Corporate Social Responsibility Partnership Proposal
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Ekos is a charity specialising in carbon management and CSR solutions to New Zealand businesses. Ekos founder and CEO Dr Sean Weaver is a VUW alumni and former VUW Senior Lecturer in Environmental Studies. This Concept Note proposes one or more of the following Ekos services for the Victoria University business:
CARBON MANAGEMENT | CSR BRANDING | RESEARCH & EDUCATION
1. CARBON MANAGEMENT
Potential Ekos services to VUW include:
a) Carbon Footprint Measurement &/or verification (read more)
b) Carbon offsetting options: Carbon Neutral, Carbon Offset (e.g. offsetting a % of footprint) and Conscious Flyer (offsetting flights only) (read more by clicking on the badges below)
c) Carbon offsets sourced from Ekos supply chain of fair-trade-styled, internationally certified rainforest protection and community development projects (see below):
Rarakau Rainforest Conservation Project
Southland, New Zealand. Protecting 738ha of lowland coastal rainforest adjacent to Fiordland National Park. Certified to the ISO14064-2 Standard. This project was initiated in 2008 by Sean Weaver while then a staff member of VUW. Read More
Drawa Rainforest Conservation Project
Vanua Levu, Fiji. Protecting 2,037 ha of lowland tropical rainforest. Recipient of the SPREP-SPC award for Excellence in Implementing Island Ecosystem Management Principles. Certified to the Plan Vivo Standard. Read more.
Loru Rainforest Conservation Project
Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. Protecting approx. 800ha of lowland coastal rainforest. Certified to the Plan Vivo Standard. Read more.
These projects work by addressing conservation opportunity costs of rainforest owners as core business. The indigenous landowners are required to give up commercial timber rights in exchange for the opportunity to create and sell 'Payment for Ecosystem Service' assets (carbon offsets and Habitat Hectare units) in lieu of timber. In addition, projects are structured to involve indigenous landowners in project co-management through strengthening community-based project governance, project and business management and financial discipline. This is to reduce non-permanence risk. Furthermore, all units produced from these projects are priced transparently at cost. The purpose of this pricing model is to create an efficient commercial conservation financing model capable of generating the highest volume of environmental protection outcomes per dollar invested. These projects have been developed with the following partner organisations.
Each of these projects is the first of its kind in the respective countries, and as such Ekos supplies the only rainforest carbon offsets and Habitat Hectare units in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands (excluding PNG). The scale of the business with these three pilot projects is the production of >60,000 tCO2 carbon offsets annually with a wholesale value of ~US$600,000 annually. The goal is to grow the supply chain after securing demand side growth to outstrip existing supply.
2. CSR BRANDING
For businesses without an appetite for carbon management services, Ekos offers opportunities for corporate brand alignment with Ekos's fair-trade-styled rainforest protection and community development projects (above).
This brand alignment is structured through VUW purchasing Habitat Hectare Units (performance-based payments for ecosystem services) from the above projects and being issued with Ekos Rainforest Guardian certification.
Any volume of HH units can be purchased to fit the VUW CSR budget.
Unlike traditional corporate sponsorship, purchasing Habitat Hectare units applies a commercial conservation model. Instead of speculatively funding conservation inputs, VUW would buy conservation units "off the shelf" after the outcomes they represent have been delivered, measured, reported, and verified - this eliminates non-delivery risk and ensures the customer gets what they pay for and gets value for money. This models a revolutionary form of conservation financing tailored for risk-averse business buyers.
Like our Carbon Offsets, Ekos Habitat Hectare units are priced transparently at cost.
3. RESEARCH & EDUCATION
Ekos projects protect and enhance ecological infrastructure (e.g. rainforest and mangrove systems) for the purpose of reducing climate-related risk to human communities and to enhance human well-being, whilst delivering biodiversity and climate change mitigation co-benefits. This applies a science-based commercial conservation model, designed to unlock private sector finance for ecological infrastructure investment. This is an application of "The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity" or TEEB - a global movement in environmental financing initiated by the UN. Ekos focuses on a commercial conservation model applying performance-based Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) for delivery of outcomes defined under the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The research themes of Ekos project core business are:
a) Ecosystem service monitoring (e.g. carbon accounting, biodiversity monitoring)
b) Social impact monitoring
c) Market research to support sales and commercial conservation cash flows
d) Policy research to support integration into national and international policy frameworks
Each of these research themes can support an agenda for a research partnership with VUW. This could involve collaborations between Ekos and VUW staff/postgrad students for:
Our projects and supply programmes have been developed with our partner organisations with the following funding: €2 million from EU; USD$250,000 from ADB, AUD$80,000 from AusAID, €100,000 from German International Cooperation, and ~NZ$300,000 from the Ministry for Maori Development. Our track record of attracting international funding and the attractiveness of our projects to international funding sources suggest that a research collaboration with VUW could be mutually beneficial. Such collaboration could involve joint bids for international and domestic research funding.
STRUCTURING AND DEVELOPING A RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP
Ekos proposes that an initial meeting be held at a high level at VUW to define a strategy for scoping a multi-disciplinary research partnership. This could be followed by meetings with selected staff whose current research aligns with the Ekos research agenda, in order to recruit a team of research coordinators into the Ekos Applied Environmental Finance Research Group (or something similar). This group could then collaborate to define a research programme, identify funding sources and an action plan for funding proposals and research project implementation.
The research programme signaled above could provide opportunities for postgrad students to provide some of the human resources for research implementation. Ekos can provide co-supervision services for postgrad research projects.
The research programme could also form the basis of a teaching programme that includes modular courses in applied environmental financing - perhaps integrated into masters programmes in the Faculty of Science and the Victoria Business School, and/or professional development training for those in the environmental and corporate social responsibility sectors.
An annual symposium could also be held to promote market-based environmental financing to a wider audience and generate publicity.
As a backdrop to the Ekos capability in tertiary education, Ekos CEO Dr Sean Weaver won 6 VUW tertiary teaching excellence awards (including three times awarded best lecturer in the Faculty of Science by the Student's Association) and one national tertiary teaching excellence award (Ako Aotearoa) during his time at VUW (2001-2009).