In Chapter 30 of Agenda 21, the 1992 Rio Earth Summit spelled out the role of business and industry in the sustainable development agenda as: "Business and industry should increase self regulation, guided by appropriate codes, charters and initiatives integrated into all elements of business planning and decision-making, and fostering openness and dialogue with employees and the public."
The relevant principle in the Rio Declaration says we have the responsibility to ensure that activities on our own yard should not cause harm to the environment of our neighbours. Society also expects business to be good neighbours. Business gains its legitimacy through meeting the needs of society, and increasingly society is expressing a clear need for more environmentally sustainable practices.
Steps that the company could take to promote environmental responsibility would be the following:
In doing the above, the existence of appropriate management systems is crucial in helping the company to meet the organizational challenge. Key mechanisms or tools for the company to use would be (a) assessment or audit tools (such as environmental impact assessment, environmental risk assessment, technology assessment, life cycle assessment); (b) management tools (such as environmental management systems and ecodesign) and (c) communication and reporting tools (such as corporate environmental reporting and sustainability reporting).
(Last updated: 12 February 2009)