Industry associations play a number of roles in civil society. They provide a platform for the sharing of global best practice in the interests of the industry and those with whom the industry works. They develop technical standards and public policy positions. They provide a forum for debate between members of a particular sector in developing those policy positions. They do not, however, and nor should they, represent the views of any single member.
Some associations in which BHP participates are sector specific, such as the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), which engages in advocacy activities related to the resources sector while also providing a forum to advance industry standards. Some are issue specific, such as the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), a US-based organisation that focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting clean energy. We also participate in global associations that seek to advance industry environmental, social and workplace standards, such as the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM).
Industry associations perform a number of functions that can lead to better outcomes on policy, practice and standards for the sector. By bringing together the combined technical expertise and experience of members in areas such as safety, health and environment, the ICMM, for example, adopts a leadership position on sustainable development in the resources sector. Similarly, the MCA makes an important contribution to Australian industry practice in areas including health and safety, water accounting, land use and workforce diversity.
We have long held the view that active participation in industry associations provides a leadership opportunity. We believe that by working within associations, we can, with other like-minded members, seek to exert a positive influence on the industry as a whole. This does not mean, however, that we will always agree with every position or approach that every industry association to which we belong adopts on every issue. This is particularly the case where the association’s membership is large and the mandate is broad, covering a wide range of issues.
The role of each member of an association is to articulate its view in a clear and constructive way, and to seek to influence the association through free and open debate. This is certainly how we see BHP’s role within the industry associations to which we belong - both in Australia and globally. It is not the role of any association to represent BHP and there are times when our views are not aligned. We keep under review our alignment with, and membership of, industry associations. We also communicate our own views directly, through submissions, media commentary, speeches, reports and other engagements.
In the past, we have always sought to make our position on significant public issues clear. However, we will further our efforts to ensure that material differences with industry associations on key issues are clearly understood. To that end, we will make public, by 31 December 2017, a list of the material differences between the positions we hold on climate and energy policy, and the advocacy positions on climate and energy policy taken by industry associations to which we belong.
We are aware that some civil society and other organisations believe that, where an industry body advocates for a position which does not align with our own, we should cease to be a member of that industry body.
As noted above, we do keep under review our alignment with, and membership of, industry associations. We will complete our current review of industry associations by 31 December 2017. Given the interest in industry associations, we will publish the outcomes of that review.
Finding effective solutions to complex challenges requires a transparent exchange of diverse views. At BHP, we believe that transparency is pivotal to making more informed decisions. We remain committed to sharing our views.