Friday, April 06, 2007

Governments: how to encourage sustainability reporting?

Today I am inspired to build on something Debbie mentioned in her posting on March 28 - participants at the conference she attended that day in the UK were pondering one of the big questions facing us today - what exactly is the role of governments? Many think that we are at the stage where governments have less a “command and control” role in sustainable development, and that they should now be fostering entrepreneurial solutions.

Little did she know that on that very same day an influencial group of Canadian extractive industry companies, along with their stakeholders from civil society, labour, and investment, reached consensus on a new framework for corporate responsibility that they hope will be embraced by all Canadian industry.

The framework sets out actions that will lead to extractive projects that are more socially and environmentally responsible, and help to distinguish Canadian business. The framework also lays out the role the stakeholders expect the government to play:

The central recommendation in the report urges the government, in co-operation with key stakeholders, to adopt a set of standards that Canadian extractive-sector companies operating abroad will meet and to reinforce them through appropriate reporting, compliance and other mechanisms. This approach will simultaneously raise the bar and level the playing field.

The government is also encouraged to support developing countries that promote investment in the extractive sectors in their efforts to optimize the social and economic benefits that accrue from such investment.

From the perspective of trying to promote the mission of GRI (make sustainability reporting as valuable and common as financial reporting) do these recommendations help? Will this result in entreprenurial solutions and better performance?

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