The Official Voice of Constructive Business at Rio+20

Zero draft submission

Initial discussions at UN in New York on the zero draft of outcome document
Statement on Behalf of Business and Industry Major Group

January 26, 2012

Thank you Mr. Chairman

Business and Industry is pleased to join member states and other stakeholders at this important consultation.  The private sector has a key role to play in helping to achieve the goals of sustainable development, in particular poverty eradication.  This fact is noted in paragraph 19 of “The Future We Want”.  Multitudes around the world are part of the “private sector”, whether as self-employed, entrepreneurs, farmers, or small and medium sized as well as large multi-national enterprises.  The private sector generates most of the goods and services that are utilized every day and therefore must be actively engaged to address the implementation gaps that have limited achievements of the sustainable development goals.

Mr. Chairman, Business and Industry welcomes the zero draft’s practical and integrated approach, building on past progress and tracking implementation.  We appreciate the many references to the private sector throughout the draft.  We highlight that in many instances Business and Industry is a tool for implementation of sustainable development and Green Growth policies, but needs clear policy and regulatory frameworks from governments that support and facilitate that role.  We look forward to working with you to develop outcomes that encourage widespread adoption of sustainability approaches by businesses of all sizes, by other sectors and through corresponding action on the part of governments and other stakeholders.

In terms of the text before us today, we offer the following comments:

We believe that the poverty alleviation aspects of the zero draft need to be strengthened, with greater emphasis being placed on the need to accelerate progress on the fundamental issues such as water and sanitation, access to energy and sustainable energy for all, food security and the nexus that links them. Overcoming poverty is important for business. Persistent high levels of poverty are serious constraints on sustainable development and a green economy. They place huge strains on societies and human well-being, retard economic development and lead to serious environmental degradation through bad resource utilisation and pollution.

It will be crucial to “green” all sectors in all countries and to advance resource efficiency and life cycle approaches. We consider improvements of existing processes to be as important as launching new products, services and technologies. Business operates across complex supply and value chains, greening all stages along the life cycle of its products and services. The actions vary from sector to sector, value chain, and from country-to-country, depending on national circumstances.

We would like to signal some caution on the proposal for “green economy roadmaps” by sectors.  Sectors are usually not “centrally” managed coalitions.  With some exceptions, sectors do not have inclusive mechanisms or governance to develop such approaches.  Moreover, sectors work with one another through value and supply chains and with governments and consumers.  We would rather focus on economy-wide enabling frameworks to foster improvement in these areas.  We believe the Rio+20 Outcome should include high level system conditions which describe what is required to transition towards a green economy from both business and governments (See BASD submission).

We are very pleased with the inclusion of water and wastewater issues at several places in the zero draft and the three paragraphs dedicated to them (67-68). Recognising the key role water plays to underpin all aspects of sustainable development, a green economy, and poverty alleviation is good progress. We are looking for this aspect to be strengthened during the negotiations, in particular, to address the true scale and urgency of the water and sanitation crisis which impairs the lives of 3.5 to 4 billion people daily.  We highlight paragraphs 67 (Wastewater), 72 (cities) and 81 (oceans) as good examples of the cross cutting dimensions of water and wastewater as a key component of a Green Economy.

Greening economic growth and activity offers a significant opportunity to address trans-boundary challenges. This will require enabling frameworks at national and international levels, including open trade and investment, protection of Intellectual Property Rights, rule of law and consistently enforced contracts and regulations.  Strengthening sound governance, combating corruption and ensuring peace and security will be critical to diffuse sustainable products, services and practices.

Collaboration and collective action on innovation and technology development and their appropriate deployment via sustainable consumption and production (SCP) are at the heart of greening economies. Education and training are the cornerstones of any strong and competitive economy and a skilled workforce is a prerequisite. Stepping up education and training efforts will support the behavioral changes needed in both supply and demand and public private partnerships can play a major role in building the essential knowledge and skills.

There are many kinds of information referred to in Rio+20 discussions and the zero draft.   More precision will be needed to a) define what constitutes environmental or sustainability information and b) in distinguishing across the many categories of such information, ranging from data resulting from scientific monitoring, to governmentally held regulatory and/or proprietary information, to that provided voluntarily by companies to shareholders and customers.  They are each different and will require tailored approaches.

In addition, providing access to environmental information must not endanger public and state security.  It should protect the integrity of decision-making processes, as well as privacy interests of individuals.  Governments should clearly and explicitly recognize that proprietary information, including certain regulatory data and other confidential business information, must be shielded from disclosure, as should information that would undermine the competitiveness of companies.  We encourage a focus on information that is germane to informing the public about opportunities or risks and how to maximize the opportunities and minimize risks.

In conclusion Mr. Chairman, the transition towards a green economy is a shared responsibility by all actors in society. While public private partnerships will play a major role in building the essential knowledge and skills required for the transition to a green economy, sound framework conditions set by governments remain indispensible.

BASD 2012 via its conveners, partner associations and member companies, stands ready to support, build, scale up and accelerate cooperative initiatives in Rio+20 and beyond to achieve the objectives of sustainable development.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Business calls on governments to set policies that accelerate progress toward a green economy

November 1, 2011 - BASD has submitted the formal Business and Industry input to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the convener of the upcoming Rio+20 Conference. The BASD submission outlines priorities for governments to maximize the contribution of business, not only at Rio+20 but beyond. More sector specific topics were submitted by selected conveners and partners to compliment the joint submission.

Overall, the submission reaffirms the business commitment and achievements in support of sustainability, green growth and poverty eradication. It calls on governments to work with business and others in implementing measures that support market solutions, provide incentives, and address risk and regulatory issues.

The submission focuses on the two key themes that will be debated in Rio. The section on the green economy outlines 10 high-level system conditions for moving toward a strong and competitive green economy, based on social, environmental, economic innovation, as well as complementary cross-cutting elements. The section on institutional frameworks for sustainable development describes the mutually reinforcing nature of this topic with the green economy and calls for a structural change in institutions in order to improve coordination of efforts and policy implementation.


Meeting with Under Secretary-General Sha and Ambassador Ntwaage
Statement on Behalf of Business and Industry Major Group

November 3, 2011 - Louise Kantrow, ICC Permanent Representative to the United Nations, joint the other major groups at the request of Under Secretary-General Sha and provided a summary of the BASD zero draft input