World Business Council for Sustainable Development

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World Business Council for Sustainable Development
WBCSD logo 75 dpi for web.png
Founded 1992 [1]
Founder Stephan Schmidheiny
Focus Sustainable Development
Area served
Key people

Sunny Verghese(Chairman) [2]

Peter Bakker (CEO & President)

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led, global advocacy association[3] of some 200 international companies dealing exclusively with business and sustainable development.[4]

Its origins date back to the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit of 1992,[1] when Stephan Schmidheiny, a Swiss business entrepreneur, was appointed chief adviser for business and industry to the secretary general of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).[5] He created a forum called "Business Council for Sustainable Development", which went on to become Changing Course, a book that coined the concept of eco-efficiency.[6]

The WBCSD was created in 1995 in a merger of the Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Industry Council for the Environment[7] and is based at the Maison de la paix in Geneva, Switzerland,[8] and offices in New York and New Delhi.


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.

It works on a variety of issues related to sustainable development. While its focus is on the overarching areas Energy & Climate, Development, Ecosystems and the Role of Business in Society, it also executes sector specific projects on cement, urban infrastructure initiative, tires, corporate reporting, water, energy efficiency in buildings, forest solutions, electricity utilities, renewable energy and electric mobility.

The Council’s objectives are to:

  • Be a leading business advocate on sustainable development
  • Participate in policy development to create the framework conditions for business to make an effective contribution to sustainable human progress
  • Develop and promote the business case for sustainable development
  • Demonstrate the business contribution to sustainable development solutions and share leading edge practices among members
  • Contribute to a sustainable future for developing nations and nations in transition.

Impact and influence[edit]

A 2003 World Bank/IFC commissioned study identified the WBCSD as one of the "most influential forums" for companies on corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues.[9] A 2004 Globescan survey found the WBCSD as the second most effective SD research organization.[10] The 2006 survey by the same company reports that 54% of all surveyed experts believe the WBCSD will play a "major role" in advancing sustainable development. Only the European Union received higher approval (69%).[11]

In the 2007's Ethisphere Institute list of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics, WBCSD President Bjoern Stigson has been ranked 9th, which made him the 2nd most influential NGO leader.[12]

WBCSD's 10 messages by which to operate[edit]

  1. Business is good for sustainable development and sustainable development is good for business. Business is part of the sustainable development solution, while sustainable development is an effective long-term business growth strategy.
  2. Business cannot succeed in societies that fail. There is no future for successful business if the societies that surround it are not working. Governments and business must create partnerships to deliver essential societal services like energy, water, health care and infrastructure.
  3. Poverty is a key enemy to stable societies. Poverty creates political and economic instability, a big threat to business and sustainable development. By contrast, businesses can lift living standards and eradicate poverty.
  4. Access to markets for all supports sustainable development. Sustainable development is best achieved through open, transparent and competitive global markets.
  5. Good governance is needed to make business a part of the solution. Supportive frameworks and regulations are needed for business to contribute fully to sustainable development.
  6. Business has to earn its licence to operate, innovate and grow. The way business acts and is perceived is crucial to its success. Accountability, ethics, transparency, social and environmental responsibility and trust are basic prerequisites for successful business and sustainable development.
  7. Innovation and technology development are crucial to sustainable development. They provide key solutions to many of the problems that threaten sustainable development. Business has always been, and will continue to be, the main contributor to technological development.
  8. Eco-efficiency – doing more with less - is at the core of the business case for sustainable development. Combining environmental and economic operational excellence to deliver goods and services with lower external impacts and higher quality-of-life benefits is a key sustainable development strategy for business.
  9. Ecosystems in balance – a prerequisite for business. Business cannot function if ecosystems and the services they deliver, such as water, biodiversity, food, fiber and climate, are degraded.
  10. Cooperation beats confrontation. Sustainable development challenges are huge and require contributions from all parties — governments, business, civil societies and international bodies. Confrontation puts the solutions at risk. Cooperation and creative partnerships foster sustainable development.[13]


Membership of the WBCSD is by invitation of the Executive Committee to companies committed to sustainable development. Among its members[14] are well-known companies such as General Motors, DuPont, 3M, Nestlé, BP, Jain Irrigation Systems and Royal Dutch Shell. On January 22, 2013 the organization announced that Monsanto had joined.[15]

Member companies pledge their support and contribution to the WBCSD by making available their knowledge and experience, and appropriate human resources. They are asked to publicly report on their environmental performance and to aspire to widen their reporting to cover all three pillars of sustainable development - economic, social and environmental.

A key element is the personal commitment of the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), acting as Council Members. They are influential advocates for the WBCSD’s policy positions, and they co-chair the working groups. They also organize support for the WBCSD’s work program and ensure the adoption of sustainable management practices within their companies.


Forética claims to be global network of Spanish speaking businesses and professionals whose mission is to promote an ethical management and corporate social responsibility by the establishment of a National standard in Spain known as SGE-21, (sistema de gestación ética para siglo 21) which is also Annex 1 to ISO 26000 and supported by CSR Europe [16] Membership is said to around 400 and includes companies of all sizes and sectors, as well as individual specialists, professionals and academics and it was incorporated into WBCSD on 2 September 2014 [17]


The WBCSD is a member-led organization governed by a Council composed of the Council Members of our member companies. The Council elects the Executive Committee, including the Chairman and four Vice Chairmen. Past chairmen include:

Geographic balance[edit]

While the majority of member companies are headquartered in developed countries, the STDs has a strong regional representation in developing countries through its Regional Network, a global network of almost 60 national and regional business councils (BCSDs) and partner organizations.


According to Greenpeace the World Business Council for Sustainable Development is among the key players responsible for holding the world societies from tackling the climate change and energy management challenges for the past 20 years. The WBCSD Executive Committee was dominated by the largest nonrenewable energy and carbon-intensive companies in the world at least until 2011. According to Greenpeace the WBCSD executive committee has been a ‘Who’s Who’ of the world’s largest carbon-intensive companies.[18]

The Sierra Club has collaborated with the World Business Council on a number of initiatives, as well as inviting its representatives to speak at Sierra Club events.[19][20] The Environmental Defense Fund recommends the World Business Council's auditing methods to companies seeking to reduce greenhouse emissions,[21] and the Natural Resources Defense Council has drawn upon WBCSD guidelines in drawing up their own guidelines for determining biofuels sustainability.[22] The WBCSC's Vision 2020 report was highlighted by The Guardian as "the largest concerted corporate sustainability action plan to date – include reversing the damage done to ecosystems, addressing rising greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring societies move to sustainable agriculture."[23]


  1. ^ a b "World business council for sustainable development". 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Lovins, L. Hunter (2008). Rethinking production in State of the World 2008, p. 34.
  5. ^ "Memo to Rio+20: 'green economy' doesn't mean monetising nature". 
  6. ^ "Eco-Efficiency". 
  8. ^ "World Business Council for Sustainable Development". 
  9. ^ Race to the Top: Attracting and Enabling Global Sustainable Business
  10. ^ 2004 Globescan Survey of Sustainability Experts
  11. ^ Cambridge Sustainability Research Digest
  12. ^ 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics Archived 2012-02-10 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Catalyzing Change: A Short History of the WBCSD Archived 2007-12-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ List of member companies Archived 2003-04-18 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "Monsanto Company joins WBCSD". World Business Council for Sustainable Development. January 22, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  16. ^ CSR Europe
  17. ^ Leading Spanish think-tank Forética joins WBCSD’s Global Network
  18. ^ Who's holding us back?Full report November 23, 2011 page 9
  19. ^ "Calendar | Sierra Club". 
  20. ^ "Austin Sierra Club monthly meeting | Austin EcoNetwork". 
  21. ^ "" (PDF). 
  22. ^ "Biofuel Sustainability Performance Guidelines" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  23. ^ "World Business Council for Sustainable Development: Vision 2050 | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian". 

External links[edit]