UN regulations may change sustainability requirements

Aug 21, 2014

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has developed a new council that will serve to guide the international community in developing environmental goals and creating more sustainability measures. The body, known as the International Advisory Council for the Advancement of Justice, Governance, and Law for Environmental Sustainability, is made up of judges, auditors, and academics and led by UNEP.

New body seeks to implement environmental legislation

The Council aims to increase sustainability efforts across the globe and supports the creation and implementation of global environmental laws. It could be able to develop a legal standing for such measures and limit the use of carbon technologies that many businesses rely on. According to UNEP, these steps will serve to increase sustainability, reduce poverty, and promote economic growth.

Steps may soon be taken to create global environmental legislation. In its Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) report, UNEP discovered that out of 90 of the most important sustainability goals discussed by nations around the world, the international community only significantly addressed four of those concerns. 

"Effective governance must be built on sanctioning enforceable laws, disclosure of information by private companies, promoting public participation and engagement by civil society, ensuring adequate incentive and punishment structures, and strong auditing institutions as barriers against illegality and corruption," said Scott Fulton, general counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a member of the new council.

The importance of compliance now and in the future

With this new council seeking to write and implement environmental laws that could affect every member of the international community, companies need to be aware of updates regarding pending legislation. Many firms are already involved in corporate social responsibility practices that take worker health and safety and green energy into account, but they may be required to increase their efforts as a result of future changes the new council could develop.

For the time being, businesses should all take precautions, ensure they are employing risk mitigation strategies, and be certain they are compliant with local environmental or safety legislation. While many firms take the necessary steps to maintain compliance, hiring companies should also guarantee their partners undergo contractor prequalification and meet any specific requirements. Those contracting partners should ensure they offer those businesses compliance support, especially if legislation or international laws change and require new sustainability standards or updated processes.