The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led, global association of some 200 companies dealing exclusively with business and sustainable development. The Council provides a platform for companies to explore sustainable development, share knowledge, experiences and best practices, and to advocate business positions on these issues in a variety of forums, working with governments, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations. Members are drawn from more than 35 countries and 20 major industrial sectors. The Council also benefits from a global network of about 60 national and regional business councils and regional partners.
The WBCSD is governed by a Council made up of member company CEO's or their representatives. This Council delegates the management of the organization to the Executive Committee. Members of the Executive Committee, including the Chairman and four Vice Chairmen, are elected for a two-year period by the Council. Responsibility for the day-to-day management of WBCSD affairs lies with the President based at the Geneva headquarters and assisted by a staff secretariat.
The Council meets annually to decide on the organization’s priorities and discuss strategic issues connected to sustainable development. These meetings provide a forum where business leaders can analyze and debate views and experiences on all aspects of sustainable development.
The Executive Committee meets three times a year.
An annual Liaison Delegate meeting takes place in each spring in Montreux, Switzerland, providing delegates with the opportunity to catch up on the latest sustainable development issues and network with their peers.
Each fall the Council Meeting brings together Council Members (CEOs and equivalent), senior executives and 60 Regional Network partners.
The WBCSD is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.
From its starting point in 1992 to the present day, the Council has created respected thought leadership on business and sustainability.
The Council plays the leading advocacy role for business. Leveraging strong relationships with stakeholders, it helps drive debate and policy change in favor of sustainable development solutions.
The Council provides a forum for its 200 member companies - who represent all business sectors, all continents and combined revenue of over $US 7 trillion - to share best practices on sustainable development issues and to develop innovative tools that change the status quo. The Council also benefits from a network of 60 national and regional business councils and partner organizations, a majority of which are based in developing countries.
By thinking ahead, advocating for progress and delivering results, the WBCSD both increases the impact of our members’ individual actions and catalyzes collective action that can change the future of our society for the better.
Maurice Strong, then Secretary General of the Rio summit, invited Mr. Schmidheiny to coordinate the business participation in the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Its success lead to a book, Changing Course: A global business perspective on development and the environment, which gathers the expertise of more than 50 global business leaders to show how the business community can achieve environmental protection coupled with economic growth.
Following the summit, Schmidheiny and his fellow business partners concluded that to keep up the momentum that had been created, it was necessary to keep the cooperation alive. In 1995, the Council merged with the World Industry Council on the Environment and opened its secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland: the WBCSD was born. A second office in Washington DC, United States was opened in 2007.
Today, the WBCSD has some 200 members drawn from more than 35 countries and 20 major industrial sectors, involving some 1,000 business leaders globally. The Council also comprises a Regional Network of 60 national and regional partner organizations – called Business Councils for Sustainable Development (BCSDs) – mostly located in developing countries.