One World Newsletter November 2004 Vol 1 No.1

Environmental, Social and Business Development Issues

Welcome to our first newsletter "One World". This is a monthly publication dedicated to providing you with knowledge and information to raise your awareness about sustainable development issues facing us in the contemporary world.

Most of the issues discussed are from within Australia, however as the theme is "One World" we will be providing information from all over the world.

We understand that you are very busy, so the information we provide you is comprehensive, concise and apposite.

We are a an independent consulting group and we are not affiliated with any religious or political organisations. In fact, we pride ourselves on our religious and political irreverance.

Our mission is to raise your awareness on sustainablity issues throughout the world, through independent, factual information, helping you can make the right choices to empower yourself in the uncertain times ahead.

Our information is sourced from a range of sources including journals, white papers, media articles and websites from around the world, to ensure you get a wide cross-section of articles, that are interesting, informative and most importantly balanced and as factual as possible.

So, sit back and enjoy the reading. If you know someone that may be interested in this newsletter please forward it to them. If you enjoy our newsletter and would like to receive it every month please subscribe to it as it doesn't cost anything, however we do rely on your support to keep it going and worth our while to keep producing the best publication we can.

With Regards

Tobi Nagy
Director of SDS Consulting

P.S. If you have any information regarding sustainable development issues that you would like to see published please forward it on or send it to us via email.

P.P.S. You feedback is also kindly appreciated.


Index _________________New? Would you like to subscribe now

1. Sustainable Development- "What's it all about?"
Sustainable Development is a much used "buzz word", what does it really mean?

2. "Water, Water everywhere but not a drop to drink"
Information on our global water supply

3. Sea Change
Australians love of coastal living is leading to some serious environmental degradation

4. Child Sex Tourism
Imagine if half of Australia's entire population was forced into the sex industry?

5. How to survey you market
Research is the cornerstone of any successful marketing and sales effort. So how do you conduct market research into your product or service?

6. What does and doesn't sell online
Unfortunately, selling online is not as simple as merely offering your existing products and services on your website.

7. Preview of contents of our next month's newsletter


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1. What is Sustainable Development?
Sustainable Development is a much used "buzz word", loved by Government bureaucracies. But what does it mean to you and your business?

For too many years large businesses, run by "bean counters", have only focused on the bottom-line of returning a profit for their shareholders at the expense of their greatest asset people. Moral and social responsibilities have all but vanished, with the current point being James Hardie Corporation. Bottom Line profits have been detrimental to environmental, social and cultural responsibility by these corporations. However, things must change!

The ramifications of which, over the last forty years, have seen a shift in wealth, which has lead to increased poverty worldwide, through mechanisms such as globalisation and World Bank debt. All this in the name of development, trade and our desire to have cheaper consumables to deal with our status anxiety.

The Brundtland Commission (1997) defined Sustainable Development as: "Development, which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".
At its heart is the simple idea of ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come. The concept of sustainable development has been around for a number of decades.

Why do we need sustainable development?
The need for development is as great as ever, but future development cannot simply follow the model of the past. This is true for the world as a whole, and for every community in this country.
The global picture is alarming. A quarter of the world's people survive on incomes of less than US$1 a day. A fifth have no access to health care. A huge challenge already, it may seem, it is only becoming harder; whilst the world's population is increasing and will increase by half again, (another three billion people), by 2050.

So what do we need to focus on?
Although the idea is simple, the task is substantial. It means meeting four objectives at the same time:
1. Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone;
2. Effective protection of the environment; (After all we still need to breathe fresh air and drink clean fresh water)
3. Prudent use of natural resources;
4. Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.

Quadruple Bottom Line (QBL)
For businesses the QBL has become a powerful defining factor for operation this century. The quadruple bottom line takes into consideration the following factors:
1. Environmental
2. Social
3.Cultural (including governance)
4. Economic.

Some say that sustainable development is dead with the current wave of conservative ideals and economic prosperity throughout the world. A "What's In It for Me" (WIIFM) attitude. However this is only the current paradigm for this cycle.

After all, if environmental, social and cultural factors are not considered, then business operation cannot be sustained. Industrial growth can never be sustained over long periods, due to its cyclic nature and as all resources are finite. Mathematically it is impossible. This may account for why the average length of time Australian Companies stay in operation is only 12 years.

If you own or run a business, now is the time to take a stand for QBL principles and your environmental responsibility through waste minimisation, energy analysis, reduced rework and handling through quality plan implementation and an increase in social responsibility to increase morale, reduce absenteeism and improve overall work performance, for example. Governments of the day must also stand up for cultural responsibility through good governance and a wider understanding of people's needs, desires and goals in life.

Not only will you live up to your environmental and social responsibilities, but you may also save money through increased efficiency and productivity, and hence, increase your bottom line anyway.

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2. "Water, Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink"
Fresh water, or rather the lack of it, is Australia's biggest environmental challenge it currently faces.

Scientists recently have suggested that Sydney, at its current water storage level, has only three years of supply left.
This has made the Carr Government jump to action by looking at the feasibility of building a desalination plant. A $350 million dollars pilot program is already under way at Kwinana in West Australia, which will be powered by gas. Victoria is also looking at the feasibility of building such a plant. Is this the way to go?

The lack of fresh water is not just Australia's domain. From studies of worldwide water supplies, summarised in the table below, indicate that less than 0.3% is accessible freshwater, with only 0.01% available through freshwater lakes, the majority of which are man-made reservoirs built for drinking supplies.

Percentage of Earth's Water occurring in aquatic systems

Source of water
Estimated % worldwide
Oceans
97.6
Ice
<2.1
Exchangeable ground & soil water
<0.3
Freshwater lakes
0.01
Saline lakes
0.01
Atmospheric water vapour
0.001
Rivers
0.0001

Source: Dr. Lill, Monash University Earth Sciences Dept

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3. Sea Change
Australia's love of coastal living is leading to some serious environmental problems, as more and more Australians are choosing to build along coastal areas.

This is leading to the leaching of acid soils, which is degrading our coastline, marine life and infra-structure.
Australian coastal soils have a high Pyrite content and when disturbed through excavation and construction is leading to the natural production of sulphuric acid, which is then washed down to the rivers and sea causing heavy environmental damage.

What is Pyrite?

Pyrite (FeS2) is a common mineral found in soils around the coast of Australia. It is brass yellow in colour and has a metallic lustre. In industry, Pyrite is used to manufacture sulphuric acid (H2S04), which is widely used in the production of fertilisers, steel, explosives and petrochemicals.

  • In soil Pyrite is relatively benign, but when disturbed and exposed, it reacts with oxygen and water in the environment to produce sulphuric acid. One tonne of pyrite gives 1.6 tonnes of sulphuric acid.

How much Pyrite do we have?
Australia has some 40,000 sq km of coastline and CSIRO research has estimated there is one billion tonnes of pyrite in Australia's coastal soils, potentially leading to serious environmental degradation in the near future as our coasts are opened up to more and more development

What are the effects of sulphuric acid on the environment?
Sulphuric acid is toxic to aquatic life and organisms and can destroy infrastructure leading to costly repairs. It is known to:

  • Kill fish
  • Release potentially dangerous arsenic and aluminium in shellfish such as oysters, which are later consumed
  • Eat away at concrete bridges, structures and footings
  • Eat away at road structures and steel structures such as bridge pylons.


What are we doing to fix the problem?
The CSIRO are undertaking studies to map where the reactive soils occur. They are determining what are the properties of the soil, then mapping key "hotspots".

  • Some State Governments are putting planning policies in place to limit the development of these key sensitive areas.
  • Where the damage has already occurred, state governments are rehabilitating the soils and the environment, which is extremely costly.

Government Policies
Victoria, Queensland, NSW and South Australia have government planning policies in place.

  • The South Australian Government has only put in place limited "fringe" policy and needs to address the issue on a broader scale.
  • In West Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania no such policies exist.

As an island country, it is imperative that these planning policies are introduced in key sensitive areas.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation is a large task and already in parts of Cairns and South Australia, small areas are costing millions of dollars to repair.

Source: Dr Rob Fitzpatrick- CSIRO
For further information check the CSIRO website

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4.Child Sex Tourism
Imagine if half of Australia's entire population was forced into the sex industry?
  • It's hard to imagine, yet around 10 million children - mainly girls - are subject to forms of sexual exploitation worldwide.

That's equivalent to half of Australia's entire population. A further one million children enter the commercial sex trade each year.

  • Sexual exploitation of children is one of the darkest abuses in our world. Some children are directly involved in commercial sexual activity, while others are subject to abuse while working as domestic servants or in other forms of labour.

It is devastating, but not inevitable. Strong measures are beginning to bring positive outcomes for vulnerable children worldwide.
In many countries there is a large domestic market for commercial sexual exploitation of children. In most areas the largest demand comes from locals.
Sadly there is also an international market for the sexual services of children, where visitors from richer countries visit poorer countries to exploit children. This is known as child sex tourism.

  • More than 250,000 sex tourists visit Asia each year, with 25 percent coming from the United States, 16 percent from Germany and 13 percent from both Australia and the United Kingdom.
  • Both girls and boys are exploited, though girls are more often victims. Most offenders are men, although women can be involved.

Tourism doesn't cause child sexual exploitation, but it does increase opportunities for it to happen. It's easy for tourists to dismiss sex with children as a 'bit of fun' while on vacation.
Often travellers feel they exist outside the rules of their own country as well as those of the one that they're visiting. But what they are doing is exploiting vulnerable children.

Poverty plays a huge role in this fuelling sexual exploitation of children. When families are struggling to find enough to eat, children or their parents may be lured by the promise of cash or the opportunity of a job.

  • Children may also be victims of family breakdown or homelessness, drawn into the sex industry as a means of economic survival.
  • Children are generally more vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation in poorer countries. Their rights are not adequately protected and laws preventing their exploitation are often not enforced.

Well-organised child sex industries exist in the poorer nations in Asia, Africa and Central and South America. More recently industries have also emerged in Eastern Europe and the Pacific.

Unfortunately, as authorities crack down on abuse in one country, sexual exploitation including child sex tourism often moves to another with fewer legal measures against it.

The rights of children

The commercial sexual exploitation of children is universally condemned as an abuse of human rights, banned under international conventions including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  • Sexual exploitation violates children's rights to protection, development and even survival - for example in cases where children contract a disease like HIV/AIDS.

Children suffer both from the consequences of forced and unsafe sex, and associated harms like threats and beatings, confinement, and a lack of healthcare or education.

  • It's shocking to realise how many Australians are involved in child sex tourism. It's also a reminder of our need to take responsibility for the issue.
  • In 1994, a law was passed making it illegal for Australians to have sex with children overseas.

There have been several successful prosecutions, but it may also have made offenders act more cautiously. However, the extensive publicity surrounding the prosecutions has raised public awareness and sent a message that child sex tourism is not tolerated.
There are also organisations working hard on the issue. World Vision is running public awareness campaigns in countries such as Cambodia, Thailand and Costa Rica aimed at potential child sex tourists visiting those countries.

Child Wise is another Australian organisation working at home and overseas to end child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Gradually, child sex tourism is being tackled by the tourism industry, governments and independent organisations devoted to ending the practice. The World Tourism Organisation has a clear code of conduct against child sexual exploitation.

But individuals also have a part to play. People can ask their local travel agent if they're aware of the issue and have trained their staff to deal with approaches from potential offenders.

Australians can report offenders to the Federal Police on 1800 813 748 or Child Wise on 1800 991 099, which can lead to prosecutions.

  • Finally, the link between poverty and the sexual exploitation of children can be addressed.

An increase in Australia's foreign aid budget, and donations to overseas development programs, can change the situation that sees impoverished children tricked or forced into exploitation.

Material in this page was drawn from the work of Child Wise. Further information on Child Wise can be found at www.childwise.net.

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5. How to survey your market
Research is the cornerstone of any successful marketing and sales effort.
So how do you conduct market research into your product or service?


Thorough market research provides a great deal of information about potential and existing customers, competition, and the industry in general. It allows you to determine the overall feasibility of a business before making a substantial investment in the venture. Failure to conduct market research is like driving a car with a dirty windshield. You may not see what's ahead of you until it's too late.

The purpose of market research is to provide relevant data that will help solve marketing problems your business might encounter. This is absolutely necessary in the start-up phase. Conducting thorough market surveys is the foundation of any successful business. In fact, strategies such as identifying specific segments within a market and creating an identity for your product or service that separates it from your competitors, would be impossible to develop without market research.

Market research allows you to:

  • See if a market exists for your product or service.
  • Define the size of the market you've identified.
  • Identify typical customer characteristics.
  • Analyse market trends.
  • Keep tabs on your competition.
  • Give your customer what they want, as opposed to what you want to give them.
  • Realistically set your pricing structure.

The market research process can be broken down into specific stages:

  • Determining the problems that must be solved.
  • Determining which problems require research.
  • Listing the goals and objectives that market research will help you to achieve.
  • Identifying the type of data that you need to gather to meet those goals.
  • Planning the method you will use to acquire the desired information.
  • Defining the sample audience that will best provide you with the information required.
  • Conducting your market research and gathering the information.
  • Analysing the data.

Finally, you will need to develop conclusions based on the information gathered, and determine a course of action.

How to do a market survey
There are four primary research methods you can use for gathering information. They are:
1. The historical method - which relies on past data to define current conditions. This is particularly useful when seasonality (factors such as school holidays or religious holidays) affects your business.
2. The observational method - which uses current data to predict future conditions.
3. The experimental method - which tests the effectiveness of specific marketing activities.
4. The market survey - which is by far the most prevalent research method.

A thorough market survey will help determine a reasonable sales forecast for your business and help you determine the best area in which to locate.

Basic steps to assess market
Here are the basic steps you need to take to assess your market and make a forecast:
1. Determine the area(s) in which you would most like to locate your business.
2. Where are your customers coming from?
3. Study the population within this area to determine its social and demographic attributes.
4. Take into account the size, family structure, age of residents and projections of age and type of resident likely to be there in the next 5 to 10 years.
5. Determine the area's socio-economic characteristics.
6. Look at things such as the buying power of residents, common occupations, lifestyle, marital status, education, religion, culture, preferences, etc.
7. Determine the present number of similar businesses in the area or surrounding areas and estimate sales volume and customers for the type of products or services you want to offer.
8. Estimate the proportion of the total sales volume and the total number of customers you could realistically obtain by locating your business in the area.

Step 5 is extremely important. Opening your business in a particular area does not guarantee additional business volume; it may simply redistribute what is already there.

Source: Entrepreneurial Business Centre

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6. What does and doesn't sell online
Unfortunately, selling online is not as simple as merely offering your existing products and services on your website.

Before you create your website, you must have something to offer your customers.
As many dotbomb businesses discovered, not all products and services are attractive to the online consumer. Additionally, your products have to be presented in a way that appeals to the customer, as well as providing a profit for you, of course. As a result, you have to consider:

  • What doesn't sell well online
  • What does sell successfully
  • How does this relate to your existing business?

Products that don't sell well over the Internet are frequently those requiring some interaction by the buyer before a purchase is made.
Buyers are reluctant to purchase online if they think this will inconvenience them in anyway.

  • Consequently, products which don't sell are generally those that: Need to be touched, smelt, held, handled, tasted, etc in order to assess their worth
  • Are not accompanied by sufficient information to reassure the customer about quality
  • Are not as convenient to purchase online as they are offline.
  • Are not accompanied by a convenient way to return the product if it proves unsatisfactory

Dress fabrics are a good example. A fabric purchaser usually goes through a process of touching, weighing, comparing colours, and assessing how the fabric hangs before making a final decision. They are unlikely to consider online fabric shopping.

However, this does not mean that all fabrics can't be sold online. Bulk quantities of fabric may well sell successfully if the buyer has used or previously had samples of the fabric.

What does sell online?
On the other hand, the most successful products and services are those offering the consumer a benefit. Frequently, they are:

  • Unique or usually difficult to locate products
  • A known brand or product
  • Are accompanied by considerable additional information to aid decision-making. This is particularly true for more expensive items, such as electronic and other types of technology.
  • Convenient to buy online. Make buying convenientBecause today's pace of life is so hectic, people value anything which makes their lives easier. Most people will often take the easiest course of action when making a purchasing decision, even if this means the product ends up costing them slightly more than they would have paid elsewhere.

Convenience, therefore, is often the key as to why and where people choose to shop.
It is unlikely consumers will change their existing shopping patterns unless they feel they will gain considerable benefit from doing so.

  • You should be able to analyse what will only sell if your customer can see, feel, touch, smell or taste, etc.
  • On the other hand, some products, such as fruit and vegetables, are so common that the item can be chosen without any physical interaction.

For instance, there has recently been an increase in grocery "stores" online because most shoppers are used to the different products available. They don't need to feel an orange to know what it is or check the labels on the back of health foods, and feel confident purchasing these items online.

Now that you have a better idea of what does or doesn't sell online, you should consider your own products and services.

  • Analyse the products or services you want to offer online.
  • See if there is any way in which you can add value to them so they'll be more attractive to your online customers.
  • Once you have an idea of how the online shopping experience works, there are steps you can take to help improve your chances for Web success.
  • Try and put yourself in the position of an online customer and see if you can work out what they will need to know in order to buy from you.
  • Remember that convenience is an overriding factor.

Online fruit and vegetable stores, for example, are successful if they make it convenient for their customers to shop through their website.

  • Identify any product that is likely to appeal to an online customer.

You can then assess whether you need to go one step further such as offering your products cheaper than your competitors or guaranteeing next day delivery, etc.

  • Put yourself in the position of the customer and analyse how you, as this customer, would justify making a purchase.
  • Perhaps you could offer free delivery to customers within a 20 km radius as an added incentive to buy.

A report presented by Cyber Dialogue shows that free freight and delivery is the third major reason why some online businesses attracted repeat customers.

  • The first two factors were security of information and price.
  • Make a list of your current products and see if they could fill a "niche market".

Try and work out if:

  • They would usually require on-the-spot assessment
  • They are a known quantity
  • They are hard to find elsewhere
  • Any of them would appeal to a select market who will go out of their way to purchase these products
  • They can be "value added" to make them more attractive online.

However, this is still a preliminary process as a number of additional factors have to be taken into consideration. The aim is for you to consider what products are worthwhile offering to your internet customers.

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7. Preview of the contents of our next month's newsletter

1. Sustainable Businesses Checklist
2.
World's Frogs are in danger of disappearing
3.
The Benefits of Ethanol as a renewable source of fuel
4. Creating a fairer world
5. Developing a brand or image for your business
6. Nine Nightmare Bosses

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Published by SDS Consulting 2004
Copyright SDS Consulting 2004 All rights reserved
www.sustainable-development.net

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