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Business for Environment

28 April 2009
Business for Environment

By Molly Webb, Head of Smart Technologies, The Climate Group.

The B4E summit last week featured a great line up of business leaders, NGOs and UN representatives to highlight the opportunities for business to tackle climate change. Individuals signed up to a manifesto and put their seal of approval on a global deal. It felt like most businesses are believers in the challenge and the possibility for opportunity, but there was some fatigue around the issue given that many companies are bogged down in the immediate economic problems.

The panel I chaired on Information and Communications Technologies had a great set of speakers and a good discussion:

  • Serge Adam, Vice President Southern EMEA, South & Central America, Tandberg
  • Bruno Berthon, Global Sustainability Lead, Accenture
  • Marc Fossier, Executive Vice President, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Orange
  • Zoe McMahon, Environmental Strategy Manager, EMEA, Hewlett-Packard
  • Dennis Pamlin, Global Policy Advisor, WWF
  • Naofumi Sakamoto, Senior Researcher, Corporate Planning and Business Development, Hitachi Ltd
  • Bernard Spitz, Chairman, BS Conseil
  • Chris Tuppen, Chief Sustainability Officer, BT Group

In the final panel session which was jointly run from Washington, DC and Paris, Tanberg had the chance to show off their technologies with the most heartening speech of the 2 days from Senator John Kerry, highlighting his commitment to push the US administration to go even further than the current cuts proposed in the Waxman-Markey bill. I loved to hear Paul Sagan, President and CEO, Akamai Technologies, quoting the potential solutions from the SMART 2020 report, and championing the 'SMART' framework (Standards, Monitoring, Accountability, Rethink, Transform).

Aron Cramer, CEO of B4E had the last word on the panel on the second day by saying "scale it" - meaning the solutions of course.

Manifesto from the B4E Summit, Paris, 22-23 April 2009:

The Green Imperative

The global economic downturn has exposed the extent to which markets and societies are increasingly interconnected and interdependent. We, the participants of the B4E Summit 2009, recognize that the economic, environmental and social challenges and risks we face demand a new level of leadership and cooperation. We are confident that by exercising such leadership, restoring trust and by working together we have the opportunity to put our global economy, our markets and lifestyles, our livelihoods and security, and, ultimately, our planet on a sustainable path. We emphasize the following:

  • Agreement on a new global climate regime is urgent, offering all countries the opportunity to unlock the potential for sustainable, green innovation and job creation that exist as we head towards the low-carbon society. We call on Governments to complete a comprehensive and successful COP-15.
  • We call on Governments to promote global integration, based on fundamental principles of non- discrimination in trade and investment, so that we can more efficiently disseminate clean technologies globally.
  • We call on Governments to provide appropriate regulatory and incentive structures to encourage more sustainable consumption and production, and send the right market signals for business to act.
  • Now is the time to remove uncertainties, enable green investments to flow, and build scalable public- private partnerships that can leapfrog in terms of technological innovation.
  • We need new due diligence requirements that strike a fair balance between the needs of shareholders and other stakeholders, including future generations.
  • Capturing the global crisis requires recovery plans that provide for drastically expanded investment in clean technologies and sustainable infrastructure systems, building the Green Economy with transformative improvements that avoid lock-in in high carbon and resource inefficient systems.
  • For business, we need increased transparency, a stronger ethical orientation and an expanded risk paradigm that includes not only traditional business and financial factors, but also relevant extra-financial issues in the environmental, social and governance realms.
  • We need to shift from a product to a services perspective, applying life cycle approaches that support cradle-to-cradle strategies in business along all value chains and using ecosystem services sustainably.
  • We need to shift from the tyranny of "short-termism" to a longer-term orientation of value creation, as embodied in the UN Global Compact.
  • We need broad-based use of sustainable procurement and criteria that are both green and decent in the management of our supply chains.
  • We need reporting and accountability systems which combine internationally recognized financial and sustainability standards to mainstream forward-looking approaches.
  • We recognize the importance of promoting small business development and social entrepreneurship in the making of truly sustainable enterprises.
  • We underscore the importance of revamping business education and training in order to properly nurture and develop the leaders and managers of tomorrow.
  • We offer our energy and commitment to work with Government and society, to jointly take leadership, ownership and accountability for our contribution as responsible citizens, consumers and leaders. This implies our engagement from local to global level, including cooperation with UNEP and others in the UN facilitated process on sustainable consumption and production leading to a 2012 World Summit.
  • We, the participants of the B4E Summit 2009, underline the need for business to take its part - along with Government, the research community and other societal partners - in creating a more sustainable world and drive the way towards the sustainable, green and responsible enterprise. We call on all stakeholders to work together in order to achieve these aims.

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