In the face of climate change, financial shocks and ongoing hunger and poverty around the world, questions are being asked about notions of sustainability and what it means to be a responsible business. Greater global awareness and recognition of the interconnectedness of issues are becoming pre-requisites for successful operations and to meet changing expectations about the contribution to society of businesses and their employees.
While many companies have environmental and CSR programmes and a few make reference to the Millennium Development Goals or the Global Compact, forward-thinking companies are expressing interest in a more integrated and broad approach. CarbonSense and Earth Charter UK, with support from DFID (Department for International Development), have started a bold project to see how companies can benefit from working with the Earth Charter.
This Roundtable event brought together businesses that are supporting or working with the Earth Charter, or considering doing so. The aim of the organizers was to inspire and facilitate sharing and learning amongst a small and select group operating in different sectors but each of which, in their own way, is deeply concerned with these issues. This included discussions on:
- Inspiring stories and examples from companies that are genuinely putting aspects of sustainability into action. How is this working? How are tensions between normal business drivers and a sense of responsibility resolved? Are employees benefiting as well as the company?
- Pointers from working with the Earth Charter. Although it is still ‘early days’ on the project, feedback and learning will be shared that could help forward-thinking businesses to evaluate actions, shape strategy and plan staff development.