Germany leads way on comprehensive CSR planApril 2012
An ambitious green economy drive announced by the German government emphasises principles in corporate responsibility and socially responsible investment.
The policy recommendations of the Water, Energy & Food Security Nexus project, introduced at last month's World Water Forum in Marseille, include measures to bolster private sector capital and leverage SRI financing models, especially through international schemes.
The Nexus document makes a number of demands on companies, including broadening water and energy stewardship within CSR principles. It recommends incorporating a nexus – or integrated – perspective in business planning and sustainability reporting; and recognising workers' rights and needs and the contributions employees can make to productivity gains.
The strategy is being used to help with Germany's preparations for this summer's UN Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Rio, and specifically promotes public-private co-operation and highlights companies' opportunities to improve corporate responsibility programmes.
The Nexus is described by its founders as 'science- and knowledge-intensive'. It already has its own resource centre, an online platform to help decision-makers to understand better the inter-connection of water, energy and food security.
In future, it intends to introduce 'concrete initiatives' to further efforts on water, energy and food security.
The policy document says: "Beyond responsiveness to market signals and government regulation, responsible business leaders have increasingly taken the lead in identifying innovative approaches and technological advances consistent with the interlinked perspective of the Nexus.
"In many cases, this has been done for commercial reasons of cost-effectiveness and risk management. But this characterises only a relatively small group and the trend will need to be accelerated and taken up more broadly among others in the business community.
"There is a sound business case and, at the same time, it is consistent with principles of corporate sustainability encompassing a company's delivery of long-term value in financial, social, environmental and ethical terms."
In addition, the recommendations, announced by the German environmental and economic development ministries, state the need for better policy coherence globally.
It concludes: "Global demand and supply assessments predict significant shortfalls in water and food in the future, but this should not mask the reality that universal access to minimum standards of water, energy and food can be achieved and sustained within planetary boundaries, provided there is political commitment and an appropriate enabling environment."
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