In 1987 Gro Harlem Brundtland put forward the concept of sustainable development, an alternative approach to one simply based on economic growth; meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (The 1987 Brundtland Report). Before this, the relationship between economic development and environmental degradation was placed on the international agenda in 1972 at the UN conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm. Little was done, and the depletion continues.
The WBCSD is a CEO led organisation. It consists of over 200 members or companies from different sectors and countries and works in tandem with 60 national and regional business councils from developing countries. The council provides a platform and forum for discussion, a place to drive debate and policy change. Driving a sustainable future for business, society and the environment, they acknowledge all three aspects of sustainability.
They came into being in the early 1990s as a representation of business was sought for, for UN’s Earth Summit in Rio 1992. Later in 1995 it became the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, as to further build on what had been created.
Today WBCSD provides guidelines aimed at challenging and changing the practices of ‘business as usual’. Through using the power they have acquired and the resources they have at hand, they create increased awareness and provides alternatives and ways in which business can act responsibly as individual organizations and as a whole.
As an example they published ‘Vision 2050: A new agenda for business’ in 2010 (later also ‘Changing Pace’ (2012) and ‘Action 2020’ (2014) as a midway shout-out for action), providing nine key areas of action leading to the vision of a sustainable world. Perhaps most importantly, they provide a common vision for a sustainable world.
At the Montreux 2016 Liaison Delegate meeting we will all have the privilege of seeing how business further takes on this responsibility towards a sustainable future.
written by Thea Nygaard