Governments are discovering that working with the private sector to manage industrial pollution can be more cost-effective than a traditional command and control approach. At the same time, the recent opening up of many economies through liberalization of trade and capital flows has created new opportunities for many businesses, which are beginning to recognize the need for improving both their economic and environmental performance. Industry groups in both low- and high-income countries are becoming increasingly sensitive to environmental concerns over industrial production. Many firms are interested in meeting the requirement of ISO 14000 and also use environmental audits to identify areas for further improvements. Companies are learning that collaborative approaches can actually trim costs, improve quality, enhance their public image - and increase profits.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. The Brundtland Report stressed the need to integrate environmental and ecological considerations into the decision-making process as part of any strategy for sustainable development. Enterprise managers have an important responsibility in this respect, since they have to be able to take account of environmental considerations in day-to-day management decisions. Agenda 21 recommends promoting the introduction of environmentally sound technologies within industry and energy sectors.
UNEP's Industry and Environment Office (IEO) was established in 1975 to bring industry and government together for environmentally sound industrial development. IEO activities include facilitating industrial environmental management. The Greening of Industry Network (GIN) aims to improve understanding of corporate environmental management and to stimulate sustainable actions in industry. GIN organizes international research conferences and is planning a bibliography of literature on industry's role in building an environmentally sustainable future. The World Industry Council for the Environment (WICE) was founded in 1993. WICE activities include among others, promoting the concept of sustainable development by serving as a catalyst for sound environmental management, and demonstrating progress in corporate environmental stewardship and publicize the efforts of business. The Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) was founded in 1990, to provide business perspective in the field of sustainable development. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) was founded 1 Jan 1995, Geneva, at the initiative of ICC, with the merger of the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) and World Industry Council for the Environment (WICE). WBCSD carries out activities previously undertaken by both organizations.
The International Network for Environmental Management (INEM) is a global federation of national and regional business-environment associations aiming to help industry and business implement an integrated approach to environmental management.