Ricardo-AEA explores business role in wildlife safety

22 July 2015 Consultancy.uk

The illegal ivory trade more than doubled since 2007 and more than tripled since its last peak in 1998. In the past three years, more than 100,000 African Elephants were killed. To tackle the issue, the European Commission is exploring the role businesses may play in reducing the trade of illegal animal parts in the EU. Ricardo-AEA has been selected to assess and recommend initiatives aimed at combating the illegal wildlife trade through greater cooperation with businesses.

A recent WWF report discloses the scale of wildlife trafficking, counting records of over 100 million tonnes of fish, 1.5 million live birds and 440,000 tonnes of medicinal plants in trade over a year. Large animals also fall foul to poachers. It was reported that the African Elephant population lost 100,000 of the estimated 472,000 – 690,000 herd in the past three years. A recent Chatham House report highlights the extent of the issue and found that the estimated illegal ivory trade has more than doubled since 2007, and is now over three times larger than it was during the last peak in 1998.

The value of ivory on the street has also steadily increased, reaching $2,205 per kilogram in Beijing, while rhino horn sells for $66,139 per kilogram – more than the price of gold or platinum – on the Chinese black market.

Wildlife trafficking

The poaching of wildlife is not only threatening the survival of several species, it also undermines the rule of law and sustainable development. The illegal wildlife trade, excluding fisheries and timber, is estimated to be worth between $8 – 10 billion a year globally. Given the scale of the illegal activity, the European Commission (EC) is working to curb the continued poaching of animals. To accomplish this, the EC is developing ways through which the EU is better able to tackling the illegal wildlife trade and, where applicable, approaches to prevent other kinds of illegal trade.

To assist in this task, the EC hired Ricardo-AEA. The consulting firm will assess different models of cooperation initiative between public and business players. The commissioned study will focus on initiatives relevant to EU players in regional markets, but will also consider their operations outside the EU. The sectors surveyed will be those associated with the trade of potentially poached goods, including the exotic pet sector, luxury goods industry and importers specialising in traditional medicine, as well as online trading and courier and freight companies that facilitate trade into or within the EU. Further consideration will be given to industries involved in extraction and agri-business, which impact on wildlife conservation outside the EU in ways that can promote illegal wildlife trade.

EC hires Ricardo-AEA to explore wildlife protection

The project involves a number of partner organisations, including from TRAFFIC* and SIA ELLE (involved in the EU Business & Biodiversity Platform), to include expertise in the illegal wildlife trade, the regulatory environment, corporate social responsibility, as well as key stakeholders in the public and private sectors. The results of the study, as well as recommendations, will be presented to the EC at the start of November this year.

Commenting on the project, Richard Smithers, Ricardo-AEA’s Project Manager, says: “Despite the presence of an extensive legal framework governing wildlife trade, the problem of illegal trade is increasing at an alarming rate. Businesses have the potential to play a key role in addressing this problem thanks to their direct links to consumers and suppliers, political influence and financial resources.”

* TRAFFIC is a global wildlife trade monitoring network that works on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.