It also identified three areas in which more work is required for the full potential of eco-efficiency to be un- leashed. This includes better ways to measure eco-effi- ciency, positive regulatory framework conditions through the provision of incentives and the removal of disincentives, and a deeper understanding of the link between eco-efficiency and long-term shareholder value by capital markets.4 On each of these fronts, WBCSD is investing significant efforts which have already led to a ‘state-of-play’ Report on Eco-Efficiency Metrics and Reporting, a study on how companies measure and report eco-efficiency, a series of conferences and col- laborations designed to interest policy makers in the concept, a study on environmental performance and shareholder value, and a major book on financial mar- kets and sustainable development.5
In marketing the concept of eco-efficiency, WBCSD has been careful to relate it to other emerging ap- proaches, particularly the Cleaner Production Pro- gramme of the United Nations Environmental Pro- gramme (UNEP).6 However, despite the fact that WBCSD is an institutional affiliate to a journal on the subject, its reports tend not to delve too deep into the link between eco-efficiency as espoused by WBCSD and the emerging scholarly field of industrial ecology. Yet the two are deeply connected.
Both have the goals of reducing material and energy throughput, promoting the reuse and recycling of prod- ucts, reducing toxic emissions, and emphasizing serv- ices. Furthermore, both concepts are proactive, design- ing out waste and designing in reuse and recycling. However, although the two concepts share the same goals, the systems boundaries to which they apply these goals are different. For eco-efficiency the system bound- ary is the individual firm, and any unused resource leav- ing the firm is waste. The industrial ecology approach expands the boundary to include sets of interacting firms so that the unused output from any given firm can potentially be input for other firms in the system.
Industrial ecology is ‘the totality or the pattern of rela- tionships between various industrial activities, their products, and the environment’,7 such that ‘the con- sumption of energy and materials is optimized, waste generation is minimized and the effluents of one proc- ess . . . serve as the raw material for another process.’8 At the simplest level, then, eco-efficiency could be seen as a component of industrial ecology at the firm level which could lead to more effective industrial ecology.
Notes and References
Stephan Schmidheiny with BCSD (1992), Changing Course (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press), xii. This definition was crafted at the First Antwerp Workshop on Eco-Efficiency organized by BCSD in November 1993 and was accepted at subsequent workshops, organized by WBCSD, at Antwerp in March 1995 and at Washington, DC, in October 1995. For more on the progression of the concept’s definition, see WBCSD (1996), Eco-Efficient Leadership (Geneva: WBCSD). Livio D. DeSimone and Frank Popoff with WBCSD (1997), Eco-Efficiency: The Business Link to Sustainable Develop- ment (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press), 2–3. Ibid., 21–2. See Markus Lehni (1998), Eco-Efficiency Reporting and Metrics: State-of-Play Report (Geneva: WBCSD); WBCSD (1998), The Application of Sustainable Development Concepts and Eco-Efficiency Metrics in Corporate Environmental Reporting (Geneva: WBCSD); J. Blumberg, G. Blum, and Å. Korsvold (1997), Environmental Performance and Shareholder Value (Geneva: WBCSD); Schmidheiny and Zorraquin with WBCSD (1996), Financing Change. For example, Keith Erlam and Ludolf Plass (1996), Eco- Efficiency and Cleaner Production: Charting the Course to Sustainability (Geneva: WBCSD and UNEP); WBCSD and UNEP (1998), Cleaner Production and Eco-Efficiency: Complementary Approaches to Sustainable Development (Geneva: WBCSD and UNEP). C. K. N. Patel (1992), ‘Industrial Ecology’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 89, 798–99. Robert A. Frosch and Nicholas E. Gallopoulos (1989), ‘Strategies for Manufacturing’, Scientific American, 261: 3, 144–52.
Global outreach is an area on which WBCSD has been trying to focus, if only because it remains open to criticism for being an association of predominantly northern (Eu- ropean, North American, and Japanese) corporations. For all practical purposes, and for all the obvious reasons, it remains exactly that. Of the 123 member companies listed in its 1997 Annual Review, only one was from Africa, only three from Central and Eastern Europe, and only eight each from Latin America and Asia (not counting Japan). By way of making up for this imbalance, WBCSD works through a ‘global network’ of partner organizations with which it has formal and informal links. These range from intergov-
ernmental and non-governmental organizations such as UNDP, the International Institute for Sustainable Devel- opment (IISD), and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), to national business groups such as the Confedera- tion of Indian Industry (CII), to a host of national and regional Business Councils for Sustainable Development. Due to its very nature, however, the network remains a loose confederation with only sporadic and opportunistic links to WBCSD’s agendas and activities. Althought the WBCSD network has a long way to go to realize its po- tential, the Council has an obvious interest in strengthen- ing it. Doing so will not only make the WBCSD a more
CURRENT ISSUES AND KEY THEMES