Sustainability – Business Case for Associations

There are over 77000 companies in the world. The UN Global Compact is the worlds largest corporate responsibility initiative. Yet only 8800 organisations have signed up to it. The Global Reporting Initiative is the world´s most widely used sustainability reporting framework – yet its estimated only 4000 companies are using it. In a recent meeting with the CEO of the GRI – Ernst Ligteringen said that sustainability has to scale and fast. To mainstream sustainable practices we have to engage the masses – we need a quantum shift. So how are we going to do that?

For years I have been proposing that part of the solution is greater engagement from the national and international associations around the world. These associations represent the “big guys” in business but more importantly the small to mid size companies. They have millions of members and are the gatekeepers to many industry certifications and regulations. They have relationships with business and government.

Of course there is some great leadership from some associations such as ICMM but in general many associations are falling behind the curve and not providing sufficient services, products and support to their members around sustainability. Its time that association executives reached out and took the leadership on sustainability. There are huge risks for lack of action and big opportunities for those associations who take leadership.

This was my message today at a gathering of over 100 association executives in Seoul Korea. Here is my presentation that present the business case, with some best practice examples and a framework for action. The article I recently wrote for HQ magazine (plus the other articles) also backs up this argument.

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