Role of ENGOs in Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): A Legal Study of Some Facets, Especially Environment Protection and e-Waste Management

Date01 December 2019
Published date01 December 2019
DOI10.1177/0019556119872359
Role of ENGOs in
Promoting Corporate
Social Responsibility
(CSR): A Legal Study of
Some Facets, Especially
Environment Protection
and e-Waste Management
Jyoti Rattan1
Abstract
Environment protection has become an area of grave significance in the present
century, due to new developments, for saving the planet from the evils of pollution,
climate change and so on. However, a new kind of pollutant, called ‘e-waste,’ has
emerged due to the Internet revolution, otherwise a boon for development, but
which is fast becoming one of the biggest threats to environment in the knowledge
society of 21st century. It is significant to note that even the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP) has admitted that the amount of e-waste
generated per year grows rapidly. E-waste is dangerous and poses a threat to
human health and environment. What is more shocking is its transportation
from developed to developing countries, which is being done on a large scale
and such e-waste there is being handled and disposed of unscientifically creating
environmental damage. It is noteworthy that protection of the environment and
e-waste management is fast becoming a major Corporate Social Responsibility
(CSR). In promoting CSR as well as other responsibilities such as in the health
or education sectors or poverty reduction, roughly 80 non-governmental organ-
sations (NGOs) (international or national) in collaboration with other actors have
made sincere efforts raising awareness through campaigns by lobbying and so
on. However, only a few of them are engaged in e-waste management related
activates. This article is an attempt to study the role of Environmental NGOs
(ENGOs) in promoting CSR, especially with regard to environment protection
and e-waste management.
Article
Indian Journal of Public
Administration
65(4) 810–829, 2019
© 2019 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
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DOI: 10.1177/0019556119872359
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1 Panjab University, Department of Laws, Chandigarh, Punjab, India.
Corresponding author:
Jyoti Rattan, Professor, Panjab University, Department of Laws, Chandigarh, Punjab 160014, India.
E-mail: jyotirattan@gmail.com
Rattan 811
Keywords
E-waste, Johannesburg declaration, corporate social responsibility (CSR),
ENGOs, Friends of the Earth (FoE)
Introduction
Two principles of Agenda 21 relevant to sustainability are as follows: the right to
development must be fulfilled so as to meet equitably the developmental and envi-
ronmental needs of the present and future generations; and in order to achieve
sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part
of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it (United
Nations, ‘Sustainable Development’, n.d.). Today, one of the greatest challenges is
to ensure sustainable development as was also admitted by Kofi A. Annan, former
UN Secretary General who rightly pointed out that ‘Our biggest challenge in this
century is to take an idea that seems abstract—sustainable development—and turn
it into a reality for all the world’s peoples’ (Hohnen, 2007). To meet this challenge
and to fulfil the needs of present and future generations, there is an urgent need of
respect for natural systems especially environment and international standards
protecting core social and environmental values (ibid.). Significantly, environment
protection is not a new area. At an international level, efforts were made since
1980s for protection of environment. For example, Principle 10 of the Rio
Declaration states, ‘Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of
all concerned citizens, at the relevant level’ (UNCED, 1992). Furthermore, the
Johannesburg Declaration also restated the need for ‘broad-based participation in
policy formulation, decision-making and implementation at all levels’ as well as
the ‘need for more effective, democratic and accountable international and multi-
lateral institutions’ (United Nations, 2002).
An analysis of the earlier environment protection efforts shows that the con-
servation and protection measures of environment were mainly concentrated upon
general environmental protection of flora and fauna from the ill-effects of various
kinds of pollution and other maladies. However, later on, a new kind of pollut-
ant, also called ‘e-waste’, emerged mainly due to the unscientific disposal of the
massive hardware produced and utilised in the information and communications
technology (ICT) and the Internet revolution and is fast becoming one of the
biggest threats to environment in the knowledge society of 21st century.
It is significant to note that the fast growing nature of this e-waste is also
admitted by the UNEP that ‘Due to the fact that the life span of computers has
dropped in developed countries from 6 years in 1997 to just 2 years in 2005, and
mobile phones have a lifespan of even less than 2 years, the amount of e-waste
generated per year grows rapidly’ (United Nations, ‘Global Partner on e-waste
Management’, 2016).
However, there appears to be a silver lining also. It is commendable to note that
protection of the environment and e-waste management nowadays is becoming a
major CSR as well. In promoting the CSR as well as other responsibilities such
as health or education or poverty reduction, NGOs are playing a crucial role as

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