Over 50,000 participants from governments, businesses, NGOs and lobby groups are planning to attend this week’s highly anticipated Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil, and a key topic of discussion will be renewing global political commitment to sustainable development and how a green global economy will affect business.
In light of this fact, KPMG International, a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services, created “Sustainable Insight: Road to Rio,” a report providing perspective on the likely outcomes of the Summit as well as practical information for businesses. The report addresses the intention that the Summit can help reinforce a growing trend toward sustainable development and help build momentum and opportunities in a green economy.
“A successful outcome of Rio+20 for business would be to learn of the direction governments will take to implement sustainability policies. Business leaders will capitalize on the opportunities of a changing marketplace, if they understand the regulatory landscape,” said John Hickox, a partner in the U.S. KPMG and the Americas leader for Climate Change & Sustainability. “The role of business is crucial if long-term economic growth is to be safeguarded.”
According to the report, discussions at the Summit will focus on a number of priority areas such as green jobs and social inclusion, energy for all, food security and sustainable agriculture, sound water management, sustainable cities, sustainable management of the oceans, forests and mountains and improved resilience and disaster preparedness–all of which will undoubtedly create economic impacts down the line.
Proposed business actions on the table include:
- Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD 2012): a coalition between the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and others.
- Corporate Sustainability Forum: Innovation & Collaboration for the Future We Want: a forum to strengthen the business contribution to sustainable development globally by scaling up responsible business practice, advancing innovation and improving collaboration between companies, governments, civil society and the UN.
- The United Nations is also calling for business commitments from the private sector to take action in support of UN goals and issues. Commitments can include new projects or partnerships, expansions of existing initiatives or the renewal of previous commitments.
Yvo de Boer, KPMG’s Special Global Advisor on Climate Change and Sustainability, says business leaders need to develop a solid understanding of their business profile in relation to the full system of sustainability forces so they can understand where to act in minimizing their risks and maximizing their opportunities. A recent KPMG International-sponsored summit, Business Perspective on Sustainable Growth: Preparing for Rio+20, on this very topic resulted in the compilation of 15 recommendations for businesses to be put forth in the run up to Rio +20. These recommendations include:
- Businesses should reduce their focus on short-term performance in favor of longer term sustainable growth.
- Businesses should use their power to act quickly and decisively to drive change where policymakers can’t.
- Businesses and governments should adopt ambitious and measurable global sustainable development goals for poverty eradication, food security, water management and universal access to energy.
- Businesses and governments should establish standards for reporting sustainability performance.
- Businesses and governments should develop a global framework requiring all listed and large private companies to report on sustainability performance.
“My sense is that Rio+20 will mark the start of a broader global approach to sustainability, expanding the historical focus on climate change and carbon,” said de Boer. “In fact, I expect it will quietly initiate action on a range of sustainability issues which in time will have significant implications for business.”
To view the full business guide, click here.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.