Earth Day, Every Day: Business Roundtable's 2010 Sustainability Report


This commentary is by Marian Hopkins of Business Roundtable.

In September of 1969, while speaking at a conference in Seattle, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson had an idea. Why not have one day every year where Americans could come together and deliver an unmistakable message to policymakers - the environment matters, we care about it and we want to do something about it? The following year, on April 22, 1970, millions of Americans made their voices heard on the very first Earth Day - culminating in what was then the largest organized demonstration in U.S. history.

This week, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of this yearly event, it's worth taking a look at what we have achieved since that day four decades ago. Thanks to the activism of ordinary citizens, a bipartisan coalition of policymakers established the EPA and passed landmark environmental laws protecting our natural resources, including the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and Endangered Species Act. More than government action, however, Americans have made it increasingly and unmistakably clear to businesses that sustainability is a key concern for them. And business has responded. For them, the principles that underpin Earth Day are applicable more than just one day a year.

Accordingly, at Business Roundtable - an association of CEOs of America's leading companies - sustainability is one of our top priorities. Through our Climate RESOLVE (Responsible Environmental Steps, Opportunities to Lead by Voluntary Efforts) and S.E.E. Change (Society, Environment, Economy) initiatives, our member companies have been working to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and develop real solutions to our nation's most pressing sustainability challenges. Each and every day, these companies are working to make our communities and world more sustainable - and they're doing more than just reducing emissions. Whether it's inventing more efficient products, investing in new types of energy or engineering the vehicles of tomorrow, these businesses understand that success is about more than just the bottom line.

With that in mind, I'm pleased to announce the release of Enhancing Our Commitment to a Sustainable Future 2010, Business Roundtable's annual report on our companies' sustainability efforts. This year's report contains communications from more than 90 of our member CEOs outlining precisely what their companies have been doing - and remain committed to doing - to advance sustainability and social awareness in their communities.

Additionally, this week marks the launch of Business Roundtable's new Sustainable Growth Web site. In addition to viewing sustainability reports from 2010 and years past, I invite you to take a look at videos from several of our member CEOs explaining what sustainability means to them. While you're there, check out our past reports on ways Congress can comprehensively tackle our nation's climate and energy challenges.

In fact, with the climate debate beginning to heat back up in Congress, the insight of America's business leaders has never been more relevant. I believe our members have a lot to add to this discussion, including translating their companies' on-the-ground experience into thoughtful advice and important best practices that can be leveraged as policymakers look for ways to reduce emissions in an economically realistic and sustainable manner. Our member companies are in the trenches every day, finding new and more innovative ways to make their products cleaner, their processes more efficient and their customers happier. I believe it is a challenge they are rising to meet in an impressive way.

I encourage you to check out our new Web site and read this year's report. Learn for yourself how our CEOs are tackling these challenges and send along your feedback. What else can companies do to advance sustainability?

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