United Nations
Commission on Sustainable Development

Background Paper

Commission on Sustainable Development     Background Paper No. 14
Sixth Session
20 April - 1 May 1998

                     TRADE UNIONS AT CSD98
    International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)
           Trade Union Advisory Council - OECD (TUAC)

This paper forms part of an integrated trade union document covering the four themes of the
"Business and Industry" Segment of the CSD. The paper was originally written with an
introduction and conclusion with each section flowing into each other in a logical manner. 

However, for the purposes of the CSD the sections of the paper have been regrouped to
accommodate printing of material into four sections.  What follows is the "Table of Contents"
of the original trade union paper, showing in which of the four printed sections its various
parts have been placed.

INTRODUCTION (Background Paper No. 2) 
Globalization of Production and Consumption
(Placed at the Beginning of the "Responsible Entrepreneurship" section) 

The introduction discusses the prospects of sustainable development in an era of globalization
and outlines the necessary climate for trade and investment which is needed to foster
"Responsible Entrepreneurship" or to enable management tools to yield measurable changes in
the workplaces of the world. It argues that International solutions for employment and
transition programs are necessary as a prerequisite to effective and local trade union

Part 1: MANAGEMENT TOOLS AND STRATEGIES (Background Paper No. 6)
The trade Union Perspective on "Effective" Management Tools

Workers and their trade unions must be central to any meaningful change involving the
workplace. The section examines the way trade unions are currently working through joint
workplace mechanisms, including Eco-Audits as a means of extending advances in
occupational health and safety to environmental protection. The section looks at the need to
challenge ways of doing things in the workplace in communities.

Part 2: RESPONSIBLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP (Background Paper No. 2)
The Trade Union Perspective on "Responsible Leadership for Change"

A view of "Responsible Business Practice" is provided and explains why trade unions wish to
work with employers and governments in providing leadership for change. Responsible
practice recognizes the need for accountability and includes target-setting and reporting based
on criteria of trust, credibility, transparency, and applicability to smaller enterprises, as well as
the participation of workers and trade unions. It also must recognize a role for public policy
and government in promoting and supporting responsible leadership for change. 

The Trade Union Perspective on "Cooperation and Capacity Building"

The section explains the reasons why support for or resistance to certain types of technological
change occur depending on the purposes for which they are employed. There is a particular
focus on chemicals as an example where broad-based "capacity building" can occur. A the
trade union approach to assessing technology or technology transfer is reviewed and the
implications for employment and workers' well- being are highlighted. The key role of
training, education and information sharing are discussed.

Part 4: WATER AND CLEANER PRODUCTION (Background Paper No. 14)
A Practical Approach to the Problem of Water

This section looks at the workplace practicalities of addressing the problem of water and
outlines the challenges that are posed in addressing any issue from a workplace point of view.
The section deviates from others by avoiding theoretical discussions   about issues and looks at
"What Needs To Be Done" now in making progress on Water.  This discussion leads into Part
five (printed at the end of the water section) which reviews the implications of the trade union
approach on water for other pressing issues, including climate change.

(Included in the water section)

This section presents the challenges posed by working with trade unions and the reviews the
changes that are needed to make the workplace a central focus for sustainable development.
There is a need for cooperation in "workplace partnerships" if real change to the patterns of
production and consumption is to occur. The process for commencing the dialogue with
international business is outlined.

Commission on Sustainable Development     Background Paper No. 14
Sixth Session
20 April - 1 May 1998

    International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)
          Trade Union Advisory Committee - OECD (TUAC)


1.   Parts One to Three have outlined the principles which should guide workplace action in
addressing sustainable development issues.  This Part will explore the practical nature of these
principles as they apply to the sustainable use of water in industry. 

2.   However, approached from a workplace point of view, it is clear that we must employ
an integrated approach, which includes water solutions as part of an overall workplace strategy
that addresses several problems at once, creating double and triple dividends.  Our final Part,
The Challenge of Partnership for Change, will address the issue of integration directly. 
Understanding how trade unions would address (and have already addressed) water issues
provides an insight into the way we promote workplace sustainable development, generally.

                    A.  The problem of water

3.   The Comprehensive Assessment of the Freshwater Resources of the World report
prepared for CSD97 warned of the worsening supply and quality of water due to the way it is
viewed as an unlimited resource (poor allocation, mismanagement and waste) and a "sink" for
wastes (pollution).  About one-third of the world's population faces shortages and problems
with quality; by 2025, two-thirds could face shortages and pollution problems, causing
widespread health problems, limiting agricultural and industrial production, and damage to
eco-systems. Problems are expected to worsen because of the growing world population (from
5.7 billion today to 8.3 billion by 2025): the increasing demand for agricultural and industrial
production using water, the compounding impacts of other ecological problems (i.e., acid rain
and climate change) and the effects of globalised trading patterns. 

4.   Translated in concrete terms, the question remains, what workplace actions can we take
to solve some of the worst water problems?  These must grow out of an understanding of the
problems of water consumption as they relate to three distinct areas of activity:

     (a)  In the workplace itself; i.e., the manner in which water is consumed, used and
eliminated in the production cycle;

     (b)  In the production and delivery of the materials and resource inputs brought into the
workplace for the production cycle; e.g., raw materials, manufactured goods or human labour;

     (c)  In the surrounding community; i.e., supply and delivery of water, as well as the
protection of watersheds.

5.   The Special General Assembly of the United Nations last June recognised the critical
need to engage in water resource protection using the integrated watershed management
approach.  Recognising that all workplaces are located in watersheds, we must consider the
impact that our activities have on our own watershed, as well as on populations and watersheds
downstream.  The whole ecology is affected, and ultimately, so is industry itself.  The
long-term availability of clean water for industrial purposes, human needs and ecological
demands will determine the long-range well-being of the area and industry.

6.   We must address the impact of our workplaces on the eco-system, especially as it
affects our place in the watershed, and implement the best practices in a collaborative approach
that utilises the skill and knowledge of all involved and develops increasing capacity through
training and engagement.

                        INDUSTRY ON WATER

7.   In previous sections, we suggested that workers must be involved with employers to
develop workplace eco-auditing tools to address problems.  How might such an approach assist
us in developing a strategy for water?  Constructing an initial checklist of questions in each of
the following categories will help to clarify the follow-up workplace actions that would be
required to address the water problems described earlier.  Of course, the checklist would differ
for each workplace; agreement is needed only on the general approach. 

A.  Taking stock of water involved in the production cycle itself

8.   Overall water consumption at the workplace:

     (a)  In the direct production of goods and services;

     (b)  In operations providing for the upkeep, maintenance and cleaning of the worksites
and related properties;

     (c)  In the provision of human support services (e.g., sanitation, food, beverages and
personal water consumption at work).

9.   Wastes from the workplace and their effects:

     (a)  Retained waste water in all its forms (e.g., tailing and settling ponds as well as
deep well injection sites or storage facilities, etc);

     (b)  Production of all forms of liquid wastes (e.g., water effluents into natural water

     (c)  Air pollution which results in water contamination of water courses (e.g., metals in
soils and SO2 in acid rain, etc.);

     (d)  Solid waste contamination of water (e.g., through public or private landfill

     (e)  Physical disruptions to land and biosphere which impact on water (e.g.,
agriculture, mining, forestry, road construction, etc.).

10.  An initial audit of activities resulting in such wastes would indicate the type of joint
worker/employer actions that would be needed at the workplace itself to address them (e.g.,
reducing consumption, cleaning production, minimising waste and promoting recycling).  It
would also point to the system of natural resource accounting and auditing that would be
appropriate for specific worksites, identifying what needs to be monitored and evaluated on an
ongoing basis.

         B.  Taking stock of workplace inputs and their
                       water implications

11.  The materials and resources that are brought into the workplace are themselves
produced and delivered at substantial cost to our water resources.  Sometimes the water costs
of an operation remain entirely hidden from and external to the actual production facilities.
Therefore, they would not normally be accounted for at the workplace itself.  However, for
our purposes, a full accounting must take place to determine what changes might be made
through an operation's purchasing policies, but also to help define appropriate education and
training programmes for workers.  A full accounting would include the following factors:

Water costs of resource and material inputs into production:

     (a)  Raw materials (e.g., water costs of providing and transporting steel, coal or
agricultural inputs);

     (b)  Manufactured products purchased for production (e.g., water costs of
manufacturing auto or electronic parts used to produce a final product);

     (c)  Energy resources (e.g., water costs of producing energy from coal, nuclear energy,
hydroelectric power or alternative energy sources).

Water costs of human labour as an input into production:

12.  Employees must come to the workplace, wherever that may be, for production to take
place; they must, furthermore, be sufficiently healthy to perform required tasks and be
motivated to do them efficiently.

13.  Asking about the water implications for employees as an input factor is important, as it
invariably shapes worker-based education which is necessary to address water issues
meaningfully.  For example, agriculture accounts for the largest proportion of the world's
water consumption, but the fact that this sector mostly serves to provide food for urban
workers makes it a workplace issue.  And, as we are discussing water, the amount consumed
to produce food for workers is of importance to production as a whole; i.e., workers are also
consumers in their own right.  Much of their consumption can be attributed to their role in
production, and certain water issues must, therefore, be understood as they relate to the
provision of human labour as a means of production:

     (a)  Personal domestic water consumption and sanitation needs;

     (b)  Water consumption related to the transportation of workers to and from work
(e.g., water to maintain private cars);

     (c)  Water consumption related to the domestic livelihood of workers related to:

          -  Food consumption (e.g., for growing and transporting food as well as
          cooking and preparing it)
          -  Energy used as a means of maintaining workers' homes
          -  Materials purchased for home and property maintenance

     (d)  Water to fulfil the recreational needs of workers;

     (e)  Family needs related to all of the above.

         C.  Taking stock of community inputs and their
                       water implications

14.  The supply and delivery of water is very often a community responsibility, as is the
administration of waste water treatment, garbage facilities or incineration.  These
infrastructure roles must be included as an extension of the production cycle related to water
and, therefore, must also be understood as part of industry's cycle of production.  The role of
government and research bodies in water protection, supply and delivery must be properly
understood and accounted for:

     (a)  Treatment and delivery of water for production (the role of local authorities and
sub-contracted agencies);

     (b)  Protection of water from abuse (the role of regional government regulation and

     (c)  Pollution prevention (the role of research and development for Cleaner Production
programmes, etc.);

     (d)  Promoting employment in all aspects of production and consumption of water (the
role of public policy initiatives).


                      A.  Areas for action

15.  An analysis of case studies since 1992 shows that workers and trade unions have been
involved in finding solutions to a large variety of problems with patterns of production and
consumption of water.  Our action and (collaboration) has led to:

     (a)  Improvements in water quality, led by citizen demand and participation;
     (b)  Improved treatment of municipal sewage;
     (c)  Reduced discharge of industrial waste and toxic substances;
     (d)  More efficient irrigation methods; improved science and technology;
     (e)  Reductions in the amount of water used in industrial processes;

     (f)  Improved municipal and regional water management systems;
     (g)  Pollution control and clean-up of water basins and eco-systems;
     (h)  Agreements for protection of regional and transboundary watercourses;
     (i)  National and international agreements to share information, technology and
monitoring systems.

16.  Although trade unions have acquired extensive experience in many aspects of water
protection, we are still far from what might be considered part of a well-integrated
international plan of action.  On the contrary, the experience and focus of trade unions differ
considerably depending on where they are and what work their workers do.  There is a wide
variety of experiences of working with employers and methods of involvement with the
surrounding communities.

17.  To develop a truly effective programme of water protection would require broad
agreement on general principles among international bodies of trade unions, employers, NGOs
and governments.  Each sector would have to engage in collaborative implementation
measures, nationally and regionally, with support for training and education, to develop
well-integrated target-setting and reporting procedures.

                            IN JAPAN
     Trade Unions Organise a Community Project to Clean the Yamato River
     RENGO's regional organisation for Osaka co-operated in a campaign with Youth
Chambers of Commerce, community NGOs and private research organisations to clean up the
highly polluted Yamato River flowing through Nara and Osaka.  Union members took water
samples, carried out fact-finding surveys on the use of combined septic tanks in municipalities
along the river and collected signatures for petitions and, on this basis, made demands on local
governments to strengthen subsidies for combined septic tanks to ensure that household waste
water did not flow into the river.  They collected signatures, held events to educate the local
residents on the issue and engaged in direct negotiations with mayors of communities along the
river.  Similar activities involving water surveys and lobbying are being carried out by other
regional organisations as well.

     A Public Sector Union Leads an Educational and Lobbying Campaign on Water
     The All-Japan Water Supply Workers' Union (Zensuido, a RENGO affiliate) is holding
symposiums throughout the country and including regular features in its official publications to
educate members on the issue of "water."  They have also made a "guarantee of the quality and
volume of water resources" a policy demand to responsible administrative bodies.  In addition,
they have co-operated with forestry, agriculture and government employee unions and NGOs,
organised special events and lobbied administrative agencies and industries to promote the use of
soap instead of synthetic detergents which are causing chemical contamination.

                      IN THE UNITED STATES

     Employee Participation Saves Money and Jobs in the Steel Industry
     When the United Steelworkers engaged in a co-operative programme with Republic
Engineered Steel called Project 80, employees suggested about 1,000 cost-saving and
environmental improvements in the first 20 months.  About half of these have since been
implemented, resulting in savings of about $45 million.  The single-largest saving, more
than $3.5 million, resulted from suggestions for improvements in the recycling of steel
scrap. Another huge saving resulted from more efficient use of water, as a group of
workers found a way to reduce water used in the heat-treating process.  Water consumption
dropped 80%, from more than 9 million gallons per month in 1991 to less than 2 million
two years later, saving close to $50,000 per year.

      B.  Helsingborg model:  A lesson in collaboration to
                  tackle the problem of water

18.  The role of partnerships and work-based agreements involving trade unions, employers,
local authorities, community groups and governments is illustrated by the success of the
Graphical Workers' Union in Helsingborg, Sweden, a city dependent on printing and chemical
industries.  The chemical products used are organic solvents, paints, lacquer, fixer, etc.,
resulting in waste that contained heavy metals, cyanide and different acids, alkaline and toxic
substances, much of which were flushed into the river.  Community sewage treatment works
could not handle these substances, and they had a negative impact on sewage treatment. 
Members of the union could see that something had to be done.

19.  The origin of the project was an initiative from the local branch during the mid-1980s
when the union proposed measurements against the use of several hazardous chemicals within
the printing industry, mainly for health and safety reasons.  It was soon realised, however, that
a holistic approach to inside and outside environment was necessary, as traditional methods
simply moved the problems outside the plants.  Several other industries had similar problems.

20.  The local LO Facken I Helsingborg, which is the organisation for co-operation between
local branches of different trade unions in a city, established its own environmental working
group.  It worked with the local environmental authority and some companies to create a
model for substitution of harmful chemicals based on environmental and health and safety
legislation.  Seminars were held with the companies involved, and while some were at first
reluctant, they finally agreed to co-operate to introduce vegetable alternatives and an effective
recycling programme.  The Helsingborg model became well known in other parts of Sweden.

21.  The substitution and recycling of chemicals has already had a positive effect on water
quality of the river but has also created an interest to go further.  An agreement between the
local authority, the local LO and some companies will start a new phase in the project.

22.  The river and the area around it had been cleaned from chemical substances, but much
remains to be done.  Losses in bio-diversity occurred during the years while nitrogen leakage
was high and the area needs to be restored.  Bio-diversity improvement, construction of
salmon-stairs and other restoration and clean-up activities have begun.  The project is financed
by the local authority and the companies involved and to a great extent run by LO Facken I
Helsingborg.  Fifteen to twenty new "green jobs" have been created through this second phase
of the project.


23.  Wherever sufficient interest is expressed amongst sectors, and where there is agreement
to focus on workplace actions to deal with water, we can begin the gigantic task of making real
change happen.

24.  The primary focus of action for us would be the millions of workplaces in the world
where there are trade unions.  If there were a genuine interest in developing common
approaches with employers and governments, the following initial steps could be taken:

     (a)  Identify common workplaces where trade union and employer co-operation was

     (b)  Engage in an initial "stock-taking" process for these workplaces involving issues
described in Part A of this Section; i.e., identifying necessary research and the appropriate
management and trade union tools to be used;

     (c)  Establish a common approach to:

       -  Training and education
       -  Ongoing target-setting, monitoring and reporting procedures
       -  Agreed workplace evaluation process involving local communities
       -  An overall evaluation process to enable a branching out of implementation to
          other workplaces and sectors.

25.  These are some of the challenges posed by issues highlighted in our perspective on
water.  However, they must all be viewed in the context of general environmental trends and
cannot be limited to water.  This focus on water has helped outline our general orientation to
addressing sustainable development issues as workplace issues.  The real challenge is to
develop an integrated workplace approach to promote many aspects of sustainable
development.  We will examine these in the next Section on "Challenges".

                       IN CALCUTTA, INDIA

     Trade Unions Organise Around Clean-up of the Ganges River
     When the Supreme Court began ordering shutdown of industry to protect the
Ganges, trade unions in Calcutta were forced to make the environment an issue.  They
have begun meeting and studying the problem and have organised themselves to ask the
Court to protect the rights of workers to live and work in a clean, safe work environment. 
They are also demanding the right to participate in a tripartite forum, to receive
information and to find equitable solutions to the problem.  A Report prepared for the ILO
Bureau of Workers' Activities (ACTRAV) is being widely distributed to members and
other unions to raise environmental awareness.

                      IN WEST BENGAL, INDIA

     A Union Educates Its Members on the Safe Use of Agro-Chemicals and
Workers' Rights
     The West Bengal Cha Mazdoor Sabha is actively pressing for training and
protection of tea plantation workers in North Bengal as part of a campaign in which it is
demanding changes in the Plantations Labour Act to include training on the dangers and
safe handling of agro-chemicals in plantations, especially near drinking water supplies.  It
has published a Report on the situation for the ILO Bureau of Workers' Activities
(ACTRAV).  It has organised study sessions and brought out posters on the environment
and health issues on tea plantations.

                           IN SCOTLAND

     Workers Improve the Worksite and Community Environment
     Manufacturing, Science, Finance (MSF) has encouraged its members to take
responsibility for environmental issues and to take up environmental issues with their
employers.  One such company, GEC Ferranti - a large defense contractor in Scotland, has
established a Joint Office Committee on energy efficiency as part of a consultation about
redundancies, under four headings:  history, audit, current situation and future plans. 
MSF and other unions at the plant were able to expand co-operation to other environmental
concerns, and on-going consultation on environmental issues has produced a number of
progressive developments.  For example:
-  The company has significantly reduced its overheads;
-  All water, apart from drinking water, is now recycled;
-  A new lighting system, using low-energy bulbs, has been installed;
-  A new heating and ventilation system, using less energy, is now operational.

     MSF has also raised with GEC the issue of defense diversification and the
environmental dimension of product development as the company comes face-to-face with
the implications of the "peace dividend."

                      IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

     Unions and the Community Attack Titanium Dioxide Culprit
     The Transport & General Workers' Union and the General and Municipal Workers'
Union have successfully negotiated improvements in waste disposal methods at SCM
Chemicals in Humberside, a chemicals plant producing titanium dioxide pigments for
painting.  During negotiations, the union arranged a meeting between senior managers,
Greenpeace and the unions to introduce an acid recycling plant to solve the problem of
discharge of chemical waste into the Humber Estuary.  The company also sponsored a visit
by union officials to Brussels and Strasbourg to learn more about the matter.  EC directives
added to pressure from the workforce for action. 

                             IN ITALY

     The Po Delta has been the subject of much debate for several years.  Due to
intensive cultivation, the Po river has become seriously polluted.  Unemployment in the
region stands at 14%.  The three trade union organisations got involved in discussions with
local organisations and residents about establishing an interregional park to promote
tourism, improve agricultural practices and stimulate local industry, whilst saving and
cleaning up the environment.  Following meetings and discussions, an accord was reached
on an organisational structure to set up the park.

                      IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

     Unions Link Cleaner Production to Eco-bonus Schemes
     At a Coca Cola-Schweppes Beverages plant in the UK, unions lent support to a CP
programme that produced significant reductions in the use of energy, water and materials.
The agreement provided that the workforce would benefit directly from any eco-savings
made.  When the savings of $3 million were realised in one year, each employee was given
an "eco-bonus" share worth $1,500.  Most of the CP measures at the plant involved simple
housekeeping and were implemented at little or no cost and involved no job losses.


      A.  The Place to Start Is at This Session of the CSD

26.  Since its inception, Agenda 21 and sustainable development has been stalled in an
international gridlock.  Trade unions around the world want to break this pattern, making change
happen.  We welcome the opportunity for dialogue provided by the CSD.

Beginning the process in the trade union movement

27.  If broad agreement could be reached with employer organisations to set initial targets at
the international level, and if support could be identified in national governments to make this a
priority, the ICFTU and other trade union bodies would be in a position to take the next step
forward.  While these decisions would necessarily be shaped by the structure and nature of the
trade union movement, internationally and in each country, any future steps would contain at least
the following elements:

     (a)  An ongoing consultation process with employer organisations to establish general
agreement on the following:

       -       General terms of reference for co-operation;

       -       Selection of issues (e.g., water, climate change or pollution prevention, etc.) and            appropriate areas for target-setting;

       -  Selection of priority sectors and locations to begin co-operation;

       -       Acceptable workplace tools and instruments; e.g., mechanisms combining elements
          of ISO with eco-auditing methods;

       -       Joint approaches to training, education and employment;

       -       Evaluation and reporting procedures involving communities and NGOs;

       -  Common approaches for government support and participation.

     (b)  An ongoing consultation with ICFTU affiliates and the International Trade
Secretariats (sector specific trade union centres) to establish approaches to:

       -       Set targets for involvement and for a preliminary audit process, including the            identification of priority workplaces; 

       -  Develop a strategy for training and education of workers in these priority                workplaces, to begin the implementation of a plan;

       -  Develop a common evaluation and reporting procedure with affiliates and sector            union bodies;

       -  Consult with NGOs and groups representing local authorities to build a community
          link and evaluation process for targeted workplaces.

Getting underway: Making changes at the workplace

28.  If the world is to overcome a deficit left by years of inaction, we must be prepared to
make "quantum leaps" towards a global solution.  Our contribution to such an effort lies, in part,
in the strength and advantages inherent in trade unions working in partnership with other sectors

     (a)  Involve and educate workers on consumption and production issues.  We will utilise
the strengths and competencies we have gained in health, safety and environment, particularly
with eco-auditing, to set targets, engage in monitoring, reporting and education, and engage in
joint programmes with willing employers, governments and NGOs to strengthen regional, national
and international links.

     (b)  Work towards a comprehensive strategy combining all aspects of sustainable
production and consumption, not just water.  Shifting to sustainable patterns requires closer
co-operation between industry, trade unions, non-governmental organisations and governments. 
A network of "partnerships for change" needs to be developed.

     (c)  Work with international agencies and governments.  Organisations such as the CSD,
the ILO and the OECD have proven how international bodies can promote dialogue and
co-operation, which has become even more necessary in this period of globalisation.

                            The ILO
     A "Workers' Education and Environment" Project Promotes
        Education in Developing Countries Around the World

     No single project undertaken by an international agency better portrays the spirit of
"collective engagement" than the ILO's "Workers' Education and Environment" Project, started in
1991 with the support of the Norwegian government.  This Bureau for Workers' Activities Project
(ACTRAV) has already promoted numerous activities and schools to prepare trade unionists for
action through environmental education: 

-  National trade union centres in Ghana, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, India, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, among others, have developed policies and action plans on
environmentally sustainable development priority issues;

-  A policy on EPZs and environmentally sustainable development issues has been developed in
Southern Africa to be implemented at national and sub-regional levels;

-  Provided ILO training materials to trade unions for policy-making and assisted different
co-operating countries in the development of local materials;

-  International trade union organisations have used ILO materials in the training of leaders,
educators and members;

-  Unions and labour centres have used case studies to build up knowledge and arguments for use in
campaigns and dialogues with bi- and tripartite partners, as well as development of policies and
appropriate action plans within their sectors.

         B.  Challenge: Taking Action on Climate Change

29.  As illustrated in the case of water, it is possible to make progress on a single issue. 
However, other equally important ones are looming over the horizon.  Climate change presents
the most dramatic evidence of the negative effect that unsustainable development has on our
eco-system.  It threatens to be the most disruptive, causing dislocation to large segments of the
world's population, major losses in arable land and habitat, floods and water shortages - all in the
near future.  Combustion of fossil fuels is a main contributor to the problem, and massive energy
conservation programmes are necessary to avoid the devastating implications scientists are now
almost unanimously predicting.  The outlook is grim, as both the European Commission and the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are predicting CO2 emissions to increase worldwide
by 36%-55% on 1990 levels by 2020.  It will take all of us, working together, to make the
necessary changes in the face of climate change.

                            IN SPAIN
     Trade Unions Participate in Coalition to Present Action Plan on Climate Change

     The trade union centre, Confederacion Sindical de Comisiones Obreras, led a 
co-ordinated effort by trade unions, industry, environmental organisations, academics,
researchers and consumer and citizens' organisations to draft and present a common proposal
for an Action Plan on Climate Change to the Spanish Government.  The joint document
proposes specific measures to be developed as part of the National Plan, including:

-  Promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy;
-  Limitations of emissions in transportation;
-  Development and implementation of clean technologies in industry;
-  Promotion of sustainable forms of agriculture;
-  Limiting emissions from waste treatment.

    Cost of Environmental Damage Worries Insurance Industry
     A 1995 "Statement of Environmental Commitment by the Insurance Industry," signed
by 60 insurance companies worldwide, identifies climate change as an over-riding concern.  An
analysis of natural catastrophes in the last 25 years by Munich Reinsurance, a large German
insurance firm, reveals that there were four times the number of severe natural disasters in the
last 10 years as there were in the 1960s.  After adjusting for inflation, economic losses were 8
times greater and insured losses 15 times higher.  Losses in 1996 alone were US $60 billion,
and Munich Reinsurance's geo-scientists foresee "no let-up in the general trend towards
ever-increasing costs."

     The Insurance Bureau of Canada says that before 1987, insured losses from a single
natural disaster never exceeded US $1 billion.  Since then, no less than 18 such events have
occurred worldwide, and inflation-adjusted costs have increased more than 20-fold, owing to
the increased frequency and intensity of severe storms, especially since the mid-1980s.

              C.  Working with Guiding Principles

30.  Developing workplace models that integrate responses to all aspects of sustainable
development will require the involvement of workers and trade unions in decision-making and
implementation, measurement and evaluation and reporting at the workplace, as well as at
regional and national levels.

31.  The challenge is to produce a work environment in which workers can co-operate with
each other, employers, community members and social partners to raise environmental awareness
and find creative ways to promote sustainable development at the workplace and all levels. To
produce changes in patterns of production and consumption at the workplace and community will
require innovative "partnerships" between workplace parties, communities and others, as well as a
policy framework to promote agreements affecting the workplace and society.  This will require
agreement on objectives such as the following:

     (a)  The capacity to think globally, while acting locally at the workplace;

     (b)  The acceptance of employment as a barometer of sustainable development;

     (c)  Corporate responsibility and accountability, matched by responsibility of all towards
sustainable development in the workplace and community;

     (d)  "Good practice" in small- and medium-sized firms, supported by a policy framework
which recognises their significance as places of employment; 

     (e)  Recognition of our international commitments and Agreements, to include
commitments made in Rio to Official Development Assistance.

       D.  Taking a Long-term View: The TCO 6E Challenge

32.  The "TCO 6E" is a working model for the sustainable workplace designed, produced and
marketed by the Development Unit of the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees
(TCO).  It embodies all of the major elements of the trade union approach to responsible
leadership for change, and is, therefore, presented as the basis of a challenge to business,
government and NGOs - and to ourselves, as trade unionists.

What is 6E? 

33.  The "6E" is the latest and most all-encompassing in a series of projects by the
Development Unit to eliminate unhealthy or environmentally incompatible equipment and
practices from offices and other workplaces.  Combining environmental practice with sound
economics, it is a practical guide for integrating considerations relating to ecology and the work
environment into everyday decision-making and standard-setting.  6E is successful because it
leads the whole organisation to an agreement on a common set of values and respect for the
environment, and inbues everybody with the idea that personal development, a good working
environment and a sociable working climate are part of their work.

Basic principles on which the 6E is based

34.  The change to workplace patterns of production and consumption is guided by the
following principles:

     (a)  The Recycling Principle dictates that everything that is taken from nature shall, in a
sustainable way, be reused, recycled or disposed with the minimum possible use of resources and
without harming nature.

     (b)  The Precautionary Principle requires that if a threat of serious or irreversible damage
exists, lack of scientific proof is not used as a reason for delaying measures to prevent this

     (c)  The Substitution Principle means avoiding the use of materials or processes that can
be replaced by less harmful ones.  At the workplace, it means purchasing the least environmentally
harmful alternatives, especially those with environmental labels.

     (d)  The Integration Principle requires that all possible influences on humans and the
environment be taken into account all through the planning, production, and consumption stages. 
It also means that environmental considerations are integrated into the operational business
strategy and long-term development plan, on a broad front with respect to health, safety and the

The basic elements of 6E

35.  The "Six E's" symbolise high standards in Ergonomics, Economy, Ecology, Emissions,
Efficiency and Energy.  These elements are implemented in the workplace through a step-by-step
method that builds competence in the environment and 6E through the phases of preparation,
training, implementation and evaluation.  The "building blocks" of 6E are as follows:

     (a)  A vision of a better workplace and a better environment founded on positive thinking
and the involvement and participation of everyone in the working environment, including (i)
physical and psycho-social factors; (ii) type and content; and (iii) aids and tools, as the basis for
action plans for improvement according to each of the 6E elements.

     (b)  The development of "environmental competence" in everyone is developed through
training in fundamental environmental principles, and then through an investigative working
procedure followed by an influential working procedure.  This process occurs through working
groups led by a group co-ordinator and a project leader who manages the integration task and
reports to management meetings.

     (c)  Support material is provided to guide and assist participants at each stage of a
systematic adaptation of the organisation's operations towards the vision.  It includes: 

       -  The Way to 6E: a manual describing the 6E, its aims and implementation;

       -  A Project Binder: to guide the project and group leaders through the model;

       -  An Environment Binder: with instructional materials and articles on 6E Elements;

       -  Private Binders: for all participants to collect material and use Checklists and 
          Calculation Sheets, as well as notes, reminders, contacts and educational material;

       -  Checklists: to help map out both the internal and external work environments and          support routines and working procedures for sustaining integration;

       -  Calculation Sheets: to account for quantities and costs of materials and other inputs;
       -  Computer Support: Software to permit mapping and analysis, including            computerised checklists, calculation sheets, documents and legal search tools;

       -  A 6E Library: containing documents and booklets on the environmental world.

The 6E label 

36.  The 6E label is a symbol of "Responsible Practice," signifying total environmental
integration of the external and internal workplace environments.  6E Approval may be given to a
complete operation, or just one part of it, to show that it has passed an important milestone in
changing the way business is done for the benefit of both humanity and the environment. 

This document has been posted online by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Reproduction and dissemination of the document - in electronic and/or printed format - is encouraged, provided acknowledgement is made of the role of the United Nations in making it available.

Date last posted: 8 December 1999 15:15:30
Comments and suggestions: DESA/DSD