Business Summit: “Environment has to come out of the bubble”

B4E summit BerlinBerlin, 23 May 2012. The Business for the Environment (B4E) Summit agreed today on strong messages to the Rio+20 negotiators, including calls for clear sustainability goals, setting best practices as basic standards, subsidy and tax reform, and green public procurement. The conference showed that business increasingly sees itself as key leader in achieving sustainability.

This was also recognised by Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Coordinator of Rio+20, Luisa Diogo, former Prime Minister Mozambique and member of the UN High Level Panel on Global Sustainability (“the private sector is the engine for change”), and Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP.

Peter Bakker, the new President of the organising World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) said that pioneering companies need to come out of the bubble, make sure that environmental risks and benefits are being translated in monetary terms, in order for sustainability to mainstream over the next few years.

The meeting brought several hundreds of business delegates together from all over the world, who discussed about the Green Economy, and recommendations of WBCSD’s latest publication “Changing Pace”, a business and policy roadmap to Rio+20. Concrete recommendations were formulated for key issues including urban infrastructure, food security, water management, material efficiency, energy, sustainable consumption and transport.

Bas de Leeuw, Managing Director of the World Resources Forum, said that business can keep our consumption society going, only if they do more with less and decouple resource use and environmental impacts from production. “Resource efficiency is an innovation agenda”, he said, referring to last year’s results from the Davos conference.

Philippe Fonta, Managing Director of WBCD’s Cement Sustainability Initiative, called for breaking the silo’s between industrial sector, since “waste from one sector can be input for the other sector” and for improving the availability of worldwide data on material flows.

Procter & Gamble’s Peter White was pleased to see that “sustainable consumption is no longer seen by the business community as turkeys voting for Christmas” and said that it is after all a key concept for securing that in 2050 9 billion people can live within earth’s limits. For some, he added, this means increasing quality of life, and for some maintaining it with less environmental impact.

See here for more information about the B4E forum and WBCSD’s Changing Pace initiative.