UNEP, UN Global Compact and WWF Co-Host B4E Summit

26 April 2010: The UN Business for the Environment Global Summit (B4E Summit) took place in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 21-23 April 2010. The goal of the meeting was to consider the outcome of the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) of the UNFCCC and discuss the role of business in realizing a low carbon future.

The Summit was hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Global Compact, WWF, the Korean Ministry of Environment, the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Presidential Committee on Green Growth, with over 20 businesses partnering to support the summit. The meeting brought together 1,000 individuals from 35 countries, representing multinational corporations, governments, international agencies and NGOs, to discuss “Powering growth for the global green economy.”

During the first two days of this paperless meeting, CEOs and leaders of government, international agencies and NGOs presented their experiences; plenary discussion panels focused on the green economy; and participants broke into smaller group discussions on key issues during parallel sessions and working groups. On the last day, the working groups reported back to the plenary with strategies to address barriers to a low carbon future; a Mexican representative presented on the outlook for COP 16 in Cancún, Mexico; and representatives from UNEP, the UN Global Compact and the Government of the Republic of Korea presented closing remarks on the way forward.

In a video message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon opened the Summit, emphasizing the role of green growth in development. He noted that development has ignored the environment over much of the past century, which has contributed to climate change, desertification and biodiversity loss. He highlighted the challenge of creating a global movement for green growth based on new ideas and the responsible application of economic power.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner reframed the financial crisis as an opportunity to transition away from “business as usual” and toward sustainable economic development. He noted that, in the context of climate change, green market policies are crucial to both economic stability and the survival and sustainable development of nations. He stated that legislation is vital to developing a green economy because the market alone cannot drive change at the required scale and pace.

Georg Kell, Executive Director, UN Global Compact, outlined three post-Copenhagen challenges: to improve transparency and accountability in business; to develop tools and methods for assessing the environmental and social performance of businesses; and to increase confidence that the market will reward good performance. He called on businesses to take the lead and initiate global transformations toward mainstreaming green approaches. [IISD RS Coverage] [B4E Summit Website] [UNEP Press Release] [Secretary-General's Message]