Developing and Reporting Sustainability Indicators

CHF Collections

CHF Collections

See below for a list of the major institutions involved in developing and reporting Sustainability Indicators.


Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

OECD’s Global Forum on Sustainable Development provides a policy dialogue between the 30 OECD countries and 70 non-OECD countries on best practices for achieving sustainable development. It is complemented by a Round Table on Sustainable Development, which gathers OECD ministers, heads of international organizations, NGOs, and business representatives to address selected issues. The first Annual Meeting of Sustainable Development Experts (AMSDE) took place at the OECD in 2004, with the goal of delivering concise and useful lessons about the political economy of sustainable development to help countries overcome political and social barriers to using economic tools for the long term protection of natural resources. The OECD Working Paper 2002/2, updated 18 April 2003, Overview of Sustainable Development Indicators Used by National and International Agencies, is available.

United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UN-CSD)United Nations Division for Sustainable Development (UN-DSD)

CSD is a functional commission of the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), in the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (ESA), with 53 member states. Established by the U.N. General Assembly in 1992, the Commission on Sustainable Development ensures effective follow-up of the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio Earth Summit, and monitors and reports on implementation of the UNCED agreements at the local, national, regional and international levels. A core set of 58 indicators and methodology sheets was adopted in 1995 by the CSD. In addition to annual meetings, CSD held a five-year review in 1997 and a ten-year review in 2002 in Johannesburg under the title World Summit on Sustainable Development. At its eleventh session CSD decided that its program of work should cover thematic clusters of issues to be addressed in an integrated manner. For example, for 2010/11, chemicals, waste management, transport, and sustainable consumption and productions patterns were addressed.

Agenda 21 is an international framework agreement for pursuing global sustainable development that was endorsed by national governments at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The objective is the alleviation of poverty, hunger, sickness, and illiteracy worldwide while halting the deterioration of ecosystems that sustain life. Chapter 30, Strengthening the Role of Business and Industry, calls for promoting cleaner production and responsible entrepreneurship. In 2002 Country Profiles were published to provide comprehensive overviews of the status of implementation of Agenda 21 at the national level. The USA Profile covers Business and Industry and Science and Technology on pages 110–114.

DSD promotes sustainable development as secretariat to the CSD and through technical cooperation and capacity building at the international, regional, and national levels. In December 2005 DSD held an Expert Group Meeting on Indicators of Sustainable Development at the U.N. in New York, There was no representative of the United States attending; however, key papers and presentations are available. In addition, the DSD Initiative on Environmental Management Accounting (EMA) examines the design and implementation of incentives to promote the adoption of environmental managerial accounting, based on work undertaken in a number of countries.

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

Additional links:

Established as the outcome of the Stockholm Environment Conference in 1972, UNEP is charged with the implementation of global and regional environment conventions, providing an integrated and coherent policy response to existing and emerging environmental concerns, and raising consciousness and awareness about how people’s actions negatively affect the environment. The UNEP Chemicals program has the goal of making the world a safer place from toxic chemicals, accomplished by helping governments take needed global actions for the sound management of chemicals, promoting the exchange of information on chemicals, and helping  build diverse countries’ capacities for safe chemicals use.

In 2002 UNEP’s Governing Council recommended furthering a strategic approach to international chemicals management (SAICM). This approach was endorsed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and stakeholders started working together on spreading chemical safety worldwide. Engagement of all stakeholders is a key feature of the SAICM process, along with capacity building (building infrastructure, education, and training). The April-June 2002 issue* of Industry and Environment, a publication of the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry, and Economics, was focused on Responsible Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development.

U.N. Global Compact

The U.N. Global Compact is an international initiative that brings together companies, U.N. agencies, and labor and civil society organizations in support of 10 principles covering human rights, labor, and the environment. The 10 principles are based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Labor Organization’s Declaration of the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work; and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. The Global Compact Guidance Packet on Communications on Progress (COP) lists the 10 U.N. Global Compact Principles and cross-references to Selected 2002 GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines Core Performance Indicators.

The Who Cares Wins initiative was launched in 2004, with the aim of supporting the financial industry’s efforts to integrate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues into mainstream investment and decision making and ownership practices. A series of recommendations by the financial industry was published: “Connecting Financial Markets to a Changing World.” Annual conferences have been held, and a final report was issued in 2009: Future Proof? Embedding Environmental, Social and Governance Issues in Investment Markets; Outcome of the Who Cares Wins 2004 -2008 Initiative. In addition, a 2008 publication, Making the Connection—the GRI Guidelines and the UNGC—Communications on Progress, which covers how to integrate a COP in a GRI report, is available. Companies active in the Compact include BP, Bayer AG, and Pfizer.

United Nations Statistics Division

Under authority of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) coordinates the economic and social work of the U.N. and the U.N. family of organizations, through its subsidiary bodies. One of those bodies is the U.N. Statistics Division which, among other duties, helps to implement Agenda 21, particularly in the development and dissemination of integrated environmental and economic accounting, environmental statistics, and indicators of sustainable development. In 1993 the U.N. published the Handbook of National Accounting; Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA). In March 2005 the U.N. Statistical Commission established the U.N. Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA), to elevate SEEA to an international statistical standard, mainstream SEEA, and advance its implementation in countries. The Terms of Reference and the Operational Guidelines of the committee are available.

United Nations University Press

The United Nations University, established in 1973, is an international community of scholars engaged in research, postgraduate training, and the dissemination of knowledge through a center located in Tokyo and a network of centers located in the developed and developing countries. In 1995 the press published Steering Business toward Sustainability, a compilation of papers by business people, economists, ecologists, and other thinkers that outlines practical approaches business and society must take to move toward sustainability.

World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED)

In December 1983 the U.N. General Assembly established a special commission to make a report available on the global environment, including proposed strategies for sustainable development in the 21st century. The Report of the WCED, entitled Our Common Future, was approved by the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Program in June 1987 for transmission to the General Assembly. In 1989 the report, also known as the Brundtland Report after its chairman, was debated in the U.N. General Assembly (which decided to organize a U.N. Conference on Environment and Development). The Report stated that critical global environmental problems are primarily the result of the enormous poverty of the South and the nonsustainable patterns of consumption and production in the North. It called for a strategy that united development and the environment, described by the now-common term sustainable development. The Report is available on the Swiss Government Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) website and has also been published by Oxford University Press.


Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH)

DEH develops and implements national policy programs and legislation to protect and conserve Australia’s natural environment and cultural heritage. The DEH website includes Australia’s national reports to the CSD on implementation of Agenda 21.

Canadian Government

Canada created a National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy in 1989 to be the center of ideas in Canada on how to achieve sustainable development. In 1995 the office of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development was established.

Environment Canada

Environment Canada is the main Canadian government department responsible for reporting on the state of the environment and for regulating certain environmental activities that are tagged as federal responsibilities. Environment Canada also maintains a sustainable development information system that is the Canadian government’s gateway to sustainable development information.

European Commission (EC)

The EC has a sustainable development website, on which they note that the transition toward more sustainable development is a strategic goal for the European Union. In 2001 the European Council at Goteborg discussed a strategy proposed by the EC. In 2002 the EC added a global dimension to the E.U. strategy by adopting a second paper, which was submitted to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is voluntary for organizations willing to commit themselves to evaluate and improve their environmental performance. It was launched in 1995 and revised in 2001. Guidance documents and updates are available on the EC website.

In the Official Journal of the European Communities, the Commission on the European Communities issued Commission Recommendation 2001/453/EC, 30 May 2001, on the recognition, measurement, and disclosure of environmental issues in the annual accounts and annual reports of companies.

European Environment Agency (EEA)

The EEA’s task is to provide decision makers with the information needed for making sound and effective policies to protect the environment and support sustainable development. The Agency both gathers and distributes its data and information through the European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET). In 2003 EEA organized a workshop in Rome: “A better sustainable development governance: Indicators and other assessment tools.”

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Additional links:

NIST, founded in 1901, is a nonregulatory federal government agency within the U.S. Commerce Department’s Technology Administration. Its mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. In 1987 Public Law 100-107 created the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, which led to the creation of a public-private partnership for its support. In the case of chemical, pharmaceutical and petroleum companies, “quality” is strongly related to sustainability.

Switzerland’s MONET System

Additional links:

The notion of sustainable development was enshrined in the Swiss Federal Constitution of 1999 and made a federal policy of the Swiss Federal Council’s Sustainable Development Strategy for 2002. As a result the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFS0), and the Federal Offices for Spatial Development and for the Environment (ARE & FOEN) established the MONET measurement system to track sustainable development in Switzerland. This measuring tool permits regular reporting on status and progress, drawing on more than 120 indicators. In conjunction with the Global Footprint Network, a published Swiss study found that the population of Switzerland is using just under three times the volume of natural resources that is sustainable in the long run.

UK Government Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) UK Advisory Committee on Business and the Environment

Additional links:

The Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) is situated within the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). SDU’s goal is to embed, monitor, and report on sustainable development across government and across the U.K. This includes the development of a U.K. strategy for government to facilitate the delivery of sustainable development and sponsorship of the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), an advisory body.

The Advisory Committee on Business and the Environment (ACBE) was established in 1991 to provide for dialogue between government and business and aims to help mobilize the business community in demonstrating good environmental practice and management. In 2002 ACBE submitted a paper on sustainability reporting (environmental, social, and economic). The paper recommended that in order to promote consistency of information reported and reduce the perceived burden of environmental, sustainability, and social reporting companies, government should play a lead role in developing clear guidance on disclosure alongside key stakeholders. It also recommended that in order to bring consistency to environmental, social, and economic reporting, professional bodies should assist companies in developing reporting standards and responding to investor queries.

Companies should put in place a senior-level committee or expand the responsibility of existing environmental/audit committees to encompass environmental, social, and community performance where these are material to the business. ACBE also worked with the Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee (TUSDAC) to jointly publish Greening the Workplace and to develop the Sustainable Workplace website. The online Encyclopedia of Sustainable Development is written by the Atmosphere, Climate, and the Environment Information Program, and is supported by DEFRA. It contains links to 500 other web pages.

U.S. Department of StateSustainable Development Partnerships

The State Department site includes U.S. submissions to and the statements made at the U.N. Commission for Sustainable Development meeting, CSD-13, April 2005. It begins with the opening statement by Jonathan Margolis, U.S. Special Representative for Sustainable Development. He notes that “rapid technological changes are enabling the interconnection of all the knowledge pools in the world. This opens up great possibilities for international organizations, governments, civil society and the private sector to collaborate on sustainable development … sometimes a government may take the lead, and other times international organizations and non-governmental actors might step forward.”  In a Roundtable in Helsinki Finland, March 2005, he states: “New ways of doing business also require that the CSD Secretariat redefine its role. With a multitude of actors, institutions and mechanisms emerging, the premium is on gathering and managing new knowledge and information about what is happening in sustainable development …the ‘Secretariat of the Future’ we see is one that provides us all with web-based collections of information on best practices, case studies, policy options, and practical measures.”

The Sustainable Development Partnerships website provides information on U.S. efforts to work with other governments, the private sector, civil society, and other organizations, as well as to plan and implement voluntary partnerships that promote economic growth, social development, and environmental stewardship. It is maintained by the Department of State. One of the many activities listed is the Sector Strategies Program, which seeks industry-wide environmental gains through innovative actions taken with a number of manufacturing and service sectors.

Launched in June 2003, the program works with selected trade associations, EPA programs and regions, states, and other groups. It focuses on three priority areas: promoting environmental management systems, overcoming regulatory or other barriers to performance improvement, and measuring and reporting industry-wide environmental and economic progress. For example, the Specialty-Batch Chemicals Sector is represented by the Synthetic Organic Chemicals Manufacturers Association.

The President’s Council on Sustainable Development’s mission includes the following points: develop and recommend to the President a national sustainable development action strategy that will foster economic vitality; develop an annual Presidential Honors Program recognizing outstanding achievement in sustainable development; and raise public awareness of sustainable development issues and participation in opportunities for sustainable development. Jonathon Margolis is the Council’s contact point:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Additional links:

EPA’s sustainability website provides links to EPA’s programs and tools that contribute to sustainability, while EPA’s Environmental Indicators Initiative seeks to improve the Agency’s ability to report on the status of and trends in environmental conditions and their impacts on human health and the nation’s natural resources.

In 2002 EPA funded the start-up of an Environmental Management Accounting Research & Information Center (EMARIC) to take over and expand upon the activities of the in-house Environmental Accounting Project. EMARIC’s mission is to promote the integration of environmental cost information and materials and energy flow information into routine management decision making of private and public-sector organizations, as a support for improved environmental performance. The United States was the first country to establish a formal program to investigate and promote Environmental Management Accounting (EMA), but there has been a strong upswing in interest and activities in a number of other countries. Thus, the new center plans to track international EMA activities, work with international partners, and encourage other U.S. stakeholders to do the same.

EPA’s Green Chemistry program promotes innovative technologies that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture, and use of chemical products. The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Program recognizes outstanding chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use that have been or can be utilized by industry.

U.S. Interagency Working Group on Sustainable Development Indicators (SDI Group)

The SDI Group website contains the report Sustainable Development in the United States: An Experimental Set of Indicators, September 2001, though it is difficult to read online. The key parts of the report are available through CHF; there are no longer hard copies of the report available. The December 1998 Progress Report* is also available. This working group is no longer active, but has evolved into a new group on Indicators Coordination in the Council on Environmental Quality, under the direction of Ted Heinz.

US Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE)

OFEE promotes sustainable environmental stewardship throughout the federal government. It was established in 1993 by Executive Order.

U.S. President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD)

The PCSD’s Final Report to the President, Towards a Sustainable America: Advancing Prosperity, Opportunity and a Healthy Environment for the 21st Century, was published in May 1999. The Council reached agreement on how the U.S. could reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and protect the climate; make environmental management systems more effective, flexible, and accountable; and foster U.S. leadership in sustainable development. Chapter 3, Environmental Management, recommended measuring progress and accountability. Specifically, recommendations were made to measure environmental progress, define common metrics for environmental performance, and link environmental, economic, and social information. Finally, it was recommended that the Council, or another body, should continue as the forum for the thoughtful consideration of sustainable development issues by high-level leaders in all sectors. For the current administration see the U.S. Department of State.

U.S. White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) coordinates federal environmental efforts and develops environmental policies and initiatives. The Council’s Chair, James L. Connaughton, served as the principal environmental policy advisor to President Bush. Congress established CEQ within the Executive Office of the President as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. The challenge of harmonizing our economic, environmental, and social aspirations has put NEPA at the forefront of our nation’s efforts to protect the environment. There were no activities of interest documented on the site.

 Nongovernmental Orgs (NGOs) OR “Civil Society”

Corporate Accountability International (CAI)

CAI is a membership organization that protects people by waging and winning campaigns that challenge irresponsible and dangerous corporate actions around the world. Current campaigns target the water industry (Coca-Cola), the tobacco industry, the food and agribusiness industry (Monsanto, Dow Chemical), and the oil industry (API, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco). Fact sheets are available.

Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)Corporate Community Investment site (CCInet)

CAF has been an independent charity for more than 30 years, and has been working to help donors give more effectively and charities to make the most of their resources for more than 80 years. In November 2006 the CAF Socially Responsible Portfolio was launched. CAF’s Corporate Community Investment site (CCInet) demonstrates how many businesses are supporting their communities by providing links to hundreds of company CCI web pages (e.g., DuPont).

Earth Council

Earth Council is an international NGO formed to advance the implementation of the 1992 Earth Summit agreements. It promotes awareness of the needed transition to more sustainable and equitable patterns of development, encourages public participation in decision-making processes at all levels of government, and builds bridges between civil society and governments worldwide. It is led by a body of 18 members, drawn from the world’s political, business, scientific, and nongovernmental communities.

Friends of the Earth International (FoE)

Additional links:  (for the U.S. organization)

FOE International is a federation of 68 autonomous environmental organizations from all over the world, campaigning on the most urgent environmental and social issues of our day, and catalyzing a shift toward sustainable societies. It is headquartered in the Netherlands.


Additional links:

Greenpeace International is a nonprofit organization based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with a presence in 41 countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific. To maintain its independence, it doesn’t accept donations from governments or corporations, but relies on 2.8 million individual supporters and on foundations. Greenpeace was started in 1971 by a team of activists from Vancouver, Canada, who set sail in a small fishing boat to bear witness to U.S. underground nuclear testing at Amchitka, a tiny island off the West Coast of Alaska. Amchitka is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone regions, the last refuge of 3,000 endangered sea otters, and home to other wildlife. They were intercepted before reaching their destination, but the journey sparked public interest. Their science laboratory at Exeter University has made some important achievements in environmental protection. A current project is encouraging the chemical industry and Congress to protect communities located near chemical plants from chemical disaster by advocating the use of safer alternatives.

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)

ICCR is an association of 275 faith-based institutional investors, including national denominations, religious communities, pension funds, endowments, hospital corporations, economic development funds, and publishing companies. For over 30 years ICCR and its members have been pressing companies to be socially and environmentally responsible through shareholder resolutions. The combined portfolio value of ICCR’s member organizations is estimated to be $110 billion.

International Network for Environmental Management (INEM)

INEM is a registered NGO and a nonprofit, nonpartisan, world federation of national associations for environmental management and sustainable development. Its aim is to help companies improve their economic and environmental performance. The network comprises over 30 members and affiliated environmental management associations in more than 25 countries, and was founded in 1991. The main secretariat is located in Hamburg, Germany. In 1992 INEM organized the First International Industry Conference for Sustainable Development (IICSD) as part of the 1992 Global Forum of UNCED, and these conferences have been repeated  in various locations. The INEM Sustainability Reporting Guide was published in 2001 as a “manual on practical and convincing communication for future-oriented companies.” The website is an excellent source of references for standards, case studies, links, etc.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

NRDC is a U.S. environmental action organization, using law, science, and the support of 1.2 million members and online activists to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things. NRDC mobilizes activists throughout the world to help protect indigenous and traditional communities and crucial wildlife habitat from industrialization. They also help secure the fulfillment of international treaties and commitments to help stem global warming, species extinction, and illegal logging.


Oxfam International is a confederation of 12 organizations working together with over 3,000 partners in more than 100 countries to find lasting solutions to poverty, suffering, and injustice. They seek worldwide public understanding that economic and social justice is crucial to sustainable development. They strive to be a force promoting the awareness and motivation that comes with global citizenship while seeking to shift public opinion in order to make equity the same priority as economic growth. The organization was founded in 1995, coining their name from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, founded in Britain in 1942. The Oxfam organizations are working to become part of a movement which is capable of global responses to global issues. Their work includes long-term development, emergency work, research, and campaigning for a fairer world.          

Social Accountability International (SAI)

SAI is an international nonprofit human-rights organization based in New York and dedicated to the ethical treatment of workers around the world. It convenes key stakeholders to build and refine consensus-based workplace standards, accredits qualified organizations to verify compliance with these standards, and promotes the understanding and implementation of social performance standards worldwide. SAI is best known for the SA8000 standard and verification system on humane workplaces. There are currently 765 SA8000 certified facilities in 47 different countries and 54 different industries.

Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)

USC is an independent nonprofit alliance of more than 100,000 concerned citizens and scientists. UCS augments rigorous scientific analysis with innovative thinking and committed citizen advocacy to build a cleaner, healthier environment and a safer world. It was founded in 1969 by faculty members and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who were concerned about the misuse of science and technology in society. They called for a redirection of scientific research to address pressing environmental and social problems. UCS collaborates with colleagues across the country to conduct technical studies on renewable energy options, the impacts of global warming, the risks of genetically engineered crops, etc. UCS members share the results of research with policymakers, the news media, and the public, provide scientific facts to government and the media through their Sound Science Initiative, and also testify before government committees. Their Online Action Network gives citizens the means to keep informed on scientific issues and to help shape policy by expressing their view to government and corporate decision makers.

Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future (WNSF)

WNSF is a nonprofit headquartered in New York. It was formed to mobilize businesswomen to support social responsibility and advance sustainable development by giving women in the workplace a voice in the sustainability debate and a forum in which they could engage.

World Bank

The world’s largest source of developmental assistance, the World Bank uses its financial resources, staff, and knowledge base to help each developing country onto a path of stable, sustainable, and equitable growth.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN)

IUCN is the only environmental organization at the international level that combines government and NGO membership. Created in 1948, its mission is to influence, encourage, and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable. It is the world’s largest conservation organization, bringing together 77 states, 130 government agencies, 752 NGOs, and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. IUCN is a global organization with 1000 staff members located in 42 countries and headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. It is a member of the U.N. Global Compact and is an observer at the U.N. General Assembly.

World Environment Center (WEC)

Founded in 1974 with a grant from the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP), WEC is an independent, global, nonprofit, nonadvocacy organization that advances sustainable development through the business practices of member companies and is in partnership with governments, nongovernmental organizations, etc. Its mission is to promote business and societal value by advancing solutions to problems related to sustainable development; to foster leading ideas about economic development, environmental protection, and social responsibility through roundtables and other forums that engage the leadership of a diverse number of organizations; and to recognize performance excellence by companies that advance sustainable development.

World Resources Institute (WRI)

World Resources Institute provides information, ideas, and solutions to global environmental problems, with a focus of safeguarding the Earth’s climate, protecting the ecosystems upon which human well-being depends, reducing the use of materials and generation of wastes, and guaranteeing all people’s access to environmental information and decisions regarding natural resources and the environment. It is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization formed in 1982 and has a staff of over 100 scientists, business analysts, etc. working to protect the Earth and improve people’s lives. It also has hundreds of partners and supporters worldwide. In 2008, with support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), WRI published Undisclosed Risk: Corporate Environmental and Social Reporting in Emerging Asia. The report ranks companies according to 4-point criteria developed by WRI.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

WWF is the largest multinational conservation organization in the world and has been protecting the future of nature for more than 45 years. WWF has a successful track record helping companies reduce their environmental footprint and understand the complex issues in today’s marketplace. They can partner with companies (such as Coca-Cola) that aspire to make deep operational changes.

 Chemical Organizations

American Chemical Society (ACS)

ACS is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization, chartered by Congress, with more than 158,000 chemical scientists and engineers as members. It is the world’s largest scientific society. ACS advances the chemical enterprise, increases public understanding of chemistry, and brings its expertise to bear on state and national matters. At its 2008 meeting ACS held a workshop on incentives and barriers to the adoption of sustainable chemistry policy (by industry). The ACS Statement on Sustainability of the Chemical Enterprise defines the concept of sustainability in the context of the chemical enterprise and endorses the conclusions and recommendations of the National Academies study, Sustainability in the Chemical Industry.

Canadian Chemical Producers Association (CCPA)

CCPA developed Responsible Care® in 1985. It is the chemical industry’s voluntary commitment to continuous improvement in all aspects of health, safety, and environmental performance of its processes and products and to openness in communication about its activities and achievements.

Council for Chemical Research (CCR)

CCR was formed in 1979 to promote cooperation in basic research and encourage high quality education in the chemical sciences and engineering. Its mission is to benefit society by advancing research in those disciplines through leadership collaboration across discipline, institution, and sector boundaries. This mission is achieved through action networks, such as to address long-range issues. In an April 2007 Workshop on Sustainable Resources in collaboration with EPA, CCR was to review and coordinate international activities, learn about new technologies, and make recommendations for action by the chemical industry worldwide.

European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic)

Cefic was incorporated in 1972 as an international association with scientific objectives, and is both the forum and voice of the European chemical industry. It represents 22 full member national trade associations (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom) and 3 associate trade associations (Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania). It also represents, directly or indirectly, about 27,000 large, medium, and small chemical companies which employ about 1.3 million people and account for nearly a third of world chemical production. Cefic is committed to improving the management of chemicals and chemical processes through Responsible Care and a combination of voluntary initiatives and specific action programs.

The European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry is a joint effort of Cefic, EuropaBio and the European Commission’s DG Research. Its aim is to boost chemical research, development and innovation in Europe. In 2004 they published a document expressing the rationale, scope, and organization of the Technology Platform to act as a thought starter and an invitation to additional stakeholders to participate in future activities that will ultimately result in a Strategic Research Agenda and action plan.

International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA)

Additional links:

ICCA is the worldwide voice of the chemical industry. It is the main channel of communication between the industry and international organizations that are concerned with health, environment, and trade-related issues, including UNEP, OECD, and the World Trade Organization (WTO).  It was formed in 1989 and carries out its activities through working groups composed of experts from ICCA members in Europe, North America, South America, Japan, Austalasia, and South Africa.

ICCA’s Responsible Care Leadership Group (RCLG) deals with health, safety, and environmental issues. There are currently 52 countries in the RC family, which together provide over 85% of the chemicals supplied worldwide. UNEP and ICC jointly commended the RC initiative for its global contribution to sustainable development with a World Summit Business Award.  In 2002 ICCA presented the chemicals sector report to UNEP: Industry as a partner for sustainable development. A summary of this report, On the Road to Sustainability, was submitted to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. It is an account of industry’s progress against sustainability goals since the 1992 U.N. Rio Conference. The magazine, Tomorrow, gave top marks for the report and noted that stakeholder consultations through Responsible Care earned it the top grade.

ICCA has been working since 2004 on its new Responsible Care Global Charter and Global Product Strategy (GPS), partly in response to UNEP’s SAICM (strategic approach to international chemicals management) adopted in 2006. The Charter extends the commitments under Responsible Care to promote sustainable development, among other things.

International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)

Additional links:

IUPAC serves to advance the worldwide aspects of the chemical sciences and to contribute to the application of chemistry in the service of humankind. It was formed in 1919 to foster standardization in chemistry, and is the world authority on nomenclature, terminology, standardized methods for measurement, atomic weights, etc. IUPAC sponsors a continuing series of conferences on CHEMical Research Applied to World Needs (CHEMRAWN). These meetings focus on topics in chemistry that have socio-political impact, such as the availability of raw materials, food chemistry, and environmental matters. They bring together scientists, government leaders and policy makers, the private sector, donor agencies, and nongovernmental agencies to examine problems and come up with actionable recommendations. Concrete follow-up actions and programs are evolved in these conferences and these are supervised, managed, and implemented by each conference’s Future Action Committee. CHEMRAWN IX, Seoul 1996, addressed Sustainable Development. Chemistry International is the newsmagazine for IUPAC.

Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA)

SOCMA is the leading trade association serving the specialty-batch and custom chemical industry since 1921. ChemStewards™ was developed by SOCMA, and is a flexible environmental, health, and safety program that promotes continuous performance improvement in chemical manufacturing. All active and international members participate in the program. Guidance materials on the website can only be accessed by members.

 Other Industry and Organizations

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

ANSI is a private nonprofit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standard and conformity assessment system. The Institute’s mission is to enhance both the global competitiveness of U.S. business and the U.S. quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems, and safeguarding their integrity. Although ANSI does not develop American National Standards, it provides all interested U.S. parties with a neutral venue to come together to work toward common agreements. ANSI is also both a founding member of and the official U.S. representative to ISO. The April 2004 ISO Working Report on Social Responsibility is published on ANSI’s website and is also available through CHF.

The American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)

AICPA is a national professional association for CPAs in the U.S. Their website includes “FAQ on Sustainability Reporting” and notes that CPAs can provide advisory services on development of systems to capture sustainability information, certification for environmental management systems under ISO 14001, and assurance services with respect to both the report and the effectiveness of the internal control over sustainability reporting. One set of criteria relevant to the field is AA1000, Framework for Social and Ethical Accountability (UK). AICPA also notes that if sustainability reports do not meet the requirements for suitability in Chapter One, “Attest Engagements,” of SSAE No. 10, Attestation Standards: Revision and Recodification, CPAs will not be able to provide assurance on such reports.

In order for a CPA to accept an attest engagement with respect to a sustainability report, the report must meet the requirements of the third general attestation standard, which states, “The practitioner shall perform the engagement only if he or she has reason to believe that the subject matter is capable of evaluation against criteria that are suitable and available to users.” Criteria are the standards or benchmarks used to measure and present the subject matter and against which the practitioner evaluates the subject matter. “Suitable” criteria must have each of the following attributes: objectivity, measurability, completeness and relevance. AICPA and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) have formed a joint task force on sustainability reporting to explore relevant issues.

American Society for Quality (ASQ)

The American Society for Quality is a professional organization with more than 100,000 individual and organizational members. It advances learning, quality improvement, and knowledge exchange to improve business results and to create better workplaces and communities worldwide. Globally, ASQ has formed relationships with other nonprofit organizations with comparable missions. Since 1991 ASQ has administered the premier quality honor in the U.S., the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, which annually recognizes companies and organizations that have achieved performance excellence. The challenge for quality practitioners is to identify where environmental and sustainability quality issues serve business and customer interests and include them in quality applications. The Triple Bottom (No–Top) Line by Larry R. Smith of Ford Motor Company is available.

Business Roundtable

Business roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. corporations with a combined workforce of more than 10 million employees.  The association is effective in presenting government with reasoned alternatives and positive suggestions. Their publication, Blueprint 2001: Drafting Environmental Policy for the Future, has the concept of sustainability as its cornerstone. In 2009 they released Unfinished Business: The Missing Elements of a Sustainable Energy and Climate Policy.

Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)

BSR is a nonprofit global organization that helps member companies achieve success in ways that respect ethical values, people, communities, and the environment. BSR promotes cross-sector collaboration and contributes to global efforts to advance the field of corporate social responsibility. It receives funding from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. EPA, as well as from industry and foundations. Members include AstraZeneca, BP, Chevron, Coca Cola, Exxon Mobil, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, P&G, and Shell.

A Business Brief published June 2005, The Rise of Non-Financial Reporting, predicts that “in a few short years, a new generation of non-financial reporting will have moved from the extraordinary to the exceptional to the expected.” It notes that “non-financial reporting is here to stay, even while its form and rate of uptake remain fluid. . . . Companies that await the conclusive business case . . . are missing the opportunity to strengthen what ultimately is every firm’s most valuable asset: trust.” In addition, “Metrics will continue to evolve, with environmental, social and economic indicators moving steadily toward a set of generally accepted standards applicable to all companies.”


Calvert’s socially responsible investing has offered, for over two decades, mutual funds designed to achieve financial security while helping to build a sustainable world and protect quality of life. Investments are made only in companies meeting Calvert’s standards for both financial and social performances according to their Double Diligence™ research process. Criteria for social performance include governance and ethics, workplace, environment, product safety and impact, international operations and human rights, indigenous peoples’ rights, and community relations.

The Conference Board

The Conference Board is a nonprofit organization that creates and disseminates knowledge about management and the marketplace to help businesses strengthen their performance and better serve society. They work as a global, independent membership organization in the public interest as they conduct research, convene conferences, make forecasts, assess trends, publish information and analysis, and bring executives together to learn from one another. Their publications include Expanding the Investment Frontier and Factoring Environmental, Social and Governance Criteria into Investment Analysis. They hosted “The 2006 Business and Sustainable Development Conference; Managing for Economic, Environmental and Social Value in the Global Marketplace” in Washington, D.C.

The Conference Board also sponsors and manages the Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership, established in 1997 by President Clinton as a tribute to Ron Brown, Secretary of Commerce, 1993 to 1996. Brown sought to bring U.S. businesses to the forefront of the global economy, and his commitment to corporate citizenship as a business strategy shaped both his work and his vision of a strong America. The award is fully funded by the private sector, is a complement to the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, and is presented annually at a White House ceremony.

CSR Europe

CSR Europe, founded in 1995, is a European business network for corporate social responsibility with 75 multinational business corporations and 27 national organizations as members. Its mission is to support members in integrating CSR into the way they do business. In 2006 the European Alliance for CSR was formed to serve as a political umbrella for European companies and their stakeholders. Alliance activities are carried out through CSR Europe and two other companies. In 2009 Sustainable Value was published, which proposes identifying how improved ESG performance can improve individual elements of nonfinancial performance and thereby create future value. It concludes that there has to be a change in the mindset of the mainstream financial community to change timeframes from a fixation with quarterly earnings.

Ecos Corporation Pty Ltd.

Sydney-based Ecos Corporation was founded in 1995 as a sustainability consultancy specializing in business strategy and integration. A U.S. Boston-based team covers North America and Europe. They work with clients to protect and create shareholder value through an approach that also delivers better outcomes for society and the environment. Clients include DuPont and SC Johnson. Their August 2002 publication, Single Bottom Line Sustainability: How a Value Centered Approach to Corporate Sustainability can pay off for Shareholders and Society, is available.


The EnviroLink Network, an online environmental community, is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. The network has been providing access to thousands of online environmental resources since 1991, when it was started by a student at Carnegie Mellon University. Sustainable Business and Sustainable Development are two of their resource topics.

Ethical Corporation

London-based Ethical Corporation was founded in 2001 as a media business to encourage debate and discussion on responsible business through publishing, conferences, and independent research and advisory work. In 2009, most of their website became restricted to paying customers. How to Embed Corporate Responsibility across Different Parts of Your Company was published in 2009 (summary available). In 2009, Ethical Corporation hosted the 3rd Annual Corporate Responsibility and Communications Summit, with 30+ speakers from across Europe.

Ethical Investment and Research Services (EIRIS) Ltd.

London-based EIRIS is a nonprofit, independent research organization that has been conducting environmental, social, and governance research on publicly listed companies for nearly 25 years. It provides research on the above and other ethical performance indicators to more than 100 institutional investors. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the EIRIS Foundation, a charity that supports and encourages responsible investment. The Foundation promotes research into the social and ethical aspects of companies and provides other charities with information and advice to enable them to choose investments that do not conflict with their objectives. A publication, The State of Responsible Business: Global Corporate Response to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Challenges, 2007, is available, as well as a 2006 publication, Beyond Reach: Chemical Safety and Sustainability Concerns.

Federation des Experts Comptables Europeens (FEE)

FEE is a nonprofit organization and is the representative organization for the accountancy profession in Europe. It is based in Belgium, and its membership consists of 44 professional institutes of accountants from 32 countries including all 25 member states of the European Union. FEE member bodies represent more than 500,000 accountants in Europe. Its objectives include being the sole representative and consultative organization of the European accountancy profession in relation to E.U. institutions, as well as representing the European accountancy profession at the international level. The Sustainability Working Party has been active in the area of sustainability accounting, reporting, and assurance since 1993. In addition to producing its own publications and studies, the Working Party is an active participant in the global dialogue on Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility contributing to the ongoing development of the global standards setters and to the relevant initiatives at the European level.

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)

FEEM is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution established to carry out research in the field of sustainable development. One of its principal aims is to promote interaction between academic, industrial and public policy spheres in order to comprehensively address concerns about economic development and environmental degradation. Another objective focuses on nonmarket valuation, i.e., how to place a monetary value on goods, such as environmental quality and changes in risks that are not routinely traded in marketplaces. In January 1994 they launched the Forum on Environmental Reporting and later published Guidelines for Preparation of Company Environmental Reports.

Global Leadership Network (GLN)

The Global Leadership Network (GLN) was created in 2004 to advance excellence in corporate citizenship through the alignment and integration of responsible practices into the core business strategy of companies. Most of the world’s leading companies are demonstrating that this approach supports financial performance. While prioritizing strategy setting, GLN recognizes the importance of measuring effectiveness and provides network members with metrics and benchmarking tools. The 10 companies that founded GLN (IBM, GE, GM, 3M, etc.) have invested in the development of a broad platform for corporate citizenship performance to bring together other companies that share a vision and commitment to excellence. GLN is jointly managed by The Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College and AccountAbility.

International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)

ICTSD was established in Geneva in 1996 to contribute to a better understanding of development and environmental concerns in the context of international trade. As an independent nonprofit with a wide network of governmental, nongovernmental and intergovernmental partners, ICTSD plays a unique systemic role as a provider of original, nonpartisan reporting and facilitation services at the intersection of international trade and sustainable development. Bridges is a weekly update on news and events in trade and sustainable development.

International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA)

IFPMA is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization representing industry associations from both developed and developing countries. Member companies are the major global research-based pharmaceutical and vaccine companies. Its position on sustainability is as follows: for the research-based pharmaceutical industry, Corporate Social Responsibility is a fully integrated element of its strategy and operations. Activities include improving access to medicines in developing countries, conducting research and development in diseases prevalent in developing countries, implementing health-related education and prevention programs, and establishing global safety and ethical standards for the pharmaceutical industry.

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

IIASA is a nongovernmental research organization located in Austria and sponsored by its National Member Organization in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Its goal is to conduct scientific studies to provide timely and relevant information and options, addressing critical issues of global environmental, economic, and social change for the benefit of the public, the scientific community, national governments, and national and international institutions.

The U.S. Committee for the IIASA performs the National Academies duties as the National Member Organization of IIASA. Core support is provided by the National Science Foundation, with policy involvement from OST and the State, Energy and Commerce Departments, as well as EPA and the USDA Forest Service.

International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

IIED is an independent, nonprofit organization based in London which promotes sustainable patterns of world development through collaborative research, policy studies, networking, and knowledge dissemination. It was founded in 1971 in the U.S. by Barbara Ward, the author of Only One Earth. IIED receives funding from aid and development ministries, governments, intergovernmental agencies, foundations and corporate (e.g., Shell IPC) and individual donors. One of the objectives of IIED research is developing sustainability assessment methods and information, and one of their programs is Corporate Responsibility for Environment and Development (CRED). CRED was established in 2001, and works to build understanding of where and how corporate social responsibility initiatives can best contribute to sustainable development in developing countries. IIED has several publications, including a 2004 Discussion Paper, Linking Corporate Responsibility, Good Governance and Corporate Accountability Through Dialogue.

The Natural Step

The Natural Step is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to education, advisory work, and research in sustainable development. Since 1989, they have worked with corporations, municipalities, academic institutions and not-for-profit organizations and have shown that moving strategically toward sustainability leads to new opportunities, reduced costs, and dramatically reduced ecological and social impacts. Rohm & Haas partnered with them to implement sustainable development practices across the company.

Nippon Keidanren (Japanese Business Federation)

Nippon Keidanren is an economic organization formed in 2002 by joining the Japanese Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) and the Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations (Nikkeiren). It has developed a Charter for Corporate Behavior and a Global Environmental Charter, to which all 1,329 member companies are urged to adhere. A Ten-Point-Environmental Guideline for Japanese Enterprises Operating Abroad has also been developed.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)

PhRMA represents the U.S. pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Its mission is to conduct effective advocacy for public policies that encourage discovery of important new medicines for patients by pharmaceutical/biotechnology research companies. The 2005-2006 Annual Report contains no mention of sustainability and none of its 12 committees or 7 sections uses the term or concept.

Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)

PRI is an investor initiative in partnership with UNEP Finance Initiative and the U.N. Global Compact. Launched in 2006, the Principles are a set of 6 global best practices for responsible investment. By incorporating environmental, social, and governance criteria into their decision making practices, the signatories to the Principles are directly influencing companies to improve performance in these areas. In 2007 and 2008 Progress Reports were issued, indicating strong and consistent growth in the number of signatories and increasing use of the PRI Engagement Clearinghouse, an online forum for signatories. A group of signatories launched a high-profile interaction with more than 70 major corporations in the U.N. Global Compact, either praising them for their good performance or urging them to improve their disclosure.

The SIGMA Project

The SIGMA (Sustainability Integrated Guidelines for Management) Project was launched in 1999 with the support of the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry and is led by the British Standards Institution, Forum for the Future, and AccountAbility. The SIGMA Guidelines to the Global Reporting Initiative consist of a set of Guiding Principles and a Management Framework that integrates sustainability into core processes and mainstream decision-making. The Toolkit consists of targeted tools and approaches to help with specific management challenges, as well as case studies.

Social Investment Forum

The Social Investment Forum is a national nonprofit membership association dedicated to promoting the concept and practice of Socially Responsible Investing. It is made up of over 500 financial professionals and institutions. The Forum has a joint membership program with Co-op America’s Business Network which provides direct services to members. One of their working groups is SIRAN (Social Investment Research Analyst Network), which issued its first analysis of the environmental and social reporting practices of companies in the S&P 100 Index in June 2005 (updated in 2006). They found that over a third of the companies based their CSR reporting on the GRI Guidelines.

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)

SEI is an independent and international research institute specializing in sustainable development and environment issues at local, national, regional, and global policy levels. Its research program aims to clarify the requirements, strategies and policies for a transition to sustainability. The Institute was established in 1989 following an initiative by the Swedish Government to develop an international environment/development research organization. The SEI library database contains almost 6,000 titles, and there is a special collection on Energy, Environment, and Development containing some 2,000 titles. The SEI U.S. Center is in Boston.

Sustainable Development International (SDI)

Sustainable Development International exists to provide unique publishing services for businesses to raise awareness about CSR in practice in order to influence effective sustainable development policy. SDI provides up-to-date reporting coverage on key sustainable development processes and issues with a strategic focus on the follow-up to, and implementation of, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the U.N. Millennium Development goals, and on the latest developments from the CSR sector.

United States Council for International Business (USCIB)

Originally founded in 1945 to promote free trade and help represent business in the newly formed U.N., USCIB has built a global network of industry affiliations and a reputation for reliable policy advice. Their Corporate Responsibility Committee has the objectives of promoting the business perspective on corporate responsibility, shaping the development and implementation of codes, standards, and principles on corporate responsibility, and increasing the awareness of positive social and environmental contributions made by business. Their Environment Committee has the objectives of promoting appropriate environmental protection with an open trade and investment system, as well as advancing environmental protection and economic development as fundamental to sustainable development. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is a member of USCIB.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

WBCSD is a coalition of 175 multinational corporations with a shared commitment to sustainable development via economic growth, ecological balance, and social progress. WBCSD aims to develop closer cooperation between business, government, and all other organizations concerned with the environment and sustainable development, and to encourage high standards of environmental management by businesses. The eco-efficiency approach to sustainable production that WBCSD developed has already begun to be adopted throughout the chemical industry as a decision-making tool. The 2002 publication Innovation, Technology, Sustainability and Society is available, as well as the 2005 Beyond Reporting: Creating Business Value and Accountability. WBCSD and University of Cambridge Programme for Industry have published Chronos® (from personal values to corporate action), an e-learning tutorial on the business case for sustainable development.

WBCSD’s 2006 Annual Review, titled Then and Now: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Brundtland Report, reviews its strategic move from awareness to action. In 2008 WBCSD, Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship, Net Impact, and Edelman published Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Communications: Who’s Listening? Who’s Leading? What Matters Most? They concluded that transparency in communications is a key indicator of a socially responsible company. Employees and socially responsible investors have emerged as the key communications audiences due to their impact on a company’s bottom line.  In addition, the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BSCD) was launched in 2002 to create and deliver value driven sustainable development projects in the United States. Members include 3M, Air Products and Chemicals, Alcoa, ChevronTexaco, Coca Cola, ConocoPhilips, Dow, DuPont, Eastman Kodak, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Praxair, Procter and Gamble, and Rohm & Haas.