Greenpeace and Business, What’s that About?

by Amy Larkin

May 3, 2011

tight rope walker

Corporate Survival in a Precarious Environment

On May 4th, Greenpeace, several multinational corporations and UNEP receive the prestigious Roy Award from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government for our joint work on eliminating HFCs from refrigeration and cooling.

Last year, through Refrigerants, Naturally! efforts, 400 of the world’s largest corporations committed to eliminating these super greenhouse gases starting in 2015.

In April, Greenpeace released a new report ranking U.S supermarket chains on sustainable seafood. Although no corporation has reached our version of “good”, two retailers — Safeway and Wegmans — have broken through into the political conservation arena with public pledges to support marine reserve efforts in the Ross Sea. This is how change happens.

Most of the time, we are in fact pressuring corporations to change egregious business practices. But sometimes, maybe even often, we end up working with them as we have done with Kimberly-Clark on transforming their paper sourcing. The company has adopted a goal of sourcing 100% of its fiber from environmentally responsible sources and Greenpeace and Kimberly-Clark now jointly promote forest conservation, responsible forest management, and the use of recycled fiber for the manufacture of tissue products.

Why are we working so closely with these corporations? Because corporations now govern how we live, where we live, what we eat, wear, and desire… and also whether or not our natural world retains its bounty, its beauty and its beneficence. Business as usual is no longer possible; for corporations, the greenest possible practices ensure a safer and more secure business environment as well.

Environmental actions are now inextricably bound to supply chain, market share and brand loyalty and businesses either commit to eliminate their pollution or expose themselves to regulatory risk, unpredictable costs, potential liability and Greenpeace scrutiny.

Greenpeace believes that economies must thrive – which means that business must thrive. Our basic stipulation is that the return on investment of business must be connected to the survival of the natural world. The inverse is equally true — clean air, water, land and ecosystems are as essential to business as they are to living things.

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