Gem of the day

Al Gore uses his ShareAction speech to give us something to be optimistic about in the uphill battle to making capital markets sustainable:

"Here's what we've got on our side: the way markets are operating today is functionally insane."


Another non-environmental wonder

How much can you pack into a generalized statement about "Africa"? In the world of business, a lot (via BusinessWeek, of course):

“Africa is an idea, not a market," sayeth veteran IBM shareholder Richard Soultanian.

Not to be outdone, IBM's head of South African operations has this to say:

"On his desk was a newspaper article chronicling the aftermath of an August police massacre of 34 platinum miners after an illegal strike turned violent. 'My actions cannot be dictated by what is going on in the country or the marketplace,' he says."

Now that's a smart way to look at doing business in emerging markets. Get thee to the real experts before it's too late - they just might be able to help you appreciate this reality instead:

"If the local socio-political system is characterized by a lack of transparency, profound structural inequalities, deeply engrained types of social discrimination, widespread arbitrariness, omnipresent corruption or pervasive structural violence, then your actions will normally reinforce those features, even if unintentionally."



Gem of the day

When someone writes an article titled "Can Even Hated Industries Redeem Themselves with Social Media?" you know what you're getting: very expensive "crisis communications" consultancy, free from any sense of irony.

Still, inevitably it's worth reading these pieces if only for outstanding gems like this one:

"Utilities have a powerful story that simply isn’t being told. They are the engine that makes every aspect of modern life possible. They are the first responders on the front lines when Mother Nature wreaks her havoc...These are the narratives that will establish tangible consumer connections and put a human face on that flick of the switch."

Then again, what more would you expect in this particular case from the man who did PR for Guantanamo, Deepwater Horizon and the Catholic Church?


Bonus gem

More extraordinary statements from an extraordinary industry (financial services). Here's a very special one from a "financial services expert" at PA Consulting Group (via FT, where else?):

"The great core strength of banks is their ability to take an intelligent view of the value of an asset and its associated risk."

So that core purpose must have just slipped bankers' minds in what made 2012 a record year for massive risk fall-outs at the world's biggest banks:
Then again, maybe JP Morgan leader Jamie Dyman was acknowledging the bitter truth when he said this during his semi-apology to Congress:

“We’re doing what a bank is supposed to do."

Gem of the day

Sometimes a single quote can sum up everything you need to know to take the temperature of the sustainability conversation in the investment community (and yes, it does exist): the challenge, the opportunity, and the problem with that entire equation.

So thanks to JP Morgan's Head of Environmental Affairs for doing just that in a conference panel with the non sequitur title "The Power of Wall Street in Promoting Sustainable Development":

"Wall Street can only make a difference on this stuff if we figure out a way to make money on it."