"Greening Business from the Inside" Solution or Smokescreen?
We recently received a letter from Claude Fussler, Director of Stakeholder Relations at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, challenging our analysis of his organisation's activities. We enclose it here, together with our response to Mr Fussler.
Letter from Claude Fussler:
Hi - I just read your issue n° 9. Obviously I will not convince you that I and the WBCSD team, we are working our butts off to make sustainable development happen. But I want to tell you that I am impressed by your thorough monitoring of our activity. It somehow pleases me that someone notices, albeit with a very cynical, biased and sterile outlook. I hope it pleases you that I noticed your effort. We are all sometimes lonely in our campaigns.
I am campaigning with others in the team to get business to change and the progress is slow, but there is progress. Our latest declaration is available under http://www.wbcsd. org/ projects/ wssd/ business-case. pdf But you may already have seen it... and hated it.
Anyhow we are intent to push this further. Take note. We will publish soon a series of facts and trends about the worrying social, environmental and economic context that should drive a change in business strategy. It will not all be bad news, because business does not like bad news, but it will be a serious warning. Following that you will see a real big piece of greenwash: a workbook on how smart companies change and contribute to sustainable development, again, in my view far too slowly and timidly but, nevertheless worth scaling up. I look forward to your reviews. They make me think. By the way the Summit process is still in pretty bad shape and not because of business or NGOs or UNED. Does it bother you?
CEO response follows...
Dear Mr. Fussler,
Thank you very much for your letter dated October 1st . We are sorry this reply has had to wait so long; we have been very busy with activities to counter the unmistakably anti-environmental ambitions of business groupings like the UK LOTIS Committee and the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), in which many WBCSD member companies are also active.
While it is laudable to attempt to 'green' industry from the inside, we must conclude that the WBCSD cannot currently be regarded as an ally for the environmental movement. One of the main reasons is the WBCSD's lobbying and PR record. Lobbying against effective international solutions to solve global environmental and social problems is inexcusable, however many isolated examples of 'voluntary action' by industry the WBCSD pulls out of the hat.
Rather than repeating examples we have quoted in the past in our articles, let us look ahead to the Johannesburg Summit, which we are strongly committed to make a success. With many other groups, we hope the Johannesburg Summit will launch negotiations on a UN mechanism to enforce responsible corporate behaviour. Will the WBCSD support the groups campaigning for a legally binding regulatory framework on corporate activities to guarantee rising environmental and social standards around the world? Or will it, as it did before, obstruct progress and only promote voluntary approaches, thereby allowing irresponsible corporate behaviour to go on? In our opinion, this is the real litmus test for the WBCSD's contribution to solving the world's social and ecological crisis.
on behalf of Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)