An initiative of Yale and Columbia Universities in the USA, the EPI ranks a country’s environmental performance according to how well human health and ecosystems are protected. They use nine criteria including child mortality and access to drinking water, plus twenty additional measures ranging from changes in forest cover to agricultural subsidies. In the latest iteration which grades 178 countries Switzerland is on top, followed by Luxembourg, Australia and Singapore. Somalia is unsurprisingly at the bottom, mainly because of low life expectancy and high infant mortality rates. The EPI is a useful and informative tool for measuring how well countries protect the environment and their citizens’ health, but could such a thing also be set up for industries?
Much as we would like to believe that people will do the decent thing, it generally takes the rule of law to make them behave. But the global television phenomenon that is Game of Thrones makes it abundantly clear that the rule of law on its own is not enough and nor is compliance. Characters regularly cheat and lie and commit atrocities that are against the rules, even in the most heinous and violent societies. In fantasy and in the real world, how well individuals and institutions fulfil their legal obligations changes from nation to nation and culture to culture. In the land of printing and publishing most players follow the rules reasonably well, but things are getting harder.
Asian Pulp & Paper (APP) really do seem to be living up to their promises. When they announced their Forest Conservation Policy just over a year ago it had a serious omission: reforestation and conservation plans. This had lead to some voluble criticism from NGOs such as the WWF and Greenpeace, however APP has now declared its plans for the restoration and conservation of one million hectares (about 2.5 million acres) of rainforest across Indonesia.
Understanding technology seems to be much less important than it used to be. Stuff works in our industry because the graphic arts industry has benefited from years of technological innovation, combined with practical experience that has been fed back into research and development for new kit. This is why prepress can be fully automated and computer-to-plate production is so widespread in developed markets. Both technologies have contributed to the substantial reduction in print’s carbon footprint over the last couple of decades.
In another life I was addicted to horse racing, especially the dangerous jumping variety. As a teenager I imagined someday riding in the Grand National, the world’s greatest steeplechase. Instead I find myself riding in an altogether different kind of race. But there are some curious similarities between fast and thrilling horse riding and negotiating the constantly changing landscape of matters environmental in the graphic arts.