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Taking Action Matters More than Rhetoric

Top performance in terms of sustainability and corporate social responsibility only comes when those areas are embedded in management practices throughout the organization.

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Humor in the workplace Speaking at the Climate 2050 conference in Montreal, Rio Tinto Alcan Chief Executive, Dick Evans, remarked that "the truth is that the technology necessary to slow and even reverse the GHG buildup in the atmosphere is either readily available today or could be developed within a decade at a reasonable cost." He added that "we do not have to – nor should we – wait for some sweeping new international agreement that is likely to be several years in the making, before we begin taking action." I think it would be fair to say that, over the past few years, Alcan earned recognition as a leader in demonstrating the relationship between sustainability practices and performance and financial performance.

Along the way, we learned a couple of valuable lesson that others might benefit from:

Lesson #1 is that real action matters more than rhetoric. Top performance in terms of sustainability and corporate social responsibility only comes when those areas are embedded in management practices throughout the organization.

Lesson #2 is that sustainability can add real money to shareholders pockets. I think that most former Alcan shareholders would agree.

The point is that investors and other stakeholders really are starting to “get it”, in terms of the links between sustainability and shareholder value.

There is no doubt that the premium received by Alcan shareholders in the Rio Tinto combination was largely a reflection of financial performance. But, Alcan’s track record on sustainability, environmental stewardship and stakeholder relationships was also a very significant contribution.

Having said that, I worry that much of the climate change dialogue is still about images versus action.

Complete Speech is at the SOURCE: Dick Evans, Chief Executive, Rio Tinto Alcan, at the Climate 2050 Conference in Montreal

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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