Jargon Busters!


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BAU — Business as Usual. Often implies not sustainable.

BCI — BETTER COTTON INITIATIVE — While cotton clothing may seem a natural favorite, commercially raised cotton consumes massive amounts of water, pesticides, fertilizers and GMOs. In 2005 the BCI standard began for better cotton farming and fair trade practices (bettercotton.org). It now has participation from 24 countries, 700 suppliers and 50 retailers. It represents 12% of global cotton production.

CBD — The CONVENTION on BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY seeks to reverse the loss of biodiversity, finalized by the UN for the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. It also addresses sharing of benefits of genetic resources, such as “bioprospecting” medicines from a jungle.  Its successes have been minimal, in part because the U.S. Senate never ratified it. However, one success has been in the regulation of genetically modified organisms between countries through the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which sprang from the CBD in 2003 and was signed by 103 countries.

CIRCULAR ECONOMY — This ideal implies extended or infinite product life cycles. After satisfying its need, each product converts into another product without becoming landfill waste.

CCL — CITIZENS CLIMATE LOBBY  — This movement asks for a carbon tax and dividend to help mitigate negative impacts of industry, business and society.

CLC — CLIMATE LEADERSHIP COUNCIL — This group (different from Citizens Climate Lobby) proposes dropping certain regulations in exchange for taxing the carbon a business releases into the atmosphere. 

EARTH CHARTER INITIATIVE — This global network began in 2000 and promotes transitioning to sustainable ways of living (earthcharter.org). Headquartered in San José, Costa Rica, its ethical vision is promoted for use in communities and schools.

ENERGY-WATER NEXUS — All energy requires water to produce — some much more than others. Biofuels are particularly challenged because of water required to grow crops.

EPR — EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY Corporate execs in Canada and Europe lead. Staying competitive with secondary market materials is drawing more attention in the U.S.

EXTERNALITIES — These impacts of business on environment or society are not accounted for in the purchase price. This is loss of intrinsic value or diminishment of natural resources for private gain, without compensation for the public. Carbon taxing is one plan to account for externalities.

FSC — The FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL began at the 1992 Rio Summit. Participants pledged to source pulp and fiber from sustainable wood. The council also aims to enforce verification of “green” labels on consumer products.  

THE FIXER MOVEMENT — This trend supports repairing electronics and household items, and attempts to protect consumers’ right to do so. It includes pop-up Fixit demonstrations, legal battles for freedom of information access to online repair manuals, and exposing planned obsolescence.

GHGs — GREENHOUSE GASES are the byproduct of production of fossil fuel and include carbon dioxide and methane.  While methane is far more damaging in the first 3 decades of being introduced into the environment, it breaks down within a century, unlike CO2 that will remain for thousands of years.

GINI COEFFICIENT — Developed by Italian statistician Corrado Gini in 1912, this is the most commonly used statistical measure of income inequality. It varies between 0 and 1. A score of 0 represents when every person has equal income, while 1 is a single person holding all the income. Measured by this standard, Western Europe has a relatively low Gini coefficient and Nordic countries are the most equal societies in the world.

GLOBAL REPORTING INITIATIVE — This European movement advocates transparency of externalities in business.

IRENA — The INTERNATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY AGENCY includes 150 states. It began in 2009 with headquarters in AbuDhabi, UAE. IRENA estimates that carbon emissions from energy can be reduced 70% by 2050 with a net-positive outlook. A complete phase-out is possible by 2060. 


Which of these legacy acronyms and modern terms have you been pretending to know?

POST-ORGANIC AGRICULTURE — While organic farms avoid toxic chemicals, they often do rely on non-chemical fungicides and pesticides. Farming in vertical urban warehouses to save water, minimize pesticides and escape vulnerability to weather is a growing trend in agriculture. Bowery Farming claims a break-through in warehouse agriculture tech that grows food 100X faster and without pesticides.

RMI — The ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE in Colorado has sought to transform global energy use with global, market-based solutions in transportation, buildings and energy systems to secure a low-carbon future .

REBATCHING —This process can apply to candles, hotel soap and many other consumer items that can be recombined to make new products.

REGENERATIVE CAPITALISM — This vision and movement places a theoretical framework of holistic changes on current economic business models, beginning on a micro-level. The Capital Institute (capitalinstitute.org) launched the idea in 2015 at an event hosted by Yale University.  

SASB — The SUSTAINABLE ACCOUNTING STANDARDS BOARD, begun in 2011, is a private sector group to help investors in capital markets by promoting accounting standards that disclose companies’ sustainability information.

SEG — SOCIAL ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE — This idea promotes that for municipal governments to be eligible to access certain financial instruments for development, those towns should meet a standard  of rules to safeguard their community's natural environment. 

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS — These 17 goals targeted by the United Nations replaced the 8 Millennium Development Goals in 2016. Along with some of the ideals of MDGs, the SDGs address climate change and protection of oceans and forests.

TECHNOFOSSILS — Earth science points to a distinct geological layer being created by nonorganic trash — from ballpoint pens to sofas and building materials..

TECHNOSPHERE  — Houses, factories and smart phones all have a profound influence on the natural biosphere. This term relates to ANTHROPOCENE EPOCH, recognizing humanity’s dominant influence and alteration of the planet.

THE INTERNATIONAL BILL OF HUMAN RIGHTS — This is the totality of rights presented in the following 3 entries. . .

UDHR — UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, adopted in 1948 as the result of the Second World War. It includes 30 aspirational points, including Freedom of Thought, Food and Shelter, Education, Copyright, Public Assembly, and a Fair and Free World.

ICESCR — INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL & CULTURAL RIGHTS is a multilateral treaty that became international law in 1976. It is part of the International Bill of Human Rights.

ICCPR — INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL & POLITICAL RIGHTS  also became international law in 1976 and is part of the International Bill of Human Rights.

UNITED NATIONS MILLENNIUM DECLARATION — In New York in 2000, 189 countries agreed to time-bound and quantified targets for sustainable development and protection of economy, society and the environment. From this historic event came the 8 MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS to be achieved by 2015, aimed at reducing poverty, hunger and disease. To help them attain these goals, heavily indebted poor countries received billions in canceled international loans. In 2016 these goals were replaced with 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.

W2E — WASTE-TO-ENERGY is the process of converting methane from sludge, or agricultural byproducts to power.