CSR and Human Rights

I am attending a conference in Toronto organized by Canadian Business for Social Responsibility called Human Rights: Everyone's Business. A two day conference, today's agenda included one panel on which three of the four panelists were H&K clients . . . Lynn Anderson, VP marketing, enterprise & alliances at Hewlett-Packard Canada , Siobhan Cavanaugh, director, health and industry policy planning at Merck Frosst Canada Ltd., and David Maddam of Talisman Energy.

As interesting as this panel was, I am afraid the speakers were trumped by the lunch keynote address by Dr. Walter Reid (Stanford University), director, of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, an international process designed to provide scientific information concerning the consequences of climate change for human well-being and options for responding to those changes. Dr. Reid made the contentious and thoroughly defended statement that the debate over global warming is over. Both the MEA study and one undertaken by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (together involving 2000 scientists from 90 countries) agree that 60% of our ecosystems have been degraded since the 1980s. Dr. Reid pointed out that CO2 is now at 380 ppm globally, the highest level in 400,000 years (as tested through bubbles found in geological formations), and that the four of the five warmest years on record have occurred since the year 2000. Making the link to the conference theme, Dr. Reid argued that the poorest areas of the world suffer the most, from drought, water degradation, and disappearing fish and wildlife habitats. He also said, however, that the impact of global warming can be reversed, but it will require business not only to recognize and mitigate the impact of its operations but also to develop new environmental technologies in the realm of ecosystem services.

Tomorrow I will report on day two of the conference which features such speakers as Alex Neve, secretary general, Amnesty International Canada and John Morrison director, Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights (BLIHR).

A Broken Promise

Bizet the Feminist