As government officials wrangle final outcomes at COP17, business leaders are already anticipating Rio +20, the 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development. There is consensus that industry must participate, especially when it comes to development.
"Governments may be at the helm of these negotiations, but business is the engine. Governments need to realize the power of business," admits UNFCCC Secretary Christiana Figueres.
Here are 5 ways industry leaders can ready for Rio:
1. Do more, and do better at showcasing industry successes. "There is a lot of creative energy coming from industry. But the message of risks and opportunities is not getting through. The private sector must send a clearer signal to policymakers," said Paul Simpson, CEO, Carbon Disclosure Project.
Industry should provide "remarkable examples" of lower carbon projects, and the underlying economic and policy drivers.
2. Bust boundaries and forge new partnerships. Although businesses are hardwired for competition, climate solutions require sharing information and sources that have traditionally been proprietary. Such collaboration is necessary for consumer education, technology and product innovation, supply chain management and private-public partnerships.
Additionally, sustainability solutions are complex and require cross function and cross sector expertise. At company, industry and societal levels, there must be radical efforts to transcend boundaries and cooperate.
"This is a multi-disciplinary exercise,' says Bjørn Haugland, COO of DNV, a Norwegian foundation focused on industry risk management. "We must draw on expertise from a variety of areas to accelerate solutions and broaden understanding."
3. Provide Specific Plans and "Pathways." Over recent years, business leaders have ramped up efforts to work with government. Many companies like Microsoft and Coca Cola have upped their participation at COP.
Even so, many industry leaders have felt marginalized; there were rumblings that many businesses would boycott COP17.
Rather than pulling back, it is time business leaders step forward. Business is innovating and making progress. Even so, without policy guidelines, progress is too slow to keep global warming under 2 degrees.
To work more effectively with governments, business must be proactive and provide specific plans.