Stakeholder dialogue promoted to UK firms

Companies should hold annual stakeholder meetings, says government-backed group

UK companies should hold annual discussions with external stakeholders on environmental and sustainable development issues affecting them, according to a report released today by a government-backed committee of independent experts. The Round Table on Sustainable Development said that few British firms had involved stakeholders such as social and environmental groups and that more should do so. It described the report as setting out a "challenging but workable framework" of guidelines for firms to adopt. The authors also hope the report will inform a current government consultation process on sustainable business, which was launched this summer. Speaking at the report's launch, group member Charles Secrett of environmental NGO Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland said the UK was "traditionally not good at a community approach". Inspiration should come from the Swedish Natural Step initiative and the consensus approach used to develop Dutch national environmental action programmes, he added. A spokesperson for the Environment Council, an NGO that has organised several stakeholder dialogue processes on behalf of companies, described the report as a "step in the right direction".

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