In this first of a series of dispatches from Rio+20, CSRwire's Martha Shaw reports on the Corporate Sustainability Forum.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (June 19, 2012/CSRwire) - Hundreds of side events around the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) are taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this week with an estimated 60,000 guests, including delegates, heads of state, government leaders, CEOs, sustainability directors, students, researchers, political decision-makers, non-profit organizations, media, event support teams and spirited activists. Their hope: eradicating poverty, curtailing environmental destruction and ending social injustice.
The UN Global Compact, which establishes an alliance between the UN and the private sector, now has 10,000 corporate members, with 7,000 of them active.The United Nations Global Compact's Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum: Innovation and Collaboration for the Future We Want was one of them. It wrapped up on Monday, just days before the official Rio+20, known as the Earth Summit, convenes.
Progress, Problems Noted, Role For Private Sector
Queen Silvia of Sweden addressed the UNGC closing gathering, reflecting on the progress since the first Earth Summit in1992. She pointed out that in many countries, the air quality in cities has improved, as has the water quality of rivers and lakes. She also reminded the group that there are still many problems, including biodiversity and the stability of our climate, and that we must turn into opportunities. "This is something business is good at," she said. "Because the private sector is focused on innovation and change, there is great potential for business to lead the way."
Other speakers agreed that we can't wait for governments to get it right and that corporations focusing on the long-term fate of our planet should be commended.
UN Global Compact
The UNGC's Corporate Sustainability Forum was held in cooperation with the Rio+20 Secretariat, the UN System and the Global Compact Local Network Brazil in the days leading up to Rio+20 to bring greater scale and quality to corporate sustainability practices.
As a showcase for innovation and collaboration, the Forum was designed to be a launching ground for widespread action, representing business as well as investors, governments, local authorities, civil society and UN entities. "We are of course delighted that over 3000 people have come here for three days of hard work in 120 sessions on six tracks," said Georg Kell. "Many of the solutions we need already exist, and we have demonstrated that on a massive scale… two hundred concrete commitments have been gathered."
Speakers on stage reminded the gathering that although businesses may be ready to take action and mobilize capital, there remains a need for government support and that businesses working with the United Nations will help to unlock that potential.
One strong recurring theme in Rio this week at every level is ending subsidies for fossil fuel. And, while we are at it, ending subsidies that lead to over-fishing. Check back here for more news from Rio+20.
What do you think about what's happening at Rio +20? Share your thoughts below—especially if you are attending.