During a series of high-level meetings with Summit organizers last week, Sir Mark outlined how the world business community expects to play a vital role in the World Summit process.
He called for a public meeting during the Summit between business, NGOs and governments, saying that “engagement” with all interested parties was important for finding real solutions in Johannesburg.
“We need to create a opportunity for smaller NGO’s or even individuals to engage with business and government leaders in some kind of town hall-type discussion,” he said. “The Summit process has to ensure the voices of all interested parties are heard.”
Following his tour of Summit sites, Sir Mark also supported the idea of an exhibition space next to the Summit venue in which business – and others – could display examples of sustainable development best practice.
“We need to make sure that this space is both cost effective for exhibitors and is in itself fully sustainable in its efficient use of resources,” he said.
Peter Ritchie, a consultant with the Johannesburg World Summit Company (JOWSCO) said the location of the exhibition relative to the main Summit venue would be all-important
“By positioning the exhibition hall close to the main conference centre we can not only provide the incentive for business involvement, by way of a strong entry point, but also hope to encourage interaction between everyone,” he said.
Sir Mark added he was encouraged to see BASD calls for a Summit process which is “fully-inclusive” being heeded by organisers.
“As a result of lobbying by business, both in South Africa and internationally, the message of the need to have business closely engaged with governments and NGOs has clearly taken root,” he said. “As it now stands, there is a very real possibility that business, together with NGOs will have the chance to interact directly with government delegates. This is a great step forward. We need all interested parties to be able to sit at the table together, at the same time and discuss these important issues in a constructive manner.”