Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#120 - 3 Feb 2008

An email newsletter with news and discussion focusing on corporate social responsibility globally, looking at the companies in the news and the emerging issues. Linked to the website at http://www.businessrespect.net and produced every two weeks.

This web page provides news stories and articles from the newsletters. Newsletters also include links to features on the internet, Mallen's blog, and other resources.

In this issue, we ask what progress there has been in reduced harm tobacco products.

Welcome

So Davos has come again, and this year seemed to involve even more declarations of great intent by business on social responsibility than ever before. We have seen a number of business leaders calling upon businesses to work in partnerships to strengthen global governance - recognising of course that when businesses are asked to take quasi-governmental decisions somewhere in the world it is because there is a failure of the legitimate governance for that area.

At the same time, Innovest joined with Canadian journal Corporate Knights to launch the latest update to the Global 100 lit of the Most Sustainable Companies in the World. This saw companies such as Goldman Sachs and Google dropping out of the list, with Honda and L'Oreal emerging onto the list.

Bill Gates made headlines across the world with his speech calling for creative capitalism, which many interpreted as being purely about giving something back in the way he has done through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where really he was focusing on ways of making the market work for the poor.

And of course Bono was there, aiming to focus the business leaders on the achievement of the Milennium Development Goals.

As ever with such events, the biggest announcements and the loudest noise do not neccessarily constitute the greatest breakthroughs. But nevertheless, such an enormous gathering point for world leaders is always an important occasion in that it can prove to be the catalyst for change under the right circumstances. These issues are not new to the World Economic Forum agenda, but clearly this year shows that they have continued to grow in importance, so that even the lengthening shadow of tough times ahead is not sufficient to push them backstage. That is an important early indicator of times to come.

In the mean time, attendance at a stakeholder consultation panel for a major tobacco company during the last fortnight turned my thoughts back to the issue of social responsibility in tobacco - a subject which I last wrote about in this newsletter years ago, looking forward to some focused investment in innovation in reduced harm products. It seemed timely to review the current state of action in that area.

News

China: Companies named and shamed for pollution

The State Environment Protection Administration has named three major companies for what has been described as frequent incidences of pollution.

US: Enron case thrown out

An appeal by Enron investors aiming to hit investment banks involved in financing deals has been rejected by the US Supreme Court.

Japan: Paper Association to tackle recycled paper fraud on consumers

The Japan Paper Association has said that it will set criteria for how companies provide information to consumers about recycled paper products following the scandal of the top six companies having been discovered to be routinely falsifying the information displayed on their products.

Kazakhstan: Government calls for greater corporate social responsibility

The Kazakhstan government is encouraging business and social partners to create a new business social responsibility code as part of a process of boosting understanding and support for the concept within Kazakhstan.

UK: Food and drink companies target a cut in water use

Major food and drink companies have come together to pledge a reduction in their use of water as part of an overall package aimed at cutting environmental impact.

European Commission introduces mandatory nutrition labelling to target obesity

The European Commission has announced new rules that will require all prepackaged food to display amounts of sugar, salt, fat, saturated fat, cabohydrates and energy on the front of packaging. It pulled back, however, from requiring a specific single system.

Australia: Business leaders doubt their own carbon figures

A new survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers of over 300 top business leaders in Australia has revealed that only 2 percent believed that their own company's stated greenhouse gas emissions were accurate enough to stand up to scrutiny.

Japan: Canon chief rejects Greenpeace demands to condemn whale hunt

Canon President and head of Nippon Keidanren, Fujio Matarai has declined a request from Greenpeace to make a statement publicly condemning the annual hunt to kill whales in the Antartic.

Article

Reduced harm tobacco - is it just smoke and mirrors?

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 3 Feb 2008

The debate on socially responsible tobacco has not moved on much in the last six years since BAT produced its first CSR report. At that time, I wrote that the real test was on product harm reduction - and that remains the message today. What progress have we seen in whether the promise of reduced harm products is any closer?

Previous edition - No 119 | Following edition - No 121

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