As one of the leading risk/reward management firms, Z/Yen is frequently called upon to apply its techniques to environmental issues. At an emotional level, Z/Yen people, including many of the founders, have long-standing professional and activist commitments to areas such as resource management, sustainable development and intelligent technological application to environmental problems. At a business level, Z/Yen people are all too aware of the need to place environmental issues within a commercial framework for evaluation. Too often, an overly strong ethical link confuses, or even impedes, sound commercial changes which will benefit the environment. Yet, environmental issues can benefit from analytical, management and measurement techniques which have been successfully applied in other non-financial areas.
Z/Yen's approach to environmental issues bears a strong resemblance to its approach to other organisational problems, viz. develop the objectives, establish the current situation, identify the issues, analyse the risks, develop the options, set out the strategy, assess the rewards, plan, implement, measure and evaluate the results. Successful implementation depends upon a systems-based approach which melds strategy, systems, people and organisation to improve performance, in this instance, minimising environmental impact. In practice, Z/Yen recognises the strengths of Z/Yen's `soft' risk/reward methodology on environmental issues which can involve strong ethical positions, be difficult to measure, defy benchmarking, divide expert opinion, be discrete rather than continuous (we have to do all or nothing, not something partially), invite political interference and break conventional quantitative techniques.
Areas such as life-cycle costing, total impact assessment or sustainability are still in their infancy and widely disputed. How is a manager to choose? Too often, the problems await another day. Z/Yen believes that significant progress begins with two universal, simple steps - measurement and management systems. Environmental measurement is still evolving and relatively unique to each organisation, but measurement does involve basics such as material consumption, energy consumption, natural resource displacement, disposal, recycling, network contributions and awareness. Z/Yen staff have been responsible for some ground-breaking measurement techniques dating back to the mid-1970's. Measurement is evidenced through environmental reports/balance sheets, benchmarking, staff feedback and other mechanisms. Management systems need to cover basic techniques such as elimination, minimisation, efficiency, dual-use/pooling, forward research/technology and conservation. Z/Yen's core risk/reward methodology is often combined with audit, computer-based simulations, computer-based benchmarking, financial analysis and verifiable systems modelled on ISO9000, such as BS7750, to arrive at an overall approach. After success with the basics, clients acquire adequate information with which to be able to evaluate improvements, leading to still further improvements, and so on.
Z/Yen people’s environmental work has been pioneering, including some of the first environmental database/mapping programmes, some of the first local government environmental audits, assignments with environmental agencies (International Council for Scientific Unions, Friends of the Earth, World Wide Fund for Nature, The Whale Conservation Institute), conferences (EuroCarto X's environmental research focus) and standards promotion. Z/Yen's commercial application of environmental techniques has included computer companies, government, services, manufacturing and transportation.
Z/Yen is particularly strong in accreditation and certification systems for social, ethical and environmental issues, e.g. our work with PEFC (forestry), ISEAL, the Marine Stewardship Council and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, among others. Z/Yen is particularly proud of having created and led the London Accord, the largest `open source’, co-operative investment research project into the investment issues surrounding climate change.