Policy & Research
UN Global Compact targets 7,000 members by Rio+20
The annual survey of the UN's Global Compact has revealed unprecedented growth in corporate sustainability commitments. In 2011, the number of companies signed up to the Global Compact's ten principles, which cover human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, grew by 54%. Georg Kell, executive director of the Global Compact, told reporters that 6,985 companies were now committed to the initiative, with the 7,000th member expected to join "any day now", potentially in time for the Rio+20 summit. However, Kell also revealed that efforts to grow its membership were stalling because it was removing companies at almost the same rate as it was adding new members. He said that while 100 chief executives were signing up each week, around 90 were being thrown out for failing to report on progress.
"Well-meaning" clothes companies fail to prevent exploitation of young women
European and US garment brands and retailers have failed in their attempts to structurally improve labour conditions at their suppliers in Tamil Nadu, South India, according to a new report. Maid in India, published by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), finds that while companies such as C&A, Diesel and Primark have joined initiatives and undertaken social audits of suppliers, with some positive effects, many more are lagging behind. Young Dalit (lower caste) women are the worst affected, lured to work long hours in unhealthy conditions by the promise of a dowry payment upon completion of their contract. The report concludes that corporates need to "step up their efforts" to achieve widespread change, especially in ensuring freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively, in a country where trade unions are weak and face enormous opposition.
Asia Pulp & Paper answers critics with new sustainability goals
Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), the world's third-largest pulp and paper producer, has announced a new set of responsible sourcing and sustainable goals for this coming decade, following criticism which has for several years seen the company branded a villain by environmental groups. In April, Greenpeace released the results of a year-long investigation into APP, claiming that the company systematically violates Indonesia's laws protecting ramin, an endangered tree species. Danone, Xerox and a host of other companies pledged to suspend purchases from APP following the exposé. Now the company has hit back, launching a Roadmap which includes internal audits to ensure that all suppliers attain "credible" sustainability certification by 2020.
Cosmetics companies join Sustainable Packaging Roundtable
Major cosmetics companies Chanel, Coty, Avon, L'Oréal Group, Mast Global and Estée Lauder are inaugural members of an initiative created by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' Institute for Sustainability, which aims to find ways to work with suppliers, retailers and customers to advance sustainable packaging. Cosmetics companies are becoming more aware of the importance of sustainable packaging within their corporate social responsibility initiatives, said John Delfausse, Estée Lauder’s vice president of packaging.