At the end of 2015, the great and the good bared their souls at COP21 in Paris. The collective soul searching delivered The Paris Agreement, the latest global agreement on the reduction of climate change, agreed in principle by 195 nations. The conference made clear that big business has a critical and fundamental role to play. Eco-Age has long championed the positive and essential role of sustainability in business. As critical enablers in the union of business, sustainability and particularly social justice, we see 2016 as the year of honesty, integrity and transparency.
For the organising committee, the objective of the 2015 conference was to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. Because as someone memorably said, there are “no jobs on a dead planet”.
But the truth is that governments cannot – and cannot be expected to – solve the problems that face the future of our civilisation alone.
At Eco-Age, we believe it’s the duty of business to get involved. We also know that it’s in the interests of business to get involved. Business has recognised and embraced this fact and it’s to celebrate the achievements of key players in sustainable business that we initiated the GCC Global Leaders of Change Awards. The awards celebrate inspirational leadership and setting corporate standards for ethical and sustainable values, which the world has to follow.
It is our conviction that big business simply cannot hide behind glossy initiatives that are all front and no substance. Media savvy, PR infectious initiatives that neither address global sustainability problems nor enhance the bottom line are fruitless tasks that are, frankly, demeaning to everyone involved. Instead, we believe that businesses should follow the lead of our GCC Global Leaders of Change Award winners and become champions in catalysing change at the grass roots of their operations.
At Eco-Age we are also working on our own initiatives to change and better the global workplace. We’re collaborating on a ground breaking legal study of the possibility of a transnational agreement on wages. The Lawyer’s Circle, in partnership with Trust Law and the Clean Clothes Campaign, will set out the legal argument for the living wage as a fundamental human right; the duties of companies and governments to uphold this right; and the justification for the development of a global standard for a living wage.
With the assistance of lawyers in countries used by large scale retailers to supply workers, the report will examine relevant labour laws and regulations to produce a comparative study. The report will be used to highlight effective labour laws and to identify weaknesses in wage setting mechanisms. With the report in hand, it is hoped that interested organisations will amongst other things, be able to lobby for stronger national laws, international standards and to enforce the legal obligations to secure a living wage along the fashion supply chain.
With initiatives such as these, as well as through the ground breaking work we have planned with our clients, we want to make 2016 the year of honesty, integrity and transparency in business.