Can Data Collection in a Sustainability Report Prevent a Crisis?

As Volkswagen contends with a reputational crisis of epic proportions much of the focus has been on how it needs to manage the fallout from its emissions cheating scandal. While dissecting a crisis communications strategy for Volkswagen best practices makes for compelling theater, this incident is an opportune reminder for corporate leaders to focus on something much more mundane: the critical importance of accurate data in a sustainability (or CSR) report. 

Volkswagen is an illustrative example: Volkswagen built a reputation as a responsible company committed to producing vehicles that emitted fewer harmful emissions than the competition’s. Its diesel cars were the centerpiece in that narrative. Consumers purchased Volkswagen’s diesel powered cars because they liked driving a sporty and fun vehicle that was assumed to be not terribly harmful to the environment.

China Announcing an End to the One-Child Policy

Originally implemented in 1980 to curb its rapid population growth, China’s one-child policy has witnessed a fertility rate decline from 2.7 births per woman in 1981 to 1.6 births in 2015. Those who backed the one-child policy claimed it led to 300 million fewer births and lifted 200-400 million people out of poverty. Yet, the policy is not without its toll, with more than 336 million abortions and 222 million sterilizations having since taken place. Gender imbalance in China, with 115.9 boys born to every 100 girls in 2014, has led to increases in sex-trafficking and prostitution. The Chinese population is aging drastically, with an estimate of one in every three Chinese being over 60 years of age by 2050 and a dwindling working class to support them. The economy is also facing labor shortage and slow growth.

Time spent on free time activities

If life seems more rushed than ever, you might be surprised to learn that we actually have more leisure time than we did 40 years ago, and quite a bit more. So why does it feel like we have so much less? It might be because we waste half of all our leisure time watching television. Globally, people devote more than 2.5 hours a day to viewing television programs despite the diversity of leisure options. 

How people spend their leisure time has significantly changed and is evident even in the short period from 2003-2010 captured in the visualizations below. Men and women spend no more than one hour a day on sport activities, with men spending significantly more time on sports.

Avian Flu Epidemic: Massive Impact, Uncertain Future

In the first half of 2015 the United States faced its worst outbreak on record of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in poultry (HPAI, informally known as bird flu). According to the World Organisation For Animal Health, since December 2014 in the U. S. nearly 65 million birds were susceptible to HPAI. In it's recent report, titled "Fall 2015 HPAI Preparedness and Response Plan", the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) says 7.5 million turkeys and 42.1 million egg-layer and pullet chickens have already been killed or culled, with devastating effects on these businesses and a cost to Federal taxpayers of over $950 million. U.S. egg prices skyrocketed to record high in summer because of the egg shortage and may continue to rise in case of likely fall return of epidemic. Under USDA's worst case scenario, 500 or more commercial establishments of various sizes across a large geographical area could be affected, including commercial high-volume poultry establishments, commercial high-value poultry establishments (game or specialty birds), the live bird marketing system, and backyard flocks in the 20 States that represent a composite of the top broiler, turkey, and layer producing states.

Discover World in 2020

We are happy to introduce the World in 2020, the newest advanced data product from Knoema, to you.
Learn at a glance which sources have proven most reliable over time in projections for particular indicators you are most interested in for a country or region. The World in 2020 accuracy tool automatically calculates the mean average error for projections for you to facilitate your forecast data selection.

We all know the value of forecasts, here today, gone tomorrow with unexpected market crashes, fallen governments, and natural disasters. And, yet, we all need a basis from which to plan, assess risk, and establish a common dialogue. With this in mind, Knoema set out to create a comprehensive data resource on the future of the world's development.

Save yourself time digging for the latest reports from the world’s leading international economic agencies. Step outside your comfort zone to explore projections for other measures of growth and development that could provide unexpected insights for your next proposal.

Africa: Power Consumption and Energy Infrastructure

Africa’s power sector struggles under low access and insufficient capacity. Only 35 percent of the population of Sub-Sahara Africa, including South Africa, has access to electricity while more than 90 percent of the populations of Burundi, Chad, Liberia, Malawi, and South Sudan lack access to a power grid. Most African countries, except South Africa, face severe power generation capacity deficits even compared to international peers of similar economic size. For example, electric power consumption in Kenya is 157 kWh/year per capita, equivalent to 11 times less than in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the poorest Former Soviet Union countries. Similarly, Cameroon, with a population of about 22 million, has only 1 GW of installed electricity capacity versus 22 GW of installed capacity in Romania, one the poorest European countries with the same total population. 

Revising the Global Tax System

Unprecedented changes to the international tax system are expected over the next five years. An OECD/G20 global campaign to address tax base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) is in full swing and could dramatically alter the tax landscape.

According to a November 2014 update from the OECD, BEPS refers to corporate tax planning strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules between countries to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations characterized by little or no economic activity, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid. BEPS would potentially have major implications for developing countries due to the heavy reliance of these countries on corporate income tax, particularly from multinational enterprises.