Business & UN

Private sector role in sustainable development grows stronger ahead of Rio summit

  • 27 March 2012
ICC Biodiversity

Only a few months prior to the Rio+20 Conference, some 100 representatives of governments, business and other stakeholders gathered in New York for a high-level dialogue on the business case for sustainable development.

The meeting was hosted by a business coalition of the International Chamber of Commerce, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Global Compact, in partnership with the governments of Barbados, Benin, the Netherlands and Vietnam.

The dialogue took place during the third Intersessional Meeting of UN Conference on Sustainable Development and provided a platform to discuss issues of vital importance to the private sector in advance of Rio+20 and explore the role of business in fostering inclusive green growth. Companies around the world have placed sustainability at the top of their agendas, realizing the growing significance and urgency of global environmental, social and economic challenges. Using science and technology to stimulate innovation and investment for green growth, the private sector is contributing substantially to sustainable development.

“It is essential that we green all sectors in all countries,” said Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chairman of Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD), the business coalition that hosted the dialogue. “Business already has the products and solutions which are waiting to be diffused,” he further stressed. “However, what is needed is for governments to recognize this and support both flexible regulatory and voluntary policy frameworks as well as collaboration on a much broader scale.”

Kitty van der Heijden, Ambassador for Sustainable Development, The Netherlands added: “On April 11 and 12, the Netherlands is hosting the official UN consultation with Business and Industry in The Hague. Organized in collaboration with UNDESA and the BASD, the main aim is to discuss business input to Rio. Sustainable development and the transition to a green economy to emerge cannot be realized without the private sector. The question is how can we leverage business’s strength in innovation, adaption and execution?”

“We acknowledge the role and contribution of the private sector, particularly the business sector, in sustainable development. The private sector should contribute to sustained economic growth, decent job creation, more sustainable production processes and technologies and enhance accountability, in particular regarding corporate social responsibility,” said Le Hoai Trung, Ambassador of Vietnam.

Robert Orr, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning, continued: “This kind of frank dialogue between governments, business and civil society is an integrative formation for the kind of multi-stakeholder agreements that will be necessary in Rio to take forward the sustainability agenda.

Rio+20 provides an opportunity to scale up actions, and BASD – as the official coordinator for business and industry in Rio – is looking forward to working with governments and other stakeholders to encourage businesses of all sizes to adopt sustainability approaches.

In the lead-up to Rio+20, the International Chamber of Commerce is also building on its policy work and global network to demonstrate that trade and investment are critical pillars for green growth. It is bringing together the substantial efforts of the private sector on green growth across a wide spectrum of global policy processes, including the G20, and Rio+20 as well as demonstrating to key governments the enabling environment needed to achieve a green economy.

Upcoming events include:
Realizing Green Growth: Business and industry consultation with government and civil society. The Hague, The Netherlands, 11-12 April 2012
ICC Green Growth Trade and Investment Forum – Asia 2012
Nanjing, China, 9-10 May 2012
Rio+20 and G20 Regional Consultations in China. 11 May 2012