Need for Legislative Frameworks to Guide Markets

ATCA Briefings

London, UK - 24 June 2007, 23:15 GMT - We are grateful to Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Chairman, Anglo-American, and Member, Tomorrow's Global Company, Inquiry Team, based in London, UK, for "Need for Legislative Frameworks to Guide Markets"; and Anouradha Bakshi, Founder Director, Project WHY, based in New Delhi, India, for "Where is the Empathy? Short Term Capitalism and Long Term Environmental Damage";

in response to the Launch of the International Inquiry Report - Tomorrow's Global Company - Challenges and Choices signed by senior figures from businesses and NGOs based in Europe, North America and Asia. These include: ABB, Alcan, Anglo American, Amnesty International Business Group, BP, Dr Reddy's, Ford, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Infosys, KPMG, Leaders' Quest, McKinsey, Standard Chartered, SUEZ, and SustainAbility. The international inquiry draws on their experience and on dialogues, workshops and interviews conducted across the world in countries including Australia, China, France, India, South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States by Tomorrow's Company led by Mark Goyder.

intentBlog: Need for Legislative Frameworks to Guide Markets

Dear ATCA Colleagues

[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and threats.]

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart is Chairman of Anglo American plc, a global mining and natural resources company, and a member of Accenture's board of directors since October 2001. From 1998-2001 Sir Mark was Chairman of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies. He was also Chairman of The "Shell Transport and Trading Company" from 1997 to 2001. He is also a non-executive director of HSBC Holdings plc, a Governor of Nuffield Hospitals and President of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. He was Co-Chair of the G8 Task Force on Renewable Energy in 2000 and 2001.

Following a Doctorate in Geology from Cambridge University, Sir Mark's working life has been mostly with Shell, largely working in countries outside of Europe. Early practical experience gained in Spain, Oman, Brunei and Australia was in 1976 focused on to the major challenge of leading Shell's teams in exploring the UK North Sea - at a time when the fields in the northern North Sea were coming on stream and new exploration plays were developing. Thereafter, he left exploration for more general management, working in Africa, Europe and Asia. As Shell's most senior representative in Turkey and Malaysia, he was involved in developing Shell's businesses in those countries, working with national governments to initiate a number of major projects. In 1990 Sir Mark returned to Europe, to The Hague, to take up the position of co-ordinator of Shell's exploration and production operations outside North America.

Sir Mark became a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in June 2000. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society, the Royal Geographical Society and the Institute of Petroleum, which also awarded him the Cadman Medal in 2001. He is an Honorary Fellow of St John's College Cambridge, an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Chemical Engineers and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen and an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Aberdeen. Sir Mark was born in Antigua, West Indies. He and his wife Judy have been married for over 40 years. They have three sons and a daughter. All family members are keen sailors. He writes:

Dear DK and Colleagues

Re: Need for Legislative Frameworks to Guide Markets

I read with interest Anouradha Bakshi's comment on the negative environmental impact of the disposal of plastic pouches or sachets that are used by companies to sell increasing amounts of material - initially detergent and shampoo, but subsequently much else - to very low income groups living in deprived conditions in urban slums. Anouradha suggests that a simple solution with major impact would be for the government to legislate to ban such packaging.

Apart from the environmental issue, Anouradha's comment raises many deep questions including the impact of consumer advertising in creating or stimulating demand and the fundamental question as to the value of the products to the consumer. I too am no expert in these areas, but the "Tomorrows Global Company" Report does address as one of three central issues the question of legislative frameworks needed to guide markets, particularly in areas where individual consumer choice may not be to the benefit of consumers collectively who make up much of society.

There are many areas where the activities of businesses in providing goods and services for society can have unintended detrimental side effects. Sometimes these effects are clear, but very often the effects are indirect. While these issues are sometimes identified by the companies concerned, they are more often brought to the attention of the companies by civil society organisations or NGOs. The report gives several examples of such cases where progressive companies and NGOs or labour organisations work together, sometimes with local or national governments, to develop frameworks to address such situations. Examples are the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Kimberly Process to prevent the use of diamonds to fund warlords and conflict, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, work done by Unilever and the WWF on Sustainable Fisheries and so on. As the report points out, although these start as "voluntary initiatives" they become accepted as good practice and are often incorporated as standards into national legislation covering all companies, national and multinational. We suggest that "Tomorrows Global Company" should play an active role with other sectors of society in the development of such frameworks. We also suggest that once the frameworks prove practical and robust they should be incorporated into legislative standards and that when this has been done progressive companies should support such regulation.

What has all of this to do with plastic waste? Most societies address issues of waste from multiple angles - from the reduction of waste in manufacturing and marketing (packaging) through the encouragement of consumers to dispose of the waste responsibly, recycling where possible, and the encouragement of industries to collect and treat the waste. Although as I said I am no expert on the particular subject of pouches or sachets, I imagine one could look at a variety of approaches, ranging from the reduction or elimination of the pouches (possible re-usable containers), the practicality of refundable deposits to ensure collection and re-use, to the encouragement of the collection of plastic waste generally for recycling, perhaps through small and relatively informal businesses. I have seen in the Mondi paper and packaging unit of Anglo American the development in south Africa of viable small street businesses for the collection of waste paper as an important part of the input into the paper making process. Such businesses can be encouraged by loans or assistance for the acquisition of hand carts for the collection of paper. The businesses provide many jobs for unskilled people, often providing a first step on the ladder of economic self sufficiency. It is however clear that any approach has to take into account local societal norms and behaviour as well as other socio-economic factors.

I suggest that if a number of civil society organisations with a deep knowledge of the economics and livelihoods of the urban areas concerned got together with the companies selling the materials in pouches or sachets, perhaps also with some of the small businesses who undoubtedly form part of the sales and distribution chain of these materials, perhaps also with local government, it might be possible to come up with a number of practical solutions. This could indeed lead to legislation, but hopefully legislation that was framed to prevent unintended consequences in other areas. I suspect that a company such as Unilever, which has an excellent record of working with NGOs not only to develop such frameworks, but also in studying with a development NGO the impact of their business on a developing society as a whole, would be a willing participant in such a group through Hindustan Lever. I hasten to add that I have no connection with Unilever and certainly cannot speak for them.

Best wishes

Mark Moody-Stuart


We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views. Thank you.

Best wishes

For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance (ATCA)

ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001 to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic dialogue and joint executive action to build a wisdom based global economy. Adhering to the doctrine of non-violence, ATCA addresses asymmetric threats and social opportunities arising from climate chaos and the environment; radical poverty and microfinance; geo-politics and energy; organised crime & extremism; advanced technologies -- bio, info, nano, robo & AI; demographic skews and resource shortages; pandemics; financial systems and systemic risk; as well as transhumanism and ethics. Present membership of ATCA is by invitation only and has over 5,000 distinguished members from over 100 countries: including several from the House of Lords, House of Commons, EU Parliament, US Congress & Senate, G10's Senior Government officials and over 1,500 CEOs from financial institutions, scientific corporates and voluntary organisations as well as over 750 Professors from academic centres of excellence worldwide.

The views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. Please do not forward or use the material circulated without permission and full attribution.

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