Conscious Commerce: Realities of “Years of Living Dangerously”

images Protection of Forests: Critical For Future Generations

Deforestation is an increasing contributor to global warming and environmental change impacting the health and well-being of the most rural communities. To be sure, the transformation of forested lands by human actions and the removal of trees without sufficient reforestation is one of the greatest drivers of biodiversity destruction, conflict, loss of habitat and wildlife species, and poverty.

‘Realities at a Glance’

  • We are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation, which equates to 50,000 species a year.
  • Regions such as Indonesia lost more than 6 million hectares of its primary forest -- an area the size of England -- from 2000 to 2012.*
  • About one half of the forests that covered the Earth are gone with only 40 billion hectares remaining today.
  • There are fewer than 300,000 chimpanzees remaining in the wild.
  • Only about 22% of the world's original forest cover remains "intact" – contained in three areas: the Canadian and Alaskan boreal forest, the boreal forest of Russia, and the tropical forest of the northwestern Amazon Basin and the Guyana Shield.**

In addition to the sourcing of paper and palm oil from forests, the impact of human behaviors continues to be profound. Forests are cleared, degraded and fragmented by timber harvest, conversion to agriculture, road-building, fires and in a myriad of other ways. The effort to use and subdue the forest has been a constant theme in the transformation of the earth, across societies and cultures, and is a major source of humanitarian conflict.

‘The Wake Up Call’

Deforestation has important implications for life on this planet. Forests are the foundation of the global ecological system, the lungs of our planet and crucial for the future sustainability and survival of generations.

Increasing population growth combined with poverty forces local communities to use forest resources in unsustainable ways in order to meet their basic needs such as food and water, as well as income generation for farmers and their families.

Meanwhile, with the quest for Africa’s natural resources at an all-time high including palm oil production, competition is rising for the global demand for forest and extractive industry products. Africa also lost 3.4 million hectares of its forested area between 2000 and 2010.***

Moving Beyond ‘Profits with Purpose’

The protection of forests, ecosystems and wildlife species can no longer be solved in isolation and requires more integrated approaches to address the complex challenges and interrelated links with poverty. This includes protecting farmers and their communities to ensure provision of food, shelter, health and skills training.

With the quest for new markets and customers, experts from multiple sectors – corporations, NGOs, fair trade and forestry experts - need to convene on shared value approaches for future ‘Years of Living in Prosperity’ in a globalized economy.

While an increasing number of corporations have committed to using sustainable palm oil and protecting forests, at the most fundamental level, consumers need to be educated about responsible purchasing options, integrity of ingredients and be included into the ‘Call to Action’ to preserve the planet’s natural resources. With the acceptance of corporate responsibility continuing to drive brand reputation and purchasing habits among consumers, behavior changes are needed to influence more responsible purchasing decisions.

Breaking down the systemic barriers to poverty is essential to preserving forests and protecting ecosystems to ensure the provision of basics human needs such as food and water, while developing responsible goods and services in the marketplace.

Traditional models of giving are continuing to evolve with the new sustainability imperative. This will ensure integration across multiple disciplines in the supply chain, while creating programs and product development strategies. These models will align giving at the heart of ‘People Connection’ while protecting families and communities.

In Conclusion: Corporations, supported by NGOs and governments, have profound shared values and our society cannot mitigate pressing social, economic and environmental issues without adapting to the realities of our planet and enlisting support from conscious-driven consumers.

By: Samantha Taylor – Founder of Reputation Dynamics.



  • Years of Living Dangerously: Showtime documentary series about the human impact on climate change
  • *Scientists: Belinda Arunarwati Margono, Fred Stolle: Nature Climate Change
  • **World Resources Institute
  • ***FAO Global Resources Assessment 2010

The Nature Conservancy - Advancing Sustainable Conservation in Africa

BetterTNC_logo-4e664ce4196a3Reputation Dynamics is excited to work with The Nature Conservancy on corporate marketing and social responsibility development to support awareness, growth and development of their programs in Africa. Since the 2006 launch of the Africa program, TNC has been protecting land, freshwater and marine ecosystems in key African regions including, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and Mozambique.    With the population of Africa expected to double by 2050, there will be greater demands for energy, food and water which will pose challenges that need to be addressed to ensure the resilience of the continent's natural resources, alleviate poverty and improve the quality of life for underserved communities.

For more information -

In Honor of World Water Day, Reputation Dynamics and Elevate Destinations Partner on Kenya: Water 2010

KenyamapJuly 10 - 20, 2010

Registration Deadline: April 15 View full itinerary

5% of Trip Cost to be Donated to NGO Partner Organizations

As citizens and companies are becoming increasingly aware, we are facing a global water crisis, which is consigning large segments of humanity to lives of poverty, vulnerability and insecurity.

In fact, the United Nations estimates that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will face periodic and often severe water shortages.

The UNDP Human Development Report argues that the scarcity at the heart of the global water crisis is rooted in power, poverty and inequality, not in physical availability of water.

In partnership with Elevate Destinations, Reputation Dynamics is offering an exciting opportunity for your company stakeholders (employees, customers, business partners) to understand the importance of water, as well as consider Kenya as an extension to your sustainability initiatives. Through conversations with local and international water experts, policy makers and NGO representatives, as well as project site visits, you will learn first-hand the significance of water for human, environmental and economic prosperity. 

Trip Overview:  Travelers will receive a comprehensive overview of the most important water-related challenges facing people in Kenya, and explore some of the innovative and effective solutions that have been suggested in response.

Participants will explore issues of environment, biodiversity, droughts, floods, transboundary water resources, sanitation and health, agriculture and fisheries, pastoralism, and other areas through a combination of activities: conversations with local experts, participation in daily activities, project visits, and tourism.

Paul Faeth, President of the coalition group Global Water Challenge based in Washington DC, will lead the tour.  Local experts will also accompany the group and add their own particular perspective on the issues of each region.

This trip is the first in a series of theme-based travel opportunities for global citizens wishing to understand and impact urgent issues.


  • Nairobi: Learn about water distribution and sanitation in informal urban settlements
  • Lake Victoria:  Explore the importance of integrated and transboundary water management for sustainable growth and development
  • Northern Kenya:Learn about the devastating effects of the recent drought in Samburuland, and examine ongoing mitigation strategies.
  • Maasai Mara:  Understand how deforestation has affected local communities, wildlife and the ecosystem

Partner organizations include Florida International University (FIU), Global Water Challenge; KickStart; the Lake Victoria Region Local Authorities Cooperation (LVRLAC); the Kenyan NGO Maji na Ufanisi (Water and Development); the Ol Malo Trust; and the WWF, among others.

More information:

View full itinerary

For more information and to register for the trip, please contact Sam Taylor at Tel. +1 212 979 6092

Why is water important?

  • Water has always played a key role in economic development, and economic development has always been accompanied by water development.
  • Investment in water management has been repaid through livelihood security and reductions in health risks, vulnerability and ultimately poverty.
  • Water contributes to poverty alleviation in many ways – through sanitation services, water supply, affordable food and enhanced resilience of poor communities faced with disease, climate shocks and environmental degradation.
  • Water of the right quality can improve health through better sanitation and hygiene and, when applied at the right time, can enhance the productivity of land, labor and other productive inputs. In addition, healthy freshwater ecosystems provide multiple goods and services essential to life and livelihood.
  • Water and sanitation are among the most powerful preventive medicines available to governments to reduce infectious disease. Investment in this area is to killer diseases like diarrhea what immunization is to measles – a life saver.
  • Unclean water and poor sanitation have claimed more lives over the past century than any other cause.

Source: UNDP Human Development Report 2006; UN World Water Development Report 3

About Elevate Destinations: Founded in 2005, Elevate Destinations is a leading global sustainable travel company offering customized adventures to travelers seeking to explore and impact the environmental, socio-cultural and economic conditions of the places they visit. Elevate Destinations offers travel to Africa, India, Latin America and Southeast Asia, and organizes donor trips for both profit and non-profit organizations. Every Elevate Destinations trip benefits environmental preservation and community development.

Posted by Sam Taylor


Africa – The Force of Change

As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself…Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.’ Nelson Mandela

The energy and enthusiasm about Africa was running high at the first US-Africa Tourism Seminar on 2/27 developed by The Corporate Council on Africa and Africa Travel Association. While Africa has its fair share of political, economic and humanitarian challenges, the continent is poised to be a major travel destination and location for investment and business exploration.

In conjunction with the ‘Greening’ of the travel industry, Experiential Tourism, a growing sector beyond ‘sun-and-sand tourism,’ is expected to grow to 25% of the world’s travel market within six years - $473.6 billion a year.

As Gregg Truman, vice president of marketing for South African Airways pointed out, Africa commands only 2.4% of global travel market share, with only 64 million people taking trips to Africa.

With a new breed of ‘sustainable tourists’ seeking culturally authentic travel experiences that protect the environment and integrity of the destination, VolunTourism and travel philanthropy opportunities are on the rise. Africa is rich for its natural resources, tourism and wildlife, dancing and music – among others.
Opportunities for ‘Doing Good in Africa’:

Corporations and individuals have abundant opportunities to make a difference by addressing causes in need and making a personal connection with African communities. Some suggestions include:

  • Engage in ongoing education for the public about the realities and opportunities
  • Encourage family and stakeholder visits to see communities with causes in need
  • Align with NGO/non-profits to help mitigate extreme poverty, disease, threats to wildlife and tourism, and infant mortality
  • Provide benefits and incentives for local businesses, workforce, products and services
  • Donate funds and/or volunteer in communities

A special thanks to my fellow panelists’ on Experiential Tourism, their engaging presentations and fascinating work. Sean Barlow - Afropop Worldwide, El Hadji Aziz Gueye – Senegal Tourist Office, Lelei LeLaulu - Counterpart International, Dr. Lawrence Martin - Stony Brook University, Sharr Prohaska - New York University, Kevin J. Wright - World Religious Travel Association.

The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) and Africa Travel Association (ATA) Host First US-Africa Tourism & Sports Seminar in New York

The seminar theme - Making Africa the World’s Next Premiere Travel Destination - will provide more than 200 leaders from the public and private sectors an inside look into the vast array of business exploration and investment opportunities in the travel and tourism industries in Africa.

Africa is poised to increase its world market share in tourism and this seminar will help lay the groundwork placing Africa top-of-mind among American tourists and investors.

Currently sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 1.3% of the world market share in the travel and tourism industry. In 2007, the sector generated close to $90 billion in economic activity and is expected to exceed $185 billion within the next 7 years for the region, demonstrating positive growth and investment opportunities.

Sam Taylor, founder of Reputation Dynamics and Associate Partner of Corporate Donor Travel for Elevate Destinations, will be participating in a workshop and address the growth of Experiential Tourism in the context of alignment with economic, social and environmental responsibility trends. Experiential Tourism, encompassing eco-, nature, heritage, community and adventure tourism, is expected to grow three times faster than the tourism industry as a whole. In fact, beginning in the 1990s, this sector has grown 20-to-34% per year and could grow to 25% of the world’s travel market within six years, taking the value of the sector to $473.6 billion a year.

Event topics include sports and tourism, infrastructure development, marketing Africa, traveler perception, travel industry-related investment opportunities, airline and hotel development, as well as travel trends in Africa.

CCA, established in 1993, is a nonpartisan 501 (c) (3) membership organization of nearly 200 U.S. companies dedicated to strengthening the commercial relationship between the U.S. and Africa. CCA members represent nearly 85 percent of total U.S. private sector investments in Africa. The organization is dedicated to bringing together potential business partners and to showcase business opportunities on the continent. For more information on CCA, seminar and agenda visit
The seminar will be held February 27-28, 2008 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, immediately preceding The New York Times Travel Show 2008.
Statistical Reference: World Tourism Organization (WTO).

Fast-Tracking Kenya’s Recovery….

It seems just like yesterday when my mother and I were driving to our home outside of Nairobi barely making the curfew deadline. Our heads were slightly ducked behind the car windscreen as my mother revved the accelerator past the security checkpoint.

In 1982, my family witnessed the devastating effects to a country and its people of a Kenyan coup d’etat attempt, which failed to overthrow President Daniel arap Moi’s government. On August 1, a group of soldiers from the Kenya Air Force took over the local radio station and announced they had overthrown the government. Sending Nairobi into utter chaos, about 145 people were killed and losses from widespread looting and destruction of property amounted to $111 million. My family was forced to hide out at home ‘on rations.’

Some parallels can be made between the ‘Hours of Chaos’ in 1982 and recent events surrounding President Mwai Kibaki’s disputed re-election, violence and deaths.

Of note, the poorest living in the slums of Nairobi and in rural areas, had all too little to lose in the violence and life for Kenyans once again more difficult.

The Kenya Presidential Elections of December 2007, are potentially the most damaging episode to national unity since the assassination of Tom Mboya in July 1969.

While there is celebration among select supporters for President Kibaki, the fear gripping the country is almost unprecedented in its 44 years of independence - as the Government and ODM continue to differ over the way forward for a peaceful settlement to the political crisis.

And, this is such bad timing for Kenya…..

Considered one of the most beautiful and more prosperous regions of Africa, Kenya has an estimated GDP growth of 6.7 percent and its unique landscapes, natural world and wildlife attractions brings in $900 million in tourism a year.

Kenya’s economy has been devastated by the violence and its reputation as a stable haven tarnished in a matter of weeks. As of 1/7, the economy was reported to have lost approximately $1 billion as a result of the post-election violence.

Some Perspective…

Kenya’s transition from dictatorship to democracy continues to be a tumultuous journey owing to its deeply rooted history in the political economies of colonialism, neocolonialism and neoliberalism. The country is further tainted by ongoing corruption and scandals under the rule of former dictators’ such as President Daniel arap Moi.

The first Kibaki government was elected in 2002 on a strong anti-corruption platform at a time when the country wanted a transparent government, justice brought to former corrupt officials and focus on economic development. While new corruption scandals occurred, the Kibaki administration delivered on the economy – jumping from 0.6% in 2002 to 6.1% in 2006. Despite its economy, Kenya still has some serious social issues and extreme poverty.

In 2006, the government unveiled Kenya Vision 2030, a development blueprint to turn Kenya into a newly industrialized ‘middle income country providing high quality of life for all its citizens by the year 2030.’

Kenya needs fast-track solutions to restore social harmony and aid recovery:

  • Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga enter negotiations to find quick resolution to end violence and restore peace to its people
  • More British and international intervention to help a humanitarian crisis
  • Contending parties agree to a binding independent and monitored investigation of the election results
  • Establish stronger anti-corruption platforms, transparent and accountable legal/government systems
  • A new parliament should be called into session with the new post of Prime Minister directly answerable to Parliament
  • Restore tourism and confidence
  • Corporations and NGOs/non-profits should align social, economic and environmental responsibility programs with causes in need

The country’s economy will continue to lose hard-won ground if the political situation is not resolved quickly.



We have all witnessed the buzz of media and celebrity-driven attention about the African continent in the context of lost hope, opportunity and social responsibility voyages. Vanity Fair’s July issue on Africa includes a plethora of celebrity cover photos (21) and profile interviews such as Brad Pitt with Desmond Tutu. Movies like The Last King of Scotland, Tsotsi and Hotel Rwanda demonstrate the harsh realities of African politics and suffering.

However, not enough is being done to address the issues facing Africans.

Some celebrity efforts are to be commended such as Oprah Winfrey opening a girl’s school in South Africa, and Madonna’s non-profit Raising Malawi.

While it is all well and good that celebrities have done a good job calling attention to Africa and creating individual social responsibility models, corporations should do the same.

I spent an impressionable childhood in Kenya. Aside from the beauty, people and wildlife, I witnessed the slums, poverty and under-nourished infants. Africa wasn’t on the map when I came to America 18 years ago. Top line Kenyan issues include a corrupt government and the demand for ivory diminishing what was once a healthy elephant population. Mr. Wainaina’s individual tale – ‘Generation Kenya’ - illustrates Kenya’s rocky road.

Americans’ are increasingly traveling to Africa on safari, have life changing experiences and are in awe of it's beauty.

Today, many corporations are eyeing the continents resources - or - already have business interests – including operations, customers and employees. We need to better educate the public about the realities and opportunities of Africa. Also, enlist help to mitigate the extreme poverty, disease, threats to wildlife and tourism, and infant mortality.

Corporations, aside from donating funds, have the resources, on-site support, products and services to support programs on a fundamental level. These include providing shelter and care to orphans, saving newborn lives, education, drinking water, medical supplies, job creation and transportation.

It is timely for corporations to add Africa to the CSR agenda, engage stakeholders, and align with their cause-related marketing programs. Following are some top line realities about these issues and suggested organizations to support:

HIV/Aids, TB and Malaria: There are 25.8 million HIV/Aids sufferers in Africa and 8,000 people die every day -

Poverty: More than 70 percent of the continent’s poor people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for food and livelihood. In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 218 million people live in extreme poverty -

Education: Ten African countries report adult literacy rates of less than 30%. In America, the adult literacy rate is 99% -

Infant Mortality: Twenty-two African countries have infant mortality rates higher than 100 per 1,000 live births -

Wildlife: In 2006, as a result of poaching and mass slaughter in the 1980s, there are only 30,000 elephants in Kenya, down from 70,000 in the 60s -

Corporations need to realize the longer term benefits helping combat a continent in suffering, supporting timely causes in countries where they operate, as well as ultimately protecting their business interests.