The Role of NGOs in Environmental Corporate Social Responsibility
The Role of NGOs in Environmental Protection
In complementing the efforts of the public and public health sectors towards providing more adequate and responsive healthcare services to poor people, non-governmental organizations or NGOs have come up with their brand of involvement and solution to problems (Chitra, 2003). Their objectives are to describe and discuss the common characteristics of functioning health systems in a given socio-economic, socio-cultural, political and ecological setting; highlight and delineate the crucial factors for reforms and manage an provide efficient health care services in the community; and act as catalyst for local and community participation in the overall improvement in the quality of life. Their civil and environmental objective is to develop civil and environmental consciousness among the public. The institutions currently involved in NGO environmental activities include the Environmental Training Institute, the Tata Research Institute, and the National Institute of Health and Family (Chitra).
The growing range of NGO activities spans advocacy, analysis and awareness-raising; brokerage; conflict resolution; capacity-building; delivery of services; and evaluation and monitoring (Nelson, 2007). A major institutional development in the past two decades is the relationship between NGOs and the corporate sector, specifically in the natural sector, also called the extractive sector. The key types of engagement NGOs undertake with the sector are confrontation, communication, consultation, and cooperation. From the strictest to the mildest, these activities range from filing of lawsuits, shareholder activism and media campaign against a specific business, community-level partnerships and friendly arrangements, and accountability mechanisms and cooperative agreements (Nelson).
Many NGOs use at least 8 different tactics to encourage businesses to accept and practice social responsibility (Winston, 2002). These are dialogue to promote the adoption of voluntary codes of conduct; advocacy of social accounting and independent verification schemes; shareholder resolutions; documentation of abuses and moral shaming; boycotts of company products or divestment of stock; advocacy of selective purchasing laws; advocacy of government-imposed standards; and lawsuits seeking punitive damages (Winston).
Founded in 1987 by Daniel Katz, Rainforest Alliance (2012) is a non-governmental organization sworn to conserve biodiversity and insure sustainable livelihoods. It pursues this mission by transforming land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior. It is driven by a vision where people and the environment are preserved and prosper together. Its strategy is to enjoin businesses and communities to observe certain environmental and social standards and to link them up to the global marketplace where sustainable goods and services are increasingly in demand. It uses the power of markets to control deforestation and environmental destruction, timber extraction, agricultural expansion, cattle ranching and tourism. It manages millions of acres of working forests, farms, ranchland, and hotel properties according to strict sustainability standards. It links businesses to their conscientious consumers, who identify their goods and services through the Rainforest Certified seal and Rainforest Alliance Verified mark. This connection proves that sustainable practices can enable enterprises to thrive in the modern economy. Its objectives are to keep forests standing, arrest climate change, protect wildlife, alleviate poverty, and transform business practices. It has 35,000 members and more than 300 employees worldwide in 20 global offices to fulfill these mission, vision and objectives (Rainforest Alliance).
Rainforest Alliance-Chiquita International Tie-Up
Rainforest Alliance initiated a tie-up with Chiquita Brands International, Inc., one of the largest agricultural firms in the world, in 1992 under the Better Banana Project (Source Watch, 2008). The collaboration was described as bridging the gap between enterprises and NGOs. In 1999, Chiquita became the third largest banana exporter in Costa Rica, providing 18% of the total banana exports in the world (Bendell, 2012). In 2005, Chiquita launched a major marketing campaign in Europe to firm up its position as the top supplier to the European market before the introduction of import taxes on bananas from Latin America. It wanted to keep European consumers' willingness to pay as much as 25% for Chiquita bananas more than other brands. It reported that one key component of this campaign was the introduction of a new Rainforest Alliance-certified label on its bananas in 9 European countries. This certification was the expression of Chiquita's commitment to high standards of social and environmental standards. Consumers perceive the quality of Chiquita's bananas and the company's respect for the environment. This acceptance and trust resulted in exports receipts valued at $623 million (Source Watch, Bendell).