The UK Round Table on Sustainable Development was established in early 1995. It aims to encourage discussion on major sustainable development issues and to build consensus between people who have different perspectives and different responsibilities. The Round Table promotes stakeholder dialogue, which simply means businesses talking with stakeholders in order to improve their decision making process. It explores how this approach can work to create a more open climate, which would benefit individual businesses as well as helping them to contribute more to sustainable development. The Round Table believes that a similar approach could usefully be applied in many areas in business life. Some businesses already engage in one form or other of stakeholder dialogue, but many more could usefully do so. Also, the agenda should be broadened from issues of environmental protection to cover all aspects of sustainable development: environmental, economic and social.
The UK Round Table has made a number of recommendations aimed at engaging business and society in general including: (1) Enterprises in all sectors of the economy should give strong consideration to the value of the stakeholder approach as a means of understanding issues of common interest and improving the process of decision making; (2) Businesses should engage in stakeholder dialogue on a regular and ongoing basis. This dialogue, whether using a round table approach or otherwise, should be used to review past activity and discuss the way forward towards a more sustainable enterprise; (3) In order to establish credibility in the community, the stakeholders involved should be drawn from as extensive a field as is reasonably possible. One format will not cover all eventualities and enterprises should consider what will work best in given circumstances; (4) Large enterprises should report publicly on their environmental performance following, where possible, from a review with stakeholders and should provide a statement of intent for the future. Stakeholders should be invited to contribute to the enterprise's policy on all three elements of sustainable development; and (5) Government Departments should consider what contribution they can make to promoting stakeholder dialogue.