The business voice in Rio: Is anyone listening?

Close to the beginning of a dialogue on sustainable development in the Rio+20 negotiations, I caught sight of a government delegate preparing to head over to the conference venue with an air mattress packed in his tote bag.

There will be long nights ahead. Governments face obstacles in the fundamental areas of these deliberations relating to technology access, intellectual property rights and financial support. Developing countries are also concerned over the cost and impact of proposed green economy frameworks. Meanwhile, heads of government begin arriving on Tuesday to bring the meeting to its conclusion on Friday.

Looking at these sticking points, I am struck by how many of them are similar to those discussed at the first Rio Earth Summit twenty years ago -- and just how much the business sector is involved in these areas. The 1992 meeting agreed on a blueprint for action in sustainable development known as Agenda 21, which stated:

“…A stable policy regime enables and encourages business and industry to operate responsibly and efficiently and to implement longer-term policies. Increasing prosperity, a major goal of the development process, is contributed primarily by the activities of business and industry. Business enterprises, large and small, formal and informal, provide major trading, employment and livelihood opportunities. (…) Business and industry, including transnational corporations, and their representative organizations should be full participants in the implementation and evaluation of activities related to Agenda 21.”

Photo of green boardroom provided by GrandeDuc via Shutterstock.

Next page: Fundamental business points for negotiations