Knowledge@Wharton and IGEL Reports

October 2018

Confronting the Reality of Climate Change

In 2014, President Barack Obama famously said, “We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.” Four years later, as Wharton’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) convened its 11th annual conference, the growing sense of urgency was palpable. The title of the conference said it all: “The End of the World as We Know It: The Consequences of Extreme Climate Disruption for Business and Democracy.”

 

February 2018

Smart City Pioneers: Forging Solutions to Early Challenges

Many share the hope that today’s troubled urban centers can be transformed into tomorrow’s smart cities. At a recent conference, “Smart Utilities: A Bridge to Smart Cities of the Future,” co-sponsored by Suez and Wharton’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL), some early pioneers in this effort shared their experiences and thoughts.

November 2017

Partners in Resilience: Constructing the Future of Sustainable Infrastructure

It will cost $3.6 trillion to repair and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, but potential financial constraints are not the only obstacle to getting the job done. In the face of increasingly extreme weather, communities can no longer afford infrastructure that is simply fixed when it breaks. They need sustainable infrastructure that offers solutions that can keep up with contemporary climate challenges. Cities worldwide are increasingly turning to private-sector partners for the long-term investment and operational expertise these new solutions demand.  This special report takes a closer look at P3 projects in Honolulu and Philadelphia, including their costs and benefits, in order to gain a better understanding of the kinds of challenges and opportunities organizations face.

 

April 2017

The Circular Economy: From Concept to Business Reality

After more than a century of linear thinking about the path products take from cradle to grave, excitement is growing among environmentalists and business leaders about the revolutionary potential of the circular economy — which fights waste by aiming to extract the maximum value from commercial goods. The recent Wharton conference on the subject, co-sponsored by Dow and Wharton’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL), brought together pioneers from industry, academia, and non-profit organizations. This report extends the discussion begun at the conference by looking more in depth at the issue.

February 2017

Driving Forward: The Future of Urban Mobility

The future of transportation could not be more exciting. Autonomous vehicle technology, car-sharing, car-hailing and other cutting edge developments are driving the next stage of urban mobility. Car rental companies and automakers are all pivoting to put long-lasting stakes in this new world. In this special report, Knowledge@Wharton partnered with Wharton’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership to examine the highlights of this transformation.

September 2016

Managing Industrial Water in the Age of Climate Change

Water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, poses special risks for industry. Business leaders and scholars explored these risks and promising solutions at a recent Wharton conference on Industrial Water Management, co-sponsored by the school’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) and Suez. This report extends that discussion, focusing on the global challenge and some of the innovative ways that the business and financial communities are responding.

December 2015

The Sharing Economy: Restacking Industry in the 21st Century

While sustainability is gaining traction in the world of healthcare, many healthcare organizations struggle with making the business case to their C-Suite. This one-day conference hosted by the Wharton Business School and Johnson & Johnson will focus on the key drivers of sustainability and explore what benefits/outcomes are most compelling to the different players. We’ll hear how companies in healthcare and other industries have succeeded at getting their CFOs and Commercial leaders to become fans of sustainability, how they have communicated the importance of sustainability to suppliers, and how they have made sustainability a differentiator in the marketplace.

September 2015

Feeding the World

There are hungry people everywhere. The situation is most dire in the developing world, where the population is slated to increase sharply by 2050, and where there is neither enough food to feed the rapidly growing population nor the infrastructure to store, transport and distribute what food there is. Dramatic urbanization further complicates the picture. The situation is very different in the U.S., which produces far more food than its relatively slow-growing population consumes, but still has millions of residents who don’t know from day to day whether or not they will have enough to eat. Common to hunger in both the developed and developing world are the twin scourges of poverty and, paradoxically, obesity (entrenched in the U.S., and rising fast just about everywhere else). But the specific challenges to feeding the hungry are different in the two regions, as are the most promising solutions.

April 2015

Making the Transition to a Low-carbon Economy

While sustainability is gaining traction in the world of healthcare, many healthcare organizations struggle with making the business case to their C-Suite. This one-day conference hosted by the Wharton Business School and Johnson & Johnson will focus on the key drivers of sustainability and explore what benefits/outcomes are most compelling to the different players. We’ll hear how companies in healthcare and other industries have succeeded at getting their CFOs and Commercial leaders to become fans of sustainability, how they have communicated the importance of sustainability to suppliers, and how they have made sustainability a differentiator in the marketplace.

October 2014

Greener Hospitals: Building Consensus for Health Care Sustainability

While sustainability is gaining traction in the world of healthcare, many healthcare organizations struggle with making the business case to their C-Suite. This one-day conference hosted by the Wharton Business School and Johnson & Johnson will focus on the key drivers of sustainability and explore what benefits/outcomes are most compelling to the different players. We’ll hear how companies in healthcare and other industries have succeeded at getting their CFOs and Commercial leaders to become fans of sustainability, how they have communicated the importance of sustainability to suppliers, and how they have made sustainability a differentiator in the marketplace.

September 2014

Sustainability in the Age of Big Data

Big data is changing everything… Including sustainability. The massive amounts of data around the sustainability space are beginning to be harnessed to deliver meaningful results to organizations’ sustainability initiatives and tackle some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. The goal of this conference-workshop was to provide insight, research perspectives, and solutions for organizations as they begin to grapple with the power of data that has the capacity to dramatically change business and sustainability initiatives.

May 2014

Investing in America’s Public Water Systems — Making Public-private Partnerships Work

The U.S. public water system needs a massive, long-deferred investment if it is to meet the needs of a growing population. Neither the public nor the private sector alone is up to the challenge, but a growing number of public-private partnerships is providing a template for how government and business together can help build, renovate and maintain the water infrastructure America desperately needs. This special report, produced by the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership and Knowledge@Wharton, looks at the key issues stakeholders need to understand.

April 2014

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Integrating Environmental and Human Health

Recognizing the importance of sustainable health care to the well-being of patients, the industry and the environment, Wharton’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) and Johnson & Johnson co-sponsored a recent conference titled, “Metrics that Matter, Messages that Motivate.” Drawing on information gathered at that conference and interviews with Wharton faculty and industry experts, this special report focuses on how organizations can find the path to best practices in health care sustainability.

March 2014

Disrupting the World’s Oldest Industry 

Nature wastes nothing. Human beings are less frugal. We have been generating garbage for thousands of years, and are only now starting to confront the reality that our waste streams are poisoning the planet. Governments have begun to regulate how we dispose of what we no longer want; large corporations are working to find sustainable solutions that are also profitable; and smaller “green” companies and non-profits are aiming for zero-waste-to-landfill, which may be as close as we can come to the example set by nature.

December 2013

The Green Sports Movement

It was Robert Redford, a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), who first suggested that sports are the key to vastly extending environmental awareness in this country. Looking back on that moment in 2004, Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the NRDC, wondered why it took so long. “It’s crazy,” he said. “It took the environmental community more than 30 years from the first Earth Day to partner with sports. It was the elephant in the room. Only 13% of Americans follow science, but 63% follow sports.”

October 2013

Disasters, Leadership and Rebuilding – Tough Lessons from Japan and the U.S.

The complex catastrophe — earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown — killed close to 20,000 people, displaced hundreds of thousands more and contaminated a large swathe of beautiful countryside for decades or longer. More than two years later, Japan is still struggling to recover and prevent even more devastation.

 

July 2013

2013-06-26-Nexus-of-Food-Energ-Water_Page_01 The Nexus of Food, Energy and Water

Given the complex relationships among all three resources — the nexus of food, energy and water — meeting these demands will require thinking in terms of systems, not silos. It will take collaborative approaches that embrace rather than battle natural processes.

 

May 2013

2013_05_The-Rapid-Rise-of-Green-Building_Page_01-234x300The Rapid Rise of Green Building

Some strategists go beyond more modest standards to the “net zero” building that generates as much energy as it uses. Cities are developing their own audit and energy management procedures, often using software unavailable 10 years ago. Clearly, green building has gone from a feel-good exercise to an impending baseline for all construction.

March 2013

Urban-Mobility-R2-2_Page_01-Copy Next Stop, Innovation: What’s Ahead for Urban Mobility?

Today, urban transit is making a comeback, as is the electric car. Congested highways still face emission concerns, but consumers now often have the choice of light and heavy rail. Car sharing, which began as a European phenomenon, has prospered in U.S. urban centers, along with bicycle sharing, vanpooling and other options.

 

September 2012

The Pathways to Sustainability in Emerging Economies

 During Wharton’s Global Alumni Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia in June, IGEL organized a panel to discuss protecting natural resources and sustainable development. The report explores government regulation, non-profit work, and the palm oil, ecotourism and pulp and paper industries.

April 2012

Creating Lasting Change: From Social Entrepreneurship to Sustainability in Retail

The report on the conference at Wharton San Francisco hosted by IGEL, the Wharton Program for Social Impact (WPSI), and the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center. The conference, and ensuing report, focus on social entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability in retail. Venture capital and hybrid philanthropy and investing models are also examined as part of social enterprise.

 


Greening the Supply Chain: Best Practices and Future Trends

A follow-up to IGEL’s April 26 “Greening the Supply Chain” conference, this report examines the low-hanging fruit companies are finding, the challenges involved, and what policy and information systems overhauls are needed.

 

 wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water at Penn

Co-sponsored by IGEL, the new journal published its first issue in April 2012. wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water at Penn is a new initiative at the University of Pennsylvania that publishes an annual online, open-access academic journal and blog focused on gender and water/sanitation issues worldwide.

 


Forest Product Eco-labeling and Certification: Efficacy and Market Drivers

Thanks to a Wharton Global Research Initiatives grant, IGEL investigated eco-labeling, certification programs and their impacts on slowing deforestation in Southeast Asia.

 

September 2011

Can Venture Capital Really Influence Environmental Sustainability?

What part can venture capital play in advancing sustainability in business? This report stems from an IGEL/Bank of America panel of the same name at the 2011 Wharton Global Alumni Forum in San Francisco.

 

March 2011

Valuing Water: How Can Businesses Manage the Coming Scarcity?

Use of fresh water has more than doubled in the past 50 years, and many fear that we are coming close to a frightening breaking point, a world where chronic water shortages for farmers, businesses and people are the norm with possible resulting regional and international conflict. Recognizing these concerns, companies are undertaking major programs to realign their water use with core business and humanitarian interests. But while objectives like being “water neutral” and using “footprinting” — tracking the use of water throughout the supply chain — are ambitious, what is being done to achieve them? Are these goals realistic, and will they have enough impact? This special report addresses these questions.

March 2010

Green Evolution: Managing the Risks, Reaping the Benefits

Many sustainability efforts can more than pay for themselves, both financially and with image-building benefits, according to an increasing number of organizations. Some of the most fertile areas of potential payback involve lowering energy and water use, and adopting product lifecycle analyses. To deliver on the promise, however, most sustainability initiatives require a long-term, strategic view and some initial investment. One of the most glitzy examples of this may be the headlong rush now underway by small, independent carmakers to develop the first widely accepted electric car.