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Business urged to speed up solutions to greener practices

Published on 22/04/2008

22 April 2008

SINGAPORE – Business leaders were urged on Tuesday to speed up practical and creative solutions to greener corporate practices that make sense environmentally and are a source of competitive advantage.

"Ways and means need to be found to mobilise and focus the trillions of dollars in the world’s financial and capital markets on the greening of the global economy," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The second Business for the Environment Global Summit kicked off in Singapore, the first major international gathering to build on the momentum since the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in 2007.

A goal was set of realising a decisive climate regime by the 2009 climate convention in Copenhagen.

"While a path has been laid out for emissions reductions, we know that even our best efforts will still lead to some measure of climate impacts which will fall hardest on the most vulnerable economies and communities," Steiner told the 1,000 participants.

"The ultimate goal and prize is delivering green growth and green economies, ones that fundamentally shift the way we all produce and consume the Earth’s natural resources from a wasteful path to one that is sustainable," he said.

While praising the emerging "greening of growth," Steiner said, "There are still many hills to climb and hurdles to leap-frog."

The looming question is whether all the activity persists and becomes "embedded in the economic development paths of all countries over the coming few crucial years," Steiner said. "There is every chance that the transformations underway are possible in the short, medium to long-term but this is not guaranteed."

"If we had a breakthrough in Bali then we also need a breakthrough in Bonn, Germany, next month at the Convention of Biological Diversity meeting," he noted.

"For while we may be turning the corner on climate change the same cannot be said for biodiversity and the economically important ecosystems of which it is an integral part," he said.

The two-day conference was focusing on the global economic and financial impact environmental concerns in the areas of resource efficiencies, renewable energies, new business models and climate strategies.

"What we are calling for this year is for companies everywhere to take the first step to find a green solution and not wait for government policies and incentives," said Georg Kell, executive director of the UN Global Compact. The summit has the power to make an "immediate and significant change in the way we do business," he noted.

The event was held in conjunction with the UNEP Champions of the Earth 2008 awards scheduled for presentation later Tuesday.

The laureates include Prince Albert II of Monaco, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Helen Clark, US Senator Timothy Wirth, Balgis Osman-Elasha, a senior researcher at Sudan’s Higher Council for Environment & Natural Resources, Atiq Rahman, executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, Liz Thompson, former energy and environment minister of Barbados, and Kell of the UN Global Compact.

[dpa / Expatica]