Building Low Carbon Economy in Bangladesh: A Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, is a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis, contributing to sustainable development goals. Essentially it is about how business takes account of its economic, social and environmental impacts in the way it operates – maximizing the benefits and minimizing the downsides. Sustainable development recognizes the need to preserve natural resources for future generations. Environmental pollution resulting from economic development imposes significant losses on the public as natural resources grow increasingly scarce. Corporations which contribute to the scarcity of these resources have a responsibility to the future generations and CSR is one way of doing so. CSR is now a part of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

We want a green world [1]

 

The environmental impact of any developing country is harsh. Change is inevitable! As conscious people we have two choices to make: either wait until the adverse effect of the environmental changes are forced upon us, or prepare ourselves for those already in existence and take advantage of the new upcoming opportunities. According to Stern report [3], failure to act to the adversities would now cost 5 – 20% of the world’s GDP, as experienced during the catastrophic impact of climate change. As a remedy Government should step forward to build up a low carbon economy and seek commitment from corporations voluntary to help regarding the issue. However, constructing a low carbon economy will be a challenge itself, a challenge that can only be surmounted with true talent. With the integration of skills, creativity, entrepreneurism and capacity to innovate the firms, workforce and communities, will evolve the economic and social solutions to the issue in question. As mentioned in Stern report, countries that are capable of successfully reducing carbon may be benefitted, for low carbon level means greater energy efficiency and thereby improving economic productivity. Demand for environmental goods and products will create new jobs and business opportunities. The development of new green technologies will create export markets worldwide. UK may be considered an ideal illustration for the issue: committing to reduce greenhouse gases by 34% by 2020. Ex-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says: “A greener Britain where a new green economy provides greater prosperity and high quality jobs even as it protects the environment and provides a better quality of life for all”. Although ISO 14001 remains the preferred environmental management system (EMS) in the UK, regulators and policy makers are increasingly showing preference for the EU’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), as it offers more transparency, credibility and reliability.

Sustainability and Corporate social responsibility [2]

Support environmental concerned communities and manage our environmental footprint [4].

In Bangladesh too, companies should be encouraged to invest in environmental issues and should be assured that there are concrete financial benefits to participating in environmental CSR. Some examples of companies that were financially benefitted from environmental activism include DuPont, by voluntarily stopping chlorofluorocarbons production; Patagonia, by making very expensive, natural garments; Ben and Jerry’s, and so on. Investors should also be made conscious about reducing the energy consumption of the industries and designing a product so as to minimize the overall environmental impact. For instance: eco-industries may be considered, comprising of companies where few act in the field of renewable energy, waste recycling, environmental auditing and consultancy, while the other capital intensive enterprises provide goods and services in specific areas like waste, wastewater, transport. Full packaging strategy or optimizing packaging policy would also minimize the environmental impact of packaging over its entire life cycle, without harming the product. Low CO? emission vehicles may also be innovated to reduce carbon level in the environment. Thus in every stage of production, environmental impact is to be considered. Recently, a step is taken to promote cleaner production in Bangladesh textile wet processing sector by few international organizations like Solidaridad and International Finance Corporation (IFC) in collaboration with local and international consultancy firms like NEC, AECL and Reed Consulting (BD) Ltd. This initiative is a good indication for the industrial sector of Bangladesh.

Building a low carbon economy is both a challenge and an opportunity; the value of which proportional to its ability to avoid consequences of climate change, create economic growth and opportunity to unlock the talent of the nation.

References:

[1] EOL IT Services; CSR: www.eolitserivces.co.uk/pages/corporate-social-responsibility.php; Cited: 22 Jan, 2011.

[2] Walimemon; Corporate Social Responsibility: http://walimemon.com/2010/08/corporate-social-responsibility/; Cited: 22 Jan, 2011.

[3] The Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change Stern N., Cambridge University Press, 2008.

[4] Adonis Construction; Corporate Social Responsibility: http://www.adonisconstruction.co.uk/corporate-social-responsibility.aspx; Cited: 22 Jan, 2011.

Further Reading:

• Corporate Social Responsibility: A Government update, Dept. of trade and Industry-UK, May 2008.

• Sustainable consumption and production and sustainable industrial policy action plan, Commission of the European Communities, Brussels, 16.7.2008, COM (2008) 397 final.

• Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is good for society, the environment and business, Enterprise & Industry Online Magazine, European Commission, July 2010.

• International Diffusion of ISO 14000 Certification, Production and Operations Management, Corbett, C J & Kirsch, DA 2001, vol. 10, no. 3.

• Making the most packaging, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (defra), UK, 2009.
 

 

To cite this article, please use following information:

(use the given format or any standard citation format)

Nuvan, M.M.J., Building Low Carbon Economy in Bangladesh: A Corporate Social Responsibility, ChE Thoughts 2 (1), 23-25, 2011.

 

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