank Westell and Simon Martin – The Cyclist’s Body Book

I love cycling. But during 2017 I felt that the mileage I was undertaking was beginning to take its toll on my body. I decided to invest in this book and I was very pleased with its content. There is lots of good advice in here for pre and post workout stretches, nutrition and everything else you need to know to keep you moving on two wheels.

37.  Niccolò Machiavelli – The Prince

This book provided a big surprise in 2017. I saw it recommended on a best business book list on LinkedIn so I decided to buy and read it. I was really impressed with the content and I can see why it is a classic that has survived for so long. Perhaps sustainability needs a more Machiavellian streak if it is to breakthrough?

38.  John Elkington – The Chrysalis Economy

This was another excellent John Elkington book that I read in 2017. The content was really good with lots of great examples of how companies can develop a recognised position on sustainability even if they have not historically excelled in this area. This is something I think is really important as globally we all move at the pace of the slowest mover. It is great to have sustainability leaders, but we need to ensure there is a pathway for sustainability laggards to become the sustainability leaders of tomorrow.

39.  Mitch Meyerson – Success Secrets of the Social Media Marketing Superstars

I read this book in advance of a talk that I was giving on social media. You can always learn something new by reading a book and there was lots of great advice in here. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur, a blogger or a business owner, the online world is a great place to market yourself and to develop leads. This book is full of advice on how to do that.

40.  Bertrand Russell – What I Believe

I really enjoyed this book by Bertrand Russell. It provides the sort of guidance that you would expect from an esteemed philosopher of his calibre. I would definitely recommend getting hold of a copy and reading this book.

41.  David Holmgren – Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability

permaculture

I read this book whilst at university and the content really struck me. I am always impressed by the vision of a sustainable future that you get from permaculture activists. Sometimes I can be disappointed by the modern sustainability movement, so I read this book to reenergise myself. Reading this book provided the inspiration for two articles, the links for which can be found below.

PERMACULTURE & SUSTAINABILITY

A BIGGER VISION FOR SUSTAINABILITY

 

42.  Geert Mak – Amsterdam

I was gifted this book as a present and I did not read it for some time. I was visiting Amsterdam in November and I took this book to read on the train there and back. I found it to be enormously interesting and I finished reading it with even more of an admiration for the city than I did before I started it. What struck me was the distinct personality that Amsterdamers have and that cities, whilst often thought of as being about buildings and infrastructure are really about the people that live there. They are what make cities special.

43.  WCED – Our Common Future

Our_Common_Future_book_cover

In 2017 I decided to read Our Common Future, which was prepared by the World Commission on Environment and Development as I realised that I had only read extracts of the book and not the whole thing from cover to cover. This is an enormously important book and I had an enjoyable time reading it. I enjoyed it so much that I created a 4 part book review which you can find links for below.

OUR COMMON FUTURE +30 PART 1

OUR COMMON FUTURE +30 PART 2

OUR COMMON FUTURE +30 PART 3

OUR COMMON FUTURE +30 PART 4

 

44.  Seth Godin – The Dip

I thought that this Seth Godin book was great. It contained some powerful insights into why some people fail and other succeed.

45.  Seth Godin – We are all Weird

I am a big fan of Seth Godin and I had an enjoyable time reading this book. Seth Godin hammers home his consistent message about how the game has changed and that marketers politicians and anyone else looking to influence should target a niche audience and not the general masses.

46. John Elkington and Julia Hailes – Holidays That Don’t Cost the Earth

This was the last John Elkington book that I read in 2017. I had a great time working my way through his back catalogue this year. I read this before going on holiday and I did think the book contained a lot of useful information to help people plan holidays that take less from the earth socially and environmentally. As with some of the other guides, this was published in 1992 and I think that a modern update would be a good thing.

47.  Hunter S Thompson – The Great Shark Hunt

I read this whilst on holiday and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time reading it.

hunter s thompson

I have read a lot of Hunter S Thompson books and thought I knew quite a bit about him but this book was full of information about him that I did not know before. I would not recommend it as the first book of his to read, but for anyone looking for an interesting read that has read a few of his books, this is an absolute page turner.

As a side note, one of the main reasons that I became interested in reading books and eventually writing was because of Hunter S Thompson. One quotation of his was stuck in my mind throughout reading this book, it was his line about his companion Oscar Zeta Acosta being “Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

Whilst the film version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has done much to popularise Hunter S Thompson and his cult alias Raoul Duke. At bottom, he remains in my opinion one of the greatest writers of all time.

48. Rolf Potts – Vagabonding

I bought this book for my holiday after I saw it recommended by Tim Ferris. It was really enjoyable and for anyone who has never been travelling I would definitely recommend you get a copy of this book and then start planning your first adventure. Or for even the seasoned traveler this book has lots of great insights into how you can have a memorable trip.

49. William Burroughs – Naked Lunch

This was another book that I read whilst on holiday. I had heard it was a cult classic and so I had high expectations. My preconceptions of what the book would be like were totally shattered after the first ten pages. The book is simply stunning with the imagination shown by William Burroughs being simply incredible. I can now see why this book has carved out its own place in history as a literary classic.

50.  Bertrand Russell – Icarus

This was the last book that I read in 2017. It was another by Bertrand Russell who I turn to for guidance and inspiration. This book contains some powerful information and I definitely recommend it to anyone.

What you need to know

This article looked into and provided comment on all of the books I read in 2017. It began in January and ran chronologically until the end of December 2017.

I had a really enjoyable time picking out and selecting the books that I read in 2017. I was very lucky in that they almost all turned out to be brilliant.

Reading is something that has helped me enormously in life and I definitely recommend that everyone tries to read at least one book a week.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. What books did you read and enjoy in 2017?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

7 THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT INDIA AFTER VISITING FOR THE FIRST TIME

This article is based on a recent 3 week trip that I took to India. This was my first time visiting the country and this is what I learnt.

Taj Mahal

1.     Noise

I had seen before leaving on a number of travel websites that it is recommended to take ear plugs to India if you are traveling there as a visitor. As this is something that I normally use at home, this was something I brought with me, but I was interested to see why it was so recommended.

My experience of noise in India came in three different types.

The first was the incredible noises I heard whilst in Goa. This came in the form of the amazing noise that was created by the wind as it came in from the ocean, through the palm trees and up and around my beachside accommodation. This was truly an incredible sound to wake up to.

The next set of remarkable noises I experienced would be in New Delhi. This is probably the type of situation that the travel writers were recommending ear plugs for. It was loud, very loud. The principal noises that would keep you up at night include the sound of vendors disassembling their stalls and then reassembling them in the morning. Surely there must be a way to keep them up the entire time? The other major noises that I experienced were the sound of vehicle horns, which persist throughout the night and the chorus of stray dogs barking which can be very loud at times. We will see more on this shortly.

The last remarkable noises that I experienced were whilst camping in Alsisar. This included the incredible sound of silence that you would hear between 07:30 and 09:00 after the music had stopped and before most of the festival goers had awoken. The moments of silence were breath taking. The other major noise was what I believed to be the sound of cows but was in fact a nomadic goat herder passing by with his ensemble of adorable but very loud goats.

Overall the noises you experience in India are incredible, I have mentioned but a few in my description here.

2.   Stray animals

The stray animals, principally the large number of roaming cows was something that I knew about but that I was not fully prepared for when I saw it with my own eyes.

I hope my list is complete, but in total I remember seeing stray cats, dogs, cows, pigs, camels, donkeys and chickens. These are animals which in most other countries are highly domesticated and not seen outside of agricultural or domestic settings.

Overall, you have to visit to see with your own eyes, as nothing can prepare you for the sight of numerous cows walking along extremely busy streets and highways in a major metropolitan area. The sight is truly incredible.

3.   Toilets

The toilet situation was something that I read a lot about before visiting and not much of it was good. That being said, I thought all of the facilities that I came across were of a decent enough standard, taking into account that India is a developing country.

The main issue that I encountered on a far more frequent basis was the hand washing, or rather lack of hand washing facilities. I found these to be on the whole largely inadequate and more often than not lacking soap or a place to dry your hands afterwards. This is especially problematic in India, as it is a country with a lot of cuisine that you eat with your hands. Overall, this is only a minor problem; just remember to pack hand gel and to bring it out with you.

4.   Friendliness

This was probably the the thing that most blew me away. The incredible friendliness of the Indian people knows no bounds. I am not just talking about the friendliness of people who are providing a service to you, or hoping to provide you a product or service.

The standard of English among the general population is phenomenal. Just walking along a street or waiting at at train station people will talk to you and ask you questions. I have to say in the whole time I was in India I never felt under threat or like I was under duress to comply with anyone’s demands.

Overall, the friendliness of the people you will encounter whilst in India is truly remarkable. Just remember that when you are talking to people on the street that some of these people have a product or service that they are trying to nudge you towards, so speak to them and have a good time, just don’t comply with any of their demands. That being said, the majority of the people you encounter who are friendly are sincerely interested in who you are and where you are from and what you make of India as you pass through their country.

5.    Food

I like to eat a lot of Indian food when I am at home, so the food was a big aspect of why I decided to visit India. I was expecting the standard of cuisine to be very high and for me it was even higher than that.

Paranthra

The main treat that I picked up that I had not experienced before was the delicacy of enjoying an aloo paratha in the morning for breakfast. Pictured above is one of my morning aloo paratha’s which I would regularly wash down with a delicious cup of chai.

The tea in India is also of an incredibly high standard and I would encourage anyone who travels to India to try a few cups from restaurants and also to buy a cup from the walking vendors known locally as chai wallahs. One of the cups that I bought from a vendor in New Delhi is without question the nicest cup of tea I have ever drunk.

The main curry dish that I sampled that I had not enjoyed before was the vegetable kolhapuri. This is a fantastic dish that has all of the key elements that make up a great curry. The spices and the aroma are hot and fragrant, whilst the sauce is thick and delicious making for an all-round great curry.

It is impossible to talk about food in India without talking about the prevalence of vegetarian lifestyles in this country. As a lifelong vegetarian, the UK and Europe can feel like a lonely place for this choice of lifestyle. India is the only country I have ever been to where the vegetarian menu in restaurants is almost always as big and is often larger than the number of meat options. This is truly a country where being vegetarian is totally mainstream.

Overall, if you like great food, you should visit India. If you like vegetarian food, you must visit this country.

6.     Work ethic

I had a pretty good idea that like most developing countries, people in India probably work a lot harder for less money than people in developed countries. But I was not prepared for what I came across. The owner of the first accommodation I stayed in seemed to be awake and working whether you arrived at 06:00 am or if you were getting back in from a night out after midnight. He was seemingly doing these hours 6 days per week and would also pop in on Sunday. I also heard anecdotal evidence from waiters that I spoke to that their day would start at 05:00, they would have a two hour lunch from 11:00 and that their day would start to wind down at 23:00 but that it could be later if they were needed. These are simply phenomenal hours that people are putting in. The work ethic is simply incredible.

That being said, in and amongst the hard working and intrepid workers, you do see instances of laziness, sending two people to do a job that one person could do and sloppy workmanship. But the overall trend is towards a country where the vast majority of people work extremely hard.

7.   Incredible potential

One of the main things that I realised about India after visiting for the first time was the incredible potential of this nation. If you have so many hard working, intelligent people who speak great English in one place, that is a recipe for becoming a successful nation. The country was probably poorer that I expected it to be and there are some instances of poverty particularly that which afflicts children that nothing can prepare you for. But I would say overall, the country is full of people who care deeply about ensuring that these problems don’t go unsolved. India is an incredible nation with tremendous potential and could one day be the richest and most powerful nation on earth.

What you need to know

This was an article based around 7 things I learnt after visiting India for the first time in December 2017. India may be a very loud country, with stray animals and questionable toilet facilities. But but it is also a country with a friendly population, incredible food, an unbelievable work ethic and tremendous potential. Overall, I would highly encourage anyone to visit this great nation.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Have you visited India, if you did, what did you learn on your first visit?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

OUR COMMON FUTURE +30 PART 4

This article is the last in a series of articles which look into the 1987 report Our Common Future, prepared by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED).

Our_Common_Future_book_cover

For more information on parts 1 & 2, please visit the link below.

OUR COMMON FUTURE +30 PART 1

OUR COMMON FUTURE +30 PART 2

This article focusses of the final part of the report called Common Endeavours.

Managing the commons

Managing the commons begins with the brilliant realisation that: “traditional forms of national sovereignty are increasingly challenged by the realities of ecological and economic independence.

Within this chapter there is a stunning piece on Antarctica. The authors include their vision that: “Antarctica has been an agreed zone of peace for nearly 30 years, free of all military activities, nuclear tests, and radioactive wastes. This is a foundation on which humanity must build.” When put in that context, the success of Antarctica’s common management is truly remarkable.

Peace, Security, Development and the Environment

The next chapter on peace and security begins with the stark viewpoint that: “among the dangers facing the environment, the possibility of nuclear war, or military conflict of a lesser scale involving weapons of mass destruction, is undoubtedly the gravest.” It is ironic that 30 years on from its publication, we find ourselves trapped in another game of nuclear brinkmanship.

This chapter was one of my personal favourites, especially the sub chapter The Costs of the ‘Arms Culture,’ which was stunningly well written.

This sub-chapter began with the words that: “the absence of war is not peach, nor does it necessarily provide the conditions for sustainable development.”

This chapter also included a quotation from President Eisenhower from the end of his term in office, which I had not seen before but that I thought was brilliant. I will include it in full below.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed”

Shortly after, the authors include a line of their own, which reads: “The true cost of the arms race is the loss of what could have been produced instead with scarce capital, labour skills, and raw materials.” The authors raise an interesting viewpoint.

Towards Common Action

This chapter begins with what I believe to be my favourite line of the entire book.

“In the middle of the 20th century, we saw our planet from space for the first time. Historians may eventually find that this vision had a greater impact on thought than did the Copernican revolution of the 16th century.”

I thought the quotation was marvellous and it is perhaps one of my all-time favourites.

On the next page, the authors include a message about how they want the book to be used. It reads: “We have tried to point some pathways to the future. But there is no substitute for the journey itself, and there is no alternative to the process by which we retain a capacity to the experience it provides.”

Later on, there is an unfortunate example about how the report’s vision has gone unmet. The authors state that: “environmental protection and sustainable development must be an integral part of the mandates of all agencies of governments, of international organisations, and of major private-sector institutions.” This is something which has clearly not happened, and sustainability and environmental management have become silos of their own. We can only hope this is something that the Sustainable Development Goals can address.

Later on, the report brings the reader to grips with reality, with the statement that: “the transition to sustainable development will require a range of public policy choices that are inherently complex and politically difficult.

The book closes with a sub-chapter called A Call For Action. They include a well written statement that: “to keep options open for future generations, the present generation must begin now, and begin together, nationally and internationally.” In the end, this is what sustainability is all about.

What you need to know

Our Common Future was a report published by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 at the behest of the UN General Assembly.

This article dealt with the chapters that make up the part of the book titled Common Endeavours.

There are not many books which have impacted the trajectory of mankind in the way that Our Common Future has. The key takeaway, is will we build on the bold vision for a sustainable future that the authors set out in 1987 or will we let the challenge of creating a more sustainable form of development pass like a ship in the night? This is the challenge that lies ahead.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. What do you think about Our Common Future, how has the book impacted you?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

OUR COMMON FUTURE +30 PART 3

This article is the third in a series of articles which look into the 1987 report Our Common Future, prepared by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED).

Our_Common_Future_book_cover

For more information on parts 1 & 2 please visit the links below.

OUR COMMON FUTURE +30 PART 1

OUR COMMON FUTURE +30 PART 2

This article focusses of the part of the report called Common Challenges.

Population and Human Resources

I personally felt that this was perhaps the most instructive chapter in the entire book.

There was a brilliant point that: “Almost any activity that increases well-being and security lessens people’s desires to have more children than they and national ecosystems can support.”

There was also a very interesting point about education. It is in full below.

Environmental education should be included in and should run throughout the other disciplines of the formal education curriculum at all levels – to foster a sense of responsibility for the state of the environment and to teach students how to monitor, protect, and improve it.

This is quite a vision put forward by the report’s authors; we have a long way to go to make this a reality.

Food Security: Sustaining the Potential

This chapter had a lot of cold and uncomfortable truths about industrial farming and the industrial scale of subsidies that support this industry.

The authors begin with the following situation below.

It has become politically more attractive, and usually cheaper, to export surpluses – often as food aid – rather than to store them. These heavily subsidised surpluses depress the international market prices of commodities such as sugar and have created severe problems for several developing countries whose economies are based on agriculture. Non-emergency food aid and low-priced imports also keep down prices received by Third World farmers and reduce the incentive to improve domestic food production.

They make it clear that: “it is in the interests of all, including the farmers, that the policies be changed.

Species and Ecosystems: Resources for Development

This chapter contains a poignant reminder of the importance of biodiversity with the statement that: “it would be grim irony indeed if just as new genetic engineering techniques begin to let us peer into life’s diversity and use genes more effectively to better the human condition, we looked and found this treasure sadly depleted.”

Energy: Choices for Environment and Development

This chapter has a particularly interesting sub-chapter on reducing urban industrial air pollution. This is a problem we have known about for 30 years and failed to act appropriately.

There was also a very interesting sub-chapter on wood fuel. The authors made the stunning rebuke that: “forestry must enlarge its horizons: beyond trees – to the people who just exploit them.” This is something I certainly agree with.

There was also a very enlightening sub-chapter on energy conservation, where the authors make the bold suggestion that: “within the next 50 years, nations have the opportunity to produce the same levels of energy-services with as little as half the primary supply currently consumed.

Industry Producing More With Less

The chapter begins with the pro-business statement that: “Industry is central to the economies of modern societies and an indispensable motor of growth.

The authors bring forward an ominous belief on the nature of pollution with the statement that: “It is becoming increasingly clear that the sources and causes of pollution are far more diffuse, complex and interrelated – and the effects of pollution more widespread, cumulative, and chronic – than hitherto believed.” Achieving sustainable development is a complex task.

The Urban Challenge

This chapter begins with the prediction that: “by the turn of the century, almost half the world will live in urban areas – from small towns to huge megacities.”

Later on in the chapter, they link this prediction back to the challenge of sustainable development. The authors belief is that: “the future will be predominantly urban, and the most immediate environmental concerns of most people will be urban ones.

What you need to know

Our Common Future was a report published by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 at the behest of the UN General Assembly.

This article dealt with the chapters that make up the part of the book titled Common Challenges.

A Subsequent article will deal with the final part of the book, Common Endeavours.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. What do you think about Our Common Future, how has the book impacted you?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby