I have been at the world’s largest and most important conservation event, the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress (WCC).
The WBCSD was the main sponsoring business organization at the event, with member companies Hitachi, Holcim, Mondi, Shell, Syngenta, Vale and Korea BCSD. I was immersed in debates on nature and conservation with some of the world’s experts. Meeting with representatives of governments, NGO’s, scientific organizations - and my peers in business - has confirmed to me that we are not always speaking the same language though we broadly agree on where we need to get to. The problem is that we are not operating at the same level of urgency.
The WBCSD is clear in its Vision 2050: we need a radical transformation. Solutions need to be scaled up now. The earth is deteriorating fast, and we need to reverse this trend. And it will be business that needs to start scalable solutions.
Many of our member companies have been on a steep learning curve about their ecosystems impacts and dependence. Many of them have acted on these and developed solutions that are illustrated in a publication we launched at the WCC. Biodiversity and ecosystem services: scaling up business solutions is a collection of member company case studies showing initiatives they are operating. For example, PUMA. Their first-of-its-kind Environmental Profit & Loss Account identifies the true cost of business impacts on nature by placing a monetary value on environmental impacts across its entire supply chain. Or POSCO of Korea. It built steel-slag sea forests in damaged costal areas of the East and South Seas that have proved to be highly effective in terms of enhancing the marine environment for biodiversity.
Understanding the extent to which our actions hurt the planet will help us better focus our efforts. That is why, in Jeju, we signed an MoU with the Stockholm Resilience Center. This first-of-its-kind collaboration will integrate scientific analysis and resilience thinking into projects focused on accelerating business solutions for sustainability. I am very proud that the best scientists in the world have selected WBCSD as their business partner.
The WBCSD was very active at the congress. On our stand we held the Business and Ecosystems Think Tank, a joint event with the IUCN. It spanned the entire day and was divided into two parts: in the morning we explored business solutions for changing pace. In the afternoon, we moved on to public policy solutions for changing pace.
One of the ideas that resonated well was that our economic model needs to be transformed from profit and growth to wellness and happiness; partnerships are critical; we should amend our language to talk about “natural capital” - a term business can understand; and we need governments to incentivize and reward leaders in sustainability.
A trip well spent.