In India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand UNIDO launched a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) demonstration project in 2001. The main concern of this initiative was to facilitate market access for suppliers located in developing countries. To address this concern UNIDO has developed a support system for export-dependent SMEs in these countries to be better able to comply with the environmental and social requirements of global buyers and supply chain partners. Without such compliance, SMEs risk losing their access to world markets.
The TBL support system builds on UNIDO’s successful cleaner production assessment methodology and extends it to include employee-related social as well as productivity issues. It comprises a gap analysis, application of an improvement methodology, and use of a standardized reporting method. The key tool applied for both the analysis of the baseline situation and the self-documentation of changes, was the very first version of REAP (Responsible Entrepreneurs Achievement Programme), a CSR methodology that can be used to improve business performance against any chosen standard, particularly environmental and labor practices, not covered by conventional accounting systems.
The project demonstrated that SMEs can improve their environmental and social performance, in a manner that is financially advantageous, due to reduced operational costs as well as increases in productivity and international export orders.
This project provided good examples of financial savings (e.g. reduction in water, electricity and raw material consumption), environmental improvements (e.g. reduction in solid waste generation and improvement in waste water quantity/quality), social improvements (e.g. accident risk reduction, improvement in working/health conditions) and product improvements (e.g. better quality, increased yield, rejections reduction).