Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231

Vol. 14, No. 12, February 26, 2010
Honoured Reader Edition


In this issue we focus almost entirely on recent issues in Corporate Social Responsibility. That’s not too narrow a topic: for many companies the term CSR has superceded and incorporated environmental responsibility as well as social responsibility and it is used in many others as a synonym for corporate Sustainable Development. Operational definitions of CSR are few and far between while operational definitions of corporate Sustainable Development are usually based on the 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development definition of Sustainable Development: Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Recently the Government of Canada decided to promote CSR and the International Standards Organization is working on a standard for CSR. We even wrap up this issue with a review of some current topics, "Avoid Bamboozling Your Customers" and the Suzuki Foundation review of the 'Vancouver Climate Olympics', that are all about Corporate Social Responsibility. Whether you are a citizen, consumer, a customer, an individual or a corporation, we welcome your views and, as always, will print a selection of letters received.

In our next issue we will bring some of the highlights of the very recent American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference, which took place on the theme of Reconnecting Science and Society, and will catch up on some recent news on business and environment matters. As a teaser for our next issue, our editorial in this issue reports on the climate presentations at the AAAS conference. There is lots more to come in the next issue. Meanwhile, enjoy this one.


Some of North America’s most prominent climate scientists were among the attendees at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San Diego last week. GL will be reporting on more of the AAAS presentations in the next issue but we felt it important to report on one issue with some priority.

Not one single scientist at AAAS spoke from the podium in contradiction of the seriousness of the challenge of climate change. All who spoke on the topic said that the problem is one with very serious consequences for human beings - not potentially serious consequences but actually serious consequences. GL did hear one audience member ask a question about the emails stolen from the UK climate research centre that suggested he might be a climate change sceptic but the panel members to whom he addressed his question quickly rebutted him by pointing out that there is nothing in the stolen emails that suggests that there is anything amiss with current scientific understanding of climate change. Many of those scientists who spoke at AAAS stated that their research and review of the literature indicated that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has seriously underestimated the impact of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and that a major adverse impact on the human economy and society may be as close as 30 or 40 years in the future, possibly sooner. Several presented research results showing that avoidance of major impacts on the global climate, the 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide model, can only be achieved if global emissions of fossil carbon are cut to zero by about 2050. No more oil, no more coal, and no more natural gas use in 40 years. Only a few extreme optimists believe that such a target is technically and economically achievable.

One of the final panels of the conference consisted of three eminent speakers on the subject of Understanding Climate Change Skepticism: Its Sources and Strategies. Panel members were quite clear that their research indicates a deliberate and well-funded campaign of disinformation supported by industries such as coal. Dr. William Freudenburg, a past Chair of the AAAS and a professor of environmental studies at University of California at Santa Barbara, has developed the term Scientific Certainty Augmentation Methods to describe the types of campaigns conducted by the tobacco and coal industries.

The climate experts at AAAS are unanimous that the planet does not yet face a climate emergency. The real scientific debate is whether such an emergency will come in 10, 50, or 100 years. We will share information from some of the scientists proposing solutions in our next issue.

Colin Isaacs



Corporate Knights, "The Canadian Magazine for Responsible Business" and "The Magazine for Clean Capitalism" released the 2010 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 27, 2010. The top five are General Electric Company (US - services, technology, media, financial “jet engines to power generation, financial services to water processing, and medical imaging to media content”), PG&E Corp (US-electric utility), Tnt NV (Netherlands-international express and mail delivery), H & M Hennes & Mauritz Ab (Sweden - retailer of fashion clothing, accessories, cosmteitcs, operates stores and sells through the internet ) and Nokia Corporation (Finalnd - mobile devices, accessories, services, and software), makes a range of mobile devices with services and software). The top five Canadian companies are Enbridge Inc (rank 16 - crude oil and gas transmission and pipelines, renewable and emerging energy technologies), Encana (rank 25 - exploration, development, production, sale and marketing of natural gas and crude oil), Suncor (rank 40 - natural gas and oil development including Alberta oil sands and offshore, retail sales ), Sun Life Financial Inc. (rank 50 - insurance, mutual funds, annuities, pensions, and investment management.), Nexen (rank 59 - gas and oil including offshore, deep water Gulf of Mexico, Athabasca oil sands) and Transcanada Corp (rank 65 - oil and gas pipelines).

Corporate Knights works with a number of companies (e.g. Innovest Strategic Value Advisors now a wholly owned subsidiary of RiskMetrics Group) that provide the data for the indicators of corporate environmental, social and governance indicators but notes the limitations of sustainability ranking due to
A spreadsheet provides numbers to support the Global 100 ratings and helps provide greater transparency for the ranking. For example, Toyota Motor Corp.(Japan) is ranked as 14th. Toyota was in the 97th percentile in its industry group (Automobiles & Components) for GDP produced per unit of carbon (the higher the GDP the better), Toyota got 0% for percent of women on the board as it has none. Toyota regards its CSR positioning as important a recent magazine ad says, “We see beyond cars. We see ways to enrich the community.” As the US Government now alleges that Toyota knew about its auto defects and should have taken action sooner, GL is left wondering how the Global 100 rating system takes account of actual adverse health effects and death due to a company's products or services or significant damage to habitat and the environment arising from manufacturing and use of a company’s products.

One of the challenges in social and environmental ranking is how to weigh these issues. Corporations have person status in law - on one hand, this allows them to be sued for liability. On the other hand, a real person might get a criminal record and be permanently restrained from certain activities but a badly behaved or polluting corporation can morph, merge or declare bankruptcy and return without the constraints that face a human being. This ability to escape on-going responsibility is why society ends up paying for orphaned mining and brownfield sites or, say, health care for people damaged by toxic chemicals.

GL thinks it's good to challenge all companies by rating their CSR performance and picking some of the better ones. However, any rating is subject very much to the choice of what is measured. The Global 100, as published by Corporate Knights, is clearly not the 100 most sustainable companies in the world. It is a list created by Corporate Knight using specific criteria and weighting to make a ranking based on Corporate Knights’ criteria. Folks who do not read Gallon Environment Letter might be mislead into thinking that Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World is a description rather than a name.

This is similar to the increasing use of trademarks and brands which have the potential to confuse the consumer, especially if the consumer does not realize that the trademark or brand is a label and not a description. For example, many Canadian supermarkets carry a brand of frozen fruits and vegetables which is branded "Europe's Best"(TM). Consumers might assume that the food comes from Europe but print smaller than the brand name on some bags reveals a description Product of Chile or China or other non-European country.

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In January of this year the Centre for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility was launched. The press release said the initiative is "Part of the Canadian Government's action plan on CSR - Building the Canadian Advantage" and that "this initially web-based resource will provide access to relevant CSR-related information, tools and networks worldwide." The Centre is intended to be one of the four pillars of the Canadian government's action plan on CSR.

The Centre was developed by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) with the support of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Its mandate is to:
The efforts of the Centre would initially be focussed on high-priority sectors and issues, such as the mining and oil and gas sectors, and materials for high-risk countries.


So far the web site is still a work in progress. Some of the more detailed information is on example of certain countries such as Tanzania which includes demographics and facts and figures, links to laws, environmental issues, lists of mines and companies operating with links to the companies' websites etc. However, it is one of those sites with endless hypertext with too few references/dates. A company seeking to improve its CSR might get some good ideas and it is fascinating to see the types, ownership and numbers of mines. While all stakeholders need to exercise caution about information and their sources no matter how good a website appears to be, this website in particular is in too early stages to be really useful for definitive information which a company might seek to rely on.

GL is glad to see the Government of Canada getting back into linkages with sustainability of business issues. Some of these were dropped when the "New Government of Canada" took over in January 2006 because environment was considered the underling of economics. However, backlash against the oilsands, Canada's burgeoning "Fossil of the Day Awards" at the climate talks and initiatives such as state laws and city mayors' resolutions, indicates environment is important internationally. However, one of the problems with this CSR initiative may be similar to the "Owning the Podium" theme of the Olympics. Using the term "Building the Canadian Advantage" when applied to corporate social responsibility may lead the international community into thinking that Canada's competitive advantage is the higher priority than the values of fair practices and environmental protection. In some of the web articles, money comes first, the dollar value of the stocks, the dollar value of the companies. The money of mining companies is seen as "investment" in developing countries but if the resources are depleted and the people in developing countries don't get much direct benefit then the investment may actually cost too much in non-monetary terms..

Just as the oilsands industry put up a web site "to have a conversation", one could suspect that this one may well be a similar public relations exercise although at least some of the members of the Interim Executive Committee will hopefully speak against that. Among the Interim Executive Committee Members are

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In December 2007, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund - Global, which invests oil revenues and is among the world's largest stockholders, held NOK1,274 million Norwegian Krone (about $220 million Canadian at today’s exchange rates) in Barrick Gold stocks.

In August 2008, the Norway Ethics Council, which screens Norwegian Government investments, recommended that Barrick Gold be excluded from the pension investment. The report to the Minister of Finance said that "Barrick Gold is a Canadian mining company, which, in several countries, has been accused of causing extensive environmental degradation. The Council investigated whether riverine tailings disposal from the Porgera mine (Papua New Guinea) in which Barrick Gold had 95% ownership generated "severe environmental damage", one of the criteria for exclusion. The conclusion was that the mining operation at Porgera entailed considerable pollution and that the heavy metals contamination had negative impacts on the people not only those who live near the mining site but also tribal peoples downstream and on the environment. This environmental criteria apply only to extreme cases requiring that:
The report also mentioned that "Barrick Gold has been accused of "far-reaching environmental destruction through its mining operations" in many countries and lists some of the other accusations which the Council did not assess. Sources of information included:
Mineral Policy Institute in Australia, Mining Watch Canada, The Oxfam Mining Ombudsman in Australia, surveys by the US Geological Survey, Barrick Gold's financial reports and web site, indigenous rights groups in Chile, IIED, and independent reviews by university researchers, and CSIRO.

The two replies by the company are also discussed. including a company view that the Council is misleading in regard to the cause of mercury pollution in Lake Murray and is against disposals to rivers on principle. The Council asked for expert opinion from the Norwegian Institute for Water Research among others and continued to support the exclusion. Although the company said it was evaluating various alternatives to discharge to the river, the Council found that this didn't constitute a commitment to stop riverine disposal. The Council report says that the company does not add substantial information relying on CSIRO reports from 1996 and a few technical reports which the Council already had. The Council wasn't sure if this was the only information the Company had on the environmental impact of the mine but if there was more, there was a lack of transparency and if there was no more, the company had too little data to counter the evidence.


Most of the Norwegian government investment exclusions are due to tobacco production and manufacture of weapons such as cluster bombs and nuclear missiles. In January 2010, the Ministry of Finance announced the exclusion of 17 companies that produce tobacco. Wal-Mart Stores Inc was excluded due to human and labour rights. Rio Tinto and some other companies were excluded as was Barrick Gold for severe or extensive environmental damage. The Council also recommends reversal of exclusion e.g. DRD Gold were found to no longer be involved in the activity which led to its exclusion. The list of all companies excluded or formerly excluded is available on the website.

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Bill C-300 An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries was introduced as a private member’s bill by Liberal Member of Parliament John Mackay on February 2009.
In a submission to Canada’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development on the bill, Barrick Gold (see above) describes itself as leading in CSR, “A major player in the extractive sector, Canada has also been recognized as a global leader in CSR. For example, Canadian companies such as Barrick, Goldcorp and Kinross have played a leadership role in developing and promoting best practices within the industry, through organizations such as the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)6 and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). “ The submission presented by Barrick Gold Corporation, Peter Sinclair, senior director, corporate social responsibility; from Goldcorp Inc., Dina Aloi, vice-president for corporate social responsibility; and from Kinross Gold Corporation, Mac Penney, director of government relations and a number of lawyers suggests that the bill would “stunt” mining CSR initiatives and penalize mining companies.

Just before the presentation, MP Ms. Francine Lalonde (La Pointe-de-l'Île, BQ) said, “Mr. Chair, I appreciate the presence here of these eminent counsels and lawyers this morning. They are top-notch lawyers from the mining companies in Canada. But we do not have on our side lawyers and experts who could disprove what they say much better than we could. I am not a lawyer or a specialist in this area. I will find myself in a position of presenting objections they will immediately tear to pieces. I will not be able to say that, as a committee, we have done all we could, as we hope to do, before we pass this bill. Mr. Chair, I am really sorry things are turning out this way, and I fear this will make this two-hour sitting much less valuable.”

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Quebec's Premier Charest's experience in India illustrates that being socially responsible in one area doesn't offset or protect against criticism in another.

Charest was in India to promote Quebec and to speak at the 10th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit in New Delhi on February 5 at the opening Keynote Address by Leaders - Imperatives of Visionary Leadership. The three day summit held Feb 5-7 had the theme "Beyond Copenhagen: new pathways to sustainable development." It was organized by the Energy and Resources Institute, TERI. Since he became premier, the program states, the Quebec government developed an Energy Development Strategy, a Public Transit Policy and an Action Plan on Climate Change and projects it will meet a Quebec target of 6% reductions of greenhouse gases below 1990 by the deadline set the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012) and plans to reduce to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020.


On February 5, trade unions and human rights groups called a press conference and organized a demonstration. They called on the Indian and Canadian governments to halt the trade in white asbestos. They asked that "Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India and Mr. Charest visiting premier (chief minister) of Quebec ..stand up to the powerful asbestos industry in both countries which is spending millions of dollars to intimidate and silence workers, doctors, scientists and activists from articulating a truth ..- asbestos kills! There is no safe use of asbestos! *Mr Charest STOP! this hypocrisy*“ Although asbestos is banned in Canada and millions of dollars spent to remove it from schools, hospitals and buildings in Quebec and Canada, Canada and Quebec continue to export it to countries like India where is it used by companies with little capability to protect workers. Organizers of the event were Anup Srivastava (Building and Wood Workers’ International), D. Thankappan (New Trade Union Initiative), Rajiv Dimri (All India Central Council of Trade Unions), Gopal Krishna, (Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)), and Amjad Hassan (Delhi Asangathit Nirman Mazdoor Union).

It seems that Charest's response was that it was up to the Indian government to put the necessary standards for asbestos in place.

TERI. Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2010. February 5, 2010.

Krishna, Gopal. [GreenYouth] Press Release: Indian and Canadian Governments Betray Workers by opposing a Ban on Asbestos. February 5, 2010.

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The Canadian Business Ethics Research Network received a $2.1 million grant in 2007 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for a seven year project linking academic and economic sectors inviting dialogue between researchers and practitioners in government, business, community and voluntary sectors. The Network offers a job and contract opportunity board as well as papers and opportunities for participation on business ethics and CSR. Examples of links listed include
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The Norway Ministry of Finance claimed in 2008 that Norges Bank's active ownership in Monsanto Co. led to significant reduction in the use of child labour at the company's hybrid cotton production in India. The Norway Ethics Council (see above) had recommended Monsanto's exclusion in 2006 to avoid the fund in investing in the "worst kind of child labour", but the Minister did not accept the recommendation. Instead he asked the Norges Bank which administers the fund to exercise active ownership rights and in 2008 was continuing to engage with Monsanto to combat the worst forms of child labour in the Indian hybrid cotton seed production.

The Bank also became active in developing a joint standard with multinational companies on child labour and in 2008 the Council concluded that while violations were ongoing, there were considerable improvements within certain geographical areas. It was felt that the role of the Norges Bank was important to furthering sector-wide initiatives on child labour and reducing violations to the point where in the future Monsanto would not be regarded in breach of the Ethical Guidelines in regard to child labour.

One of Monsanto’s magazine ads describes how one of the farmers in the Philippines using biotech seeds can afford to send their children to quality schools. The ad photo shows chubby cheeked children in bright white Ts sitting in school desks eagerly raising their hands.


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Work on the ISO 26000 Standard for Social Responsibility began in 2005. A draft was published in September 2009 and the target date for publication is 2010, although some observers expect a delay. ISO SR is intended not just for companies but for all organizations including industry, government, labour, consumers, nongovernmental organizations and others no matter what size or location. The general framework includes:
0 Introduction
1 Scope
2 Normative references
3 Terms and definitions
4 The SR context in which all organizations operate
5 SR principles relevant to organizations 
6 Guidance on core SR subjects/issues
7 Guidance for organizations on implementing SR
8 Guidance annexes

Environment is one of the core subjects of the ISO 26000. The core subjects include
Not all of these may be relevant to all organizations. The standard contains no requirement so the word "shall" is not used. It is not intended to be used in contracts, regulations, and isn't to be regarded as a standard under the WTO. It is not to be used in legal action. It cannot be used for certification or public claims. It is not intended to prevent the development of national standards that are more specific, more demanding or of a different type.

Each subject has issues listed. For example, under environment, an organization is encouraged to identify contributions, e.g. direct and indirect GHG emissions, water, air. waste, etc. There is some duplication as health and safety, economics and value chain are listed under more than one core subject. The organization is encouraged to deal with the subjects and issues holistically rather than focus on one issue which might lead to adverse impacts on some of the other issues. One of the benefits of social responsibility is said to be "improving the organization's risk management program" (see last issue for article on ISO 31000).

There is an annex which lists a number of organizations which are tools and initiatives which also provide guidance on some or all aspects of other core subjects and practices for integrating social responsibility. Examples include intergovernmental initiatives such as the UNEP Climate Neutral Network, membership based organizations such as AccountAbility, Ceres, Rainforest Alliance and sectoral initiatives such as Clean Clothes Campaign and the Responsible Care (International Council of Chemical Associations) and Forest Stewardship Council.

The ISO/DIS 26000 document was circulated for a 5-month ballot to all member bodies of ISO (comments and voting) and to liaisons of the working group on social responsibility WG SR (for comments) closing February 14, 2010.

If and when the standard is finally approved, the ISO expects there to be a governing body to organize seminars and conferences and to provide advice. Various groups have recommended that the standard be made available free but the ISO Council is not willing to do that as ISO and its members charge for standards. Some of these groups have said they will vote no on but the WG SR Secretariat won't accept a no vote because it is not on technical justification. Groups have suggested that ISO should adopt a new business model for this standard and reinvest profits into the process but the ISO Council will not accept this either.

For those companies or consultants with experience in reporting on Corporate Social Responsibility, this should be familiar territory.

GL wonders whether it is time to develop a standard to determine whether or not a standard should be developed in the first place. This is not a topic which lends itself to the ISO process of standardization and is frankly, in GL's opinion biting off way more than ISO can chew. Firstly, real social responsibility is about values as well as on-the-ground practices and needs to be participatory. How can these members of the ISO have any accountability to those affected to say what is the higher priority for socially responsiblity in a particular time, place and situation? Secondly, standard setting is an extremely time-burdened process; five years have passed already in this process. Once set, revisions becomes even more time-consuming and laborious to change. Yet perceptions of what is socially responsible can shift much quicker as information about what is happening in the field arrives into public awareness. Thirdly, the terms used cannot be even remotely defined in an adequate way due to the complexity of the range of topics. Defining phrases as if they weren't complicated doesn't help much. For example, there have been huge number of pages written on one of many phrases used in the standard "Pay for equal work." How will an organization will assure itself it has met this one criteria in the standard is not clear at all. Lastly, a lot of work in corporate social responsibility has been done for a couple of decades on this topic in the public domain and this standard setting seems to be attempting to move at least some of that work into the private sector as all the standard associations charge sometimes multiple hundreds of dollars for a standard and its revisions. If anything, a number of the frameworks for socially responsibility listed in the Annex are more useful and better what this standard offers. Overall. GL thinks if this standard is finalized, it is unlikely to do much good. For very complex issues, it is less about the standard than how the standard is put in place. For example, the ISO has thousands of standards of food but that hasn't prevented the dangerous and high-profile food safety events such as bacteria and contaminants such as melamine.

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Jantzi Research Inc., a Canadian company founded by Michael Jantzi in 1992, and Sustainalytics, a European-based company, merged in August 2009 with headquarters in Amsterdam. Jantzi Research launched the Jantzi Social Index® in 2000 with partner Dow Jones Indexes. Sixty companies are currently listed.

The web site of the new company, now called Jantzi-Sustainalytics, states that while their research is used by institutions and retail investors to integrate sustainability criteria into investment, they are also being asked for information by conventional investment institutions who use the analysis "because it highlights non-traditional indicators or risks in the marketplace that traditional sell-side research either overlooks or ignores."

Perspectives in Responsible Investment

Jantzi-Sustainalytics and the Hennick Centre for Business and Law at York University are conducting a consultation on corporate social disclosure requirements in Ontario. An hour-long panel discussion on Perspectives on Responsible Investment was held on November 16 and is available for download.

In the video, Michael Jantzi introduces the panel saying that not very long ago a session on integrating governance, environment and social responsibility in an investment seminar would have attracted fewer people than required to pack a phone booth. He credits the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment for the gain in traction of responsible investment.

2009 Ivey-Jantzi Research Report

The report Corporate Social Responsibility in Canada, prepared in partnership with the University of Western Ontario Richard Ivey School of Business, scores S&P/TSX Composite Index companies on 100 indicators in six categories: community and society, corporate governance, customers, employees, environment and human rights, with weightings for specific industries. Among the trends are:
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The investment objective of the RBC Jantzi Canadian Equity Fund is "to provide long-term capital growth by investing primarily in equity securities of Canadian companies. The fund follows a socially responsible approach to investing." The list includes investments in the Royal Bank of Canada, Suncor Energy Inc., Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Barrick Gold Corporation, Manulife Financial Corporation, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Inc, Research in Motion, Ltd, Canadian Oil Sands Trust, EnCana Corporation and others.

GL notes that lists like these will always generate reasons why certain companies should not have passed the screening process of social responsibility to be on the list.

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TERI, the Indian Institute which organizes the annual Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (see above article) is headed by R.K. Pachauri who is also the chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. TERI won the Economic Times of India Award in the category for Corporate Citizen of the Year. The ceremony was attended by many high level government and business people. Pachauri, head of TERI said that he thought the 21st century is going to see the emergence of a knowledge society and India will be in the forefront.

The award was in recognition not only for sensitising people about the dangers of climate change but also for the economic opportunities in energy efficiency and climate change prevention and mitigation. TERI, established in 1974, has grown so it now has centres in various parts of India and around the world. It offers university doctoral and masters degrees in certain areas including regulatory studies. It has about 800 research professionals working across disciplines such as economics, biotechnology, biology, physics, chemistry, environment, glaciology, and social scientists. Many people have experience in administration and corporations.

Teri and Pachauri have done significant work on sensitising people to not only the dangers posed by greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, but also to the economic opportunities that lie in energy efficiency and climate change prevention and mitigation. However, climate change is just one among the many societal challenges on which TERI carries out research. The Delhi SD Summit is intended to help Indian industry adopt sustainability not just to show good citizenship but because it makes sound business sense. Among TERI's initiatives are:
The Economic Times of India article concludes that "TERI offers an excellent example of organised not-for-profit activity that steadily advances the collective good."

The Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence. 2009

ET Awards 2008-09: Corporate Citizen of the Year- TERI


Organizers of the annual Global Ecological Integrity Group conference have issued a call for papers due February 15 but there is some flexibility on that date. Many of the paper topics are relevant to social responsibility:
* Biological Integrity Today
* Governance and Sustainability
* Water Rights and Water Law
* Climate Change After Copenhagen
* The Global Economic Crisis
* Collective vs. Individual Human Rights
* Global and Ecological Citizenship
* The Fallacy of Economic Growth
* The Influence of the Military/Industrial Complex today
* A Right to Public Health?
* Indigenous Rights and the Protection of Minorities in Law
* Neocolonialism and Developing Countries
* The Role and Importance of Protected/ Sacred Spaces
* Biosphere Ethics
* The Role of the Media

GEIG International Conference. Ecological Integrity and Globalization: Science, Human Behaviour, Public Policy and the Law. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia. June 27-July 3, 2010. Registration Fee. CDN$175 Campus and other accommodation available.

Organizers are: Laura Westra lwestra<> and Bill Rees Wrees<> [Replace <> with you know what.]

The Global Ecological Integrity Group started in the early 1990 with just 20 people and now includes more than 250 scholars and independent researchers worldwide, from diverse disciplines, including ecology, biology, philosophy, epidemiology, public health, ecological economics and international law. Check out the books and the proceedings from past conferences for perspectives on beyond business as usual.


Ontario Universities, through their provincial association the Council of Ontario Universities, are at the early stage of accepting responsibility for working together to find solutions to environmental sustainability. A Pledge from the Executive Heads issued in November 2009 was signed by Sheldon Levy Chair of Council and President and Vice-Chancellor of Ryerson and Prof. Bonnie M. Patterson Interim President of COU.
Among the initiatives are:
Also the universities say they accept responsibility to:
A report then lists the results of a survey of campus sustainability initiatives. The large majority of Ontario university campuses (17 out of 22) have implemented formal written policies and/or are signatories to a declaration of commitment to promote environmental sustainability or stewardship. Eight of Ontario’s universities are signatories to the Talloires Declaration, which is a 10 point international action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research and operations at universities and colleges across the globe, and which has been signed by more than 350 institutions of higher learning worldwide.

The commitment is signed by the Executive Heads:
Dr. Celia Ross President Algoma University
Dr. Jack Lightstone President & Vice-Chancellor Brock University
Dr. Roseann O’Reilly Runte President & Vice-Chancellor Carleton University
Dr. Alastair Summerlee President & Vice-Chancellor University of Guelph
Dr. Frederick Gilbert President & Vice-Chancellor Lakehead University
Mr. Dominic Giroux President Laurentian University
Dr. Peter George President & Vice-Chancellor McMaster University
Dr. Lesley Lovett-Doust President & Vice-Chancellor Nipissing University
Dr. Ronald Bordessa President & Vice-Chancellor University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Mr. Allan Rock President & Vice-Chancellor University of Ottawa
Dr. Daniel Woolf Principal & Vice-Chancellor Queen’s University
Mr. Sheldon Levy President & Vice-Chancellor Ryerson University
Dr. David Naylor President University of Toronto
Dr. Steven Franklin President & Vice-Chancellor Trent University
Prof. David Johnston President & Vice-Chancellor University of Waterloo
Dr. Amit Chakma President & Vice-Chancellor University of Western Ontario
Dr. Max Blouw President & Vice-Chancellor Wilfrid Laurier University
Dr. Alan Wildeman President & Vice-Chancellor University of Windsor
Dr. Mamdouh Shoukri President & Vice-Chancellor York University
Ms. Sara Diamond President Ontario College of Art & Design

Dr. Joel Sokolsky Principal Royal Military College of Canada

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Gary Hirshberg, self-described as "the guy from New Hampshire" and CE-YO (keep reading - you will get it eventually!) of Stonyfield Farm SF, which produces and distributes organic yogurt, put in some serious face time at the 29th Annual Guelph Organic Agriculture Conference at the end of January. SF and the Organic Trade Association in Canada (OTA) hosted a reception at the Artisanale Café in downtown Guelph where we enjoyed organic nibbles, organic wine (Frogpond, Ontario's first certified organic vineyard), organic beer from Mill St. Brewery (a microbrewery in East Toronto) and of course organic yogurt - pomegranate and blueberry flavour.

Hirshberg spoke at a screening of Food Inc. which is a film by Robert Kenner showing the hugely mechanized industrial agriculture system on one side and on the other Hirschberg at Stonyfield and Joel Salatin at Polyface Farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Salatin raises animals such as pigs, rabbits, cattle and chickens organically on pasture and in 2009 won $100,000 award from the Heinz Foundation for his contribution to human progress. He and his family and employees slaughter animals outdoors on the farm attracting the attention of the public health department. In the film, he explains that his method has tested out to produce far lower bacteria count than any of the officially approved slaughterhouses. There's lots of blood and dead things as the film shows the crowded conditions of chicken barns and multi-level slaughter houses. Mostly filmakers aren't allowed in such places but secret cameras carried by workers and access allowed by a large-scale chicken farmer who was literally sick and tired helped. The film suggests that the ag-industry is misleading the public by labelling most food products with small family-farm symbols such as red barns and little red tractors. The system is seen as contributing to pollution and serious health effects. Food Inc. has been nominated for the Oscar Awards.

Hirshberg started Stonyfield Farm with a few cows, the company grew and when it was sold to Danone in 2001, it had revenues of US$70 million. Hirshberg said he continues to have control, even though his share is only 20%, as long as he meets Danone's conditions which include increasing sales. Currently SF has revenues of $300 million. Danone, which sells yogurt brands such as Activia, had annual revenues of Euro 14,982 million in 2009.

It seems Hirshberg still sees himself on the non-industrial side of the food industry because he produces organic product even though he is part of a huge multinational. He regards organic as the way to go for the entire food sector but admits that to produce means to have an environmental impact. He said, "My name is Gary and I'm a polluter."

One of the reasons that SF's sales have increased is that Walmart began to carry SF organic yogurt in its stores. Hirshberg said that supplying Walmart means fewer flavours in their stores as every individual SF product has to meet sales thresholds for shelf space, so he supplies other smaller chains with different flavours. He finds some other customers, such as price clubs, have tougher volume thresholds than Walmart. Walmart requires that their sales be only a part of the total sales of SF so that if Walmart decides to switch suppliers, they won't put SF out of business. Also because Walmart gives better shelf positioning for products with third party carbon assessment, Stonyfield Farm products get better sales because they have such an assessment and their yogurt is very visible.

Hirshberg spoke at the Guelph Organic Agriculture Conference organic dinner and then was also part of a Guelph Public Forum on "Organic values and ethics vs the goals of a competitive marketplace."

Numbers Count

Selling to Walmart earns Stonyfield Farm a lot of flack from the dedicated organic and environmental crowd. Hirshberg said, "There are 1000 reasons to eat organic and only one reason for why not: it is too expensive and that is not good." By making cost efficiencies without reducing prices to the farmers, selling through Walmart makes organic yogurt accessible. He counts up the number of tons of pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals avoided and which are not polluting the soil and streams due to his products' organic certification.

GL found Hirshberg's concept that if organic remains only as a small niche we really haven't done enough as the environmental benefits will be equally small to have much appeal. Growing bigger has some negative effects but Hirshberg argues that the larger scale organic approach is necessary and, by its larger market share, brings many benefits. Hirshberg's goal is to see all production organic. Whether organic or not, the packaging of yogurt when purchased in small containers need improvement.

One of the questions of those watching the movie related to whether larger scale production could still be consistent with the concept of organic. The same controversy arises with green claims on products which are less than ideal. If Fred Bag Company makes a 100% recycled post-consumer material purse it is "better" than a similar bag by a rival which contains only 30%. But assuming that the total bags on the market stay the same no matter who is selling, then if Fred Bag sells only a few thousand, Fred Bag's environmental benefits would be less than the rival who sells many more.

Gary Hirshberg certainly provides much for environmentally interested businesses and consumers to think about. If you have not yet seen Food Inc. we highly recommend it, especially as it is currently nominated for Best Documentary Feature in this year's Academy Awards®.

Guelph Organic Agriculture Conference.

Organic Trade Association in Canada. [Find Food Inc. and click for more information on the movie.]

The Heinz Awards. Joel Salatin.  [Find Salatin]

Stonyfield Farm - Canada for a Healthy Planet. Welcome to Our Culture. Site Map.

Official Food, Inc. Movie Site - Hungry For Change?

Part of the greening controversy is whether buying generally or buying certain items or from certain companies can ever be environmentally good. Advertising encourages us to buy for youth, for belonging, for health or for making Mother Nature happy. Some economists and politicians view it as a citizen responsibility to shop for recession recovery. On the other hand, every person, product, service and company is polluting. Often not buying is assumed to be the better choice but since use of a product can sometimes contribute 80% or more of the environmental impact, upgrading to say, a more energy-efficient steel mill, a closed-loop water recycling system or clothing that can be washed in cold water rather than dry-cleaned may support a buying-is-better decision. The reality is that most of us continue to buy and choosing both products and companies with better environmental performance can have benefits compared to choosing those with poorer performance.

Thomas Friedman in his book Hot, Flat and Crowed has a section called “Make the word green go away.” He suggests that in the future, what we need is to have all buildings, all transportation, everything be green so there is no exceptional category called “green”.


Recently green business advisor Joel Makower was discussing a lawsuit by a small group against Honda who was using what the group claimed was a trademark phrase, Save the Earth. The trademark topic is interesting of itself but in addition Makower said he disliked that phrase. "It's not just an overstatement - no product, no matter how widely used, will ever "save the earth" ... It's us that needs saving." At first GL thought that he was saying that greener purchasing wasn't useful but with his long involvement in green marketing, it didn't make sense. Further reading clarified that wasn't it: this was a critique of human hubris.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


"Avoid Bamboozling Your Customers" says a February business alert from the US Federal Trade Commission. It warns marketers that while some may consider bamboo to be an environmentally friendly choice because it is renewable, grows fast and without pesticides, there are also textile labelling laws. Only textiles made directly from bamboo as mechanically processed bamboo can be labelled as bamboo. Most textile products using the bamboo claim are actually rayon, a chemical process for converting cellulose. The label should read rayon or rayon made from bamboo. Failure to use proper fibre names in labelling and advertising textile products is a deceptive practice.(1)

Whether green or textile claim, the alert reiterates requirements:
In the letter to 78 retailers, asking them to review labelling and advertising for textiles the FTC mentioned the environmental labelling guidelines but didn't specifically address that; the letter required changes to comply with the textile labelling law.

The FTC letter highlights that green and other labelling and advertising are interrelated and failure to substantiate a green claim is not necessarily worse than failure to substantiate other claims.

The FTC not so long ago, pursued three retailers for use of the term biodegradable e.g. on paper plates challenging the green claim because most such paper products end up in landfill where they don't biodegrade in a reasonable time if ever. GL thought at the time that a broader net would have been better when these biodegradable claims are very widely used including on the web. Just as accusations of "greenwashing" make it seem that misleading green claims are more common and egregious than other misleading claims, so targeting only a few companies made it seem like they alone were guilty of infringing the green marketing rules on this claim. Although because numbers count, if those were sellers with the most products to sell, that might still be a relatively effective strategy. Anyway, it was good to see the FTC act on the larger number of claims.

GL thinks suppliers and other sellers can learn from these FTC rulings as there is a common thread. When it comes to assessment of products with potential green claims, suppliers not experienced in green claim guidelines often don't understand why they are asked so many questions: why aren't they being embraced for doing good? Very often, they can't answer the questions and if they do, they don't understand why their say-so isn't good enough. Substantiation requires documentation and verification which may include a third-party visit to the factory and/or material sources not only for the environmental claim but to ensure adherence to basic social responsibility such as not using child labour.

Just because an environmental claim is commonly used in the marketplace doesn't mean that it applies to the supplier's particular product or that the claim is acceptable under the advertising and labelling guidelines.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


The David Suzuki Foundation issued a scorecard on February 3 awarding the 2010 Olympics a "Bronze" for its climate impact. The scorecard only addresses climate rather than the broader environmental initiatives also undertaken by VANOC, which in 2007 hired the group to advise on the climate framework and to raise the level of understanding about greenhouse gas emissions and the games.
The Scorecard discusses some of the activities in different categories. Among the categories are:
Overall Performance: Bronze.

Too Few Measurable Criteria for a Medal

In a real Olympic event, the evaluation doesn't take place until after the event has been completed although it is a fine role for the Scorecard to raise awareness of the climate impact.

The criteria for Vancouver's greenhouse gas reduction is much less clear than the athletic event criteria. The Scorecard recommends that the IOC set standards and goals for all Olympics which would certainly make it more consistent with Olympic sports events. Each of the sports like those fantastic freestyle skiing events, the moguls, for which American Hannah Kearney won gold and Canadian Jenn Heil won silver in the women's and Alexandre Bilodeau won gold in the men's, have detailed criteria known long before the race happens. The Scorecard states that VANOC estimated that it will have reduced the carbon footprint of the Vancouver Olympics by approximately 15 per cent, or 57,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions below “business as usual”. Despite recognizing the difficulty of comparing different cities and countries, the Scorecard states "However, VANOC’s assumptions about what constitutes “business as usual” have not been made public, so it is not clear how they arrived at 15 per cent. And because VANOC did not have any publicly announced overall emission reduction targets, it is difficult to evaluate their success in reducing emissions, and it’s possible that reduction opportunities were missed."

GL isn't sure of why the final judgement ended with a Bronze for Vancouver 2010 in terms of climate action. The Scorecard states, "As it stands now, the Vancouver Olympics will likely be remembered as among the greenest and most climate-friendly Olympics held so far." If the competition is the other Winter Olympic Games, in that case, Vancouver 2010 should get a Gold.

However, GL thought that there could be another judgement made. Using the mogul competition where the course is well-defined - a competitor who goes off-course doesn't win a medal but is not scored. The going-off-course part seemed particularly appropo when a television show of last minute construction at Vancouver 2010 showed a crane being used to stack an Inukshuk. The Inukshuks, reformed to be the colourful symbol of the games, are the formations of different sizes made of stacked rocks, some had outstretched parts which could be arms, made by the Inuit who lives so sustainably in the Arctic. Some say they are landscape markers say for fishing sites or locations of food caches, shelters from the wind, or hunting blinds, Maybe they were an art form. One thing we do know is that they were made by human power only. They are one of the very few things that left any mark on the arctic landscape where these people lived for thousands of years. It isn't just Canada’s fault that the Olympics have grown too large with such excessive costs and environmental impacts but it seems time to scale down this extravaganza to a more human scale, at least the equivalent of building that Vancouver Inukshuk by hand rather than big machine. Lessons can be found in how the Nunavut, the northern Inuit territory founded in Canada in April 1, 1999 celebrated its 10th anniversary last year promoting little use of balloons or material consumption but celebration such as elders teaching youngsters traditional games, a human approach.

David Suzuki Foundation. Climate Scorecard for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic. February 3, 2010.

Government of Nunavut. Happy 10th Anniversary Nunavut!
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