World Business Council for Sustainable Development

WBCSD Annual Review 2007 – The times they are a-changin’

The challenges of achieving sustainable development in our rapidly changing world are more important than ever. In fact, sustainability issues increasingly defi ne our existence on Earth. While the imperative of attaining sustainable human existence continues, two new developments are rapidly raising the level of challenge and increasing the potential for meaningful action. The first is the rapid growth of the developing world economies. While this growth is essential to improving the lives of many people in these regions, the desire to emulate the developed world is producing additional stresses on the earth at an accelerating rate. The opportunity exists to change behavior in the developed world and thereby offer a better vision for the developing world.

The second is the increasing awareness of sustainability issues and their impacts. Understanding is growing in both the scientific community and the broader public. The expansion of scientific knowledge, coupled with better data showing the changes around us, make it clearer that we must act to forestall the growing consequences of our current approach.
In addition, public awareness, as reflected (and also lead) by media coverage, is demanding greater and more effective action from business and government.

Business is an important actor in society. Not only is business the implementer of the world, developing and producing myriad products and services that defi ne daily lives (as a measure of the reach and impact of business, consider that WBCSD members through their goods and services touch half of the earth’s population daily), business is also the only
segment of society that is driven to improve productivity. And as we look forward, productivity improvement, doing more with less, is increasingly essential.

However business is unable – and in fact no segment of society is able – to meet the challenges of sustainable development alone. This is why the WBCSD’s work program aims to provide leadership for far-sighted businesses and to be a basis for dialogue on sustainable development with governments and civil society.

Without a doubt, the top of mind issue that businesses, governments and the public at large are grappling with is climate change. Among the many publications released by the WBCSD in 2007 was Policy Directions to 2050, our contribution to the discussions on cooperative action on energy and climate. Already it has provided an important set of views in multistakeholder dialogues around the world. But this is not enough.

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