The Unfinished Story of Bhopal 1984
Over the last forty years, especially since the Union Carbide India Limited 1984 Bhopal disaster, the debate over many critical environmental issues has moved from the nation’s legislative chambers to the business and corporate board rooms. One of the most devastating environmental disasters of all time, the 1984 Union Carbide India Limited plant of Bhopal forever changed the way corporations view operational and environmental performance. Today, rather than a liability, most well-advised businesses and corporations are viewing operational regulatory and environmental compliance as a major asset to be integrated in their strategic systemic planning and redesign process to strengthen their competitive positions and improve their financial performance.
Today, most national and multinational corporations, utilizing all possible Total Quality Management Tools available to them, are moving from a narrow focus on achieving compliance to a broader focus on achieving financial and environmental excellence. Three out of four persons placing a high value on a clean environment, businesses and corporations that are not following this transition to climatic and environmental excellence will likely not succeed as a viable enterprise into the next century. Those viewing climatic change and the environment as strategic issues will be the leaders in their field of activity.
Union Carbide’s Bhopal disaster of 1984, a tragedy in which the moral damage was far worse than the financial liability, is a grim story of the disabling myth that regulatory compliance and liability containment is enough. In a market economy, regulation will always be necessary to level the playing field. However, today more than ever, simple consumer demand for climatic and environmental improvement is much more important and technology outstrip regulation in many areas. Consumer desires for a cleaner environment are now driving product development.
Successful businesses and corporations will not be those that use climatic change and environmental excellence as a marketing strategy, but those that can and will establish trust and credibility with their customers and stakeholders. If customer choice is to be an effective force in climatic and environmental improvement, the consumer must be given the tools to make informed decisions. This is one of the challenges of the coming decade that every business and corporation will have to face, a battleground full of landmines.
Climatic and environmental answers are not simple or easy. They involve a consistent fight against social pessimism, against each person’s potential acquiescence to greed, against ready-made positions of cynicism and personal indifference.
Change always begins with individuals.
Michel Ouellette JMD, ll.l., ll.m.
Systemic Strategic Planning / Crisis & Reputation Management
A division of King Global Earth and Environmental sciences Corporation
Michel Ouellette / Joseph Michael Dennis,isa former attorney, a Crisis & Reputation Management Expert,a Public Affairs & Corporate Communications Specialist, a Warrior for Common Sense and Free Speech.