World Business Council for Sustainable Development
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|Sunny Verghese (Chairman) Peter Bakker (CEO & President)|
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led organization of over 200 international companies. The Council is also connected to 60 national and regional business councils and partner organizations.
Its origins date back to the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit of 1992, 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). He created a forum called "Business Council for Sustainable Development", which went on to become Changing Course, a book that coined the concept of eco-efficiency.
The WBCSD was created in 1995 as a merger of the Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Industry Council for the Environment and is based at the Maison de la paix in Geneva, Switzerland, with offices in New York and New Delhi.
The Council works on a variety of issues related to sustainable development. It works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the transformation of six economic systems. These are circular economy, Cities and Mobility, Climate and Energy, Food, Land and Water, People and Redefining Value. Each system transformation is set up as a WBCSD Program with a number of supplementary Projects.
Impact and influence
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. A 2004 Globescan survey found the WBCSD as the second most effective SD research organization. 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%).
In the 2007's Ethisphere Institute list of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics, WBCSD President Bjoern Stigson has been ranked ninth, which made him the second most influential NGO leader.
Membership of the WBCSD is by invitation of the Executive Committee to companies committed to sustainable development. Among its over 180 members are well-known companies such as DuPont, 3M, Nestlé, BP, Danone and Royal Dutch Shell. WBCSD provides its members with the value, impact and voice to navigate unprecedented global changes and allows them to prosper from transforming their operations. By joining the WBCSD, member companies benefit from insights into the latest knowledge on sustainability, sustainability tools, peer collaboration across the value chain, participation in policy development and a chance to profile their sustainability work.
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 the working groups. They also organize support for the WBCSD's work program and ensure the adoption of sustainable management practices within their companies.
Forética claims to be global network of Spanish speaking businesses and professionals whose mission is to promote an ethical management and corporate social responsibility by the establishment of a National standard in Spain known as SGE-21, (sistema de gestación ética para siglo 21) which is also Annex 1 to ISO 26000 and supported by CSR Europe Membership is said to around 400 and includes companies of all sizes and sectors, as well as individual specialists, professionals and academics and it was incorporated into WBCSD on 2 September 2014.
The WBCSD is a member-led organization governed by a Council composed of the Council Members of its member companies. The Council elects the Executive Committee, including the Chairman and four Vice Chairmen. Past chairmen include:
- Rodney F. Chase – BP (1995)
- Livio D. DeSimone – 3M (1996/97)
- Egil Myklebust – Norsk Hydro (1998/99)
- Charles O. Holliday, Jr. – DuPont (2000/01)
- Sir Philip Watts KCMG – Royal Dutch Shell (2002/03)
- Bertrand Collomb – Lafarge (2004/05)
- Travis Engen – Alcan (2006/07)
- Sam DiPiazza – PwC (2008/09)
- Paul Polman – Unilever (2012–17)
- Sunny Verghese – Olam (2018–2020)
Most of WBCSD's member companies are headquartered in Europe (47%). 22% member companies are headquartered in Asia, 22% in North America and 5% in Latin America. The geographically least represented regions are Africa, Australasia and the Middle East with 1% each.
According to Greenpeace the World Business Council for Sustainable Development is among the key players responsible for holding the world societies from tackling the climate change and energy management challenges for the past 20 years. The WBCSD Executive Committee was dominated by the largest non-renewable energy and carbon-intensive companies in the world at least until 2011. According to Greenpeace the WBCSD executive committee has been a 'Who's Who' of the world's largest carbon-intensive companies.
The Sierra Club has collaborated with the World Business Council on a number of initiatives, as well as inviting its representatives to speak at Sierra Club events. The Environmental Defense Fund recommends the World Business Council's auditing methods to companies seeking to reduce greenhouse emissions, and the Natural Resources Defense Council has drawn upon WBCSD guidelines in drawing up their own guidelines for determining biofuels sustainability. The WBCSD's Vision 2050 report was highlighted by The Guardian as "the largest concerted corporate sustainability action plan to date – include reversing the damage done to ecosystems, addressing rising greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring societies move to sustainable agriculture."
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