Business Council for Sustainable Development-UK

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The Business Council for Sustainable Development – UK is the UK affiliate of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. It claims to promote sustainable development, but in fact lobbies against sustainability.


According to David Miller in an article on Spinwatch:

"The second pillar of business power is said to be the political activities of business including its sponsorship of party conferences, donations to parties, lobbying, PR, the creation and use of front groups, seemingly independent institutes and apparently enlightened business networks. One such that has emerged in Scotland in recent months if the creation of the Scottish steering group of the Business Council for Sustainable Development- UK (BCSD-UK). In fact the WBCSD is at the forefront of corporate attempts to undermine environmental action, lobbying worldwide against regulation and in favour of voluntary ‘solutions’. In Scotland the environmentally conscious members of the BCSD include road building consultancy Scott Wilson, the biggest users of natural (Water) resources Scottish Power. The WBCSD is a peak business lobby group dedicated to resisting environmental progress. In Scotland it is at the heart of the policy process. Maybe this is quite routine these days, but when was the last time you heard of a business lobby group set up to influence government policy being funded by the very government being targeted. For some pulling the strings the election of the parliament posed a problem since it had the potential to represent some elements of popular interests, thus there was lots of discussion about how the parliament could be 'educated' (read lobbied) about business. In particular it was argued that most MSPs had no experience of business and that their main experience was in the public sector. To rectify this, the Scottish Parliament Business Exchange was set up…"[1]


The Management Structure of BCSD-UK is as follows;

Management Committee

Coincidentally Lafarge, which employs one of the members of the BCSD mamangement, has been exposed by SEPA as one of the main polluters in Scotland.[2]


Members have included Arup, BP, British Industrial Plastics, ConocoPhillips, Corus, Dupont, Eversheds, Lafarge, Scottish & Newcastle, Shell, Vivendi [3]


The Business Council for Sustainable Development was awarded a grant from the Scottish Executive's Sustainable Action Fund for the sum of £100,000 for 2002/03 and £100,000 in 2003/04. An additional sum of £22,500 was awarded in Nov 2003[4]. Funding from the Executive continued with the granting of £100,000 per year for 3 years (2004 to 2007) for a continuation of the Scottish Industrial Symbiosis Programme (SISP): a project managed on behalf of BCSD (2004-06) and International Synergies (2006-07) by Thirdwave Scotland Ltd[5].

Scottish steering group

The Scottish Steering Group of the Business Council for Sustainable Development-UK (BCSD-UK) was created following 'a General Meeting hosted in Edinburgh in November 2003' where the BCSD-UK Secretariat asked 'for a mandate for an Action Plan. With this given, a programme of work was agreed with the Scottish Executive which provided financial support to the initial stages of this, up to the end of March 2004'.[6]

Lobby affiliations

According to David Miller:

"For some on the left discussion of the power of Westminster may well be code for the power of the Transnational Corporations (TNCs), but it is not enough to leave matters there. Big business does not just rule Scotland via Westminster, it also rules by direct if often low profile and covert engagement in Scottish politics. How is this power accomplished? ‘Social movements for global capitalism’. These include all sorts of corporate lobby groups and the burgeoning lobbying and PR industry. Scottish based TNCs such as HBOS and Scottish Power are pretty well integrated into the European and global lobby groups. Their integration into global governance means that the macro level terms of trade and of political regulation are already fixed at the global, European and UK levels. Scottish governance is subject to specific corporate influence. In a devolved Scotland the most obvious way in which corporate actors pursue their interests is by lobbying. But lobbying takes place in the context of already entrenched policy assumptions and a political culture which is already fundamentally oriented to wards the market. It is against this background - which is fundamentally favourable to big business - that lobbying for particular policy measures takes place. Nevertheless lobbying is seen as worthwhile by business interests as evidenced in the burgeoning lobbying and PR market which emerged post devolution. SSP MSPs have already been persistently approached by lobbyists - with some even offering steadily increasing donations to charity to secure meetings with the MSPs. One senior MSP confesses to being gobsmacked at the number of MSPs who are routinely schmoozed and lunched by lobbyists. It is no surprise that lobbyists swarm around the Parliament. It has significant power over budgets which some of the big corporations want to get their hands on. The drug companies also have an interest along with other TNCs in keeping the Scottish political system sweet so they can continues to pollute Scotland without major penalties. These include BP, Scottish Power, GlaxoSmithKline, Exxon Mobil, Scottish and Southern Energy and others. A more serious problem is that the main target of corporations and their lobbyists is the Executive, meaning both ministers and civil servants. Here there is an extremely murky world of networks, professional, political and personal associations between lobbyists, ministers and civil servants. These developments indicate the fundamental problem of the degraded democratic system we have in Scotland. Big business has already infiltrated the very structure and operating assumptions of the public services - including the civil service."[7]

UK Trade and Investment

An FoI request into dealings between UK Trade and Investment and Business Council For Sustainable Development UK confirmed that the former "have provided advice and assistance on overseas markets to"[8] the latter. However, this information could not be disclosed as it was deemed commercially sensitive.




  1. BCSD history from SpinWatch article, "Taking the Risk out of Devolution", accessed 19 March 2007.
  2. Rob Edwards, "... And the worst polluters", Sunday Herald, undated, 2009, accessed April 14 2009
  3. Scottish Government Industrial Symbiosis Accessed 14th April 2009
  4. Scottish Government Industrial Symbiosis Accessed 14th April 2009
  5. Scottish Government Scottish Industrial Symbiosis Programme Accessed 14th April 2009
  6. Welcome, Business Council for Sustainable Development–United Kingdom website, accessed 23 Oct 2009.
  7. Lobby connections from SpinWatch article, “Corporate power, institutional corruption", accessed 19 March 2007
  8., dealings with cool nrg and UK Business Council For Sustainable Development, accessed 12 Feb 2010