Making the Business Case for Rio+20 - Forbes Making the Business Case for Rio+20 - Forbes

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Making the Business Case for Rio+20 - Forbes

Making the Business Case for Rio+20 - Forbes

16 June 2012

While the 3rd PrepCom negotiations continued until late in the night, I had the opportunity to chat with Bruno Berthon, the Global Managing Director for Accenture Sustainability Services, about the large private sector participation in Rio+20. I asked him why business was interested in being in Rio and what they would like to see come out of the negotiations. I also asked him why Accenture, in particular, was active in Rio and his views on the ‘emerging issue’ of biodiversity.

Why is business interested in Rio+20?

Bruno explained that the large interest of the business community in the Rio+20 largely stems for its awareness of the climate change issue. Importantly, Rio+20 is providing an opportunity to take business out of the “climate change ghetto” by addressing the broader set of questions around development and sustainability. For example, under the Rio+20 process, the priority issue for many developing countries/emerging economics of access to energy converges with both climate change and economic growth.

For business, the key focus is ‘green growth’ both for developed and emerging economies. At Rio+20, companies have an unique opportunity to showcase their technological solutions for greening growth. With the myriad of business events and high-level meetings, business are also to participate in substantive dialogue, make public commitments to green growth, and deepen their awareness and understanding of the many dimensions of making development sustainable.

What would business like to see come out of the formal negotiations?

Though Bruno, quite understandably, was not terribly optimistic about the formal process, he expressed hope that our governments would make some sound decisions. As the 3rd PrepCom ended last night without agreed text for the next week, Brazil as the host country was asked to continue with informal negotiations over the coming days. There is little that business can do to help move this process forward, except to show their overall support for the main aims of the conference.

With regard to the negotiations on the green economy, Bruno hopes that we will see a strong commitment to green growth. It is interesting that he used to term ‘green growth’ and even ‘green infrastructure’ and not the term ‘green economy’. For Bruno, a key element of green growth is investing in the infrastructure needed for emerging economies to grow.

Discussions on establishing a global organisation for the environment could also be useful if such an organisation could improve efficiencies and have more impact. The current jumble of multilateral organisations and agreements – with six international conventions for biodiversity alone –is certainly not working well.

What is Accenture doing at Rio+20?

Over the coming days, Accenture will be very involved in several key business conferences taking place at Rio+20 including ones organised by the UN Global Compact and the WBCSD. They will also engage in national dialogues taking place. The priority topic is the link between climate change and access to energy, and, in this regard, Bruno is especially proud of Accenture’s membership in the Secretary-General’s High-Level Group on Sustainable Energy For All. Importantly, even though the formal negotiations are challenging, it is clear that Accenture is very excited about being at Rio+20.

What should business be doing about biodiversity?

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