Eye on Australia

SydneyRecent federal inquiries and discussions at the Australian Stock Exchange are raising the profile of corporate social responsibility in Australia.

Australia has recently experienced an upsurge of interest in corporate social responsibility. Many of the biggest Australian corporations (including banks such as Westpac, mining houses such as BHP Billiton and construction and development companies like Lend Lease) are already at the global forefront of corporate responsibility in their industry sectors. An increasing number of companies are publishing sustainability reports and, of those that are publishing, many are using the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) new G3 Guidelines as a template.

How Broad is EU’s REACH?

EU flagEurope has led on climate change. Now, it is staking out leadership on chemicals with the new REACH regulations.

The December adoption by the European Union of a new community-wide chemicals regulatory regime is still reverberating through the $2.56 trillion global industry, which is struggling to grasp the enormity of the coming changes. The principal aim of the new regime—known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, Restriction of Chemicals), which comes into force in June—is to enhance environmental and public health protection.

The Future of the Global Compact

Does the new UN Secretary General have the commitment—and corporate experience—to drive the compact?

When the CEO of Novartis met with the Secretary General of the United Nations in the summer of 2000, neither suspected that the result would be to reinvent the very way the Swiss pharmaceutical giant does business. Kofi Annan was merely trying to entice Dr. Daniel Vasella and other corporate leaders to join his new Global Compact.

Since then, more than 3,000 CEOs have signed the Compact, making it the world’s largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative. Annan’s objective was to bring companies together with labor, civil society and UN agencies “to unite the power of the market with the authority of universal ideals.”

Africa Needs the Private Sector

AfricaMany advocates for aid to Africa seem to be unaware of how important the private sector is for growth. After 40 years of aid that has climbed into the trillions, Sub-Saharan Africa is poorer now than it was in 1960.

Lack of money isn’t the problem -- the system just doesn’t work. The real question is: Why has Africa been left out of the business revolution?

Big Business Focuses on Small Loans

Shining a new spotlight on the field of microfinance.

The award in October of the Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh and the institution he founded 30 years ago, Grameen Bank, has focused new interest on the field of microfinance, which provides the poor a way out of poverty by lending them small amounts of money for short periods of time without asking for collateral. The loans have allowed millions of low-income people to grow tiny businesses into viable enterprises.

Spotlight on China

ChinaSweatshops and online freedom are among the issues.

China, host of the 2008 Olympics and a market of enormous importance to many multinational corporations, is also shaping up to be an Olympic battleground on another front: corporate responsibility and law.

Measuring Sustainability

GlobeGRI launches “user friendly” revisions to its reporting guidelines.

The challenges and opportunities of sustainability reporting were top of the agenda in Amsterdam in early October, with hundreds of corporate, government and non-governmental organization (NGO) executives scheduled to hear former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and other international notables mark the long-awaited launch of the latest Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines.