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Sustainable Development & Corporate Social Responsibility
Non-sustainability is one of the major risks of unrestrained development. Earth has its own limitation as its resources are finite.
By: kenneth Khalkho
The term sustainable development (SD) was used for the first time at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. However, a working definition of SD was coined in 1987 with the publication of ‘Our Common Future’, popularly known as the “Brundtland Report”of the World Commission on Environment and Development. The Commission’s definition, since widely adopted, was: “Development as the means to satisfy the needs of present generations without compromising the resources of future generations”
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development states that "Corporate social responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large." Thus, corporate social responsibility (CSR) or ‘Sustainability’
Who are these ‘stakeholders’
(1) In the movie Erin Brokovich (based on a true story) the stakeholder was the local community that was affected by the activities of the American West Coast energy giant Pacific Gas and Electric Company known as PG&E that was poisoning the town of Hinkley's water supply and affecting the health of an entire community. Brokovich fought to bring the company to justice;
(2) In the case of the ship breaking yard workers of Alang in Gujarat, the environmentalists and the media were the stakeholders who took up their cause and pressured the then French President Jacques Chirac to order decommissioned French warship Clemenceau carrying asbestos to take a U-turn.
Auditing and reporting on CSR to demonstrate good business citizenship is gaining significance. According to the book titled ‘Sustainability Reporting’ published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, the drivers pushing business towards CSR are – Shrinking Role of Government; Demands for Greater Disclosure; Increased Customer Interest; Growing Investor Pressure; Competitive Labour Markets; and Supplier Relations. The book further states, “Sustainability reporting has become a common practice in a number of countries like the USA, Europe, Japan and Australia. Sustainability reporting is yet an emerging stage in Asia, Latin America, Africa and Russia.”
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) working with CorporateRegister.com in their report, ‘Towards transparency:
Although in India, sustainability reporting is not mandatory, low but significant, subsidiaries of trans-national companies as well as local Indian companies have started reporting on CSR. SAIL, Tata Chem and NLC were the winners of the FICCI-SEDF CSR Awards function held on 7 May 2007. Tata Steel had ranked among the top 100 companies in Standard and Poor’s ‘The Global Reporters 2004 Survey of Corporate Sustainability Reporting’.
The prominent CSR reporting standards are AccountAbility's AA1000 standard, based on John Elkington's triple bottom line (3BL) reporting; Global Reporting Initiative's (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guidelines; Social Accountability International's SA8000 standard and The ISO 14000 environmental management standard. In India companies like Tata group, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Ford India Limited, Paharpur Business Centre, Jubilant Organosys, ITC, etc are largely using GRI guidelines while reporting.
Thus, it can be concluded that CSR has a significant role to play in controlling the perils of uncontrolled development, satisfying the needs of the present generation and at the same time ensuring that the resources of future generations is not jeopardized. Although, the ‘beyond charity and legal obligations’
Contact :- Ashish