Socially and Environmentally Innovative Wal-Mart?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 6/25/2010 08:15:00 AM
It may be hard to imagine given its share of criticisms regarding labour and environmental practices--think of its carbon footprint by virtue of sheer size--but Walmart in Brazil recently received an award in honour of the recently deceased "Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid" pioneer CK Prahalad. So yes, social innovation can occur with large MNCs operating in the developing world. In this context, to help preserve the irreplaceable Amazon rainforests:
The Corporate Eco Forum (CEF) today awarded Walmart Brazil and its CEO Hector Nunez the inaugural C.K. Prahalad Award for Global Sustainability Leadership for their historic work to preserve the Amazon. Mr. Nunez will accept the award tonight during the Gala Dinner at the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Corporate Eco Forum. "By taking extraordinary action to protect the Amazon, Walmart Brazil and Hector Nunez have carved out a place in history as both pioneering environmentalists and savvy business strategists," said MR Rangaswami, founder of the Corporate Eco Forum. "We created the Prahalad Award to honor the companies and individuals who best demonstrate that sustainability is the key driver of innovation. We can and must do a better job of integrating the principles of sustainability into core business strategy and Walmart Brazil, under Hector Nunez's leadership, has proven that it is not only possible, it is also smart business."

In June of 2009, Walmart Brazil convened a Sustainability Summit to introduce new mandates across their supply chain to protect the Amazon. At the Summit, Walmart Brazil announced historic plans to address some of the thorniest environmental and social problems in the world. Walmart Brazil will now ensure that its supply chain uses: no companies that employ slave labor; no soybeans sourced from illegally deforested areas; and no beef sourced from any newly cleared Amazonian land. The new mandates also call for a 70% reduction in phosphates in detergent and a 50% reduction in plastic bags by 2013.

Walmart Brazil recruited the presidents of the Brazilian operations of twenty major suppliers, including Cargill, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly Clark, The Coca-Cola Company, 3M, Diageo, P&G, and Sara Lee, to sign an agreement on-stage at the Summit to meet these goals. The Brazilian Minister of the Environment and the head of Greenpeace in Brazil both spoke at the Summit and congratulated Walmart Brazil for its aggressive leadership.
Wal-Mart as an antidote to BP? You better believe it. Given the sheer vastness of its supply chain, Wal-Mart's actions have considerable knock-on effects, whatever you think of the firm's other practices.