About this blog …


A warm welcome to the Sustainable Development and Competitive Advantage course at Reims Management School!

In the course syllabus, you will note that 30% of the assessment is allocated to “Analysis of a journal article or company performance” and that this is an individual assignment.

This is where this blog comes in …

Between now and midnight (GMT + 1hr) on Friday 20 June, this is your space to make a contribution to your peers’ learning. Put simply, your task is to analyse, critically, articles and news reports. Other than this, I will not be too prescriptive! Indeed, this would be counter to the whole idea of a blog which is to provide an outlet for your creativity. The only real condition is that your posts must have something to do with sustainable development and competitive advantage!

In terms of grades, I will be looking for quality rather than quantity. In other words, huge slabs of text cut-and-pasted from web sites are unlikely to earn you high marks, nor will “Me too” or “I agree” responses. The main thing I am looking for is evidence of your powers of analysis and synthesis. This might be:

1. Challenging a point of view/forwarding a new perspective;
2. Relating the theory to one’s experience;
3. Offering support for a position based on the literature; and
4. Contributing to peers’ understanding.

One final point: it is quite acceptable for your contributions to be ‘comments’. It is not imperative that you initiate a blog topic.

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9 comments on “About this blog …
  1. ali4ek says:

    Canada is overly concerned about the environmental issues? Not so sure anymore…

    My sustainable development-related experience in Reims had to do with buying croissants every morning before going to the university. The croissants are quite greasy and, if left on the table in class for a while, leave unpleasant stains on the table=).

    Nonetheless, they are sold in paper bags, so the grease does come through after a while.

    In Canada, pretty much _everything_ you buy is sold in _plastic_ bags.

    So, naturally, after I had my first “greasy” morning battle with croissants, the next day I asked for a plastic bag when I was buying the pastry again.

    I was given one.
    “Normally, we do not provide plastic bags”, – the salesperson said.

    “Why, are they extra?” – I asked, willing to pay the required X cents for a bag.

    “Non, monsieur, it’s because they POLLUTE”.

    I was truly surprised and since then, keep thinking about the millions of plastic bags that are so readily provided in Canada, whether one asks for them or not.

    Alex Roitman.

  2. jeremy says:

    Here’s a google challenge for you Alex … how many tonnes of plastic bags go into landfill each year?

  3. ali4ek says:

    Yes, I read up on the plastic bags and the facts I ran into were definitely terrifying.

    Here’s one of the websites:
    http://www.plasticbagfreehebdenbridge.co.uk/content/blogcategory/17/36/

    Quote: “The world produces over 200 million tonnes plastic annually. Around half of this is used for disposable items of packaging that are discarded within a year. This debris is accumulating in landfill and the problem is growing.”

    To answer your question, Jeremy, half of over 200 million tonnes per year is over 100 million tonnes (!) that end up in landfill sites every year.

    Alex Roitman.

  4. ali4ek says:

    I liked the movie “The 11th Hour” and I was interested to find out more about Phil Cooney, mentioned in the movie in a negative sense. So I looked up for some more info and ran into this pretty cool article “Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming”, posted on June 8, 2005:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/08/politics/08climate.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1213607768-D+y7D/gAcH1fP6W6UolEaw

    The article actually provides real evidence of that Phil Cooney has edited government climate reports on a number of occasions to play down obvious correlation between gas emissions and global warming.

    Specifically, there’s an image of such a document, containing his own handwriting:

    Pretty hard evidence on the US Government not being very supportive of SD, I believe!

    Alex Roitman.

  5. shukorz says:

    Whilst reading this post, I remembered that Marks & Spencer (M&S) made an announcement last month on their CSR programme “Plan A” (See: http://plana.marksandspencer.com/index.php?action=PublicAboutPressDetailDisplay&press_id=39)

    They aim to tackle the waste problem (from excess packaging materials) by giving out recycled reusable bags, which customers should bring along when doing their grocery shopping (only?, and to charge consumers 5p for every bag requested if they didn’t. However, this is not the same for non-grocery shoppers i.e. clothings and furnitures. Why not altogether?

    They claim that all of the 1.85p profit from the sale of single use food carrier bags will be donated to Groundwork – a national charity working with partners to improve the quality of people’s lives and the places where they live, work and play.

    The implementation of M&S’s Plan A should have a reduction in cost of sales, which would reduce the price of their products. However, this was not the case.

    Was this Plan A implemented simply to add a new product on their shelves i.e. ‘the single use plastic carrier bags’?

    Was this a marketing gimmick to ride the CSR wave?

    It would be interesting to compare their financial performance: before and after the implementation of Plan A.

    I think that it would look more responsible for M&S to donate the whole 5p collected from its customers, to Groundwork – if image is what M&S is hoping for.

    On the bright side, at least they have set a realistic target (year 2012) for themselves to be carbon neutral.

    Shukor Abidin

  6. ali4ek says:

    Lastly (for tonight), I was really amused by the discussion of “current sunlight”, restricting Earth’s population under 1 billion people versus “ancient sunlight”, or energy derived from fossil fuels and the existing population of 6 billion people.

    I ran into this very interesting article on the subject, “Confronting the inevitable: Population reduction, voluntary and otherwise”, written in May 2008 by Ken Smail, Professor of Anthropology at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio:

    http://www.culturechange.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=168&Itemid=1

    Ken makes a strong argument regarding the importance of world’s population growth issue, based on two major points:

    1) the broad-scale ecological and environmental consequences of ongoing global warming effect (Ken calls these consequences to be approaching the level of “beyond all reasonable doubt”

    2) the unpredictable consequences of passing the global “production peak” of oil, gas, and coal (or, in simple words, not being able to rely on the “ancient sunlight” to the same extent)

    According to Ken, “unchecked or “insufficiently restrained” population growth should perhaps be considered the single most important feature in an admittedly complex (and synergistic) physical, ecological, biocultural and sociopolitical landscape”.

    Alex Roitman.

  7. melanie3943 says:

    I thought some of you might be interested in a recent event in Reims about sustainable development : there is a photography exposure by Yann Arthus Bertrand in the Champagne Park (near by the Pommery cellar). Yann Arthus Bertrand is well known for his amazing pictures of the planet, dealing with environmental issues.
    If you want to see more about it, go here :
    http://www.ville-reims.fr/fr/environnement/actualitesenv/en-detail/index.html?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=1807&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=25&cHash=6fb58fece6

    Melanie Touze

  8. fsingcaster says:

    Playing devil’s advocate tonight I guess… Wrt to Ken Smail’s article, I don’t find the case at all strong, and in fact sees it as a continuation of a series of population growth scares that have taken place for centuries and have always turned out to be wrong. As a counter-article, I would refer you to http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/reg17n1-taylor.html; this is a somewhat older article, but it is quite in line with Bjorn Lomborg’s Skeptical Environmentalist book, which was published a few years back and offered significant statistical analyses on resources et al (I would also note that The Economist thought he was right on most issues, though I’m not sure this is helful here…). In general, based on projected use, food and most minerals (including fossil fuels) are not about to run out anytime soon, contratry to some popular notions (not to mention the potential to substitute, e.g., copper to fiber optics), and present and near-term water shortages have generally more to do with access issue than anything else (although irrigation systems in second and third worlds apparently suffer significant losses, which could be remediated and thus improve sustainability in that are area; problem is that the financial incentive is not there yet, i.e., water is not costed appropriately – same could be said for Canada btw). And while the use of fossil fuels is certainly a significant concern for the environment, it is almost certain that within a few decades, we will transition to something much cleaner in great part (which will, admitedly, be a result of environmental pressures). The litterature I’ve seen on this in the past (albeit admitedly limited) from large organizations (e.g., UN) has certainly not reflected this view of population control needs (btw – I didn’t see any references to the Smail’s article – Did I miss them?). Of course, politics can quickly negatively impact all of this, as demonstrated by the continuing over-fishing problem…

  9. giggey says:

    If you want to see some more scary thoughts regarding plastic bags; check-out garbage island http://tinyurl.com/5un9fe

    or

    http://tinyurl.com/56f4we (for images).

    This is a area of garbage the size of Texas floating around the Pacific. Warning, what you are about to see might make you never use a plastic bag again.

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