Water use and climate change chief corporate eco-concerns

The potential impact of water shortages and climate change are high on the corporate agenda, according to Business in the Community, a charity established to help corporations have a more positive social and environmental impact.

The charity published the results of its Environmental Index 2005 which invited over 700 member companies to report on the environmental performance and concerns.

According to the index, companies are cleaning up their act in a number of areas, with improvements made in many areas.

The top environmental priority for business was acting on preparing for the impact of water shortages, which have the potential to cripple many areas of industry.

Climate change also proved to be a key driver for business action, with
over 70% of companies setting targets to reduce their carbon impacts.

Only half of the participating companies released details of their progress against their climate change targets to the public, however, suggesting companies might not be achieving self-imposed goals and have more to do on improving transparency.

This charity’s index has now been running for ten years and several industrial giants have claimed it has helped them focus their CSR strategies over the past decade.

While the inclusion of a tobacco giant and airport management company in the top slots might raise a few eyebrows might raise a few eyebrows, the index compares companies with their peers to gauge how they are performing within their sector.

Pharmaceutical multinational GlaxoSmithKline has participated in the Environment Index since its launch and says it has found the exercise useful.

James Hagan, vice president of corporate environment, health and safety for the company said: “Our participation in the Environment Index over the years has had a direct and beneficial effect on the way we communicate with the public about our environmental programmes and performance.

“By serving as a barometer of the expectations of external stakeholders, it has pointed out opportunities for us to improve the transparency of our reporting and the way we manage and structure our programmes.”

Business in the Community’ Jim Haywood said: “The Index continues to provide an effective mechanism for companies to benchmark performance against their peers, promote action to address key impacts and get a better insight on emerging issues.

“Looking back over the past ten years, we can see a marked improvement in the way companies manage their environmental performance. Moving forward, we want to encourage even more companies to measure and manage their impact on the environment and bring this in to the mainstream of their business thinking.”

Sam Bond

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