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Environmental stewardship strategies for green economic recovery

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economies to fall. To bounce back, the Philippines has adopted a whole-of-society approach in turn-around management. A basic advantage of the Philippines is its cohesive private sector that has taken the lead and has quickly channeled resources towards the most vulnerable communities. This softened the impact on the people especially during the early weeks of the lockdowns.

The Philippine government, like all others around the world, was unprepared for the pandemic but, nevertheless, enforced policies and social amelioration measures to help people get by. After many months of suspended economic activity, it is time to get up and move again. But instead of just kick-starting the economy, a calibrated shift to a green economic recovery makes good practical sense. As the world tries to overcome the pandemic through a “back-to-basics” and green lifestyle, there is a great opportunity to sustainability change the wasteful economy we have all been used to.

During a virtual discussion recently organized by the think tank Stratbase ADR Institute and the Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship, Congressman Elpidio Barzaga, Jr., together with Undersecretaries Juan Miguel Cuna and Analiza Teh of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), called for greater stakeholder involvement towards a green economic recovery, which promotes sustainable development and ensures that the environment is not compromised.

Mr. Cuna stated that the country’s recovery period is an opportunity to transition to a new socio-economic model that is climate-neutral, resilient, sustainable, and inclusive. He reported their push for possible legislative initiatives such as amending the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and the Wildlife Act. Likewise, Ms. Teh underscored the need to structure systems that would enable people to live with smaller carbon footprints, particularly by investing in sustainable infrastructure to ensure long-term impacts. The government should also develop economic recovery packages to support the most vulnerable sectors and promote innovations for clean energy.

The 2011 Green Economy Report of the United Nations Environment Program states that “to be green, an economy must not only be efficient, but also fair.” Being fair means recognizing a country’s peculiarities in transitioning to an economy that is less dependent on carbon and more efficient in the use of resources. Most importantly, the shift to a green economy should be socially inclusive.

Some private business groups that have embraced the call for a green economy are Coca-Cola Philippines, Metro Pacific Investments, Prime Metroline Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Meralco, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, and the Ayala Group. These companies commit to the principle that sustainability is not just a statement for corporate social responsibility; rather, it is integral to their business models. Human, economic, and environmental health must harmonize with business decisions and operations. Companies must go beyond their core services to provide for those who are in need.

It is imperative to shift from the linear model to the circular economy. There is an increasing need to invest in the long term and focus on infrastructure to better the lives of the people. Even the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure development program could take some better turns with the construction of large covered elevated walkways along EDSA and other high-traffic areas instead of just highways for motorists. Local governments can probably replicate the Ayala Group’s transformation of the Makati central business district to encourage a healthy “walking culture” by building elevated walkways linking the workplace to public transport terminals.

Green growth is not limited to the use of electric vehicles and online activities such as virtual meetings, work-from-home arrangements, or e-commerce. It encompasses a wide range of behavioral lifestyle choices.

Indeed, as what Stratbase ADR Institute President Prof. Dindo Manhit stated during the virtual discussion, the emerging green sector can be tapped to generate jobs for workers who have been displaced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government could provide fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to attract green investments and projects that would not only contribute to economic growth, but also help conserve the environment and our natural resources. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) is the right fit for these ventures to materialize.

Collective effort towards reviving the economy will need the right policies and infrastructure to support this kind of sustainable turn-around. Once sustainability has been deeply embedded in business operations and in our everyday lives, then not only will costs be minimized, but the destruction of our planet can be averted as well. Along this line, environmental stewardship must be the centerpiece in creating a better and more resilient new normal.

The disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic punctuate the urgency to change our ways. With a private sector that takes the initiative and the people’s support, the government should focus on creating the policy infrastructure to get things done well and swiftly.

 

Venice Isabelle Rañosa is the Research Manager at Stratbase ADR Institute.



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How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse

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When AG Hair moved into its new, 70,000-sq.-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Coquitlam, B.C., two years ago, it was part of a plan to supercharge expansion of its hair care product line to salons in international markets. Europe was next on its list. Then COVID-19 hit.

Not only was the European expansion put on hold, but salons in major markets across Canada and the United States were temporarily closed. Very few were purchasing hair products, so manufacturing was halted in mid-March, leaving most of the company’s 82 employees out of work.

AG Hair could have waited out the pandemic but instead decided to lean into its entrepreneurial culture and make a sharp pivot. It began providing hand-sanitizing products for front-line health-care workers, addressing a global shortage.

“We realized there was this massive need for health-care professionals, and we wanted to make a difference and be able to provide them with the products they needed,” says AG Hair CEO Graham Fraser.

AG Hair received Canadian and U.S. approvals a week after applying for the licences needed to make sanitizer, and produced samples to show local authorities within 48 hours.

AG Hair’s Coquitlam facility has pivoted to making hand sanitizer (Photograph by Alana Paterson)

“That rapid response time, and the fact that we had gone through all of the Health Canada regulatory hurdles, showed [the local health authorities] that we were a partner they could trust and someone they could look to, to deliver the products they needed,” Fraser says.

Within a month, the company started pumping out the products, first for the health-care industry, then for consumers on its own website and on Amazon. About 10 per cent of AG Hair’s hand-sanitizer production also went to people in need, as identified by organizations such as United Way.

Parallel 49 Brewing Company is also using AG Hair’s Coquitlam manufacturing facility to produce its own blend of liquid hand sanitizer for front-line health and emergency workers, in partnership with the B.C. government.

Fraser credits his team for its energy and creativity in making the hand-sanitizer production happen, and helping put AG Hair staff back to work.

“We realized we had an opportunity . . . and then it became this incredible, almost war-room mentality and collaboration with our owners, our executive team and our people to say, ‘How are we going to get through this?’ ” Fraser recalls. “I think our success speaks to the type of people we have and the entrepreneurial spirit of pursuing every avenue we have, understanding how we can produce the products and making it happen.”

AG Hair’s commitment to investing in future growth is a big part of what makes it a Best Managed company, says Nicole Coleman, a partner at Deloitte and co-lead of its Best Managed Program in B.C.

“Capability and innovation come through quite strongly with this company,” says Coleman, who is also AG Hair’s coach at Deloitte. “I don’t think they would be able to pivot as quickly if they weren’t so strategic and had the internal capabilities to do it.”

The manufacturing facility was a big investment, but one Coleman says has already paid dividends.

“They were looking forward with a strategic plan in mind about future growth and how they could expand, rather than just focusing on the day to day,” she says. “Best Managed companies are always pushing the envelope and are conscious about planning for the future.”

AG Hair was founded in Vancouver in 1989 by hairstylist John Davis and graphic artist Lotte Davis. The husband-and-wife team began bottling hair products in their basement and selling them direct to salons from the back of a station wagon.

The company eventually moved its manufacturing off-site, to a third party. One day, John went to watch the operations and was surprised to see salt being poured into the mixture. Although he was told salt is commonly used as a thickener, he didn’t like the potential side effects of dry hair and skin.

It was at that moment John decided the company would oversee its own manufacturing. “Through that experience, John also became an expert in product development,” says Fraser, who came to the company in 2000 as director of sales.

After having worked for more than two decades at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods, Fraser was eager to work at a smaller, more agile company where he felt he could help make a difference.

“It was perfect because I got to bring a lot of structure and process that I learned in those organizations, but I also learned an awful lot about being an entrepreneur from John and Lotte: that sense of urgency, the decision-making process, the need to get things done and drive things forward and pursue opportunities,” he says.

Fraser has helped drive AG Hair’s expansion into the U.S. and internationally, including Australia, Taiwan, and Central and South America. A portion of its sales go to One Girl Can, a charity founded by Lotte that provides schooling, education and mentoring for girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fraser also oversees the development of new, trending products, including a new deep-conditioning hair mask made with 98 per cent plant-based and natural ingredients. Hand-sanitizing spray and gel will be the latest addition to the company’s product lineup.

“We don’t see the demand [for hand-sanitizing products] going away,” he says. “As the isolation policies start to get lifted, people are going to need forms of security and protocols as they get back into regular life and work. We see there’s going to be a need for these types of products long-term.”


This article appears in print in the June 2020 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Working out the kinks.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.

The post How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse appeared first on Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News.



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Walgreens Reports $1.7B Quarterly Loss, Cuts 4,000 Jobs Due To Covid-19 Impact

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Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA) reported a $1.71 billion quarterly loss and announced 4,000 jobs cuts due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic sending shares down 8%.The stock dropped to $39.01 at the close on Thursday after the drugstore chain operator announced that it will also suspend its share repurchase program and will need to take a non-cash impairment charge of $2 billion mainly as result of the COVID-19 impact on its Boots UK business. As part of a restructuring plan to cut costs, Walgreens said it will close 48 of its Boots opticians stores and lay off 4,000 employees, or 7% of its workforce.Net loss was $1.71 billion, or $1.95 per share, in the three months ended May 31, versus a profit of $1.03 billion, or $1.13 per share, in the year-earlier period. Analysts on average had expected adjusted earnings of $1.19 per share. Revenue rose 0.1% to $34.6 billion.“Prior to the pandemic our financial performance for fiscal 2020 was on track with our expectations. However, this unprecedented global crisis led to a loss in the quarter as stay-at-home orders affected all of our markets,” Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina said. “Shopping patterns are evolving more rapidly than ever as consumers further embrace digital options, spurring us to accelerate our ongoing investments in digital transformation and neighborhood health destinations.”Walgreens total digitally initiated sales rose 22.7% in the third quarter, compared with the same period last year. The drugstore chain recently formed a strategic partnership with Microsoft (MSFT) and Adobe to launch a marketing technology and customer data platform for personalized healthcare and shopping experiences.Earlier this week, Walgreens announced that it will be expanding the size of its care clinics by nearly 700 retail stores over the next few years as part of an overhaul of its business model from being primarily a drug pharmacy to a primary care clinic.With Walgreens’ stock down now 34% year-to-date, analysts are sidelined on the stock. The Hold analyst consensus shows an unanimous 4 Hold ratings. Looking ahead, the $47.75 average price target implies 22% upside potential from current levels. (See Walgreens stock analysis on TipRanks).Morgan Stanley analyst Ricky Goldwasser earlier this month cut the stock’s price target to $45 from $49 and reiterated a Hold rating, saying that investors are weighing whether, or not the challenges the company is exposed to are valued into the shares.Goldwasser remains cautious for now and lowered her full-year per share earnings forecast by 8 cents to $5.48. The analyst expects Walgreens to report EPS of $1.16 in the fourth quarter, which is slightly below consensus estimates.Related News: Costco June Sales Beat Estimates As Shoppers Go Online; Top Analyst Raises PT Lookout Walmart, Amazon Is Coming for Your Grocery Customers, Says Analyst Walmart To Launch Online Subscription Service For $98 Per Year- Report More recent articles from Smarter Analyst: * Moderna Inks Deal With Rovi To Supply Potential Covid-19 Vaccine Outside U.S. * Sony Invests $250M For Minority Stake In Fortnite Maker Epic Games * Amazon: Top Analyst Raises Estimates… Again * GenMark Diagnostics (GNMK) Stock Is a Winner, But How Much Higher Can It Go?



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Why Beijing is trying to tame China’s runaway stock markets

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China’s stock markets marked their first decline in eight days on Friday, ending a more than weeklong run that saw some stocks reach multiyear highs and featured record-breaking initial public offerings.

Bullish encouragement from Chinese state media kicked off the mainland’s stock market rally. State media outlets then tempered their tone late this week in an attempt to rein in speculation, telling investors to think about the long term, days after predicting a “healthy” bull market.

China’s securities regulator also issued a note of caution on Wednesday when it warned investors of risks in margin financing, a practice where brokers lend money to investors to buy stocks.

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The regulator listed 258 margin lending groups that it said were illegal and told investors not to use such financing. Margin financing is rising at the fastest rate since 2015, according to Bloomberg data, and illegal margin lending is seen as a primary reason for China’s 2015 stock market crash.

Some analysts said the initial bullishness from state news outlets was to help boost consumer spending and China’s economic recovery from the coronavirus slowdown, the Financial Times reported.

But the frenzy of trading this week raised fears of a repeat of the stock market bubble that formed in late 2014 and burst in June 2015.

State media had also encouraged bullish investors in the run that preceded the 2015 crash, when the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges fell more than 40% in the following months. Altogether, the collapse wiped $5 trillion in market cap off China’s exchanges. Beijing ousted the head of the securities regulatory commission, on whose watch the crash occurred, in February 2016.

Stock markets in China are dominated by millions of individual investors. They account for 70% of stock transactions across China’s exchanges and are known for sometimes contributing to market volatility by trading on rumor and a “get rich quick” mentality. Since June 30, China’s stock market has added more than $1 trillion in value.

The Shanghai Composite rose 16.5% for eight days straight on Thursday. Even with Friday’s dip, it’s still up 17.8% since its June low. (The Nasdaq is up 8.4% for the same time period). Friday’s trading was likely also dampened by the U.S. government’s decision to sanction Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses against the Uyghur ethnic minority group, a move that will ratchet up U.S.-China tensions. China has already said it would retaliate.

The week’s market frenzy led to some remarkable listings. One Chinese tech firm, QuantumCTek, surged 924% on its trading debut in Shanghai on Thursday, setting a record for the largest first-day jump of any Chinese IPO. The Star board, which QuantumCTek debuted on, has no trading limits on the first five days of a company’s IPO.

Hopeful economic recovery data coming out of China also buoyed investor confidence this week. China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose for a fourth straight month in June, according to official data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

Manufacturing PMI, which represents factory activity, is taken as an important indicator of economic performance. The figure plunged 14.3 percentage points in February during nationwide coronavirus shutdowns.

More must-read international coverage from Fortune:



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