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Chapter 30. Strengthening the Role of Business and Industry
30.1. Business and industry, including transnational corporations, play a crucial role
in the social and economic development of a country. A stable policy regime enables and
encourages business and industry to operate responsibly and efficiently and to implement
longer-term policies. Increasing prosperity, a major goal of the development process, is
contributed primarily by the activities of business and industry. Business enterprises,
large and small, formal and informal, provide major trading, employment and livelihood
opportunities. Business opportunities available to women are contributing towards their
professional development, strengthening their economic role and transforming social
systems. Business and industry, including transnational corporations, and their
representative organizations should be full participants in the implementation and
evaluation of activities related to Agenda 21.
30.2. Through more efficient production processes, preventive strategies, cleaner
production technologies and procedures throughout the product life cycle, hence minimizing
or avoiding wastes, the policies and operations of business and industry, including
transnational corporations, can play a major role in reducing impacts on resource use and
the environment. Technological innovations, development, applications, transfer and the
more comprehensive aspects of partnership and cooperation are to a very large extent
within the province of business and industry.
30.3. Business and industry, including transnational corporations, should recognize
environmental management as among the highest corporate priorities and as a key
determinant to sustainable development. Some enlightened leaders of enterprises are
already implementing "responsible care" and product stewardship policies and
programmes, fostering openness and dialogue with employees and the public and carrying out
environmental audits and assessments of compliance. These leaders in business and
industry, including transnational corporations, are increasingly taking voluntary
initiatives, promoting and implementing self-regulations and greater responsibilities in
ensuring their activities have minimal impacts on human health and the environment. The
regulatory regimes introduced in many countries and the growing consciousness of consumers
and the general public and enlightened leaders of business and industry, including
transnational corporations, have all contributed to this. A positive contribution of
business and industry, including transnational corporations, to sustainable development
can increasingly be achieved by using economic instruments such as free market mechanisms
in which the prices of goods and services should increasingly reflect the environmental
costs of their input, production, use, recycling and disposal subject to country-specific
30.4. The improvement of production systems through technologies and processes that
utilize resources more efficiently and at the same time produce less wastes - achieving
more with less - is an important pathway towards sustainability for business and industry.
Similarly, facilitating and encouraging inventiveness, competitiveness and voluntary
initiatives are necessary for stimulating more varied, efficient and effective options. To
address these major requirements and strengthen further the role of business and industry,
including transnational corporations, the following two programmes are proposed.
A. Promoting cleaner production
Basis for action
30.5. There is increasing recognition that production, technology and management that
use resources inefficiently form residues that are not reused, discharge wastes that have
adverse impacts on human health and the environment and manufacture products that when
used have further impacts and are difficult to recycle, need to be replaced with
technologies, good engineering and management practices and know-how that would minimize
waste throughout the product life cycle. The concept of cleaner production implies
striving for optimal efficiencies at every stage of the product life cycle. A result would
be the improvement of the overall competitiveness of the enterprise. The need for a
transition towards cleaner production policies was recognized at the UNIDO-organized
ministerial-level Conference on Ecologically Sustainable Industrial Development, held at
Copenhagen in October 1991. 1/
30.6. Governments, business and industry, including transnational corporations, should
aim to increase the efficiency of resource utilization, including increasing the reuse and
recycling of residues, and to reduce the quantity of waste discharge per unit of economic
30.7. Governments, business and industry, including transnational corporations, should
strengthen partnerships to implement the principles and criteria for sustainable
30.8. Governments should identify and implement an appropriate mix of economic
instruments and normative measures such as laws, legislations and standards, in
consultation with business and industry, including transnational corporations, that will
promote the use of cleaner production, with special consideration for small and
medium-sized enterprises. Voluntary private initiatives should also be encouraged.
30.9. Governments, business and industry, including transnational corporations,
academia and international organizations, should work towards the development and
implementation of concepts and methodologies for the internalization of environmental
costs into accounting and pricing mechanisms.
30.10. Business and industry, including transnational corporations, should be
(a) To report annually on their environmental records, as well as on their use of
energy and natural resources;
(b) To adopt and report on the implementation of codes of conduct promoting the best
environmental practice, such as the Business Charter on Sustainable Development of the
International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the chemical industry's responsible care
30.11. Governments should promote technological and know-how cooperation between
enterprises, encompassing identification, assessment, research and development, management
marketing and application of cleaner production.
30.12. Industry should incorporate cleaner production policies in its operations and
investments, taking also into account its influence on suppliers and consumers.
30.13. Industry and business associations should cooperate with workers and trade
unions to continuously improve the knowledge and skills for implementing sustainable
30.14. Industry and business associations should encourage individual companies to
undertake programmes for improved environmental awareness and responsibility at all levels
to make these enterprises dedicated to the task of improving environmental performance
based on internationally accepted management practices.
30.15. International organizations should increase education, training and awareness
activities relating to cleaner production, in collaboration with industry, academia and
relevant national and local authorities.
30.16. International and non-governmental organizations, including trade and scientific
associations, should strengthen cleaner production information dissemination by expanding
existing databases, such as the UNEP International Cleaner Production Clearing House
(ICPIC), the UNIDO Industrial and Technological Information Bank (INTIB) and the ICC
International Environment Bureau (IEB), and should forge networking of national and
international information systems.
B. Promoting responsible entrepreneurship
Basis for action
30.17. Entrepreneurship is one of the most important driving forces for innovations,
increasing market efficiencies and responding to challenges and opportunities. Small and
medium-sized entrepreneurs, in particular, play a very important role in the social and
economic development of a country. Often, they are the major means for rural development,
increasing off-farm employment and providing the transitional means for improving the
livelihoods of women. Responsible entrepreneurship can play a major role in improving the
efficiency of resource use, reducing risks and hazards, minimizing wastes and safeguarding
30.18. The following objectives are proposed:
(a) To encourage the concept of stewardship in the management and utilization of
natural resources by entrepreneurs;
(b) To increase the number of entrepreneurs engaged in enterprises that subscribe to
and implement sustainable development policies.
30.19. Governments should encourage the establishment and operations of sustainably
managed enterprises. The mix would include regulatory measures, economic incentives and
streamlining of administrative procedures to assure maximum efficiency in dealing with
applications for approval in order to facilitate investment decisions, advice and
assistance with information, infrastructural support and stewardship responsibilities.
30.20. Governments should encourage, in cooperation with the private sector, the
establishment of venture capital funds for sustainable development projects and
30.21. In collaboration with business, industry, academia and international
organizations, Governments should support training in the environmental aspects of
enterprise management. Attention should also be directed towards apprenticeship schemes
30.22. Business and industry, including transnational corporations, should be
encouraged to establish world-wide corporate policies on sustainable development, arrange
for environmentally sound technologies to be available to affiliates owned substantially
by their parent company in developing countries without extra external charges, encourage
overseas affiliates to modify procedures in order to reflect local ecological conditions
and share experiences with local authorities, national Governments and international
30.23. Large business and industry, including transnational corporations, should
consider establishing partnership schemes with small and medium-sized enterprises to help
facilitate the exchange of experience in managerial skills, market development and
technological know-how, where appropriate, with the assistance of international
30.24. Business and industry should establish national councils for sustainable
development and help promote entrepreneurship in the formal and informal sectors. The
inclusion of women entrepreneurs should be facilitated.
30.25. Business and industry, including transnational corporations, should increase
research and development of environmentally sound technologies and environmental
management systems, in collaboration with academia and the scientific/engineering
establishments, drawing upon indigenous knowledge, where appropriate.
30.26. Business and industry, including transnational corporations, should ensure
responsible and ethical management of products and processes from the point of view of
health, safety and environmental aspects. Towards this end, business and industry should
increase self-regulation, guided by appropriate codes, charters and initiatives integrated
into all elements of business planning and decision-making, and fostering openness and
dialogue with employees and the public.
30.27. Multilateral and bilateral financial aid institutions should continue to
encourage and support small- and medium-scale entrepreneurs engaged in sustainable
30.28. United Nations organizations and agencies should improve mechanisms for business
and industry inputs, policy and strategy formulation processes, to ensure that
environmental aspects are strengthened in foreign investment.
30.29. International organizations should increase support for research and development
on improving the technological and managerial requirements for sustainable development, in
particular for small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries.
Means of implementation
Financing and cost evaluation
30.30. The activities included under this programme area are mostly changes in the
orientation of existing activities and additional costs are not expected to be
significant. The cost of activities by Governments and international organizations are
already included in other programme areas.
1/ See A/CONF.151/PC/125.
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