environmental and resource management in business.’19
For WBCSD, like BCSD before it, eco-efficiency is a de- fining concept and one that the organization spends con- siderable time and effort in refining and promoting. More specifically, the work of the organization is guided by its four objectives:20
business leadership: to be the leading business advocate on issues connected with the environment and sustain- able development; policy development: to participate in policy develop- ment in order to create a framework that allows busi- ness to contribute effectively to sustainable develop- ment; best practice: to demonstrate progress in environmen- tal and resource management in business and to share leading-edge practices among its members; global outreach: to contribute through its global net- work to a sustainable future for developing nations and nations in transition.
The rest of this section will look at the impact WBCSD has had on international environmental policy through its activities in each of these four areas.
Although the goal of business leadership and advocacy is intertwined with the remaining three objectives of WBCSD and is often achieved through them, it is here that the organization has demonstrated its greatest influence on international environmental policy. There is an obvious sense of pride in how much clout and influence the organi- zation has come to exert in its advocacy activities that is apparent in WBCSD publications directed at its corporate members:
Our business advocacy activities allow us to anticipate rather than react to the agenda of other stakeholders. By being consulted early in the process, we can influence their priorities and thinking, and so help to shape the end-result. One example of the WBCSD’s high profile, government-level involvement is provided by the Rio+5 activities being organized by the UN in 1997 to mark the fifth anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. We have been asked to lead the Business and Industry input at the Rio Forum, the UNCSD meetings and the UN General Assembly Special Session—where CEOs from member companies presented the progress achieved by industry since Rio to ministers and heads of state during a High-Level Roundtable co-hosted by the WBCSD. As another example, the OECD has invited two of our Executive Committee members to join its Advisory Board to review its work on environmental issues.21
To business executives who, in the past, had been more accustomed to being vilified as environmental villains, the positive attention being showered upon WBCSD by the environmental camp is an obvious source of satisfaction, even delight. Ever since UNCED, the organization has been spectacularly successful in cultivating a close relation- ship with key intergovernmental and non-governmental
CURRENT ISSUES AND KEY THEMES
organizations. This strategy of engagement—as opposed to one of defensive retaliation—has paid handsome divi- dends, and WBCSD has been able to establish partnerships not only with key UN agencies such as UNEP, UNDP, and the CSD, but also with leading environmental groups such as IUCN, WWF, and IIED. Rio+5 may not have been a historic event for most environmental observers, but for WBCSD it was a major watershed. In just five years big business had moved from a position where its views on sustainable development were reluctantly tolerated to one where they are now actively sought. Despite the dismay of some groups, WBCSD, as the most active and representa- tive voice of big business on issues pertaining to sustain- able development, is no longer seen as a gate-crasher at international environmental forums, but as an honored guest.
What makes this new-found prominence all the more sweet is the attendant influence over international environ- mental policy development that comes with it. While both BCSD and ICC had a presence at UNCED, their actual participation in policy deliberations was relatively mod- est.22 Today, with the ongoing climate change negotiations, for example, this is no longer the case. WBCSD has been an energetic player at every negotiating session and was particularly active at both Kyoto (1997) and Buenos Aires (1998). As the WBCSD President notes, ‘business was more in the forefront at Buenos Aires, both in relative numbers and in involvement in the proceedings, and many national delegations now include business representatives.’23 A strong advocate for ‘flexible’ arrangements such as emis- sions trading and Joint Implementation (JI), and opposed to stringent mandatory reductions, WBCSD has been hold- ing a series of workshops around its International Business Action Plan on Climate Change (IBAPCC) to impress its case on government delegations, NGO representatives, and academics. It is safe to say that they have not been devoid of impact—especially since the emergent regime retains many elements that the WBCSD has been advocating.24
Ultimately, WBCSD’s most important impact on policy is likely to come from the various activities that it has un- dertaken to put a business stamp on the future global agenda for sustainable development. This includes its policy prescriptions on emergent issues such as trade and environ- ment, financial markets, the paper cycle, fresh water ac- cess, and sustainable forests.25 By far the most potent of such activities is the outreach component targeted at fu- ture business and management professionals. The keystone of this programme has been the ‘Sustainable Business Challenge’, which started as an Internet site that summa- rizes the main elements of the WBCSD message and offers a multiple-choice test based on this material. Those quali- fying can print out a certificate of competence for success- fully completing this examination. Originally launched by