Rio Conventions Pavilion Convenes for Business Day

18 June 2012: The Rio Conventions Pavilion at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) convened for Business Day, bringing together business stakeholders, and high-level speakers from the Rio Conventions and intergovernmental organizations to discuss the role of business in sustainable development, and how the private sector can facilitate the transition to a green economy.

In her opening speech, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres underscored that when the Rio Conventions were adopted, there was less awareness of three fundamental truths: business needs to be part of the solution; the need for action would become urgent; and meeting sustainable development goals was possible. Stressing that the money and technology for this are available, Figueres urged all stakeholders to accelerate coordinated action towards the green economy.

UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja emphasized that access to productive land is crucial to business in many sectors but that shortsighted practices like overgrazing, deforestation and resource destruction, undermine ecosystem viability and will thus have long-term economic impacts on business and society. Pointing to increasing demands for food, energy and water associated with population growth, he called for a change in the way land and soil are valued and managed, and underscored the need for proactive and creative business innovation.

Panels addressed: business and the Conventions from Rio to Rio+20; towards a green economy; and bringing industry into the green economy through sustainability, and research and technology. The event concluded with panels and presentations on the Natural Capital Declaration.

Richard Burrett, Earth Capital Partners and UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Co-Chair, observed that the NCD was born out of the need to explore the relationship between natural and financial capital, drawing attention to why biodiversity and the materiality of natural capital is important for business.

Kookie Habtegaber, NCD Coordinator, explained that the NCD is a finance-led initiative to account for and embed national capital within investment, banking and loan decisions for the entire financial sector. She said the 39 signatories to date have committed to the declaration at the CEO level to get maximum commitment. [IISD RS Rio Conventions Pavilion Coverage]