|Steering Business Toward Sustainability (UNU, 1995, 191 pages)|
|Part one: Education|
|5. Assessing corporate environmental performance|
Besides social monitors, a number of groups have coalesced into networks to share environmental information, communicate best practices, create standards of environmental reporting, or disseminate reports to consumers. Two of these are among the more visible: The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) and the Public Environmental Reporting Initiative (PERI).
CERES is a not-for-profit membership organization comprised of leading social investment professionals, environmental groups, religious organizations, public pension trustees, and public interest groups. The network was launched in 1989, and focuses on the various ways investors can help to implement environmentally and financially sound investment policies. In 1993, the coalition claimed to speak for more than 10 million people and to represent over $150 billion in invested assets. The CERES Principles are a ten-point environmental ethic that endorsing companies pledge to follow by monitoring and improving their results on protecting the biosphere; exploring sustainable use of natural resources; reducing waste; conserving energy; enhancing product and service safety; restoring the environment; and informing the public. Endorsing companies back up these pledges with concrete information and public revelation in the annual CERES Report. Like some other social monitors, CERES Reports provide consumers with capsule summaries and longer reports of voluntarily disclosed corporate information. The reports do not assign relative rankings to endorsing companies.
The PERI Guidelines were developed by a coalition of companies from different industry sectors. The group researched how various social monitors like CEP and IRRC assessed companies and summarized their findings as guidelines for environmental reporting. The Guidelines are intended to encourage other companies to move voluntarily towards improving their environmental performance. The group does not in and of itself create reports; rather, it describes the kind of information a company should provide to consumers in order to demonstrate environmental responsiveness.
Figure 2 summarizes the major groups involved in monitoring companies and their environmental performance.