Paris/Nairobi, 23 April 2009 - Sealing a comprehensive climate deal in 2009 will be crucial for the future health of business and societies across the world, a gathering of senior business leaders said today at the close of the Business for the Environment (B4E) summit in Paris.
In a closing 'Manifesto', summit participants urged governments "unlock the potential for sustainable, green innovation and job creation" by forging ahead towards a low-carbon society.
"Agreement on a new climate regime is urgent?. the global crisis requires recovery plans that provide for drastically expanded investment in clean technologies and sustainable infrastructure systems, building the Green Economy," says the document.
"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," it adds.
The Manifesto, coming from over 400 delegates at the summit, underlines that the short-term economic models of the previous century need replacing by a more creative, long-term vision.
Participants to the Business for the Environment included the 2009 Champions of the Earth winners including Suzlon head Tulsi Tanti, photographer and activist Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim and campaigner Kevin Conrad. Also in attendance at the Summit were Mexican Environment Minister Juan Elvira Quesada, WWF Director James Leape, and CEOs including Alcatel-Lucent boss Ben Verwaayen, Suntech CEO Shi Zhengrong, and Philippe Carli, the head of Siemens France. John Kerry, the Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, was one of the panelists joining the discussion through a live video link from Washington DC.
The event was hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Global Compact, with the support of Business for Social Responsibility and the French business confederation MEDEF (Mouvement des Entreprises de France).
The Manifesto underscores that the global economy needs to capture not just corporate profit and loss, but also environmental, employment and social concerns as well if it is to be relevant to six billion people, rising to nine billion by 2050.
"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," its says.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "Combating climate change represents perhaps the biggest stimulus package of the first decade of the 21st century?one that can assist in delivering a resource efficient, innovation-savvy, employment- generating global Green Economy."
Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact Office, said: "As stated in the Manifesto, we need to shift to a longer-term orientation of value creation, one that accommodates the understanding that the sustainability of business and societies are inextricably linked."
Afterwards, while attending the G8 Environment Minister meeting in Siracusa, Italy, Steiner added that: "It is time for governments to lift the uncertainty hanging over carbon markets, investors and business and to seal a scientifically-credible, economically-defensible and socially-responsible deal at the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen in December. That is what business leaders are saying at the B4E Summit, that is what leaders are calling for across the world."
Notes to Editors
B4E, the Business for Environment Global Summit, is the world's leading international conference for dialogue and business-driven action for the environment. Now in its third year, B4E 2009 addressed the most urgent environmental challenges facing the world today. Key topics on the agenda included resource efficiency, renewable energies, new business models and climate policy and strategies.
CEOs and senior executives from leading global companies joined leaders from government, international agencies, NGOs, and other organizations to discuss environmental issues, forge partnerships and explore innovative solutions for a greener future.
The Business for the Environment Summit is co-hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme and the UN Global Compact. The event is organized by UNEP and Global Initiatives, and supported by leading international organizations including MEDEF (the French Employers Confederation), the AFP Foundation, WWF, Greenpeace, Business for Social Responsibility and many others.
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The B4E Manifesto in full:
The Green Imperative - from the B4E Summit, Paris, 2009
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.
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 new due diligence requirements that strike a fair balance between the needs of shareholders and other stakeholders, including future generations.
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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Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, at tel: +254 20 762 3084, mobile: +254 733 632755, or e-mail: email@example.com; or Anne-France White, Associate Information Officer, at tel: +254 20 762 3088, Mobile: +254 (0)728 600 494, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Or Matthias Stausberg, Global Compact at email@example.com