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WBCSD CSI to carry out externalities study for cement and concrete

World Cement,

On the basis of robust data, models and evaluation tools that its members have been collectively developing over years, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's (WBCSD) Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) has now decided to initiate and conduct a broad analysis of the externalities (impacts and benefits) of the cement and concrete sector.

The CSI recognises that in an increasingly urbanised population, concrete and cement will continue to play a vital part in our daily lives, through many diverse applications and usages. At the same time, the CSI believes that it is essential to properly measure the positive and negative externalities of cement and concrete.

Guided by the same cooperative spirit as the one that lead the CSI to develop the Getting the Numbers Right (GNR) database on energy and CO2 emissions, the CEO-led initiative has decided to embark on a robust and wide-scope project for this purpose.

At its annual meeting in November 2013, the CEOs of CSI members mandated the group to scale-up its actions towards sustainable development, building on the measurement, verification and reporting activities undertaken during the first decade of existence of the initiative and expanding the scope of its evaluation to societal impacts and benefits of cement and concrete, in a life-cycle approach. The first reflection engaged by the CSI members, under this mandate, led to the conclusion that the sector would need to develop an ambitious research project, composed of several building blocks, to properly assess the complete picture.

As a first step, CSI members will collectively develop the scope, boundaries and timeline of this project, to best accommodate the various available resources, and will present them for discussion and validation at the next CSI CEO meeting in December 2014. The project will be structured around a set of building blocks and will:

  • Use the existing tools, models and database that the CSI has elaborated over its first decade of existence, such as the GHG protocol, the GNR database, the customised Global Water Tool (GWT) for the cement sector, the Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) guideline, the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) tool, the global and regionally customised technology roadmaps to reduce energy and CO2 emissions from the cement sector.
  • Elaborate on the tools and methodologies currently being developed, such as the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) tool and the Responsible Sourcing Scheme (RSS) for concrete.
  • Contribute to and benefit from the Redefining Value transversal project that the WBCSD is currently developing.
  • Build on the existing and future potential partnerships in which the CSI is engaged, such as the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), the United Nations Environmental Program's (UNEP) Mercury partnership, the industry-wide cooperation on RSS.
  • Identify and initiate, when appropriate, additional research and analysis on issues that need deeper evaluation and possible involvement of external expertise, such as for social and societal considerations. Working with expert universities is also expected.

“In the next ten years, we will see more systematic attempts to measure and account for the full cost and benefits of externalities – environmental as well as social, with demands on business likely to increase. This project examines the industry's environmental and social externalities carries on that work, ensuring that this sector is at the forefront of sustainability thinking and actions,” commented Philippe Fonta, Managing Director of the CSI.

Furthermore, in full synergy with the WBCSD's Action2020 flagship action plan, this ambitious project will cover a worldwide geographical scope, to account for the more than 100 countries in which CSI members operate.

“The CSI was born more than ten years ago on the basis of a vision elaborated by 10 leading cement companies who decided to embark on their sustainability journey, by identifying critical sustainability issues for the cement industry, and developing plans and partnerships to transform words into actions to address them. This project is the concrete materialisation of a new vision for the CSI and gives a renewed impetus to our activities,” added Mr Fonta.

Adapted from CSI press release by

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