Green Chamber Partners with American Sustainable Business Council
The Green Chamber recently joined with the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), adding strength to their already powerful national network of socially responsible and sustainable business associations. The council is a policy advocacy group comprised of business organizations that are dedicated to building an equitable and sustainable economy. Representing over 20,000 businesses and 150,000 individuals, partners in the council include BALLE, Green America, New Voice of Business, B Laboratory, Social Venture Network, and Social Enterprise Alliance. ASBC helps the partners in the council advocate policy by providing them with tools for advocacy campaigns and by communicating issues to a much wider audience through the mobilization of fellow members. The board of ASBC invites each partner organization to propose the issues their organization wants to advance, and selects those that reflect the priorities of the entire council. However, any partner in ASBC that does not agree with a particular policy campaign can opt out. The goal is to stay flexible while responding to the policy goals and needs of partners.
The council started earlier this year when leaders with the Obama transition team approached several of the organizations involved in ASBC and asked them to arrange a meeting with leaders in the sustainable and socially responsible business community. After several meetings, the White House asked the group to draft a statement of principles and priorities. The group was able to get 1,300 business leaders to sign on and commit to these principles. As ASBC organizer David Brodwin explains, “Since there was such an overwhelming response, from there we decided to continue the effort as an onward force for change. Sustainable and socially responsible businesses need eyes and ears in Washington, someone on the Hill tracking progress of legislation, someone working with the media to frame the issues. Doing this kind of work for one association is just as easy as doing it for one hundred. So we thought, let’s get together and share the work so that even small business groups can have access to high quality information and advocacy tools.”
American Sustainable Business Council works on a wide range of issues, and policy priorities are set by the organizations that participate in the Council. There is broad support for climate protection and the development of a better energy policy for America. Recent news of major corporations leaving the U.S. Chambershows a split in the business community, and ASBC sees more businesses backing climate protection because they recognize it as a national economic imperative. Another hot advocacy topic for the council is financial reform. “The established Wall St. interests are competing against business owners and operators who don’t want to be knocked around by the upheaval in the capital market,” states Brodwin. In addition, several groups focus on small scale, local economic development, and on sustainable agriculture and food safety.
The partnership with Green Chamber sprouted from common connections in the Bay Area sustainable business community. Most early members came on board through connections and word-of-mouth, but now ASBC is taking a much more pro-active approach and reaching out to prospective partners. The next phase for the council is to recruit city-based and regional groups from all over the country, focusing on groups in politically divided places where the elected representatives are potentially persuadable on the key issues. Says Brodwin, “We’ve seen sustainable business groups emerging up in Pittsburgh, Houston and many other cities across the U.S. By joining ASBC, these groups can draw on a wealth of resources in policy and advocacy developed by other groups across the country, and they can gain broader support for their own initiatives.”
Support from business leaders is critical in pitched battles over climate protection and other issues. Brodwin says many policy makers want to do the right thing, but need the support of a strong local business network. “These policy makers need the business community’s help so they’re not branded as anti-growth and anti-job simply because they support an economy that can prosper over the long term.
ASBC hopes that members in the Green Chamber will take action on policy campaigns as they are launched, and also to help identify and recruit other business organizations into the council. “The faster we recruit other organizations, the stronger this association will be for everyone involved,” says Brodwin. “So if members are aware of other associations with which this message might resonate — whether they be sustainability groups in other cities, industry associations, associations representing coops and other innovative business models — please let us know. We are trying to cast a broad net and invite everyone to be a part of ASBC who shares our core values and wants to see change in the world.” To find out more information about ASBC, visit their website at www.asbcouncil.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.