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The following comments were developed by a series of business consultative groups in Johannesburg comprised of members of the International Chamber of Commerce, World Business Council on Sustainable Development, and other business organisations and company representatives who participated in the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The consultative groups co-ordinated the participation of business experts on the following subjects in the plenary sessions, roundtables, panel discussions, and other meetings that took place at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.


  • If we are successful in the years ahead, the Johannesburg plan of implementation establishes the enabling framework to address global poverty and inequity, whilst at the same time making the world more robust to the adverse impacts of climate change, desertification and deforestation and setting the scene to mitigate these impacts in the long term. Historical paradigms must be overcome to achieve this – new initiatives such as the Community Development Carbon Fund and the mechanisms established under the Kyoto Protocol are good examples of how we can achieve this.
  • Business is disappointed that there is not a focus on creating the enabling environment for business, especially SME’s to grow and thrive.
  • It is essential that we build the energy, transport and ICT infrastructure in developing countries in order to facilitate delivery of development goals. NEPAD provides an excellent framework for this to be achieved for Africa.


  • The agreements on transparency and good governance are strongly supported as these are the norm in the business sector.
  • Business needs a well defined and consistently enforced regulatory environment in order to thrive.
  • With respect to corporate accountability we welcome the thrust to enhance mechanisms to reinforce corporate responsibility and social contributions – especially at a local level. In this regard we see a future of corporate social responsibility increasingly becoming core business, along with triple bottom line management and reporting. Eg GRI, the UNEP process and OECD guidelines.
  • At the same time we feel that not enough companies are reporting on a triple bottom line basis and we need to encourage more to be done in this regard.
  • Multinationals tend to be the most advanced in corporate reporting. In fact compliance plus is the norm for multinationals. We need to get this accepted as a standard practice for all businesses.


  • The agreement relating to energy is welcomed – in particular the recognition of the need to develop all energy sources aimed at addressing common challenges. This enables every nation to address their energy needs in alignment with their resource constraints whilst creating the framework to enhance access to clean, modern, cost effective and affordable energy for those who are currently starved of energy.
  • In particular the recognition of hydro as a renewable option creates the environment for the realisation of NEPAD’s energy aspirations through the development of Southern Africa’s massive hydro resources.
  • With respect to the absence of a specific renewable target, we welcome the emphasis this gives to energy access. At the same time the strong encouragement to increase the global share of renewable energy sources enables national targets as an integral component of national energy plans.


  • Farmers need greater market access, but the transport and information infrastructure in developing countries needs to be enhanced in order to maximise this opportunity.
  • Farmers need access to a full range of technologies as well as the information that allows them to determine the best combination for local conditions.


  • Subsidies – Subsidies should not distort open markets and where applied should enable access to energy depleted regions and promote sustainable development.
  • Subsidies are generally undesirable, but where applied must be transparent and be used with a view to catalyse a sustainable activity. As such they should be consistent over time and include definitive exit strategies, which will enable the long term commercial viability of the activity subsidised. Tax incentives, where appropriate, should promote energy that contributes to sustainable development.


  • Business supports partnerships as one of the most practical means of delivering sustainable development outcomes.
  • Partnerships are supplementary to strong Type I agreements, and business is supportive of partnerships as implementation mechanisms where business can play a meaningful role.
  • Over 300 partnerships have come forward to BASD. These partnerships are illustrated on the BASD website and the Virtual Exhibit, or were awarded ICC/UNEP World Summit Business Awards for Sustainable Development.
  • These 300 + partnerships are illustrative of the thousands of diverse partnerships that business is involved in to deliver sustainable development solutions around the world.
  • Out of this wealth of partnerships, some have come forward and submitted their initiatives directly to the UN as Type II Summit Outcomes.
  • The business contribution is measured by partnerships that deliver solutions.


  • The interpretive statement will refer to promoting corporate responsibility and accountability through “development and implementation” of intergovernmental agreements.
  • This refers to existing agreements and is not a call for a new international regime.
  • Business is part of civil society, a major group designated by Rio Earth Summit, participating in WSSD process constructively.
  • Business is already accountable to national law (wherever it operates), customers, investors, employees, communities – this applies to companies of all sizes, sectors and nationalities, not just multinational companies.
  • Business is subject to many international codes and guidelines (U.N. Global Compact, OECD MNE Guidelines, others on corruption, social aspects, transparency).
  • Business maintains and abides by numerous voluntary policies, codes, agreements of its own (national, sectoral, international).
  • Despite successes, progress, more needs to be done. Business cannot do this alone, depends upon partnerships and an enabling framework at national, international levels in which business will work thru networks, supply chains, employees, investors and customers, w/technologies and financial resources at its disposal.
  • There are a range of indicators and vehicles for tracking and reporting business practices (beyond internet, publications, consumer information, etc.).
    • The Global Reporting Initiative,
    • Emerging ISO standards,
    • UNEP/business prepared 22 sectoral reports on industry sector sustainability practices, all of which were subject to stakeholder review.
  • All above are points of departure for further elaboration & to draw in other sectors.
  • Business requires a clear, equitable and predictable decision making framework in which to make long-term investments and dedications of capital. It is not attracted to invest in countries where regulation is lax, which would put such investments at risk.
  • Building, strengthening capacity in national, local governments to develop, implement, enforce the regulatory frameworks is the utmost priority. This is essential to local business entrepreneurship, good business practices and foreign investment: predictable, clear rules, consistent enforcement, absence of corruption, an independent judiciary system, private property systems, and strong institutions.


  • The challenge of globalization and sustainable development:
    • through Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg follow up to make the markets work for everyone, improving quality of life worldwide.
  • Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg outcomes should be seen as a reinforcing ensemble, much greater than the sum of their parts. (Also regional partnerships, like NEPAD)
  • We support the WSSD reaffirmation of:
    • Millennium Declaration targets and goals
    • mutual supportiveness of trade disciplines, agreements and environmental agreements and institutions
  • We do not support trade distortive subsidies.


  • Business strongly supports the notion that health is a key enabling factor for sustainable development, and supports the WSSD outcomes which highlight the linkages between health and sustainable development.
  • The draft plan of implementation rightly re-emphasizes the need for greater access to health care systems and services. Industry strongly supports the three pillars of sustainable development: good governance, financing and public/private partnerships to achieve these outcomes.
  • Industry has a history of partnerships facilitating access to health care and remains committed to long term partnerships to address health care needs.
  • Industry strongly endorses the vital role of the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria and the need for continued funding of health care infrastructure in developing countries. Key to sustainable development in health care is the need for continued research and development into diseases requiring vaccines, enhanced treatments and cures. To this extent, an environment conducive to innovation is essential.
  • Industry strongly supports the need for good governance and political commitment to address health needs. These are essential to attract short-term aid and the long-term capital investments that are key to economic growth. Indeed, it is only sustainable economic growth that can forever change the status of developing countries to that of developed.


  • Business is working positively on biodiversity issues – eg the partnership launched between ICCM and IUCN on biodiversity and the mining sector
  • Business urges governments to resolve the issues of indigenous rights and traditional knowledge with respect to using the products of biodiversity sustainably whilst developing equitable benefit and access sharing regimes.
  • Clear, transparent, equitable and consistent decision making frameworks are needed
  • Poverty and excessive consumption are both detrimental to biodiversity
  • Business supports delinking production and negative environmental impacts in the context of the concept of responsible prosperity.


  • Biotechnology is one critical tool in the quest for sustainable development, and countries need to be free to make their own choices regarding its responsible use.
  • While no negative health impacts have been reported, concerns about the safety of the technology continue to be raised. These concerns need to be addressed by scientists, government officials and others through the provision of accurate and understandable information and dialogue.
  • Recognizing the adoption and near-term implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, there is need to move forward to responsibly harness biotechnology to enable more sustainable development through applications in health, agriculture, industrial processes and environmental remediation.


  • Business supports the sanitation goal and has played a role in promoting this.
  • Water issues are at the very core of poverty. Industry has been pushing hard for sanitation goals and is delighted with the new goal to halve the number of people without access to sanitation by 2015
  • Industry does not support privatisation of water assets, we believe that Governments should maintain the ownership and control of water supply.
  • Industry does have a critical role to play in providing innovative and least impact collection, treatment and distribution of drinking water, as well as sanitation.
  • Human impact on water supply is evident through the different ‘footprints’ of economic activity and also of poverty
  • The provision and maintenance of water supply and sanitation can save communities money, while at the same time protecting health, improving quality of life and ‘freeing up time’ desperately needed for other activities. But water and sanitation provision do require cost recovery – research, technology, appropriate infrastructure require high levels of investment. The sustainability of this basic service to address poverty means it must be a user pays or Government funded service.


  • To paraphrase Nitin Desai - overcoming poverty by 2015 must be coupled with the long term objectives of achieving sustainable production and consumption by 2050.
  • Business applauds this approach as a long term framework of regulation, investment and procurement must be put in place to drive innovation and the decoupling of economic activity from negative environment and social impacts. It is important that governments help to establish baseline markets for sustainable production and consumption and that they also help to raise awareness of the need for action at all levels. Again this is an area of partnership at its most fundamental.
  • We do not have three planets and even with the combined financing and intellectual power of business we will never have the resources required – we therefore have an obligation and responsibility to reduce the impact of economic activity. We accept this obligation with enthusiasm and look forward to working with governments, NGOs and civil society to make sustainable production and consumption a reality.
  • By recognising the different ‘footprints’ of production/consumption and poverty, business is determined to help reduce the negative externalities that drain economies, the environment and health. We need to make markets work for all and a holistic, compassionate, multi-sectoral and long term approach will be fundamental to delivering practical solutions.
  • Markets and trading patterns are already changing to favour sustainable production and consumption and business encourages this transition. Investment into eco-efficiency, resource efficiency, renewable energy and energy efficiency is a dynamic driver. The partnership approach to sustainable prosperity at international, national and local levels must be underpinned by sustainable production and consumption.
  • Our challenge lies in demonstrating the benefits that will encourage SMEs across all sectors to embrace sustainability. We need clear signals to the marketplace and clear signals to the breadth and depth of industry to achieve this.