PILLAR 3. Being Socially and Environmentally Responsible
Corporations have responsibilities to stakeholders that share the same resource or environment. Many resource industries meet this responsibility to communities through charitable donations. Socio-environmental responsibility goes even further, by actually taking impacts on stakeholders and the environment into account when making business decisions.
Maintaining profit margins while reducing environmental footprints is a challenge for any business. How does WFT promote this approach? One successful method is the use of economic incentives instead of relying on regulation alone. Better dialogue between business and communities, using a common interest approach for problem solving, has also worked, and we encourage it in all our programs. While the balance between social and environmental issues depends on the project, WFT tries to make all projects locally relevant, with adaptive, results-based management. Our main themes for social and environmental responsibility are:
- Target appropriate: resource industry, aquaculture, agriculture and sewage treatment
- Economic argument: triple bottom line (people, planet, profit)
- Social approach: common interest with community and activists
- Incentive: carbon credits
Some Examples From Brazil
In its Brazil Inland Fisheries project, WFT has been working with communities on the São Francisco River to improve the sustainability of freshwater fisheries. In 2005, a high-profile fish kill set local fishers against a zinc smelter they believed was responsible. WFT brokered a local multi-stakeholder forum that included the fishing community and the company. Results: new sewage treatment facilities, analysis and remediation plans for heavy metal contamination, new studies on pesticides and toxic blue-green algae, operational changes at the hydroelectric dam, improved water quality monitoring and localized treatment of drinking water. Click here to view a poster.
The same "common interest" approach has been taken since 1999 with CEMIG, the hydroelectric company operating in the project region, to reduce the impacts of dams on the river ecosystem. Results: CEMIG recently initiated pilot projects to upgrade dam technology, including new environmental protection equipment for the Três Marias dam.