Hanken School of Economics podcasts can be found here.
Sustainability Unwrapped: Is human rights a happy topic?
Human rights impact of business activities is one of the hot topics of today. While the discussion has roots as far back as the times of Dutch East India Company (early 17th century), the landscape is still rocky and contentious, and different types of tensions embedded in the discussion are hard to escape.
Human rights issues, particularly within the context of companies’ supply chains, have been broadly recognized. However, since supply chains are increasingly located in Global South, the responsibility of addressing them has been a hot potato few companies have been willing to ‘own’ fully.
The approaches companies have adopted to various human rights challenges they face through their activities are varied, as there is no binding regulation that would steer the companies in these aspects. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) were launched in 2011, but still, nine years later, there is little concordance as to the level and means business enterprises implement these guidelines. This has spurred on the growing interest in this topic and given rise to new ideas of how to go about charting the terrain.
Also, Finland has taken a closer look at the Finnish business’ human rights performance in an ongoing SIHTI-project, which has used the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) methodology to obtain a comprehensive and in-depth overview of how Finnish companies are fulfilling their human rights responsibility.
The SIHTI-report will be published on 18 January 2021, and a corresponding publishing event will be streamed online on 26 January at 9-11 am. The event will be held in Finnish, and you can register here.
This interesting podcast, which features discussion between the project research team, discusses both SIHTI, the CHRB-methodology, and human rights questions in relation to business activities in a broader sense. It is hosted by Nikodemus Solitander, Director of Centre for Corporate Responsibility (CCR) at Hanken with guests Jaana Vormisto, Managing Director at FIANT Consulting and Suvi Halttula, Founder and Senior Advisor at 3bility Consulting.
Sustainability Unwrapped: ESG investing, Institutional Investors, and Active Ownership
For many investors, the financial outcome of their investments is not their only objective. Some investors are also interested in the impact and role of their investments in promoting sustainability and responsible actions.
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing is a term for investments aiming for long-term positive impact on society and the environment with positive financial returns. For instance, the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock recently stated in their 2020 Letter to Our Clients that “sustainability should be our new standard for investing”. They see especially climate risk as a transition and investment risk for investors, and for their portfolios. Sustainability-oriented portfolios can provide higher risk-adjusted returns. On efficient markets, returns are viewed as compensation for taking on risks, and therefore sustainability-oriented investing should not yield excess returns.
The Bank of Finland (BoF) has had responsible investment practices in place for several years. It takes into account the risks and sustainability aspects related to investment activities. By signing the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in December 2019, BoF committed to incorporating environmental and social, and corporate governance issues into its investment decisions and ownership policies and practices.
One might ask, is ESG investing about achieving higher risk-adjusted returns? Can responsible investing work to mitigate risks during poor economic times for investors, i.e., work as a kind of insurance against bad times? How does the BoF actually implement responsible investment strategy?
Find out answers to these and other timely questions by listening Niclas Meyer, post-doctoral researcher at Hanken with Anna Hyrske, Principal Responsibility Specialist at Asset Management Department, Bank of Finland podcast on ESG investing!
Sustainability Unwrapped: How can volunteering promote sustainability mindset?
Volunteering is defined as a free act of an individual or a group to give time and/or service to others. It’s about taking action for issues that feel important to oneself.
Volunteering has often been criticized for being harmful in certain contexts or being motivated by egoism. While the former is problematic, is the latter also a problem? Should volunteering be purely altruistic?
At the same time, there has been a lack of sense of community and increased polarization in different societies across the world. We are also facing a climate crisis and many other sustainability challenges. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased isolation and has also led us to question many things about our existence, communities, and societies.
This raises many questions! Is there a need to look at volunteering differently especially in the context of sustainable development? Has the COVID-19 pandemic put volunteering in a different light? What are the benefits of volunteering for individuals, companies, communities, and societies as a whole?
Get answers to these and many more interesting questions in this podcast hosted by Marisun Gajitos, Lecturer at the Centre for Languages and Business Communication at Hanken. Marisun teams up with Henrietta Grönlund, Professor of Urban Theology from the University of Helsinki, Daniela Sumelius, Hanken alumni and Client Development Manager at the Publicis Groupe agency CJ Affiliate and Kaisa Vainikka, Social Responsibility Manager at UPM for a very insightful conversation.
‘’If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’’!
Sustainability Unwrapped: Political polarizations of sustainability
What role would you think sustainability policies play in accentuating political division in your country? How has the question of peat energy become a polarizing issue in Finland and how does it relate to sustainability? What is the Finnish approach to bioeconomy and how sustainable is it?
We’re witnessing an increased geographical division of politics in many countries in Europe and North America, between the so-called liberal, metropolitan centres on the one hand, and increasingly marginalized rural peripheries, on the other. We can see this division in the US elections, between and within states, but also with the recent success of various populist movements across Europe (Dimock & Wike 2020).
An important part of the dividing line in these polarizarions has to do with sustainability policies largely supported by the liberal populations of the urban centres and largely resisted by many people in more rural areas. For example, the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement in France started initially as a reaction against rising taxes on petrol and diesel. In the Finnish context, it is well known that the Green party gets its best scores in the largest cities and its worst scores in sparsely populated rural areas (Statistics Finland 2019). Perhaps as a mirror effect, the populist party Perussuomalaiset (True Finns) has come to define itself as vihreiden vastinpari, meaning the antithesis of the Greens (see Rämö 2019).
To get a better understanding of how sustainability is linked to political polarization, with particular illustrations from Finland, listen to Martin Fougère, an Associate Professor in Management and Politics at Hanken, Hanna Lempinen, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Forest Sciences at the University of Helsinki, and Heikki Sirviö, postdoctoral researcher in geography with at the University of Helsinki.
Sustinability Unwrapped: What is the role of intellectual property in sustainable fashion?
One may think what has IPR to do with Sustainable Fashion. Well, fashion industry is an Intellectual Property (IP) intensive industry, that deals with plenty of creativity in the form of designs, fabric etc. However, historically, the global fashion industry has had to operate in a low-IP protection environment, especially when it comes to designs.
Fast fashion has benefitted hugely from the low-IP protection of the industry as it has been rather risk-free to knock-off designs of high fashion or indie brands and make cheap low-quality copies of them. This way, the low-IP protection has played a role in the fashion industry’s race-to-the-bottom when it comes to sustainability.
Fashion is also one of the most polluting industries globally, thanks to the “fast fashion” phenomenon. Fast fashion brands produce extremely high volumes of trendy garments and sell them for incredibly low prices. However, this comes at a huge cost, especially in the context of human rights abuses and our environment.
What is the impact of low IP protection on local and sustainable fashion? How can the IP protection of fashion designs and generally of the industry be improved? What makes fash fashion so dangerous from the human rights perspective? What is the impact of sustainability on the brand value?
Find out answers to these and many more interesting questions by listening to Heidi Härkönen, a lawyer and doctoral researcher at the University of Lapland, and Annariina Ruokamo, Research, Development, and Innovation Specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and a clothing designer.
Let’s make fashion sustainable again!
Sustainability Unwrapped: How to create human-centric and sustainable Internet of Things solutions?
How to create human-centric and sustainable Internet of Things solutions?
The internet of things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT solutions are found everywhere. Look around you and you might be surrounded with one! A smart coffee machine, a smart air purifier, smart locks and the list goes on and on!
Undoubtedly, there is a lot of potential in IoT to make our lives digital, convenient, hassle-free and to also contribute to making our planet more sustainable. However, the importance of people as an integral component of the overall IoT infrastructure is not yet fully understood and recognised.
Moreover, for IoT solutions to be successful, humans must trust its security, safety, and privacy and currently that is not the reality. We are currently far from responsible solutions!
In this episode of Sustainability Unwrapped, Kimia Aghayi, Doctoral candidate at the department of marketing at Hanken invites Tomi Teikko, Founder and head of Empathic Building at Haltian to discuss why the human aspect is so integral in IoT technologies. They talk about the challenges, cultural aspects and why we are too slow and what can be done going forward to create more useful, sustainable and responsible IoT solutions.