Rio+20: at forum, business leaders discuss shifting to sustainable path

15 June 2012 – More than 2,000 business leaders, investors and labour activists will today gather at a United Nations forum seeking to reach consensus on sustainable policies that will protect the environment, provide safe and fair conditions for workers, and stimulate economic growth, ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next week.

During the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum: Innovation & Collaboration for the Future We Want, also taking place in Rio de Janeiro, business leaders will have the opportunity to discuss with government and civil society representatives ways in which to implement sustainable policies and trigger innovations, through a series of workshops and thematic sessions linked to Rio+20, such as on energy, water, agriculture and urbanization.

“It is absolutely critical that business leaders be involved in the sustainable development dialogue,” the spokesperson for the Corporate Sustainability Forum, Timothy Wall, said in an interview. “The kind of movement that has been developing around the Rio Summit and the issues that are covered by sustainable development cannot be dealt with satisfactorily without the business community.”

Mr. Wall emphasized that constructive dialogue on the challenges faced by the business community in making their practices more sustainable.

“Labour leaders and activists concerned about the economic arena will take part in the forum providing criticism which is good to get the ideas out on the table and so we have a multi-dimensional view of what businesses are doing, and how can their current activities can be scaled up and increase the momentum for sustainability,” he said.

The four-day forum aims to spark public-private partnerships and encourage commitments and contributions from the business community towards a sustainable future. Participants will also make recommendations to governments on how they can support the private sector in achieving corporate sustainability.

“Business is not against regulations,” Mr. Wall said. “They like to know the rules of the road. Responsible corporations do not mind sanctions for damaging corporate behaviour, and they like incentives to move in a direction that will help the environment and combat poverty.”

The Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum is organized by various organizations including the UN Global Compact, a sustainability scheme joined by more than 6,000 companies that have committed to conduct business in line with human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption principles.

“Almost all our activities every day are economic activities – buying food, driving a car, saving for retirement, putting money in the bank – all involve the private sector,” Mr. Wall said. “If the activities that we engage in are going to be leading to the future we want and taking into account considerations for the planet and for others, we need to adjust and it is crucial that we involve private businesses.”


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