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Power of partnerships

Statement on behalf of Business and Industry by Mark Moody-Stuart, Chairman of Business Action for Sustainable Development, at the WSSD Plenary on 4th September, 2002

May we first thank you President Mbeki and the Government of South Africa for the hospitality and arrangements for this Summit. We have all been struck by the friendliness and helpfulness of the people we have met on the streets of Johannesburg. We would also like to thank you for the contact and access that you personally and your ministers have made available to all Major Groups – your interactions have been much appreciated. Through you can we in particular thank Minister Valli Moosa for all his efforts both in the planning of the Summit and at the Summit itself.

Secondly we should like to thank the Secretary General for his vision and leadership. His encapsulation of the challenges facing the Summit in the acronym WEHAB was of enormous help in focusing the Summit discussions.

We are also most grateful to the Secretary General of the Summit Nitin Desai for his leadership and his unfailing willingness to engage with the Major Groups, and this approach has been supported by Dr Emil Salim in his leadership of the preparatory process.

Lastly we should like to thank all of you as governments for reaching agreement on an implementation plan. We in business are committed to working to make it happen, to deliver sustainable development, together with you as governments and with other Major Groups, as we have just been called upon to do by Youth.

A key area of contribution from business is in achieving more sustainable production and consumption. As the NGO representative has just said, this is vitally important. Through technology developed through the creativity of the markets, business can work to deliver the utility that consumers need but with radically lower impact or use of resources – whether this is in energy, transportation, agriculture, water or health. But to do this we will need new technologies and we call on the NGOs, scientists and governments to work with us to gain acceptance of these technologies based on sound science. Consumer choice plays a great role in this and we hope that Youth – the consumers of the future who as we have just heard make up half the worlds population – will play a role with business in the evolution of this.

One of the successes of this Summit is in demonstrating the power of partnerships. In business we see the development of global partnerships with others to define standards in different sectors of industry – such as the Global Mining Initiative, Responsible Care in the chemical industry, the Sustainable Forest Initiative, Sustainable Fisheries, partnerships on Agriculture and Health or on biodiversity. Such partnerships, together with initiative such as the Global Reporting Initiative, create the standards against which international business will be judged. The outcomes will also inform national legislative processes. But there are hundreds of other partnerships in which business plays a part, each addressing the three elements of sustainable development, each with clearly agreed targets and time tables and each with a commitment to report openly against these targets.

At an even more local level I would draw you attention to the success of the innovative at this Summit. Developed through a partnership of UNDP and business, with Nitin Desai playing a key role in its creation, this uses internet technology to showcase sustainable development partnership projects from all around the world both here at the Summit and to millions with internet access anywhere in the world. Many more people than are here in Johannesburg have been able to see live more than a hundred live linkups from the Summit. Some sixty percent of these link ups have been to projects in the field, bringing for example people of the Cook Islands or women from a village in Rajastan in India to the Summit. And in the last 48 hours 16 Heads of State or Government and senior Ministers have participated in live link ups from the Summit, many linking to projects in their own country or region. I urge the UN and governments to consider wider use of this very effective and lively technology for future meetings – radically widening access to the Summit, enabling examples and experience from around the world to be shared, while at the same time conserving resources by avoiding travel through the use of technology. This is an example of what business in partnership with others, in this case UNDP, can enable.

A further key to sustainable development is sound governance. To clarify what business understands by sound governance I would say that this represents the societal institutions and structures through which all sectors of society – be they from the north or south of a country, urban or rural, young or old, female or male, rich or poor, indigenous people or people of whatever ethnic group - feel that their views have been taken into account and that whatever outcomes these institutions deliver, they are fair. This naturally includes the sound governance of business and the equitable sharing of economic development in the interests of society. This sound governance creates the environment in which businesses large and small, international or domestic, can flourish. NEPAD is an example of governments acknowledging their responsibility to deliver such sound governance, including a process of peer review. Business is strongly supportive of this initiative and is ready to work with others to make it a reality. We agree with Youth that an essential part of an enabling environment for developing countries is access to northern markets and the removal of damaging subsidies.

Lastly, business acknowledges the need for it to be accountable and transparent in all its activities. Responsible business is committed to corporations setting targets and reporting openly and honestly on their progress. It is only through such transparency and open reporting that trust can be built – the trust that is essential to partnerships. Through this reporting we will also be able to measure the progress towards the more sustainable development in the years to come which business is committed to deliver.