Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
Much, if not all, environmental action requires the adoption of new practices, standards that can only come about by changes in perspective through public education. As vital as individual environmental organizations may be in their work of advocacy, they must depend on an eco-system of support, one element of which are mavens as disseminators of new paradigms.
Providing information that will help guide change is the lever that Jacob identified early on as his life mission. The challenge is that independent and mission-driven information too often comes with editorial compromises, poor quality and distribution, and little hope of financial sustainability. As a result, overly academic or activist publications dominate, and often fail to reach and convince majorities of consumers.
The same applies to companies and investors (and with small sums, everybody is an investor) who would like to base their decisions on reliable, comparable, comprehensive and easy-to-understand information about their externalities, and about shifting expectations. Up until the late 1980s, there was no such data source available for non-financial information, and even today much of this information is provided not by independent analysts but indices and banks competing for investor money rather than for the most objective assessment.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
An ardent environmentalist and innovator in the sustainability movement, Jacob Radloff launched one of continental Europe’s most influential “publishing” company, Oekom Verlag, and later Oekom Research, as platforms for championing a core philosophy, “From Knowledge to Action”.
More than a simple publishing house, Oekom Verlag identifies key areas of need in the broadly defined environmental movement and develops strategies and campaigns for educating and mobilizing citizen action. Jacob not only publishes the most outstanding mavens in this field, his publishing platform is instrumental in forging coalitions between activists, researchers, policy makers, and a shifting general public. The campaigns around his publications have systematically built audiences and prompted concrete action around paradigm shifts from fair trade to energy efficiency, from slow food to citizen participation. Jacob is also the visionary behind a major initiative to make publishing more sustainable along its lengthy value chain. His leadership helped to turn Germany into a global ideas factory for the sustainability movement, and has inspired similar publishing houses across the world to provide thought leadership and community building with the highest editorial standards. Jacob is now about to bring the hugely successful platform of the publishing house to a more international level.
Oekom Research has pioneered a global market for in-depth independent corporate as well as sovereign sustainability ratings that influence the flow of trillions of dollars to more socially and environmentally responsible companies. In partnership with Robert Haßler, Jacob founded an agency. They were the first in the field who managed to transform dogmatic, excessively complex and academic experiments in the field of sustainability into manageable, independent and mission-oriented ratings to be used by investors of all kind. Based on industry specific criteria he developed out of scientific long lists, his ratings were, from the start, significantly more comprehensive than existing models used by the providers of big stock indices. Oekom Research today is a market leader in Europe as well as Asia, and rates not only the world’s most important 3,500 companies but also countries, and provides this information in a multitude of knowledge products to clients across the world.
One of Jacob's key ideas which he will pursue is using the wealth of information and data that oekom has collected to empower consumers and the economy as a whole in making better decisions about products. This app-enabled consumer democracy effectively takes activist shareholding strategies to everyone and everyday purchase decisions.