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NEWS: Business lobby makes its case for Rio+20

The Financial reports, “The Business Action for Sustainable Development 2012 has submitted the formal Business and Industry input to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the convener of the upcoming Rio+20 conference. …The BASD is coordinating the participation of the private sector to the Rio +20 conference… Overall, the submission calls on governments to work with business and others in implementing measures that support market solutions, provide incentives, and address risk and regulatory issues. …The document presents private sector inputs on 10 key topics – from access to energy, social development, human rights and the role of business, to water for a green economy and poverty alleviation – with key messages, a narrative and policy recommendations.”

The article notes, “The submission focuses on the two key themes that will be debated in Rio, the green economy and institutional frameworks for sustainable development. The section on the green economy outlines 10 high-level system conditions for moving toward a strong and competitive green economy, based on social, environmental, and economic innovation, as well as complementary cross-cutting elements. The section on institutional frameworks for sustainable development describes the mutually reinforcing nature of this topic with the green economy and calls for a structural change in institutions in order to improve coordination of efforts and policy implementation.”

The BASD is convened by the International Chamber of Commerce, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the United Nations Global Compact. Its partners include the International Federation of Private Water Operators (Aquafed), the International Council on Mining and Metals, and the Global Oil & Gas Industry Association.

As we’ve previously noted, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a CEO-led global association of 200 corporations including Coca-Cola, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Walmart, has stated, “the foundation for a green economy must be built upon water, energy and food security.” This influential group has previously stated, “Business plays an important role deploying new initiatives which are helping improve access to water and sanitation… (It has launched) the first water tools addressing the industry specific challenges faced by the oil and gas, and power utilities sectors. …To enable business to continue to play an active and affective role in ensuring water, energy and food security and improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation, initiatives like these are essential and will ensure that all stakeholders in sustainable development are able to make meaningful contributions.”

Observing a recent industry-friendly Aquatech conference in Amsterdam, Council of Canadians water campaigner Meera Karunananthan wrote, “Rather than discuss the bigger picture, Coca Cola, Dow and other corporations would prefer to package environmental discussions into warm fuzzy stories about their environmental pilot projects. Coca Cola for example, showcases its commitment to reduce water consumption in its operations. By that Coke means it will continue to pump groundwater in water-stressed regions in the Global South for its beverage products, but will gain PR points by publicizing its efforts to reduce water use in its European bottling plants. In exchange, Coke is granted European Water Partnership branding and access to policymakers.”

In 2001, activists from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, England, Germany, Denmark, Nigeria and Spain gathered outside the headquarters of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris to protest against the first meeting of the Business Action for Sustainable Development group, a joint initiative with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to lobby the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The Council of Canadians will actively intervene at the Rio+20 summit, which is now likely to take place on June 20-22.