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Business group pushes green guidelines at Summit

Business group pushes green guidelines at Summit
JOHANNESBURG - A group that includes some of the world\'s biggest businesses proposed a set of guidelines on the weekend to improve corporate responsibility on social and environmental issues.
Campaigners at the U.N. Earth Summit in Johannesburg want world leaders to agree on binding, global rules that require businesses to help society and punish them for failing to do so. In an effort to meet these demands, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), set up by companies, civil society and business groups, has modified a set of guidelines it first released in 1999. \"GRI\'s goal is to elevate reporting on environmental and social performance to routine practice and to the highest standards of rigour and comparability,\" the group said in a statement released in Johannesburg. GRI was launched in 1997 to create frameworks for reporting on economic, environmental and social issues and includes companies like oil giant Shell, clothes and shoe firm Nike and the world\'s second-biggest brewer SABMiller. Big business has turned up in force in Johannesburg and says it is not against such guidelines but argues that rules are best devised locally and that public opinion makes for better regulation. The GRI guidelines encourage firms to disclose energy use, resource consumption and the impact of their activities on the environment, as well as labour practices. They also call for greater transparency in financial reporting. \"In the wake of the Enron debacle...the latest release of the guidelines comes at a time when attention to issues of corporate governance and transparency are at an all-time high,\" said Judy Henderson, chair of the GRI board of directors. GRI said the guidelines offered a range of reporting methods to take into account differences in countries and sectors. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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