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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : July/Aug 2002 : Innovation

Innovation

The GEMI Toolbox
Creating tools to achieve environmental excellence, economic success and corporate citizenship.


BY JIM THOMAS


The Global Environmental Manage-ment Initiative (GEMI) is an organization of leading companies dedicated to fostering global environmental, health and safety (EHS) excellence through the sharing of tools and information to help business achieve EHS excellence. Through the collaborative efforts of its members, GEMI also promotes a worldwide business ethic for EHS management and sustainable development through example and leadership. The organization provides a forum for corporate environmental leaders to work together, learn from each other through the activities of work groups, benchmark with peers and create tools that can be used by GEMI members and others.

Since 1990, GEMI has been globally recognized for creating tools and providing strategies to help business foster global environmental, health and safety excellence, economic success and corporate citizenship. It currently has 39 member companies representing 15 industrial sectors.

GEMI recently released “Exploring Pathways to a Sustainable Enterprise: SD Planner™,” a new tool that was developed by a work group and led by representatives from Pfizer Inc. and DuPont. This tool represents an environmental, economic and socially responsible way that companies around the globe can create business value. It can be used internally within companies that recognize the importance of systematically considering environmental concerns, economic development and social equity issues in a way that creates the most value for their business enterprises. Instead of being designed as a “code of conduct,” this tool acknowledges that companies everywhere are just beginning their journeys toward sustainability and each company will determine its own approaches, concepts and actions to reach the goals that they have set for themselves. These journeys can have many possible paths; there is not one single path that will meet the needs of a world that is constantly changing.

A second new tool, “Connecting the Drops Toward Creative Water Strategies: A Water Sustainability Tool,” highlights the fact that there are emerging signals—some strong, some faint—that the business case is building for companies to develop more coordinated, forward-looking water strategies. As the GEMI work group (led by ConAgra Foods and The Coca-Cola Co.) concluded, companies that understand global business trends will be better positioned to identify new market opportunities, mitigate risks, develop sustainable water strategies and create shareholder value. The GEMI work group that developed this tool recognized that balancing competing water needs requires creative, collaborative and coordinated management. It also emphasized that companies need to think in new ways, listen closely to critical customers and innovate.

GEMI has developed other valuable tools that address issues such as:

- providing top and bottom line value to a company through EHS activities;
- utilizing the supply chain to improve the environment while driving business value;
- and addressing ways that multinational corporations can help foster environmental prosperity in the developing world.

All documents are available for free on the GEMI Web site, www.gemi.org, as they are intended to be our members’ contribution to helping foster a sustainable world and corporate citizenship.


Jim Thomas is executive director, HSE, for Novartis Corp. and serves as the chair of GEMI. More information about GEMI can be obtained at its Web site, www.gemi.org.

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