Corporate social responsibility

Posted: 25 January 2006

There is a growing awareness in business that environmental issues are only part of the sustainability equation and that social and developmental aspects also fall within companies' sphere of responsibility.

As a result, issues like population, corruption and poverty are starting to appear on the business radar, as corporations realise that their future growth and market success depends to a large extent upon having a healthy, wealthy, educated labour force and customer base to draw on.

The following key facts affect this need:

  • Programmes to provide immunization for all children in the developing world would cost annually $3 billion, $5 billion to eradicate illiteracy and $37 billion to provide clean water and sewerage systems.

  • A World Bank study projects that on average 1.8 million people will die annually between 2001 and 2020 due to air pollution.

  • By 2010, the United Nations EnvironmentProgramme expects there to be some 50 million environmental refugees worldwide.

  • In 2003, socially responsible investing totalled $2.63 trillion worldwide, of which $2.16 trillion was in the US.

  • In 2004, US aid spending amounted to $20.7 billion, of which over a quarter went to four countries, Israel, Egypt, Columbia and Jordan, none of which are among the poorest countries in the world.

Source: Worldwatch Institute, Vital Signs 2005