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Businesses Protest Civic Group Environmental Inspections

Businesses Protest Civic Group Environmental Inspections

Posted October. 24, 2005 03:03,   


Some domestic civic groups campaigning against environmental degradation announced that they would conduct inspections on whether or not private companies are maintaining their sustainability criteria. This announcement, however, has provoked strong resistance from the business sector.

In response to this, the Business Institute for Sustainable Development (BISD) (Chairman: Park Yong-sung), an organization that represents the voice of business sectors on environmental problems, complained in a statement titled, “Companies’ Views on Civic Groups’ Engagement on Inspections,” about difficulties they faced because of civic group evaluations, which are based on processes not credible enough to obtain public assurance.

The BISD also said that, “Among about 80 companies that carry out research to identify successful companies that meet sustainability criteria, there is no one company which is operated by civic groups,” adding, “World leading institutions in this sector, including the SAM Group in Switzerland, gather information about companies by conducting surveys or citing materials that have been already publicized, not by visiting companies without prior notification and asking for information directly from companies like in Korea.”

It criticized that, “Contrary to famous international institutions in this sector that ask advice from financial consulting agencies on their approach, civic groups in Korea lack professionalism and even don’t consider differences among industries.”

Meanwhile, earlier this month, the Korean Federation for he Environmental Movement (KFEM) issued official documents, and informed 150 companies, including the top-30 companies in sales and local branches of companies that it considered to be environmental-friendly, of its planned inspections.

The Citizens’ Movement for Environmental Justice also plans to carry out evaluative research on the sustainability of construction companies and announce the companies’ ranking later.

Responding to complaints about its non-professionalism, Hwang Sang-kyu, the secretariat head of the KFEM, said, “We use criteria that are suggested by the International Standardization Organization (ISO) and the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for evaluation of sustainability,” adding, “We visit workplaces that permit the visits.”

Hyo-Lim Son Sung-Won Joo aryssong@donga.com swon@donga.com