Economic Globalization and the Environment

Linked with our presentation of Jason Morrison – USA.

And linked with our presentation of The Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Economic Globalisation.

The Economic Globalization and the Environment Program of the Pacific Institute studies the effects of the increasingly integrated global economy on the environment and society.

The explosive growth of the global economy threatens the natural systems that sustain life on Earth. Despite some significant successes in reducing industrial pollution and increasing efficiency, globalization is devastating natural habitats, speeding global warming, and increasing air and water pollution. At the same time, due to the increasingly global nature of trade and business, traditional national environmental protection techniques have become less effective.

The Economic Globalization and the Environment (EGE) Program studies the local, national, and international impacts of globalization while developing solutions to support healthy economic growth, protect the environment, and create a more equitable world.

Environmental Policy in Transition: Due in great measure to the pressures posed by globalization, environmental policy both in the United States and abroad is in transition. Many government officials, environmentalists, and business leaders believe that the traditional “command and control” regulatory system-as useful as it’s been in reducing pollution and regulating unsafe practices-is approaching the limits of its effectiveness.

In response, both environmentalists and corporations have begun to explore new approaches like voluntary, performance-based environmental initiatives. The Pacific Institute’s EGE program is working to influence these initiatives and environmental standards in general. Global environmental standards and voluntary industry programs have many possible benefits for those concerned about environmental protection and social equity-provided these efforts are strong enough to be significant and credible.

One of the most influential standards-setting bodies is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). And much of our work has focused on ensuring that ISO-created standards protect the environment, consumers, and the public at large. A comprehensive report on ISO’s environmental standards produced by the Pacific Institute in 2000 provided a critical, public interest analysis-while informing policymakers, environmental and consumer groups, and the general public about this important subject.

The EGE program also plays an important “insider” role by serving as a member of the U.S. Technical Advisory Groups to the ISO technical committees at work on issues including water management, eco-labeling, and environmental communications. The Institute was a founding member of the NGO Working Group on ISO 14000-which worked to strengthen the voice of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) participating in the standards-setting process-and EGE program director Jason Morrison currently serves as Chair of the ISO/TC 207 NGO Task Group.

Organizing NGOs to Guide New Rules: Building on our past efforts in ISO, we have recently launched an initiative called the International NGO Network on ISO (INNI). This network is a response to ISO’s recent moves to expand its standards-making activities into areas such as water management, climate change, corporate social responsibility, and environmental reporting.

It is our firm conviction that ISO’s headlong rush into these new areas of standardization can only be addressed by a more informed and coordinated response from members of the environmental community. The goal of this network is to ensure that any ISO-created standards serve the public interest and protect our environment. We aim to do this by providing timely information on the activities of ISO to network organizations so that they can activate their members, provide guidance to decision-makers, and shape public opinion.

Global environmental standards and performance-based environmental protection have the potential to create a win-win-win situation by making corporations more efficient, reducing pollution, and protecting the public interest. But this bold promise can only be realized if environmentalists, labor organizers, and the public become educated and active. We hope our work will inform and empower those working to build a more sustainable and equitable world. (Read more on this site).

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