A vital step in many countries is to restructure tax systems and subsidy
programmes in order to bring them more in line with social and environmental
goals. Such reforms also enable governments to acquire some of the huge
amounts needed to finance the changes in public sector systems needed
to achieve set targets.
In other cases, more stringent and direct regulations are introduced,
including restrictions or outright bans on particular activities, such
as logging in national parks, the use of particular chemicals and even
driving in urban areas. These efforts can also be very costly, at least
in the short term.
Although hampered at times by the actions of governments and NGOs, businesses
play a positive role in many areas. As a sequel to the 14000 series of
standards on environmental management systems, the ISO introduces a series
of standards related to the social and ethical dimensions of business.
These actions build upon and complement joint efforts by governments and
business, such as the Global Compact for Business and the Global Reporting
Initiative. Businesses take an increasingly active role in the consultation
processes associated with many policy initiatives, a form of intervention
that does much to stimulate technology development and transfer.
Action by NGOs and consumer groups includes the use of consumer boycotts
and media campaigns to push less progressive businesses to act. They lobby
for new labelling and reporting requirements to ensure that business practice
is more transparent and accountable. Several of these groups are explicitly
included in later rounds of the WTO negotiations. At the same time, these
pressure groups also act as watchdogs on governments, ensuring that leaders
act responsibly. Stricter limits are placed on how government officials
behave, allowing most who overstep reasonable bounds to be voted out of