Over a decade ago, a group of leading cement companies came together and created the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI), under the auspices of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Thus began a journey based on a voluntary, continuous improvement approach, and focused on making the cement industry and business in general, more sustainable. This approach epitomizes the spirit and goals of the WBCSD, an organization founded following the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 20 years ago. As governments are reviewing progress since that first Rio meeting, it is an appropriate time to examine how the CSI has turned words into actions over the first decade of its existence.
The CSI first identified critical sustainability issues for the cement industry, and developed plans and actions to address them. These issues included improving employee health and safety, reducing CO2 emissions and other airborne pollutants, promoting the most efficient and effective use of fuels and raw materials, managing and minimizing local impacts of operations, and expanding communications with their stakeholders.
In all these areas, within legal boundaries, the CSI has effectively added value and contributed to sustainable solutions through the development of transparent and commonly agreed methodologies, and by facilitating the sharing of good practices among members.
In facing the challenges of climate change, the CSI has been fully engaged in policy development at the highest levels, working with governments throughout Europe, Japan, Mexico (among others), and with the UN, to contribute substantive industry proposals and examples to discussions within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This work has helped open the way for more, and stronger, business participation in this, and other UN processes.
The CSI has moved with global trends, and now focuses more on emerging markets, given that the majority of the world’s cement is now produced in these regions, with China alone accounting for more than half of global cement production. The now 24-member-strong CSI has increased membership from China, India, Brazil and other developing nations, and nations in transition. Today, two thirds of the CSI members come from outside Europe.
The world expects business not only to manage its own sustainability issues, but to help society manage wider issues.
Therefore, the CSI’s ambitions have moved beyond those set out in our 2002 Agenda for Action, and now include improving management of biodiversity, water, and other impacts in our upstream quarrying activities at one end, and encouraging sustainable construction practices downstream with our products at the other end.
The original “Agenda” was a list of objectives. This report is a record of achievements and also outlines our view of the path forward. We are proud of this progress, but even prouder of – and very grateful to – our employees and the many other stakeholders, who made this progress possible, both individually and collectively. The CSI will make sure that this collaborative spirit, supported by strong leadership and ambitious commitments, remains as the motivation of the initiative.
During the next 10 years, the world will undoubtedly change markedly again. However, the CSI remains dedicated to leading the cement industry in setting its objectives, achieving its goals, and to remaining at the forefront of sustainable business development.