Business gears up for Rio+20 conference

  • 1 October 2010

In May 2012, 20 years after the Earth Summit, government, business and civil society leaders from all over the world will gather again in Rio de Janeiro to attend the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – commonly referred to as Rio+20.

This time the meeting is aimed to assess progress made towards creating a more sustainable world and to discuss approaches for the next 20 years.

Today the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), joined by the United Nations Global Compact announced the creation of Business Action for Sustainable Development 2012 (BASD 2012).

BASD 2012 is a temporary coalition of business groups aimed at providing positive and constructive business input to the Rio+20 process. BASD 2012 aims to be an inclusive partnership and a platform for business at large. In the coming months additional partners will be added to further build the network.

Chad Holliday, Chairman of Bank of America and former Chief Executive Officer of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, has agreed to chair the BASD 2012 Steering Committee. The coalition pursues three goals:

“The aim of BASD 2012 is to ensure that the business voice is heard and that business is recognized as an important ally in the goal of building a more sustainable world,” Mr Holliday said.  “While BASD will not try to formulate one all-encompassing business message, it will advocate to ensure that business is recognized as a solutions provider in the sustainability space, and as such must be fully engaged in the process.”

He continued: “Since the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in Rio in 1992 the role of business in sustainable development has changed considerably. While acknowledging that progress is not evenly spread across businesses and geographies, it can be concluded that in general business has made tremendous progress internalizing the concept of sustainable development and has started addressing its role in the larger society through collaboration.”

Björn Stigson, President of the WBCSD and member of the BASD 2010 Steering Committee, emphasized that business comes to Rio as a partner willing to work with governments and other stakeholders to address the challenges. “After all, business is an important member of society. Any outcomes reached or decisions made in Rio will need to include business. We are a crucial part of the sustainable development process. Sustainable and healthy business is a key success factor for real progress. Business is the source for the needed innovations and it is the largest investor in sustainable technologies.”

Jean-Guy Carrier, ICC Acting Secretary-General stated:  “The private sector is a crucial partner in creating solutions to today’s pressing development and environmental challenges and is already actively engaged on many fronts.  At the same time, there is still much to be done in ramping up business’s contributions to advancing Agenda 21 and the Millennium Development Goals as we head towards Rio 2012.  Today’s global challenges require that environmental policies and practices be integrated with economic and social approaches, ICC is committed to bringing its cross-cutting business expertise to help tackle the sustainability challenges that will be tabled in Rio”

“Business is a critical force in driving sustainable development,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “Working with thousands of companies from around the world, the ICC, UN Global Compact and the WBCSD are uniquely positioned to join forces and bring the innovations, solutions and resources of business to bear for Rio +20.”

United Nations Global Compact