World Business Council for Sustainable Development

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World Business Council for Sustainable Development
Image:WBCSD logo 75 dpi for web.png
Founders Stephan Schmidheiny
Founded 1995
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Area served Global
Focus Sustainable Development
Employees 50
Slogan Dedicated to Making a Difference

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led, global association of some 200 international companies dealing exclusively with business and sustainable development.[1]

Its origins date back to the 1992 Rio Summit, when Stephan Schmidheiny, a Swiss business entrepreneur, was appointed chief adviser for business and industry to the secretary general of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), better known as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit of 1992. He created a forum called "Business Council for Sustainable Development", which went on to Changing Course, a book that coined the concept of Eco-efficiency.

The WBCSD was created in 1995 in a merger of the Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Industry Council for the Environment and is based in Geneva, Switzerland with offices in Washington, D.C. and Brussels, Belgium.

The WBCSD sees itself as a catalyst, both in the sense that it can catalyze business to buy into the concept of sustainable development and to change the way they run their operations. The organization also sees itself as a catalyst in the process of global policy development, by representing and promoting the role of business in achieving sustainable development. [2]


[edit] Operations

The Council provides a platform for companies to explore sustainable development, share knowledge, experiences and best practices, and to advocate business positions on these issues in a variety of forums, working with governments, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations.

It works on a variety of issues related to sustainable development. While its focus is on the overarching areas Energy & Climate, Development, Ecosystems and the Role of Business in Society, it also executes sector specific projects on cement, mobility, tires, chemicals, water, energy efficiency in buildings and forestry.

The Council’s objectives are to:

  • Be a leading business advocate on sustainable development;
  • Participate in policy development to create the right framework conditions for business to make an effective contribution to sustainable human progress;
  • Develop and promote the business case for sustainable development;
  • Demonstrate the business contribution to sustainable development solutions and share leading edge practices among members;
  • Contribute to a sustainable future for developing nations and nations in transition.

[edit] Eco-Patent Commons

The WBCSD sponsors an Eco-Patent Commons where companies and individuals can donate patents on sustainable technologies. IBM, Sony, Nokia, and Pitney Bowes have all contributed patents. The patents are made available royalty free.[3]

[edit] Impact & Influence

In the 1990s, some activist organizations have criticized the WBCSD for its close link to business, and the organization received the CorpWatch GreenWash Award in June 1997. [4].

Nevertheless, by 2002, at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, it was able to team up with one of the most influential of corporate critics, Greenpeace, to deliver a united message demanding greater action by governments on climate change[5].

A 2003 World Bank/IFC commissioned study identified the WBCSD as one of the "most influential forums" for companies on corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues.[6]. A 2004 Globescan survey found the WBCSD as the second most effective SD research organization.[7] The 2006 survey by the same company reports that 54% of all surveyed experts believe the WBCSD will play a "major role" in advancing sustainable development. Only the European Union received higher approval (69%). [8].

In the 2007's Ethisphere list of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics, WBCSD President Bjoern Stigson has been ranked 9th, which made him the 2nd most influential NGO leader.[9].

[edit] WBCSD's 10 messages by which to operate

  1. Business is good for sustainable development and sustainable development is good for business. Business is part of the sustainable development solution, while sustainable development is an effective long-term business growth strategy.
  2. Business cannot succeed in societies that fail. There is no future for successful business if the societies that surround it are not working. Governments and business must create partnerships to deliver essential societal services like energy, water, health care and infrastructure.
  3. Poverty is a key enemy to stable societies. Poverty creates political and economic instability, a big threat to business and sustainable development. By contrast, businesses can lift living standards and eradicate poverty.
  4. Access to markets for all supports sustainable development. Sustainable development is best achieved through open, transparent and competitive global markets.
  5. Good governance is needed to make business a part of the solution. Supportive frameworks and regulations are needed for business to contribute fully to sustainable development.
  6. Business has to earn its licence to operate, innovate and grow. The way business acts and is perceived is crucial to its success. Accountability, ethics, transparency, social and environmental responsibility and trust are basic prerequisites for successful business and sustainable development.
  7. Innovation and technology development are crucial to sustainable development. They provide key solutions to many of the problems that threaten sustainable development. Business has always been, and will continue to be, the main contributor to technological development.
  8. Eco-efficiency – doing more with less - is at the core of the business case for sustainable development. Combining environmental and economic operational excellence to deliver goods and services with lower external impacts and higher quality-of-life benefits is a key sustainable development strategy for business.
  9. Ecosystems in balance – a prerequisite for business. Business cannot function if ecosystems and the services they deliver, such as water, biodiversity, food, fiber and climate, are degraded.
  10. Cooperation beats confrontation. Sustainable development challenges are huge and require contributions from all parties — governments, business, civil societies and international bodies. Confrontation puts the solutions at risk. Cooperation and creative partnerships foster sustainable development. [10]

[edit] Membership

Membership of the WBCSD is by invitation of the Executive Committee to companies committed to sustainable development. Among its members[11] are well-known companies such as General Motors, DuPont, 3M, Deutsche Bank, Coca-Cola, Sony, Oracle Corporation, BP, Wal-Mart and Royal Dutch Shell.

Member companies pledge their support and contribution to the WBCSD by making available their knowledge and experience, and appropriate human resources. They are asked to publicly report on their environmental performance and to aspire to widen their reporting to cover all three pillars of sustainable development - economic, social and environmental.

A key element is the personal commitment of the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), acting as Council Members. They are influential advocates for the WBCSD’s policy positions, and they co-chair our working groups. They also organize support for the WBCSD’s work program and ensure the adoption of sustainable management practices within their companies..

[edit] Governance

The WBCSD is a member-led organization governed by a Council composed of the Council Members of our member companies. The Council elects the Executive Committee, including the Chairman and four Vice Chairmen. Past chairmen include:

[edit] Geographic balance

While the majority of member companies are headquartered in developed countries, the WBCSD has a strong regional representation in developing countries through its Regional Network, a global network of almost 60 national and regional business councils (BCSDs) and partner organizations.

[edit] Pros and Cons of the WBCSD

The WBCSD is significant in its advocacy of largely market-oriented solutions to challenges of sustainable development.

The 'Pros' of this approach include:

  • Alerting business to the need for change to become sustainable
  • Promotion of sustainability, sharing best practice
  • Taking 'initiative' by making sustainability a global concern, backed by large and influential multinationals, corporations and organizations

The 'Cons' of this market-based approach include:

  • The potential 'deradicalization' of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
  • The depiction of sustainability agendas and business agendas as mutually compatible. This is described as a 'win-win' scenario; thus, the existence of 'win-lose' scenarios is neglected.
  • The potential for conflation of internal contradictions within business and 'muddying of the waters' through such means as 'greenwash', 'bluewash', 'astroturfing' and corporate agenda setting [1]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

[edit] External links

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