Volkswagen, Siemens and Deutsche Bank join rallying call at Rio+20

By John Parnell
RTCC in Rio

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has issued a call for greater collaboration between business and governments in order to maximize the impact of the Rio+20 summit.

Business has an important role to play at Rio+20 but governments must play along. (Source: WWF International)

The UN conference on sustainable development taking place in the Brazilian city till June 22 includes large delegations from local and national governments, charities, development groups and a strong business representation.

At an ICC event on the sidelines of the Rio+20 summit, they said that only by combining these groups can the sustainable development agenda succeed.

“Business can’t get there on its own,” said Carlos Busquets, deputy director of the department of policy and business practices at ICC. “Civil society and governments need to get involved too.

“The way to mainstream sustainable development is to look at the three pillars economic, social and environment, and bring them together. Hopefully Rio+20 can move that process along,” he added.

The call for collaboration was backed by attending member companies including Siemens, Volkswagen and Deutsche Bank.

Despite criticism from Friends of the Earth over the growing influence of business in the UN talks, there is also widespread acknowledgment of the role that the private sector can play in driving both the sustainable development agenda, and the separate UNFCCC climate change negotiations, forward.

“Business and industry did not have much impact at the earth summit in 1992 so I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the role it has in this round of talks,” said Elisa Tonda, head of the business and industry unit at UNEP. “We are moving in the right direction. Rio is an opportunity to put sustainable development on the agenda.”

“We know the political negotiations are going slower than anticipated but we hope that governments broaching this talk to find common ground. Our recent Global Environment Outlook highlighted the need for action. We hope this sense of urgency becomes part of the process.”

Not all delegates were universally hopefull however with some offering a more sobering, or possibly realistic, appraisal of the summit.

“There is broad agreement that something needs to be done, but there is less agreement on how to do it. I’m a little skeptical about how much can be achieved at Rio+20,” one attendee said.

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