Our Guiding Principles

Our Policies

The 3 Principles of the Africa Honey Consortium

Corporate sustainability starts with an organisation’s value system and a principles-based approach in undertaking commercial activities. This means operating in ways that, at a minimum, meet fundamental responsibilities in the areas of environment. Responsible businesses enact the same values and principles wherever they have a presence, and know that good practices in one area do not offset harm in another. By incorporating the Three Principles of the Africa Honey Consortium into strategies, policies and procedures, and establishing a culture of integrity, organisations/entitiess are not only upholding their basic responsibilities to people and planet, but also setting the stage for long-term success. The Three Principles of the Africa Honey Consortium are derived from the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.


Principle One: Environment

Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges.

What does it mean?

Introducing the precautionary approach, Principle 15 of the 1992 Rio Declaration  states that “where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation”.

Precaution involves the systematic application of risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. When there is reasonable suspicion of harm, decision-makers need to apply precaution and consider the degree of uncertainty that appears from scientific evaluation.

Deciding on the “acceptable” level of risk involves not only scientific-technological evaluation and economic cost-benefit analysis, but also political considerations such as acceptability to the public. From a public policy view, precaution is applied as long as scientific information is incomplete or inconclusive and the associated risk is still considered too high to be imposed on society. The level of risk considered typically relates to standards of environment, health and safety.

Why should companies care? The key to a precautionary approach, from a business perspective, is the idea of prevention rather than remediation. In other words, it is more cost-effective to take early action to ensure that environmental damage does not occur. Companies should consider the following:

  • While it is true that preventing environmental damage may entail additional implementation costs, environmental remediation often costs much more, for instance in the form of treatment costs, or in terms of company reputation.
  • Investing in production methods that are not sustainable (i.e. methods that deplete resources and degrade the environment) has a lower, long-term return than investing in sustainable
    operations. In turn, improving environmental performance means less financial risk, an important consideration for insurers.
  • Research and development related to more environmentally friendly products can have significant long-term benefits

What can companies do?

Companies can support a precautionary approach by communicating potential risks for the consumer and providing complete information on risks to the consumer and the public. Supporting the precautionary approach includes obtaining prior approval before certain products, deemed to be potentially hazardous, are placed on the market.

Steps that a company could take in the application of this approach include the following:

  • Develop a code of conduct or practice for its operations and products that confirms commitment to care for health and the environment
  • Develop a company guideline on the consistent application of the approach throughout the company
  • Create a managerial committee or steering group that oversees the company application of precaution, in particular risk management in sensitive issue areas
  • Establish two-way communication with stakeholders, in a pro-active, early stage and transparent manner, to ensure effective communication of information about uncertainties and potential risks
  • And to deal with related enquiries and complaints. Use mechanisms such as multi-stakeholder meetings, workshop discussions, focus groups, public polls combined with use of website and printed media
  • Support scientific research, including independent and public research, on related issues, and work with national and international institutions concerned
  • Join industry-wide collaborative efforts to share knowledge and deal with the issue of precaution, in particular in regards to production processes and products around which high
    level of uncertainty, potential harm and sensitivity exist

Principle Two: Environment

Businesses should undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility.

What does it mean?

In Chapter 30 of Agenda 21, the 1992 Rio Earth Summit spelled out the role of business and industry in the sustainable development agenda as: “Business and industry should increase self-regulation, guided by appropriate codes, charters and initiatives integrated into all elements of business planning and decision-making, and fostering openness and dialogue with employees and the public.”

The Rio Declaration says that business has the responsibility to ensure that activities within their own operations do not cause harm to the environment. Society expects business to be good actors in the community. Business gains its legitimacy through meeting the needs of society, and increasingly society is expressing a clear need for more environmentally sustainable practices.

Why should companies care?

Cleaner and more efficient processes mean increased resource productivity, which translates to needing fewer raw material inputs and lower costs. More environmentally responsible companies are also benefiting from tax incentives or permit programmes because they are more advanced than their peers. Additionally, employees and consumers are increasingly interested in doing business with responsible companies.

The challenge for companies is developing an environmentally responsible strategy that keeps them ahead of the pack, helping them maintain an advantageous position in the marketplace. Companies must truly innovate in terms of how they manage their relationship with the environment.

What can companies do?

Steps that the company could take to promote environmental responsibility would be the following:

  • Define company vision, policies and strategies to include sustainable development — economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity;
  • Develop sustainability targets and indicators (economic, environmental, social);
  • Establish a sustainable production and consumption programme with clear performance objectives to take the organisation beyond compliance in the long-term;
  • Work with product designers and suppliers to improve environmental performance and extend responsibility throughout the value chain;
  • Adopt voluntary charters, codes of conduct and practice internally as well as through sectoral and international initiatives to reach responsible environmental performance;
  • Measure, track and communicate progress on incorporating sustainability principles into business practices, including reporting against global operating standards. Assess results and apply strategies for continued improvement; and
  • Ensure transparency and unbiased dialogue with stakeholders.

In doing the above, the existence of appropriate management systems is crucial in helping the company to meet the organizational challenge.

Key mechanisms or tools for a company to use include:

  • Assessment or audit tools (such as environmental impact assessment, environmental risk assessment, technology assessment, life cycle assessment);
  • Management tools (such as environmental management systems and eco-design); and
  • Communication and reporting tools (such as corporate environmental foot-printing and sustainability reporting).

Principle Three: Environment

Businesses should encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

What does it mean?

Environmentally sound technologies, as defined in In Chapter 30 of Agenda 21, should protect the environment, are less polluting, use all resources in a more sustainable manner, recycle more of their wastes and products and handle residual wastes in a more acceptable manner than the technologies for which they were substitutes. They include a variety of cleaner production processes and pollution prevention technologies as well as end-of-pipe and monitoring technologies. Moreover, they include know-how, procedures, goods and services and equipment as well as organizational and managerial procedures. Where production processes that do not use resources efficiently generate residues and discharge wastes, environmentally sound technologies can be applied to reduce day-to-day operating inefficiencies, emissions of environmental contaminants, worker exposure to hazardous materials and risks of environmental disasters.

Why should companies care?

The key benefits of environmentally friendly technologies include:

  • Implementing environmentally friendly technologies helps a company reduce the use of raw materials leading to increased efficiency;
  • Technology innovation creates new business opportunities and helps increase the overall competitiveness of the company; and
  • Technologies that use materials more efficiently and cleanly can be applied to most companies with long-term economic and environmental benefits.

What can companies do?

At the basic factory site or unit level, improving technology may be achieved by:

  • Changing the process or manufacturing technique;
  • Changing input materials;
  • Making changes to the product design or components; and
  • Reusing materials on site.

Strategic level approaches to improving technology include:

  • Establishing a corporate or individual company policy on the use of environmentally sound technologies
  • Making information available to stakeholders that illustrates the environmental performance and benefits of using such technologies
  • Refocusing research and development towards ‘design for sustainability’
  • Use of life cycle assessment (LCA) in the development of new technologies and products
  • Employing Environmental Technology Assessments (EnTA)
  • Examining investment criteria and the sourcing policy for suppliers and contractors to ensure that tenders stipulate minimum environmental criteria
  • Co-operating with industry partners to ensure that ‘best available technology’ is available to other organizations