Month: February 2009

Obama calls quality education a necessity, yes but!

 The story below seems undeniably a good thing, but what is a ‘quality’ education, should it be “from the day they are born to the day they begin a career” , or a lifelong experience?

Are we still in the old paradigm of an ‘academic’ education, or are we talking about a new paradigm, of enabling the creativity we need to prosper in the new and, low carbon future that awaits us, either by design or negligence?

Our need is to lead and manage educational institutions to enable the liberation of creativity, whilst working to continually reduce their resource intensity on society, or in more conventional terms,

Educational Quality’ is that which maximizes the value added to society by an educational institution, whilst minimizing the ‘loss to society’ that results from its creation’.

In future years, schools, colleges and universities should be judged, not by how many degrees they bestow, but by how well they contribute to the reduction in the resource intensity of their communities.


Not easy to measure, for sure, but the change in focus transforms the approach needed in day to day management and curriculum content.






Obama calls quality education a necessity

Last update: 12:20 a.m. EST Feb. 25, 2009
WASHINGTON, Feb 25, 2009 (UPI via COMTEX) — A quality education is a necessity for Americans to compete in a global economy, President Barack Obama told a joint session of Congress Tuesday.
“That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education — from the day they are born to the day they begin a career,” Obama told lawmakers, Cabinet members, justices and invited guests.
Roughly 75 percent of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma, “yet just over half of our citizens have that level of education,” Obama said.
“We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation,” he said. “And half of the students who begin college never finish.”
The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act has invested heavily in education, he said, by providing funds to improve schools and make college more affordable.
His budget, to be submitted later his week, would create new incentives for teacher performance, paths for advancement and rewards for success, Obama said.
While lawmakers and educators are responsible for making the education system work, it is the responsibility of citizens to participate.
“And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training,” Obama said. “This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship.”
Recognizing the high cost of college tuition, Obama said the federal government would ensure that people who volunteer in the community or for serve in the military can afford a higher education, and asked Congress to forward to him such legislation.

Gauging Resource Intensity, filling out the eco-footprint:

 For a holistic view of ‘Resource Intensity’ and the ‘One Planet Equation’ see


Filling Out the Eco-Footprint: Gauging Resource Intensity and Productivity

A key concept of sustainability is commonly referred to as “eco-efficiency.” Basically, this concept reflects the uses, losses and operational risks associated with the various resources used in producing products and services. Energy, water and materials represent three resources included in eco-efficiency. The use of these resources is viewed as the depletion of resources within the confines of an environmental management system. They are viewed as sources of exposure and the resultant hazards in an occupational health and safety management system. The loss of resources creates impacts on the environment and poses risks to the workers and the community.

Every organization must first consider its contribution to the conservation of global resource base and efforts to reduce its resource intensity. At the same time, it can improve the economy and provide relief to social issues associated with the life cycle of these resources. The operations manager (and others interested in the financial condition of the organization and its community) must track resource consumption internally. This provides the foundation for monitoring resource productivity and tracking resource flows throughout the life cycle of the product or service. Few companies track resource intensity well enough for this purpose. With the growing popularity of carbon and water footprints, some companies are beginning to close in on this parameter. They will now need to include materials in the footprint. Some new sustainable product standards issued by the American National Standards Institute are creating awareness of this need…………….

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Joint (thinking &) working: the drive(r) for change

 This is the essence of the intelligent use of a systems approach but it would be foolish to expect the listed benefits to be automatically generated without an understanding of the organizational and workflow changes needed to enable this.

There is a lot of hidden and transformational detail in the phrase ‘a seamless joined up approach’




Features: February 27th, 2009
By Peter O’Hara

Ill health and disabilities come in different forms which are often complex and inter-related. For this reason, health and care services have been brought together to provide holistic support. But this integration has a long way to go because the culture in the health service differs from that in the care service. The author explores the barriers to cultural change and looks at ways to progress successful joint working.

It is widely recognised that fragmented services in health and social care create a barrier to effective care provision within both children and adult services. The way forward for health and social care, in order to transform existing services, is to adopt joint working approach. This improves the service user experience and outcomes through removing organisational barriers between the different services.

Benefits of joint working;

• Improves service delivery
• Economies of scale
• Efficiency savings through improved systems and practices
• Sharing of best practice
• Streamlines communication and information flows
• A more modernised, efficient and effective health and social care service
• Enhances public confidence
• Facilitates a co-ordinated, strategic approach
• Reduces duplication
• Improves credibility
• Creates cost and time savings

The benefits of a seamless joined up approach are undisputed and many. For instance, it enables the realisation of ideas more effectively and efficiently; it leads to a co-ordinated approach; and cross-boundary issues can be addressed in a coherent manner. However, most importantly, it provides a more inclusive and holistic service. …………….

………………Local authorities must champion the culture change necessary and successfully breakdown historical departmental barriers in order to transform the shape of the public sector and drive forward successful reforms such as joint working.

Peter O’Hara is CEO with the OLM Group, an independent supplier of information solutions for children’s and adult services.

For further information please visit, telephone 020 8973 1100 or email

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Illusion and reality, smoke and mirrors – the investment delusion

The Investment Delusion

…………………Let’s start with fundamentals: the nature of wealth. Ask ten people on the street today for a definition of wealth, and dollars will get you doughnuts every one of them will tell you that wealth consists of the possession of plenty of money. That’s what nearly everyone thinks, but they’re quite wrong, and it’s easy enough to show the fallacy.

Imagine that a private jet full of politicians makes an emergency landing on an uninhabited island in the Pacific. Each of the politicians is carrying a briefcase containing $1 million – we’ll be polite and say it’s from campaign contributions. The island has a water supply and enough natural foodstuffs that the politicians don’t have to worry about starving to death. Will the politicians on the island have a standard of living corresponding to their net worth of $1 million each? Of course not; their actual prosperity will be measured by the breadfruit they harvest, the fish they catch, the huts they make, and so on.

Money, in other words, is not wealth. It’s a social mechanism for distributing wealth. It means nothing unless there’s real wealth – actual, nonfinancial goods and services – to back it up. In a healthy market economy, there’s a rough balance between the amount of money in circulation and the amount of real wealth produced annually, and so the confusion between money and wealth can slip by unnoticed. When money and wealth get out of sync with one another, problems sprout.

The economic history of the 19th century offers a good example. The rising industrial economy of the time drove a massive increase in the production of real wealth. Most industrial nations, though, inherited money systems backed by gold reserves that offered few options for expanding the money supply to match the supply of real wealth. The result was a deflationary spiral that brought major economic depressions every couple of decades for most of the century. In response, in the 20th century, nation after nation abandoned the gold standard’s straitjacket and retooled their money systems to meet the needs of an expanding economy.

That’s the context of the present crisis because, in terms of real wealth, we no longer have an expanding economy. The production of real wealth in the world’s industrial nations has been in decline now for decades. Some of the deficit has been made up by importing real wealth from overseas, but not all; compare the lifestyle available to a single salary working class American family in 1969 to the lifestyle available to a similar family today and it’s possible to get a glimpse of just how much impoverishment has taken place over the last forty years.

This impoverishment went unnoticed by most people because the money supply didn’t follow suit. Until the economy came unglued in the second half of 2008, money had never been so abundant or readily available. Some of it got spent on real wealth, which is why real estate and other commodities soared to giddy heights, but most of it was diverted instead into various forms of abstract pseudo-wealth related to money in much the way that money relates to real wealth. Yes, I’m talking about your investments. …………

…………Thus the only investment advice I can offer is to get out of investments altogether, and put your money into something that will actually be useful: training in practical skills that will make you employable in a deindustrializing economy, for example, or extra insulation so you can keep your home livable with less energy. At this point in history, the belief that it’s possible to have your money make your living for you is basically a delusion; it’s likely to be a fairly persistent one, but those who can shake themselves free of it and adjust to life in a radically different economic reality are likely to do better than those who keep on chasing the prospects of an age that is ending around us.

full text at

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ClimateCars, reducing the resource intensity of mobility

ClimateCars: London’s Alternative Cab Service

by <!––>Kate Andrews <!––>

climate cars london, uk alternative cab service, hybrid prius cab, sustainable transportation, green design, eco-friendly cab service, carbon neutral cab fleet

Founded in June 2007 by Nicko Williamson, Climatecars is London’s eco-alternative cab service. Although the popularity of cycling around the UK capital is significantly rising, the Climatecars service is sure to help improve awareness to many Londoners who still need to use taxi services. With an ambition to combine ecology, economy and innovation, the Prius hybrid car service cuts the carbon footprint of iconic black cab rides from 243g/km to 104g/km.

More photos and full story at

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ISO14001 and resource intensity

 Standards, see below, are fine if a business understands they need to be seen as an tool of improvement, not of compliance, a way of reducing the ‘resource intensity’ of an organisation.

They can so easily become negative drivers of the ‘virtuous circle’ of continual improvement as this comment illustrates

Professional services are increasingly at the core of the problem surrounding Sustainable Development, as is the tendency of large organisations to use complexity to ‘divide and rule’. The need for a ‘unique selling point (USP)’ leads academics and professionals to sell every ‘tool’ as a solution.


Next the tendency is to enshrine these ‘tools’ in ‘standards’, which in turn become certifiable to create a ‘standards industry’, and work for them. This burdens businesses with ‘appraisal costs’, which make them uncompetitive. Far more insidious is the fact that it engenders a compliance culture, where companies live in fear of losing ‘ticks in boxes’


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British companies welcome ubrella standard – ISO14001

ISO14001 applications set to increase as companies seek shelter from a deluge of UK environmental laws.
Rachael Singh, Financial Director 23 Feb 2009

Applications to the British Standards Institute for ISO14001 environmental certification increased significantly in 2008, because companies can use it to simplify the process of adhering to various environmental legislation and requirements.

Nikki Sanne, BSI’s head of product marketing, says there has been a sharp increase in applications from companies for the certificate in the past 12 months, from FTSE-100 companies to SMEs ­ and double-digit growth in the number of applications since 2005.

Large companies, in particular, are moving towards implementing environmental polices to save on energy bills, and customers and shareholders alike are showing more interest in a company’s ethical and social responsibilities.

“Stakeholders are becoming more aware of the environmental impact companies are having and they want to know all about them,” Sanne says.

Proof of compliance
The certificate proves the holder is compliant with all applicable environmental legislation in Britain for three years from the date of issue and is used by companies, such as J Sainsbury and PricewaterhouseCoopers, to help implement an enterprise-wide environmental impact reduction strategy.

Certificated companies’ environmental management systems can be reviewed as many times as the BSI sees fit.

About 130,000 companies internationally hold an ISO14001 certificate, while in the UK the BSI certifies and audits about 5,000 annually.

It says British companies are seeing the ISO14001 certificate as an umbrella standard. Companies facing increasing pressure to comply with more laws and regulations governing carbon emissions reduction, waste management and saving energy, are turning to a more streamlined solution to compliance and cost-saving measures. The standard also covers companies’ compliance requirements, including European Emissions Trading Scheme, environmental Key Performance Indicators ­ for example, when reporting a business review ­ and the implementation of targets under the government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment.

BSI recommends that any company considering applying for ISO14001 should first conduct a company-wide review to add up the environmental impact of the business. This should include all units and divisions, assessing everything from how each of its products impacts the environment in day-to-day operations, as well as its impact in an accident or emergency.

“The first point to address is the issue of managing and reducing. You need to know where the impacts are and only when that is established can you begin working to reduce those,” says Sanne.

Once a company has reviewed its impact, it must assess its adherence to the requirements of the standard, including implementation of an environmental management system. This system should take into account everything from fuel usage and water consumption, to carbon emissions output and climate change legislation compliance. The environmental management system’s effectiveness is then audited by BSI in order to obtain certification.

The requirements
To acquire a certificate, a company must:
• Show an established and appropriate environmental policy;
• Show identification of environmental aspects arising from the organisations’ existing or planned activities, products and services;
• Identify the applicable legal requirements and other requirements to which the organisation must adhere;
• Set appropriate environmental objectives and targets;
• Establish a policy or programme to implement methods that will achieve the objectives and targets;
• Facilitate planning, control, monitoring, preventive and corrective actions, auditing and review activities to ensure the policy is complied with and that the environmental management system remains appropriate;
• Put procedures in place to deal with changing circumstances; and
• Document and maintain a continual improvement to the environmental management system

Steve Sherwood, director of infrastructure operations at PricewaterhouseCoopers, believes the international standard creates a “common language” companies can more easily adhere to, which helps businesses instill environmental discipline.

“The point of pursuing a standard is that you have to re-visit the systems and processes and manage and measure all of it,” Sherwood says. “It really helps focus your mind on the environmental management system and process priorities,” he adds.

There are a series of standards relating to the ISO14001 certificate that provide a guide for companies seeking compliance:
• ISO14004: A brief outline on developing and implementing an environmental management system;
• ISO14012: A guide to environmental audits; and
• ISO14030: Information on how to monitor and achieve targets using an environmental management system.

PwC’s Sherwood says ISO14001 is an opportunity for FDs to shout about their green credentials, as the Big Four auditor sought and achieved its own UK certificate last December.

“It’s about making that clear declaration, not just to our market but to our clients as well,” he says. “It helps the company streamline, improve and save money. It made us realise that we could be constantly learning and has given us the incentive to constantly look at our environmental management systems.”

Tags: Bsi, Iso14001, European-emissions-trading-scheme, Carbon-reduction-commitment, Carbon-emissions, Iso14004, Iso14012, Iso14030

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Introducing the Open Corporate

Beyond Public and Private

Submitted by ChrisCook on Monday, 23 February, 2009

21st Century problems cannot be fixed by 20th Century solutions”….Dr Narsi GhorbanThe Credit Crash marks the end of an era for the global financial system, and the beginning of another.  Few understand our modern banking system, but in simple terms it consists of banks as “credit intermediaries” who create credit based upon an amount of capital specified by international banking regulators…………………..

 ………………….Introducing the Open Corporate


On 6 April 2001 a new UK legal entity, the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), came into effect in order to protect professional partnerships. Confusingly, an LLP is not legally a partnership. It is, however – like a Corporation – a corporate body with a continuing legal existence independent of its members. Also, as with a limited liability company, you cannot lose more than you invest in an LLP.

The `LLP agreement’ between members is totally flexible and need not even be in writing, since simple provisions based upon partnership law apply by way of default. The LLP may truly be thought of as an “Open” Corporate, and it is being used for purposes never envisaged.

In particular, it is being used as a  framework for investment in productive assets of all kinds. LLP’s are routinely in use in the public sector, and the City of Glasgow currently has three municipal  LLP joint ventures, albeit conventionally financed.  

The Hilton Group first demonstrated the potential of an LLP framework for development and long term financing in a > £1bn plus Capital Partnership.

The Capital Partnership allows risk and reward to be shared equitably in proportional shares of production or revenues : in a good year, Hilton and Investors have a good year; and in a bad year, they share the pain.

This model has universal application, and any enterprise; whether Public or Private; commercial, social or even charitable in aims; whatever the legal form; may opt to share production or revenues in this way.

Within a Capital Partnership framework it is possible to create:

(a) Equity Shares – proportional shares which are not redeemable (there must always be 100%) but may be transferable.

(b) Units – redeemable in “money’s worth” such as Kilo Watt Hours;

and these enable entirely new mechanisms for the financing of assets of all kinds.

In particular, we may create a new class of Community-owned enterprises which allow the production or revenues from assets in Public ownership to be shared equitably as between the providers and users of finance. Let’s have a look at how this might work………………

complete article at